Photograph — Ladun Liadi's blog

Barely a day after the Lagos state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode accused the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola of forestalling some Lagos state road projects, the minister released a statement on the contrary.

“The allegations of lack of cooperation from the Ministry and frustration of Lagos State Government development initiatives are simply not true and the facts do not bear them out…” read the statement released on Thursday by the Minister’s spokesperson, Hakeem Bello. Fashola further stated that the project was dependent on a joint decision and not his.

Governor of Lagos state, Akinwunmi Ambode had on Wednesday complained, at the Lagos state State house, that the only thing standing between Lagos and the complete renovation of the important International airport road, was the Federal Ministry of Works, owing to the fact that, that particular road was a federal government road. His complain took on an accusatory tone, essentially placing the blame at the feet of the Minister for Works.

Hence, Minister for Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola felt compelled to defend himself; and this made the issue personal. However, this isn’t the first time things have boiled over between the two.

This continuing feud between the past and present governors of Lagos state is embarrassing to say the least. It seems they have failed to end this personal tiff from spilling into their political stations. The public got wind of this cold war between the two statesmen when Ambode indicted Fashola in 2015, over a 78 million naira website upgrade scandal that happened under the latter’s watch when he was governor of Lagos state.

Now, it may seem like a repetition of the issues of past administrations in Lagos state, where, due to the deep animosity between Nigeria’s major parties, and Lagos always being unfortunate to be led by the opposition party, federal policies usually tended to go along party lines. However, Ambode and President Muhammadu Buhari both belong to the ruling party, APC and hence decisions should by default favour APC states, President Buhari also confirming that in his first few days in office.

However that is no longer the case as decisions are barely going well for the Lagos government, prompting its Governor to speak out.

Hence, two things are probably involved:

Governor Ambode is trying to force Fashola’s hand

By making that sort of damning statement in public, it seems Ambode has made the first political power play. He, in a way, has placed all the balls in Fashola’s court, to defend why the federal government is reneging on its responsibilities.

For Fashola, it’s personal

“The first telephone conversation the Governor has had with the Minister since May 29, 2015.”

That is an excerpt from the minister’s statement in reply to Ambode’s allegations. Fashola could have simply defended his ministry and the federal government, without mentioning anything personal between the two parties. He has, in a nutshell, turned the rumors about a rift between the two of them into a confession.

Is the public supposed to pity them for not speaking to each other for more than a year? Or I fail to see how a personal call between the two of them should influence a request from Lagos state to assist the federal government in carrying out its own obligation to its citizens. Well, except the Minister expects Ambode to grovel at his feet for the government to do its job (another way to describe lobbying).

The International Airport road (the road linking Oshodi to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport), the infrastructural project which is the reason for this “fight,” is long overdue for repair, and was called “a national embarrassment” by Ambode. As is always the case in Nigeria, when two political heavyweights fight, its the people who suffer. I sincerely hope they put aside their personal differences and reach a consensus favorable to the people of Lagos state.

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