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Wednesday 15th July 2020,
Hope for Nigeria

Lagos Tightens Noose Around Ambode


LESS than 72 hours after the change of governorship baton in Lagos State, strong indications have emerged that a humiliating probe is likely on the way for the immediate past governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, over alleged financial misdeeds.

A sympathiser of the former governor, however, told Saturday Tribune on Friday that the camp of the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, believed to be behind the plot, would not dare.

“This one (Ambode) isn’t the one before him (Babatunde Fashola) who didn’t want to roll in the mud with pigs. Let them try it and see,” he said.

The shocking broadside from Ambode’s Secretary to the State Government, (SSG), Tunji Bello, on his former principal, hours after the new governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu took over, is being read in the political circle in the state as setting the stage for the eventual demystification of the immediate past governor.

Ambode’s camp is already pounding Bello, a strong ally of Tinubu, as unprincipled, ungrateful and hypocritical.

The faceoff is said to just be starting.

It was learnt that instead of the executive arm, now headed by Ambode’s former subordinate, doing the investigation, the state House of Assembly is reportedly more likely to conduct it in an indirect manner, claiming oversight functions.

The two candidates running to lead the next assembly in the state are the current Speaker and his deputy.

Under their joint leadership, there had been attempts to probe and impeach Ambode while still in office.

Hefty sums of money, it was learnt, would be declared as missing to make the former governor unattractive for any national assignment under the Buhari presidency which obviously has a positive disposition towards him.

Incidentally, Ambode’s administration, in its early days, conducted similar probe against Fashola, allegedly at the behest of Tinubu, who is now being linked to similar probe against his godson of 2015.

Although little details of the Fashola probe were in the public domain, the information released were damaging enough for the rising profile of the former governor who, a few days ago, stepped down as the Minister of Works, Power and Housing.

The move against him then, under Ambode’s administration, was allegedly to stop him from being appointed as minister by President Muhammadu Buhari, who was thought to be averse to anything with corruption colouration.

Fashola was accused of mismanaging the state’s fund.

In his response, he philosophically said he would not roll in the mud with pigs.

A senior party official in the state told Saturday Tribune that Ambode would fight back any form of corruption brush because he has practically nothing to lose.

“The one to appoint ministers, is he talking to anyone? Can anyone claim he (the president) had spoken to him about appointments? If the 2015 move had no impact, what would this one achieve?” the source explained.

Saturday Tribune was told that the presidential dream of those believed to be moving against him could also suffer a major damage if the former governor decides to fight back as his supporters are demanding.

Ambode was stopped from seeking a second term on the platform of the ruling party by pro-Tinubu forces and variously accused of sponsoring the opposition in the course of the last governorship election.

He, however, campaigned for his replacement and was seen collaborating with the new governor as the governor-elect.

The former governor is reportedly under consideration for a ministerial appointment in Buhari’s new cabinet which may shut the door against Fashola or anyone supported by Tinubu.

When Fashola was in political wilderness in the state during the Ambode years, the current deputy governor was with him as a senior aide.

Checks within the ruling party on Friday revealed massive horse-trading and in-fighting over who should get what in the new cabinet being put together by the new team in charge of the state.

Major appointments earlier announced by the new governor have run into controversies.

Folasade Jaji, the newly appointed Secretary to the State Government (SSG), is a maternal cousin to the governor.

She is a former Head of Service in the state.

Meanwhile, Governor Sanwo-Olu has announced the appointment of his Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff.

In a statement, on Friday, signed by his Deputy Chief Press Secretary, Mr Gboyega Akosile, Sanwo-Olu named Mr Tayo Ayinde as his Chief of Staff and Mr Gboyega Soyannwo, Deputy Chief of Staff.

Ayinde, an alumnus of Havard Business School, Boston, United States of America and University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, is a former security and intelligence personnel.

He served as chief security detail to former Governor Tinubu from 1999 to 2007.

Ayinde also served as the Director General of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu Independent Campaign Group between 2018 and 2019.

Soyannwo, a seasoned banker, worked in various management capacities between 2005 and 2009, heading various strategic units.

Until the present appointment, Soyannwo was Managing Consultant at Cranbrook Financial Consulting Services.

The appointments take immediate effect.

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