Or should I have just titled this piece: ‘Unlike Ambode, Unlike Aregbesola’ or ‘Like Ambode, Unlike Aregbesola’? I decided to pick my title to avoid mischief and set the records straight. Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is the governor of the State of Osun while Mr Akinwunmi Ambode is the governor of Lagos state. Both Osun and Lagos are part of what is politically referred to as south-west.
Before taking a further look at these two personalities, maybe we should quickly consider their differences. At least we know that their differences would aide us into knowing their similarities and why the title was chosen.
A closer, critical look at Aregbesola shows he is not dark (we can effectively call him fair). He is slim and has remained so (ever since the days of the struggle for a better Nigeria). Ogebni, even though has become a governor of a state, still has the ‘struggle’ running in his vein and as a result, calling him a comrade should not be out of place. He was a former commissioner in Lagos state. This governor became the first opposition to take over government in the state at a time Osun was still creeping in the dark. Maybe finally, Aregbesola seems to be enjoying a God-given, people-friendly second term.
On the other hand, Ambode could well be described as chubby (forgive me Your Excellency), ever smiling (I have never seen him frown even in the face of this daunting task of taking charge of the most sophisticated and most populated state in Nigeria). Though in his first term yet, he is not a ‘comrade’ as the rights activists would want to describe themselves, but this soft-spoken man from Epe sure fought the battle for the emancipation of Lagos especially from the draconian rule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which was at the centre when Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the national leader of the now ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), was the governor of Lagos state. He is in a state that has never tasted the PDP.
For those who may not have known it, Ambode was part of the team that helped to shore up the internally generated revenue of the state at a time President Olusegun Obasanjo placed a seal on federal allocations to Lagos. This happened for many months based on the simple fact that then Governor Tinubu decided to break the state into local council development areas. Today it is known that the Tinubu example is being replicated all over the country.
When Aregbesola took over power in the State of Osun from Olagunsoye Oyinlola after a legal tussle that seriously tested the integrity of the judiciary, the major task was that of rebuilding a state from the scratch. Nothing seemed to be working, there was a huge debt and the people of the state were disgruntled. It was a headache. But Ogbeni was resolute and determined. When Ambode took over Lagos from Babatunde Fashola, there was a challenge. Of course, Lagos earns big from internally generated revenue; that was not all that matters. There was the need to know what to do and when to do what to do.
Asiwaju Tinubu stressed the point recently: “I was worried hell when you (Ambode) took over, not about your credibility, character or capacity, but because however wise or smart a man is, if there is no resources to back the ideas, production would be zero, progress would be zero. When you (Ambode) took over, I know you inherited a burden of debt. The debt profile of Lagos was high, I was wondering how you will reengineer and face the challenges to make progress.”
Maybe we can now successfully say they both started from a point where the need to make things straight was paramount.
Immediately he hit the ground, Aregbesola declared a state of emergency on schools. His belief is that the growth and progress of any state is measured through the level of enlightenment and education of its residents. He started turning schools into gigantic structures to make learning a comfortable experience. The government under Aregbesola refurbished over 1,534 classroo