There are times he wears an apparent frown. Still, former Lagos Governor Akinmwunmi Ambode’s expansive smile is an unmistakable feature of his persona, a sign of his delight to give his best in every situation. As the governor of Lagos, he came, he saw, and he conquered. After years of his exit as the governor, some nostalgia has continued to grip Lagosians and many Nigerians for the remarkable Ambode to stage a comeback.
Not a few felt his four years at the helm of affairs were too short for his vision for Lagos’ development. For his passion for infrastructural and human capital development, there were platitudes and praises. Disappointed that he did not get his party’s nod, the APC, to seek a second term in office, many Lagosians have not given up on his second coming.
An overwhelming outpouring of accolades characterized his recent 58th birthday, to sum up, the measure of a man compared only to the legendary late Lateef Jakande, a former Lagos governor himself.
Born on June 14, 1963, Ambode has always personified excellence, diligence, and competence. His exhilarating desire to transform Lagos enthralled everyone as his administration built inner roads across the state’s 57 local councils along with his light-up Lagos projects in 360 streets.
Among his signature projects include the Ikeja bus terminal, Oshodi transport interchange, Oshodi-Airport road expansion, and Ojodu Berger bus terminal. There are also the Institute of Maternal and Child Health (Ayinke House), Abule Egba Jubilee Flyover, Ajah Jubilee Flyover, Aba-Oru flyover, Yaba, and Oyingbo bus terminals.
Regarding some of Ambode’s projects, Osas Osas narrated: “A woman personally went to the tax office to pay her tax after seeing the beautiful bridge Governor Ambode built in Agege. She was surprised. Please, we need you back, sir.”
Those were no mean achievements to many Lagosians, as many of them used his birthday to praise him and push him to do more. One of them, Prince Olawale Babatunde, said, “Happy birthday, my good Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. May God bless you. Please, we want you back in Lagos. Lagos loves you so much. Come back, sir!”
It was a similar thought expressed by Chinedu Charles Chukwu, who stated, “Happy, glorious birthday to you, my amiable governor. God bless your new age. Keep winning, sir. You’re coming back strong, in Jesus’ name.”
The call for his comeback was further amplified by Imasuen Innocent, who said: “Happy birthday, ‘Mr Projects.’ Lagos is on hold since you left. You were simply the best!”
Adebayo Mesioye expressed a similar sentiment, stating: “Happy birthday to you, sir. Man of the people, your achievements still speak volumes in the entire Lagos state. Enjoy your special day, sir.”
Others commended the ex-Lagos governor for his astuteness and audacity in the face of attrition from his party.
Reflecting on that, Afam Ogbogu said, “This is one man I cherish so much. Even with the humiliation given to him by the ‘Oga patapata’ of Lagos, he still kept his cool. Happy birthday, sir, my brother from another mother.”
Nobody who truly desires a greater Lagos begrudges Ambode’s legacy. From the outpouring of praises, not a few seek his return. They believe he has earned their trust.
“Respect, sir. Congrats. You put in your best,” noted Adewuyi Akinbami regarding Ambode. Specifically, others commended him for transforming their locality.
“Happy birthday to you, the man of the people that turn Epe into small London. May God Almighty always be with you anywhere you are, in Jesus’ name,” said Bolanle Olanrewaju.
Ogedengbe Sunday described Ambode as a leader gifted with perspicacity, describing him as “the governor that knows what to do at the right time to make Lagos a megacity.”
He added, “One with God is the majority. Happy birthday to you, sir.”
There is so much to say about Ambode borne out of facts, figures, and fervour. It is not a fleet of fancy or an attempt at flattery, instructing Ihimire Ekes Sunday to say: “Happy birthday to an uncommon transformer, a trailblazer, and a visionary leader. God bless you.”
Four years may seem brief in the lifespan of a public officeholder. Former Lagos Governor Ambode gave his all during that period. Among projects he executed in the state are the Freedom Road, Lekki; the bus reform initiatives (820 buses purchased out of 5,000 originally planned); four Lagos theatres – located in Alimosho, Badagry, Epe and Ikeja) and building 21 roads in Alimosho.
The list is endless (the LAKE rice initiative is there to ensure food sufficiency and food security).
Still pained that the APC denied Ambode a second term ticket, Paul Arthur said, “Happy birthday, sir. Evil will surely bow to good. Very soon, your enemies that manifested their true personalities to Nigerians in halting your good work will bow to you in Jesus’ mighty name.”
In his comment, Raymond Osiero wished the governor better days ahead, stating, “Happy birthday to you, sir, visionary leader. God bless you in your new age.”
Another believer in Ambode, Olagunju Omotayo Abiodun, stated: “The best governor Lagos state ever had after Jakande. (I) will always remember you because, during your tenure as governor, I drove around Lagos with peace of mind without any harassment from any law enforcement agency, especially VIO.”
Kashimawo Ade Adelani considered Ambode as “a great politician. Lagosian will never forget his vision and great works.” While Donald Harris-Uwakwe believes “one day, God will give you another opportunity to serve your people. Happy birthday to a blessed icon of development.”
For many other well-wishers, Ambode is the best governor Lagos ever had as a commenter stated, “Best governor Lagos ever had. If only they allowed him to have a second term. His infrastructural drive within four years was exceptional, though he didn’t get his politics right towards the end of his first tenure. Happy birthday Governor Ambode.”
From Epe to Oshodi to Alimosho, everyone celebrated the ex-governor’s new age but, more important, illustrates Ambode’s undiminishing popularity.
Temidayo Awosipe said, “Congratulations to our former goal-getter governor, whose achievements (people) still speak well of in the Alimosho axis, especially Ikola, AIT/Ota federal road. Happy birthday.” “I can’t forget your excellency,” said Abba Hashimi. “You have done a lot of things in Lagos. God will reward you.”
Bademosi Deji said Ambode “turned Oshodi to London. God bless you, sir.” Similarly, Balogun Nurudeen Babatunde stated: “Happy birthday, sir. God almighty will grant you more fruitful years with sound health. I sincerely appreciate your quick response to develop Epe immediately (after) you were sworn in as governor. History will not forget you, sir.”
Kaka Joseph Olayiwola shared the same sentiment as he wished Ambode a happy birthday: “You make us proud in Epe, and we cannot forget you till you come back and finish your promise.”
Ambode’s versatility is not an act of showmanship in the public square to gain popularity. He has always excelled in all his endeavours as an intrepid accountant, administrator and public finance management expert. He is the CEO of Brandsmiths Consulting Limited – a firm that specialises in public sector financial management. Ambode was formerly the accountant-general of Lagos and held many sensitive financial positions in a 27-year career in the civil service.
It is for his governorship exploits, though, that many Nigerians consider him unforgettable and indomitable. Despite being out of office some years ago, his soaring popularity evidently is not a fluke or some work of media abracadabra.
David Okoro described him as “the man ‘wey sabi,’ the pride of Lagos,” adding, “You will forever be remembered for good works.”
“Happy birthday, my governor for life; much love, sir. You have my prayer and support any day, any time. Enjoy your new age,” said Achadu Abah. Oyedare Kayode considered Ambode as “the best governor” whose “achievements are unmatchable and numerous to count.”
Patience Obazee stated: “Happy birthday to an able governor; I wish you long life and prosperity so that you can come and rule again.”
Okey Odibeli, seeking Ambode’s second coming as Lagos governor, pointed out: “He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day. Congratulations and happy birthday, your excellency.”
“Happy birthday to you, the man of the people. You made Lagosians know that developing infrastructures in Lagos is possible. God bless you, sir. But please, if the powers that be can’t grant you a ticket in APC, join PDP and see the kind of support you’ll get to return as governor,” said Oba Joseph Ifeanyi.
As many offered their best wishes to the erstwhile Lagos governor, one theme in their messages is that of undying popularity, nostalgia, and desire for more development in the hands of one man, Ambode.
Joshua Israel Jonah Odubele put it simply: “Happy birthday, sir, the best-performing governor Lagos state ever had. We are expecting you back for continuity when the cloud is clear.”
So did Oluwatoyosi Odeseye, who stated, “Ambode just needs to contest from another party, and then he will know how much Nigerians still love and want him as their leader. Happy birthday to the people’s governor and leader. May your days be long for good, sir.”
An admirer of Ambode in the North, John Bamidele, also commended the governor: “I am from Kaduna state. Happy birthday to you, sir. May you grow from grace to grace. We monitored your job from here and wished all the governors in Nigeria were like you.”
Adeniji Bolanle focused on Ambode’s compassion and camaraderie, saying: “Happy birthday to (the) number-one governor who showed love and care to my hometown Epe. Long life and glorious years ahead in Jesus’ name.”
Unlike many, Ambode is a ‘prophet’ honoured in his hometown. Funmi Bose testified to that. She stated: “Happy birthday, sir. You indeed brought light to the most abandoned part of Lagos state (i.e. Epe). Please, come back and repair the Badagry expressway.”
Olayinka Oladimeji and Fab Fabito believe Ambode is second only to the late Jakande in turning things around in Lagos.
“Amobode tested and trusted. Lagosians want you back as their governor. Join PDP or any other party or contest as an independent candidate, and you have all our support,” said Fabito. “You are a good man. May God bless you more and more. Happy birthday, to you sir.”
Oluranti Oyesanya said he was not surprised by the ex-governor’s feat, noting that greatness runs in lineage. “The son of my Infant 2 class teacher in 1969 (Mr Festus Ambode) at St Jude’s Primary School, Ebute Metta and one of my best teachers,” said Oyesanya of Ambode. He added, “It is time you take another shot as the next governor of Lagos state, preferably as another party’s candidate. Your father’s clout and success as moulders of several successful generations of high achievers in life would stand for you in good stead and would make your second term possible in Jesus’ name. You deserve this and more for what you achieved during your term as governor. Good luck!”
Nobody knows what the future holds, but Ambode seems destined for greatness as he lives a life of legacy. Two years shy of reaching the diamond jubilee, the former Lagos governor is still a popular figure with a future apparently lit by shining accomplishments.
“Congratulations. We’re expecting you in the future as governor of Lagos state again,” said Kola Fatoye.