By Fredrick Ambusa, reporting from Abuja
From the United States came the telephone call from Aliu Ibrahim, retired Navy Captain with the United States Navy extolling the leadership qualities of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on receipt of the news of his handshake with his political son, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Thursday, June 29, 2023, in Lagos, during a reception held for him by the people of the State. “It is unbelievable”, he says, adding “Now I know why Nigerians voted for him as President!” He went on to explain that the bond of unity and much-desired peace which somehow eluded the Tinubu camp has now been restored and everyone is happy. “I can tell you, Tinubu has won my heart; I didn’t like him before, but now at this level and matured display, I am for him”, he declared, stating that his adult children were the first to draw his attention as the historic event unfolded in Nigeria. “They are celebrating as we speak now,” he concluded.
Mr Akinwunmi Ambode was President Bola Ahmed Tinubu political godson who went on to become governor of Lagos State between 2015 and 2019. As a result of some strange political tiff, Ambode was unable to secure a second term ticket, a stark contrast to general belief. No one knew what precipitated the crisis in the first instance, but the heat generated by the fallout forced Ambode to the sidelines and this was so for the next four years! While it lasted stakeholders knew that there was an uneasy calm until it got to a tipping point! “You could tell that something was not right”, said Jimoh Abu, an Abuja-based APC faithful. “We all prayed for everyone to bury the hatchet and for peace to return, because Ambode is our son, and he belongs to the Tinubu political family”.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of the State had broken the ice when he visited Ambode on his 60th birthday celebration at home. And once the first wave of photos taken, hit social media, the state erupted in joy. The spontaneity of the celebration, explains in one language that this was a well-deserved visit! The celebration soon spread to other parts of the country. “This is the first time, I am seeing both the APC, PDP, and Labour Party stalwarts rejoicing over an event”, said Christopher Irabor, an Abuja-based Journalist. “It is rare; this one is unprecedented; it shows this is what the people long for”, he stated. That, Sanwo-Olu was able to broker peace says much about his leadership qualities. “Really, he deserves a huge pat on the back”, declared a keen observer of the process.
The unprecedented celebration that greeted the photos nationwide tells the whole story. Sanwo-Olu followed that up by ensuring the cordial relationship between Ambode and Fashola returned. “The guy knows that he needed this path to grow the State”, the stakeholder affirms. And now the final icing on the cake! ‘That statement by the President that he is glad to see Akin carries enormous punch”, said Samuel Idoko, an Abuja-based photographer. He explained that President Tinubu places much emphasis on enduring relationship. “He likes people; he doesn’t pretend and has no enemy either; you can see what he has done by embracing his political son”, he says. Suddenly, a misunderstanding that dragged on for years was over in a flash with one simple master stroke. This is a credit to the perseverance of all the parties involved.
Indeed, Nigerians deserve to move forward speedily with all hands on deck to restore the prestige of the nation. ‘There was never any need for quarrel in the first place”, agreed a fellow who doesn’t want his name in print. “I am really delighted and relieved that this bitter period is now past tense”. The pictures of the three prominent men of Lagos State and that of the president are arguably part of what is needed to forge ahead at this crucial time of rebuilding a nation left in shambles. “You could tell, judging from the massive celebration, that it was something long expected. “Tinubu has shown that he is human after all, his prestige here in the United States has really soared”, said the ex-Naval officer who went on to salute the courage of both Sanwo-Olu and Ambode for what he called ‘their huge sacrifice for the State’ “This settlement is more for the people, for the peace of the land and for the President to complete the healing process with his now famous words “glad to see you Akin!”, he concluded.