As 2019 electioneering gets near by the day, politicians are playing true to type: raising dust, throwing tantrums, by all means making feverish noise so that they can be heard or be seen to be hurling pebbles at opponents, especially frontrunners that they are unable to slow down.
Those peddling lies about Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s election campaign advert on a London double decker bus and the suggestion that public fund might have been deployed into that exercise deserve a response.
Their lie this time is too cheap and the Nigerian public should be told how cheap these people are.
I see how they have tried in vain to regurgitate a lie, circulating an old photo of one of the campaign adverts that were deployed in London towards Ambode’s election in 2015.
I should know because I was directly involved in the processes that got not just the APC chapter in London involved but also a few pro-Ambode professionals and enthusiasts who formed themselves into formidable cluster groups across the UK and Ireland in a bid to ensure that the progressives retained the mantle of leadership in Lagos State. And more importantly to ensure that a tested manager of men and resources like Akinwunmi Ambode become governor at a critical time when several economies of the world were haermorraging.
Although they knew they had no voting power, but the Ambo UK supporters sure cherished how influential their campaigns could go among friends and folks back home; home where many of them have varying degrees of investments and will ultimately return to.
So with ideas and resources at their disposal, men, women and students in the diaspora behind Ambode’s ambition joined hands and deployed creative campaign materials across various platforms in the UK not just to influence votes in Lagos but, more importantly, to create and accentuate the unique brand that Akinwunmi Ambode represents in the new political landscape of Nigeria that now has ample space for professionals, technocrats and people of integrity.
Of course that self-funded intervention by the supporters of Ambode and APC worked.
Three years after, everyone can see the sterling performance of this unassuming and unobtrusive accountant and the giant strides being recorded across sectors. The development in Lagos State affects people in the diaspora and that’s why they make it their business to directly or indirectly influence who emerges either the governor of Africa’s 5th largest economy or President of Nigeria as the continent’s largest economy itself.
They knew the import of #NotTooYoungToRun bill and that’s why they supported it and have applauded President Buhari for signing it into law. Getting Nigerians living legitimately abroad to be able to vote from their respective bases is yet another dream that must be realised so as to make exit votes count in choosing our leaders.
Before then, however, those who have a reason to root for candidates of their choice and put their money where their mouths are should be allowed.
Bringing out an old campaign photo that had served its purpose in 2015 cannot dent the image or reduce the chances of a man that is destined to touch many lives through people-oriented policies for another four years. Campaigns for 2019 elections have not yet started and so it stands logic in the head that a law-abiding governor and enlightened people behind him, at home and overseas, would flout the rules. Even if London buses and undergrounds are to be wrapped in Ambo garb again, if his UK supporters deem it fit, is it an old picture of the governor that would be used for such a major campaign in 2018/19? Let the naysayers swallow the chill pill and wait for the flag-down for the campaigns. There is a lot more fresh ideas from whence that lovely design of 2015 came from. The Ambode support base across Europe like in Nigeria has since grown in leaps and bounds and members are not tired of sowing into a good cause like campaigning for the re-election of an achiever whose works speak loudly and audibly for him.
*Oyindamola Soares lives in Kent, UK