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Whatever decision Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode eventually takes on his botched or controversial second term, he will have to rue the saying “what goes around comes around”. Four years ago, others got disappointed by the godfather so that he, Ambode, could be appointed, as it were. While others were kicking, wailing, moaning, and mourning like “Wailing Wailers”, to quote my brother Femi Adesina, Ambode was grinning from ear to ear; together with his supporters, associates, friends, and family, they were dancing, back-slapping, and in celebration mood and mode. Scriptures cannot be faulted: there is a time and season for everything under the sky; time to be happy and rejoice and time to be unhappy and weep. Others wept four years ago while Ambode and company celebrated. Now it is Ambode’s turn to run helter-skelter; it is his turn to be sad and to weep. This life is also exactly as Gen. Mamman Vasta, looking death straight in the face via the firing squad, described it: Turn by turn and up and down. Another lesson to learn is that the business of godfather and godson is very dangerous. It is like riding on the tiger’s back. The godfather is the tiger while the godson is the rider. The golden rule is simple but equally difficult to keep: The tiger dictates and the rider, if he must continue to ride unmolested and undisturbed, obeys. Otherwise, he is forced to disembark and could end up in the tiger’s belly. We have seen godsons who have turned their godfathers out in the cold even as we have seen rebellious godsons who have been cut to size and shown the gutter from which they were picked, as it were. Smart godsons! Smart godfathers!! Which of Tinubu and Ambode is smarter? At the moment it looks like Tinubu, the wily fox and an old master of the game; unlike Ambode the greenhorn and political novice or neophyte. But even if Tinubu again wins this time around, his stay at the top, having been questioned again and again, is drawing inexorably to a close. Who says the same power game that played out between him and two deputy governors, Kofoworola-Bucknor and Pedro and then with Babatunde Raji Fashola, and now with Ambode, is not waiting to repeat itself with new anointed godson Jide Sanwo-Olu? In all of this, where is “we the people”? You may never know until someone stands up to the tiger. Rather than do, Fashola begged his way out of the problem and got castrated by the Capone and his lieutenants. His second term arising therefrom was lacklustre and a charade. He simply marked time and “ate”. The people were ready to side with Fashola to confront Tinubu but Fashola chickened out of the fight. Some believe Ambode, like Fashola, may still succeed in placating the man who prides himself as “Eko”; meaning that he is Lagos personified.“Eko” is Yoruba word for Lagos. But should Ambode fail – as it seems he has or will – he will have two options: Stand and fight or capitulate without throwing a punch. If he capitulates, the people will lose a second opportunity to try their “People power” against the entrenched interests that have treated the richest State in the country as their personal fiefdom. I do not know Ambode closely enough to be able to say whether or not he has the heart of a fighter. Will he gamble? Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say. Or will he simply acquiesce, stay in his comfort zone, put his head down and “eat” for the remaining months of his tenure, and secure his future, as it were? Ambode is a man who lives in a glass house and must, therefore, not throw stones. Like Peter Tosh, the Jamaican reggae maestro crooned, it is not likely the Lagos governor can take stones. Since this second term crisis broke, information hitherto unknown about Ambode has surfaced. Expect more if he stands to fight. Moreover, the stakes are heavily stacked against him; especially with APC’s control of the Centre and Tinubu’s influence writ large there. Ambode must be a Japanese “kamikaze” to dare a fight, for such venture looks every inch a sure hara-kiri. But remember: Nothing ventured, nothing gained! I once witnessed in one South-west State that what matters to cabals is not performance but deference to political interests and holding the cow down for them to milk. A very brilliant guy head-hunted by the governor from abroad worked tirelessly to turn things around as local government chairman but when the time for second term came, the cabals cut him down despite the governor’s pleas. They said he was busy serving the people and was not putting money in party leaders’ and members’ pockets. Let the people now save him, they taunted. But how can the people come to the rescue, upset, and unseat the cabals when they are not even given the chance to try?
LAST WORD: Did you watch erstwhile US President Barak Obama trending on social media agonising about tainted elections and senseless killings in Nigeria? Will his pleas for change of heart strike the right cord in right places? Time, as they say, will tell.
RE: Ajimobi versus Ayefele
Yours of Sunday Tribune, August 19, 2018 refers. My background as an Urban Planner and a Planning Advocate cannot allow me keep quiet on such issue, more so when there are misconceptions about who is right or wrong between Gov. Ajimobi (the oppressor) and Yinka Aiyefele (the oppressed). My first reaction is about the action the Oyo State Government (OYSG) took by the partial demolition of Yinka Aiyefele’s building for violating the provisions of the building plan approval he obtained from the approving authority and the unapologetic/insensitive public remarks of Ajimobi when he addressed the media about the very unfortunate, but avoidable, incident. From the different stories in the public domain (as told by OYSG officials and Ayefele), the demolition was ill-motivated, unprofessionally done, and reeks of sycophancy from head to toe. Tpl. Waheed Gbadamosi, who is the Special Adviser to Ajimobi on Physical Planning and Urban Development matters, should count himself lucky that he is operating in an environment where things are done at the “whims and caprices” of those in the corridors of power instead of “according to the law.” Tpl. Gbadamosi’s authorisation of Ayefele’s building’s demolition would have earned him a query from his professional association – the Nigerian Institute of Town Planning (NITP) – if the Institute is not a lame duck. He violated all rules/regulations and procedures that would have finally led to the demolition of Aiyefele’s building. With due respect, most Town Planners in Government service are usually protective of their jobs instead of giving candid professional advice to their principals when confronted with a situation such as the one under reference. They also contribute to the chaos and nebulous development of Nigerian cities by granting ridiculous and incompatible development approvals that tend to deface the cities, having been compromised by monetary inducement. Don’t ask me for proof because I know so! I have been a gadfly for over three decades regarding the professional misconduct of Town Planners in the Civil Service. Retired but not tired, I still speak out against malpractices and unethical conducts when the need arises.
To expose Tpl. Gbadamosi’s professional gaffe, a radio station can operate within a building in as much as an approval is obtained from the approving authority. As claimed by OYSG, Ayefele obtained approval to build an office complex, which he did. Within the office complex, a Radio Station is located, among other tenants in the building being used for commercial purpose, not residential. If the location of the radio station is offensive or perceived as incompatible land use, all the OYSG needs to have done is to seal off the radio station office instead of going crazy to demolish the building where the radio station is domiciled. For example, as I write this rejoinder, I am inside the American Planning Association’s “one-of-a-kind” library located at 205 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, USA, an imposing 16-floor building being used by numerous offices, including pro-Trump FOX TV Station, which occupies a conspicuous large space on the ground floor. Assuming FOX TV has no approval to transmit, the Chicago Department of City Planning “dare not” threaten to demolish the entire 16-floor building because of a violation by a sitting tenant inside the building. This is where decorum and rule of law reign supreme, not the arbitrary use of force or crass intimidation by government officials. Tpl. Gbadamosi must go and re-study the subsisting Town Planning regulations in Oyo State (if there is any at all) because this writer did not find one available on their website for public consumption, yet they mouth “e-government.”
As far as Ajimobi is concerned, those tending his public image would need to advise that sometimes, silence is golden and also that constructive criticism is allowed and helpful in a democracy. He cannot continue to kick a man that is already down while also doing the job of his Commissioner for Information in a very wrong way. As a father-figure, Ajimobi must show compassion, not hatred or derision, towards the governed as he did towards Ayefele, no matter the political differences between them both. Ajimobi should act below, not above, the law.
To Yinka Ayefele: He cannot violate development control regulation and expect to get away with it. Nemesis will always catch up with any lawless citizen once there is a new sheriff in town who does not condone lawlessness. Nigerian towns and cities remain parlous and unsustainable because of their lack of urban/environmental orderliness. It counts twice when the environmental woes are caused by what is known in urban planning jargon as “urbicide”- that is “the death of a city at the hands of its own people through the misguided efforts of its officials or the indifference and neglect of its citizens.” Such a situation leads to rapid decline of the cities and a state of urbiphobia – a dread of or dislikes for the city. In present-day Nigeria, the growth in the number of urbiphobes has recently far exceeded the number of urbiphiles, particularly since the rapid environmental degeneration of our cities coupled with the presence of ubiquitous street urchins/area boys and armed robbers. Ibadan is chaotic. Other urban settlements such as Lagos, Onitsha, Enugu, Aba, Kano, Kaduna and Port Harcourt are aberrations of what a city should be. They can easily pass for “glorified slums” by their unwholesome cityscape, lack of order, poor delivery of urban basic services and apologetic urbanism as a way of life. Both the leader and the led are responsible for the malaise. The urban planners are guilty as charged. Because of their lust for filthy lucre, narrow-mindedness, and lack of vision about contemporary urban living, they inadvertently destroy Nigerian cities which they are supposed to make better places to live, work, and play. When people go to Dubai and marvel at the beauty of the city and consider Kigali, Rwanda as the nascent cleanest city in Africa or rate the city-state of Singapore the jewel of Asian cities, it is because of the strict enforcement of their urban planning laws. They don’t allow rascal behaviour. The government has a zero-tolerance for “big-man-ism” and lawlessness, which we find very difficult to eradicate in our own clime. Conversely, our urban planners could be likened to our present crop of politicians who are self-servicing, money-mongers, and a parody of what government should be.
To sum up, Ajimobi was too over-bearing. The governor must give room for opposing views and have a big heart to tolerate the governed and do less of public commentary that could further damage his “not-too-good” public image.” Yinka Ayefele is not a law-abiding citizen. Hence, he cannot turn around and try to seek redress in a court of law when he does not have respect for town planning law. No court will tolerate fraud or indiscipline. He altered his building plan approval without the approval of the designated authority. This should serve as a bitter lesson for him that it is foolhardy to fight when you are not on the right side of the law. Tpl. Waheed Gbadamosi needs a refresher course in Town Planning. He should know that town planning does not start and end with development control and indiscriminate demolition of buildings or overzealousness just to please the ego of his political master. It is incumbent on him to come up with novel planning ideas to transform Ibadan from a rusty urban settlement to a technology-driven “smart city.” He must be seen to “add value'” to urban planning, not just to hold a glorified position as Special Adviser. To all residents of Ibadan city, don’t let your I-don’t-care attitude or action kill your city. Regard the city as a “large community” where everybody cares about the welfare of his or her neighbours. If you see something (bad), say something. Don’t condone bad behaviour. Speak out against bad governance, executive lawlessness, and injustice. The opportunity to make Ibadan a liveable city should be non-negotiable. – Yacoob Abiodun, Urban Planner, Planning Advocate writes from Chicago, Illinois State, USA.