This is why Sanwo-Olu can't blame Ambode for the kind of Lagos he inherited

Behind the scenes, Lagos Gov Jide Sanwo-Olu wishes he inherited a better Lagos from Ambode; but he can't criticize his predecessor in public.

Ambode played host to bitter rival Sanwo-Olu in his office after the elections  (Lagos state house)

Sanwo-Olu, who was sworn-in to oversee the affairs of a chaotic city on May 29, 2019, is battling a host of infrastructure woes.

The roads have collapsed in most parts, flash floods are a daily menace in the lives of Lagosians, the perennial Lagos traffic--not helped by potholes popping up everywhere--appears to have become worse on Sanwo-Olu’s watch and the public is more agitated and restive by the day, with most residents taking to the social media space and the governor’s online pages, to vent their spleen.

Now, aides and friends of the governor have told Pulse that behind the scenes, Sanwo-Olu blames Ambode for the mess he inherited and which has to put up with daily.

“Is it possible for a city to stop functioning just 4 months after one governor hands over to another? For people who are blaming Sanwo-Olu, they need to reflect on that question for a minute.

"The truth is, Sanwo-Olu inherited an almost empty coffer from Ambode and the roads had been collapsing before Sanwo-Olu was sworn in. What the governor is looking for at the moment is the capital to start fixing the city. Ambode really did us dirty,” one top aide of Sanwo-Olu told Pulse on condition of anonymity because he had not been authorized to go public with the comments.

A close friend of Sanwo-Olu shared snippets of a private conversation he had with the governor, with Pulse. “He is very concerned about the rot the city has become. He stays awake thinking of how best to get Lagos working again. 

“One morning, during a private meeting, he told me that Ambode left him with nothing to build upon. When I asked him why he isn’t letting the public know this, he reminded me of what I thought of (or of what some Nigerians thought of) President Buhari and members of his administration blaming former President Goodluck Jonathan soon after the APC succeeded the PDP at the center.

"He says he doesn’t want to be that. That he doesn’t want the public to see him as someone who is blaming the administration before his. He doesn’t want to be seen as passing the buck. That is why he doesn’t blame Ambode in public,” this friend told Pulse. 

Top friends and aides of Sanwo-Olu who pleaded anonymity for this story, said the Lagos governor has refused to change his car since he assumed his new role. “He’s still using the car he was using during the electioneering campaigns. He asks us why he should change his car when Lagos is still this messed up.

"He is also using the same phone number he’s been using as a private citizen. He says he doesn’t want to complicate his life further and still wants people to be able to reach him directly,” another close friend of Sanwo-Olu shared with Pulse.  

Ambode has twice shunned invitations from the Lagos House of Assembly for allegedly flouting procurement laws during his reign.

The lawmakers have threatened to serve him with an arrest warrant if he continues to disobey their summons. 

The former governor is also being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for an alleged N10billion fraud.

However, Ambode had said he "will never be involved in any unauthorized use of government property and resources."

This week, Mr. Olusegun Banjo, a former commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget in Lagos, told state lawmakers that Ambode did not carry members of his cabinet along with the purchase of 820 buses.

Lawmakers have long held that Ambode flouted due process laws with the purchase. 

Banjo alleged that Ambode ignored laid down public procurement regulations and that he “was not transparent...and a lot of things were done without the knowledge of the commissioners.”

Banjo added that “the way the ministry was structured (under Ambode), it did not allow us to function well.

“The N24bn did not come to my ministry. We didn’t have a running system. As a commissioner, I could not approve one Naira. All the MDAs approached the governor directly.

“I don’t know what happens to unbudgeted funds when it comes because the ministry of finance does not inform my ministry; we don’t have a running system."

There was no love lost between Ambode and Sanwo-Olu in the run up to the Lagos APC primary election of 2018. 

Ambode, who had at the time lost the support of party chieftains and godfathers as he chased a re-election bid, accused Sanwo-Olu on the stump of spending some time in jail in the United States after splurging fake dollar bills at a nightclub.

He also accused Sanwo-Olu of checking into Rehab in the past. 

Sanwo-Olu had denied that he did any of those things.

Ambode’s spokesperson, Habib Aruna, did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this story. Calls placed to his mobile phone had not been answered before this story was published. 

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