Let us just say that it would continue to be a mystery to his likes even well after the gubernatorial election would have been won and lost. But we should ask, since when did the “indigene hurdle” and “patrilineal relationship” become critical determinants of who becomes Governor of Lagos State? Some things, as this once-upon-a-time operative of the Lagos State Government should know, are better left unsaid. Truth is that, where one’s father comes from has never been a fundamental enhancer or fatal hindrance to mounting the gubernatorial saddle in Lagos. What matters is the level of one’s commitment and contribution to the well being and progress of the state. And Dr. Femi Hamzat’s qualifications in this regard have never been in doubt.
It is interesting that Dapo Thomas sought to anchor his write-up on the emergence of the next Governor of Lagos State, which appeared last Sunday in some newspapers, on the determinant agency of divine intervention. Indeed, it is true as the Scriptures teach us that “God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform”. Yet, the same “unseen hand” that the writer alludes to, which intervenes in the positive choice of who becomes Governor also reserves the exclusive right to determine the negative choice of who will not be. We are not aware that the said unseen hand has transferred that right to a certain Dapo Thomas such that he can now feign to proclaim magisterially on who will not be Governor of Lagos State in 2015. Which was what he sought to do in his write-up under reference.
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In between making specious claims and engaging in childish pranks, Mr. Thomas also takes time off to pronounce some categorical falsehoods and proclaim bizarre logic. Hear him: “The plan of APC to become a major rallying point for all progressives nationwide can only be realized if Lagos regains the high political tempo witnessed under Tinubu. As at now, the (sic.) Lagos under Fashola has lost its political steam. The entire environment is not business-friendly for those who live on politics. Those who feed and live on political entertainment are moving to Osun and Ekiti where there is market for their business”.
Indeed, it has been the unique good fortune of Lagos State to aggregate the energies of people from far and near in composing an entity that has become the most progressive member of the constituent states that make up the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Local and international ratings continue to attest copiously to this fact.
Speaking of Oba Olatunji Hamzat, whose parental association is now being touted as a disabler of his son’s purported ambition, let us go back a bit in history. It is a fact that much of the initial foundation for the transport infrastructure of Lagos State was laid by the same Olatunji Hamzat during his tenure as Commissioner thirty years ago. And it continues to be a sore point of debate what the fortunes of Lagos could have been today if the Metroline Project, which he initiated under the forward looking leadership of his principal, Alhaji Lateef Jakande had been allowed to see the light of day. If some people do not have the good grace to show gratitude they should at least desist from peddling bad blood about fellow citizens who have served Lagos State well. But Thomas did not stop his pull-him-down hatchet job there. He goes further to add that: “The speculation in town is that Femi Hamzat enjoys the backing of (Governor) Fashola. This may be understandable. While I do not intend to deny him (BRF) the right to give his support to whoever he desires, I will only admonish him to tread softly. There is no need to create fresh tension between him and Tinubu. As the symbolic leader of the progressives and a major financier of the APC, Tinubu should be given the privilege of having a major input in who becomes the APC candidate, and in fact, who becomes the next governor of the state. For now, it will be a great honour to Tinubu if Lagos State becomes his operational base and political stronghold.”
If this doubting Thomas had left his intervention at the level of the ethereal, matters would have been easy to dispose of. No one, except the Almighty God, can quarrel with someone who claims to be speaking for the Supreme Being. Our country is today awash with so many fake prophets and the political season is a time when they do brisk business by bamboozling the unwary and the inordinately ambitious with false prophesies. So the right of Mr. Thomas to mount the pulpit and try to pass himself off as a seer is not in doubt insofar as his clients are willing to be sucked in and to pay handsomely for his services. In these climes, spiritual charlatanism had for long been a dubious but highly lucrative calling with mass followership, well before Wole Soyinka wrote his Brother Jero plays.
Yet, there should be a limit to intellectual vagrancy that seeks to masquerade itself as political soothsaying. After attempting a feeble appraisal of the field of supposed aspirants, Thomas plays his hand openly in the write-up when he declares that, “The only odd person on the list (of aspirants) is Femi Hamzat. He is a Prince from Ogun State. His father, Oba Olatunji Hamzat, a former commissioner in Jakande’s government, is the Olu of Afowowa Sogaade in Ewekoro Local Government Area”. He continued, “How he intends to scale through the indigene hurdle – normally determined by patrilineal relationship – despite his obvious relationship with the Olu of Afowowa is a mystery to me.”
This is a most devious line that seeks to stoke the fires of a quarrel that does not exist. Has Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a political leader who has proven quite capable of taking care of issues, complained to Thomas that he is being denied “the privilege of having a major input in who becomes the … next governor of the state”? As far as we know, Asiwaju Tinubu and his worthy successor share a common interest in ensuring that whoever takes over from Fashola should be someone who can continue with the good work started by Tinubu and carried forward by Fashola over the past decade-and-a-half or so. If for whatever reason known to both men they have arrived at a convergence of choice and that choice seems to be pointing to Dr. Femi Hamzat so be it. There can be no profit in seeking to create a casus belli between both men where none exists, except for those elements that the Yoruba people would call arije nidi madaru. We sincerely hope that Mr. Thomas does not desire to be numbered amongst such an ignoble cast.
In between making specious claims and engaging in childish pranks, Mr. Thomas also takes time off to pronounce some categorical falsehoods and proclaim bizarre logic. Hear him: “The plan of APC to become a major rallying point for all progressives nationwide can only be realized if Lagos regains the high political tempo witnessed under Tinubu. As at now, the (sic.) Lagos under Fashola has lost its political steam.
Obviously, the limited encounters to which Thomas was exposed while he was in the service of the state government may have fuelled a delusion that he could speak with authority on goings-on in the inner circles of Lagos politics. Who told him that Hakeem Gbajabiamila was ever in strong consideration as Tinubu’s successor? The ways of power can indeed be inscrutable, but no one can deny the fact that the choice of Babatunde Raji Fashola as successor has proven to be the crowning glory of Asiwaju Tinubu’s gubernatorial ascendancy in Lagos State. A political culture and corresponding structure is being built to power Lagos State into fulfilling its nomenclature as the country’s Centre of Excellence. Lagosians must be wary that desperadoes like Thomas and his paymasters do not scuttle the carefully charted path to transforming their state into a modern and prosperous industrial democracy anchored on harnessing the abundant energies of an emergent mega city. Mr. Thomas’s choice of what prefix to attach to each of the names of the people he claims are currently eyeing the Alausa seat betrays his bias and possibly tells us a lot about who paid how much for what write-up. In a society obsessed with bloated dignitarianism based on honorific titles, it is revealing that House Speaker Adeyemi Ikuforiji is given his proper title as Hon. and Ganiyu Solomon and Gbenga Ashafa are referred to as Senator while Dr. Leke Pitan, arguably one of the brightest physicians to superintend the Health Ministry in the history of Lagos State, has his title missing while Dr. (Engr.) Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat, a Ph.D holder in Systems Engineering is simply Mr. Femi Hamzat. However, it is instructive to remind Thomas that such sneaky put-downs are ultimately futile. The packed field of aspirants from which the incumbent Governor, simply Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola was chosen as candidate was heavily populated with professors, engineers and the like and yet he emerged!
How an environment that is “not business-friendly for those who live on politics” becomes a bad thing is perhaps clear only to Mr. Thomas and his ilk of jegudu jera politicians. He claims that those who feed on “political entertainment” are moving to areas “where there is market for their business”! Haaa!!! The truth of course is that those engaged in real business that promotes the progress of society are doing quite fine under the present dispensation as the stupendous growth in infrastructure and quantum leaps in the internally generated revenue of Lagos State continue to show.
Let us conclude by noting that the great cities of today are those that continue to de-emphasize primordial considerations and ascriptive tendencies in favour of achievement-oriented principles in their choice of leaders. The Anglo-Dutch origins of the city of New York are not in doubt but it was the Jews that turned it into the commercial capital of the world. The Irish antecedents of the city of Boston was deep but it was the WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) influence that elevated it into the educational hub that it has become today, home to the world-famous Harvard University and many other high brow institutions. The percentage of aboriginal Emirati in the city of Dubai is not nearly enough to explain the extensive prosperity of that city which is today one of the fastest growing metropolis in the world. What all this tells us is that the great cities are those that creatively use the energies and endowments of indigene and settler alike to drive towards prosperity. Above all, we all need to be careful about how far we go in tracing origins when it comes to the politics of Lagos State. Centuries-old migratory patterns and even more recent population shifts should caution us that we could be presented with some rather interesting disclosures as to who comes from where even amongst the current cast of gubernatorial aspirants not to talk of past and present leaders of the state! Lastly, let it be known that hagiography procured through stealth and filthy lucre can only invite its own commensurate nemesis. A word, as they say, should be enough for the wise.
by Adewole Joseph
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