Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode is a gentleman. A fine one at that who also takes his job seriously and does it with passion.
Queue the tape at the point where he signed his Land Use Act on March 8, 2018 and you see the wobbling trajectory of a confused technocrat turned political warhead.
After two of his Commissioners were told to go get new ideas about how not to show that 400% increase in any taxes is not outrageous, he came out the day after, chesting out, riding on his well-deserved high rating and accolades, to do it by himself.
In tow was a mature packaged audience of sort, neither of civil servants nor of political stewards (to use Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s vocabulary in all his books) as others would, but one made of the Dangotes of this world who you and I know are birds of all weather. They were to reason along whenever His Excellency said anything deserving or answer ‘yeess’ or ‘noo’ to his rhetoric questions which politicians ask when they run short of ideas.
They clapped when he said ‘Jagaban’ (The Capone) slept on duty for eight years. They also clapped when he said Tunde Fashola (well, …. quite understandably) too slept on duty all through. For that is the only translation to his charge that for 15 years “nobody reviewed the land use taxes as required by law”. In all of those fifteen years, according to him, nobody remembered to increase (review) land use taxes as stipulated in the law. All he did now was just to dust up the papers, reworked it in tune with all due process and current realities. And now some social media miscreants have successfully taken over the media space to dust him and his initiatives.
Point No 1: Mr. Ambode had, wrongly, thought he had all media (you can only settle orthodox media, not all social media inclusive) under his armpit. He was dazed when explosion came by way of social media. Unexpectedly!
His Excellency wondered how anybody would use a rise from N1,200 to N5,000 to justify “what they call 400% increase”. Imagine! And bla bla bla….
I was not there at his ‘Lagos-means-business’ show but not less than 10 of my contacts (mischievious friends you would say) sent a short 4.5minutes clip of the show to me.
He said three significant things of note. One: that what looks like 400% increase does not affect poor people which many Lagosians are. Lie. He is an accountant, not an economist, so he can be forgiven for saying 400% increase on N1,200 amounts to nothing.
Two: that the people who would truly pay heavy fines (sorry ‘taxes’) are not more than 300. And three, that “that is how it is done everywhere in the world”.
Mr. Ambode has not said he has a list of those ‘not more than 300’. I guess he does. He did not say they are not in APC neither has he mentioned what would happen to them if they default.
That really is where I have my grouse. This Lagos is where we should show others how civilised politics should be played not how it should not be played. Let no one be surprised if ‘those 300’ are found among those in opposing camp or political opposition. Wanna take a bet?
That the Governor is anxious to explain his ways is commendable. But he has Lagosians to thank for even engaging in dialogue with him regardless that he lied his way through. Point is, he is a good hand. Imagine if it was one Yeye Bello somewhere that calls for such dialogue if anyone would listen to him. That is where his good rating works for him. And believe me he has learnt a little lesson from that last week’s gra-gra.
Hardworking alright but we the people pick up his feeding and his living expenses. So he is no longer in tune with what it takes to be confronted with vehicle registration increase from N30,000 to N100,000. Or license renewal from N7,000 to M30,000, all at the same time.
It is good for Governor Ambode that he is made to moderate himself slightly and it is hoped he will go back to his drawing board to moderate himself on implementation modalities lest he knows the stuff of which Lagosians are made especially in an election year.
Well done, my Action Governor. That is how democracy works.