The All Progressives Congress, APC, Lagos State governorship candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode, says he is not a stooge of the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as being insinuated in some quarters.
He also cautioned Lagosians against giving their mandate to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate, Jimi Agbaje, who he said wants to experiment with Lagos as he has no experience in governance.
Ambode, in an interview on Tuesday said his profile speaks for him and that he is more than qualified to become the governor of Lagos State, having been in the state’s public service for 27 years.
He said a lot of people have been asking him whether he is Tinubu’s stooge, but that his reply had always been that he is never a stooge to anybody.
“A lot of people have been asking me that question. You have gone through my profile, I am a competent person on my own. I have the capacity to be the governor of Lagos State. I have the character to be the governor of Lagos State. I have been serving Lagos and serving people for close to 30 years now. I have not known anything than serving people.
“So, if it is in terms of having a strong leader as the governor of Lagos State, I am qualified to be that person. Let us leave that aside, there is no issue about being a stooge; we must give credit to whom credit is due and we need to talk about it here. A true test of a good leader is when he is able to choose good successors and sacrifice himself to say that rather than being there, I will always find good successors to carry on with the vision of making Nigeria a prosperous country,” he said.
Ambode said credit must be given to Tinubu for always coming up with good successors that have done the nation proud in all aspects, adding that leaders such as Tinubu were scarce to come by in the nation.
“So, if we find in Asiwaju Bola Tinubu that leadership quality, which is so scarce in the political landscape, of being able to choose people, stand by them and support them, we must give him that credit. In 2007, against all odds, when he decided to stand by Governor Raji Fashola against other aspirants, we all cried out. We asked him ‘why will you do it?’ But he stood his ground because he knew what he saw. Eight years down the road, we are all -these same set of people who said Fashola was Tinubu’s stooge- crying and shouting, Fashola is the best thing that has ever happened to Nigeria.”
According to Ambode, Tinubu was the same man who stood by governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun); Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and that these states are better off now in terms of development than before these governors took over, because a good leader stood by them.
“The man has the knack to always choose good achievers and he will sacrifice himself. He is standing by Buhari now and Osinbajo. Nigerians are excited that this is an alternative to Jonathan. Let us give such leaders their due credit. But beyond that, I have that vision and leadership quality to take Lagos State to the next level. So we are nobody’s stooge,” he stated.
On the seeming threat posed by Agbaje to his governorship ambition, Ambode waved it aside, saying he believes with the support of the people, he would be elected governor on 28 February.
“There are 15 gubernatorial candidates contesting the coming governorship election in Lagos, according to INEC, and Jimi Agbaje happens to be one of them. There are 14 of them contesting against me. You will recall that during the primaries, there were 12 aspirants who contested against me and many did not give me any chance. But I came out victorious. This is not going to be different, but let us even narrow it down that the competition is between APC and PDP.
“Jimi Agbaje has been here for a while. I hear people say he has been in politics for the past 20 years, but here is a man who has never had any political appointment or has never had any political victory; here is a man who does not have structure, here is a man who is just up for experiment. Does he have the passion or is it just a motive?
“He has never had any major contribution to the upliftment of Lagos State, even in his political history. What has he really done that we can say this is his contribution to Lagos State? I have done that for 27 years and I am ready to do it for another four years,” he said.
Ambode said Agbaje had been moving from one party to the other and finally settled in a conservative party, PDP, to realise his ambition.
“This is a man that has moved from being a progressive to becoming a conservative. It is just too clear he moves from one political party to the other to seek his interest, not a passion to serve. For him, what matters is ‘I want to be a governor at all cost.’ He moved from APC to DPA, from DPA to PDP and from Afenifere. Afenifere is a progressive movement, so when you have somebody who is a progressive in Afenifere going to PDP, you start asking, is it about motive or is it his passion for Lagos? What are his credentials that he has done something for Lagos State or he just wants to become one of the gubernatorial aspirants? He is just one of those aspirants, he does not have a structure here,” he stated.
According to Ambode he is coming into governance because he has the passion to serve Lagos State, reiterating that he has toiled for 27 years to serve the people of the state.
“We are coming up because we have passion for Lagos State. I have toiled all my life, I spent all my career in Lagos State public service. I toiled in it for 27 years, I stood for Lagos State and I am standing for Lagos State. I am passionate about people and their issues; how do I help them? That is all I am about, I am here for people and people will choose us,” he said.
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