The intriguing fact that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is celebrating his 54th birthday today, the 14th of June, 2017 as the 14th governor of the famed Centre of Excellence, Lagos is no mere coincidence. It is divinely ordained; piloted by the hand of God! That indeed, underscores the significance of the noble role one’s personal relationship with God plays in shaping his destiny. This raises the salient questions: Could he have fathomed that he would clinch the elusive status of becoming a chartered accountant at the tender age of 24? Of course, not. Could he also have dreamt about the feat of clinching the number citizenship of the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, back in his teenage days? Not in his wildest imagination.
Here was a young man who was written off by his concerned uncle, at early age of . That was when he expressed his desire to becoming an accountant, in response to the question about his dream profession .” No, Akin, you are too playful, too un-ambitious to become one. You better think of something else”, the man had laughed him to the point of scorn.
But by a twist of immanent fate and more like Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin, who were similarly written off in their youth, Ambode has gone ahead and broken the jinx! Newton was derided by his class teacher that he, “would never amount to someone of substance”. Einstein was described by his Chemistry teacher as a nonentity. Darwin was told off by his own father that he would be better off as hunter of rats and rabbits! But none of them gave up.
While Newton, now regarded as the Father of Physics defied his teacher to discover the gravitational force and Einstein gave the world the Theory of Relativity and was unanimously voted TIME Magazine’s Man of the 20th Century, Darwin broke the rules with the ground-breaking Evolution phenomenon. In a similar vein, Ambode has today become not just the governor of Lagos State, the 5th largest economy in Africa but is widely acclaimed as one standing tall, head and shoulders above his peers. As Bruce Lee(of blessed memory) , had once admonished, “great people turn their stumbling blocks into stepping stones”. From it they climb to higher heights, just like our ever amiable, humble, focused and highly determined governor has done. That is life for you and a lesson for all.
Indeed, the hand of God guiding Ambode’s life has been most instructive and inspiring. For instance, when the Ibrahim Babangida regime liberalized the banking sector, the young Ambode, then fully qualified as a Chartered Accountant saw that policy as a golden opportunity to make his mark in the private sector. He was enthusiastic about it. He was thrilled and passionate as he junketed from one bank to the other. But surprisingly, not one of them employed him? Did he fail their interviews? Not at all. So, what was really happening? Unknown to him the all-knowing God had a different career path well cut out for him.
He too had a change of heart. If the private sector was not the one for him, so be it. Ambode focused on his civil service. He took off from Lagos Waste Management Board( LAWMA) to Badagry LGA as an auditor. The chequered journey spanning 27 years took him from there to Kosofe, Alimosho, Ojo Mushin , shomolu ,and some others, numbering 13 out of 20 LGAs. He was either an auditor or accountant, eventually rising to the enviable post of the Accountant-General of the state. What was unique about this was the fact that he became that below the age of 50. Again, like most great achievers it seems Ambode is one born to break the rules. The rest, as they say is history and an interesting one at that.
Or, how do we explain the situation that Ambode was just four years old when the state was created? What about being in the saddle as the governor when it recently celebrated 50, seen as a celebration of freedom and jubilee? This follows the Biblical dictum that: “Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings. They will not serve before officials of low rank”.( Prov. 22:29).
The hand of God is therefore, evident in all the remarkable achievements made so far in the sub-sectors of the economy such as higher inflow of the Internally Generated Revenue(IGR), unprecedented in the history of Lagos state, massive infrastructural development, transportation, education, and healthcare delivery. What about food security, employment generation and internal security? Despite the challenges he is squaring up to them with a lion heart, all because God is with him. “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom 8: 28).
Another significant factor that has seen to the governor’s success is being blessed with a sound, strong and solid family of his own. Both he and Bolanle, his loving wife have their lives firmly rooted in God. Both of them seem to be made for themselves by God as they both born at EPE General hospital.She is there as a pillar of support and as one who has stood by him through thick and thin. Unkown to many ,she is an epitome of humility, as manifested in how effectively she treated Ambode’s support team before, during and after the campaigns for the governorship in 2015. Even as the First Lady of the state , she has carried herself with dignity.
When translated to the public service, such exemplary passion for wife and children, unqualified humility, dedication to God and duty, courage, candour and loyalty will continue to see the state rising to heights of more laudable achievements. As he rightly noted in his speech at the birthday of the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he too has become a blossoming symbolic coconut, imbued with tremendous attributes of all the parts, useful to mankind as food and a unique plant with healing powers. He is a God-sent leader for now and the future. For a man who has no iota of betrayal in his DNA whose youthful energy is fully focused on fulfilling his party’s vision for the state, Ambode is set to score more goals.
I ,therefore, wish my boss, my mentor , my leader and our beacon bearer 54 hearty cheers and more glorious years in the service of Lagos, God and Mankind.
*Ajanaku is Senior Special Assistant to Lagos State Governor on Media & Strategy.