Though the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, has spoken, the race has not ended. It has just begun. I have followed the reactions of many Lagosians to Oba Akiolu’s open endorsement of the Former Accountant General of Lagos state, Akinwunmi Ambode for the Governorship of Lagos. The alacrity and suddenness of his endorsement shocked many people. Many have criticized him for such brazenness and others are already plotting how to deal with him. There are also insinuations in many quarters that he is on an errand sort of.
That there is a hand of Essau and the voice of Jacob, sorry, the voice of Akiolu. Again, Bola Tinubu is being fingered to be behind the message so brazenly delivered.
I, however, beg to differ. Those that share this position do not know Tinubu well enough. If they do, they will know that he holds his cards close to his chest. A political generalissimo, he never pulls the chestnut out of the fire until the last moment. He distracts to surprise. He waits to pounce. He hibernates to be able to spring a surprise. Such are his ways. He weighs every option carefully and never plays his hand too soon because he knows that will give his detractors enough time and ammunition to attack. For him, the surprise element is an asset as risky as it may be.
Back to Oba Akiolu’s endorsement. Here is my take. We are in a democratic setting. Lagosians have become more politically savvy but that should not deny anyone the right to exercise his freedom of speech. Akiolu has expressed an opinion that is well within his rights to express. He may have done it in a crude and unexpected manner with the timing suspect, but there is no denying him the right to do so.
All this talk about Obas not being involved with politics is hogwash. All Obas are leg and neck deep in politics. Politicians seek and court their support for electoral victory and to solve problems. Akiolu’s idea about the man that is good for Lagos will be tested come February 2015. Lagosians will choose who will be the next governor and not Akiolu. He has had his say. The people will have their way.
We must give Akiolu a pass. Lagos has become a country within a country. It is the biggest prize after the center. It is attractive. AKiolu;s love for Lagos must have driven him to want the best qualified man for Lagos, even though what he announced publicly ought to have been left for the privacy of his palace. There is no faulting his love for Lagos.
The APC will still hold primaries and I urge all that come from within the zone to see Akiolus’s statement as a challenge. They must come out and compete and not close shop. If they simply close shop because of what Akiolu said, then that means in the first place, they lacked the courage and temerity to contest and to govern Lagos. Against all odds, let’s have all of them at the track and at the starting point.
The months ahead will be interesting. These permutations will change. New alignments will emerge. Even Oba Akiolu’s feet which now seems set in wet cement may soon soften. Ambode, now the front runner, has his job cut out. He will soon realize that an Akiolu endorsement will not be enough for him to get the trophy. The Lion of Bourdillon has only hummed and not said a word. It’s amazing how people attribute so much to him and also swear by what they do not know. His silence right now should worry the contenders while it should give we the voters hope. The APC owes Lagos and the country transparent primaries in Lagos to set the tone for other countries.
While the dust of Akiolu’s statement might take a while to settle, the clouds of the gubernatorial battle in Lagos must begin to gather. Akiolu spoke his mind; for that we cannot crucify him. But we may disagree. The fact that we disagree with him also means we have our own candidate. The only difference is that he is a powerful Oba. We take solace in the knowledge that it is only God who appoints kings.
By Alfred Lawson
a media relations officer, writes from Lagos