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TMCNet:  Ambode, silent friend of the poor [Sun, The (Nigeria)]

[July 26, 2014]

Ambode, silent friend of the poor [Sun, The (Nigeria)]

(Sun, The (Nigeria) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Volumes have been rumoured, written, discussed, and learnt about the man Akinwunmi Ambode, a passionate public service treasure who, to quite many, came into limelight when he rose to serve meritoriously as Accountant General of Lagos State in 2005. Yet, a lot of people still need some lecture about the actual essence of the iconic figure among Homo Sapiens.


Many of  his ilk are not easily given to making noise about their achievements, even though such deserve outstanding mention in history books. They prefer to remain literally in the dark and do more in contributing more to making mankind better than they met them. This accounts for why I have kept my lips sealed while many tried to unveil the little they know about Akin – as many are wont to call him.

From what many of us know about him – either in Epe, his Lagos country home, in the city or outside the country – one fact remains indubitable: Describing him is like describing an elephant. Your description depends on the part of the animal you  see and observe.

Beyond being an astute financial resources manager, Akin is an avid believer in the school of thought that sees the welfare of man as the focal point of every human endeavor. And this is one vital aspect of him that has remained shrouded in secrecy to those who unfortunately, have not had the privilege of getting close to him.

Back in his salad days in Epe, young Ambode was obsessed with sharing his meals, however meagre, with friends. Yes, he would not hide and eat alone at a corner in his parents' confines, thanks to his upbringing by a parentage that was, from foundation, rooted firmly in selflessness.

His late father, though a teacher, whose proverbial reward was "in heaven" then, was said to have endeared himself to virtually everyone in the community with his  penchant to part with whatever he had – money, shoes and clothes inclusive.

Can anybody correctly estimate the number of sons and daughters of needy families that have been enjoying his scholarships and his  sundry forms of   philanthropy? I doubt if there is any! A friend once jocularly told me when he was Managing Consultant/CEO of  Brandsmiths Consulting Limited, a public finance and management consulting outfit with remarkable marks in public sector administration, he threw his doors ajar for even the wretched of the earth, to the extent that he felt within him that Akin signed a pact with God to spend his life sharing love with the less-privileged.

Certainly not for him the ongoing crazy inclination towards acquiring wealth that has continued to threaten human existence especially in our dear land.

Though not a politician in the pedestrian sense of the "title," Akin, from all  indications, seems to share in the immortal contention of the renowned sage, Late Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo (GCFR). The welfarist lawyer-born politician once said "Politicians are born, not made. Anyone who has not the stomach for the railings of the masses but who is only interested in their occasional hosannas has no right into public life." In a similar vein, another politician of the welfarist fold cum business giant,  Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola of blessed memory, once disclosed why he was head over heels in "blind" love with the poor all his life. He explained: "I know the music that plays in the belly of the hungry. It's usually unpleasant." Akin's best of friends, as I have seen in the attitude of the accounting czar, are those who would not hesitate to sacrifice an eye to see that the hoi polloi around them are rescued from the morass of want, oppression and exploitation.

"What is the essence of somebody amassing all the wealth he can lay his hands on, build countless empty houses with innumerable posh automobiles which, for months, remain useless in garages when millions don't know where the next meal would come from?", he once asked at a gathering in New York. It was back in the late 90s.

It can be truly said that by birth, Akin and I share no relationship. Neither did I attend St. Jude's Primary School, Ebute Metta, Lagos Mainland, Federal Government College, Warri and the University of Lagos with him. But it is a naked truth that he has proved to be the epitome of altruism, which should be an overriding pre-occupation of the well-heeled few amidst us today.

It's perhaps understandable that the heavens went jubilant recently when the rumour filtered out that the Epe homeboy would likely throw his heart into the ring for the forthcoming governorship contest in the state.

Even since, the thrust of virtually every political discourse on the topic has been hinged on some posers: If the All Progressives Congress (APC), in its wisdom, fields Ambode, who and who are the other parties likely to field against Ambode in the election? Do they have the clout to face him given his "intimidating" credentials, especially as a tested and trusted public servant? Many keen observers have since been quick to submit with some modicum of reliability that it would not only be foolhardy for any aspirant, however rich, to enter the ring with the quintessential servant, but it would amount to sheer waste of resources and precious time on his part.

"The gladiators among ardent lovers of continuity in the ongoing development and all-round prosperity of Lagos State will likely queue behind Ambode for what he represents to discerning minds. He is a man with Spartan self discipline and legendary penchant for the upliftment of his world, especially his fellowmen. Lagosians are too wise to allow any opportunities to have Ambode serve them with his God-given endowments pass them by," an observer once said.

Even to the doubting Thomasses, it is crystal clear that in the past 15 years, those who have been steering the ship of the state have placed it steadily on the super highway of unbroken forward match. It will be too calamitous of a risk to allow an amateur driver to swerve the ship to the often congested traffic lane to stall  the state's development.

Here, I strongly believe, lies the strength of the inclination of those who tenaciously believe that Akin Ambode is the man who can judiciously wield the baton of sane leadership after incumbent Governor Babatunde Fashola in the interest of Lagosians.

  •Williams writes from Surulere in Lagos   (c) 2014 The Sun Publishing Limited. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

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