Behind Ambode, AbdulLateef Preaches Religious Peace

BRAVO: Governor Ambode salutes AbdulLateef for a job well done in Lagos State. –

By Nduka Uzuakpundu –

At a recent religious gathering, an elderly cleric ordered Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, to stand up, where he was as the chief host of the occasion. At the high table, Ambode did.

And for the next twenty minutes, the Islamic cleric prayed fervently – his voice laden with convincing authority and fatherly passion, while Ambode, in white ‘agbada’ topped with a fitting white cap bowed, in an openly true instance of humility for which has come to be known – for peace, security and orderly progress of human development to reign supreme in the state.

One of the prominent witnesses to that event – the first evening prayers of the Ramadan period, which took place at the State House complex, at Alausa – was grassroots politician par excellence and Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr. AbdulHakeem AbdulLateef. It is in him that Ambode has vested – over the past three years of his administration – hope that has shaded impressively, on account of diligence, to trust; trust that has metamorphosed into confidence; confidence that has rooted him as a foremost apostle of what his admirers call “Ambodeism.”

AbdulLateef is an authority in the Ambode administration; an administration that acts along a study of the complex matrix of Lagos State as an index of Nigeria – a state where almost every Nigerian, irrespective of tribe or religion, sex or ethnicity, is welcome.

That study – one understands that it’s an ongoing strategic exercise in sociology, economics and sustainable human development to press the transformation of Lagos to a megacity by the next decade – is structured on the promotion of peace and reduction or plugging areas of latent conflict, so as to realize the plan of making Lagos Africa’s fifth largest economy in the next five years.

The same study – which was done three years before Ambode became, a humble, but very industrious tenant at Alausa and be known as someone who has done a great deal in the provision of infrastructure in the state, perhaps more than his predecessors; a guesstimate has it that, three years on, he has spent nearly N46billion on construction and maintenance of roads, hospitals, bridges, security gadgets and vehicles for the state command of the Nigeria Police Force, construction of new drainage systems and desilting of old ones, provision of electricity and an unusual ambitious plan to bring in more than 4,640 blue mass transit buses from China, in pressing South-South co-operation, in the next five years, etc. – was predicated on the exigency of policies in a miniature Nigeria that is Lagos State.

In its sociological aspect, AbdulLateef may agree, the study found and admitted that “conflict, which is just an inevitability in any human setting, could be helped with a solution that is applied to it or meant to prevent it, in the first place, if its face is not coloured by the invidious bias of faith or ethnicity, sex or social status.”

Conflict and bad leadership, and the attendant dislocation of economic activities and retardation of orderly progress of human development are neighbors nigh. Put differently, inclusive system of governance – the Ambode style – encourages good leadership and economic progress and transmission to reality government’s plan for development, say – and it gives tax-payers, voters and prospective investors some informed confidence that they are the owners of the state government.

In Ambode’s case that he’s their servant and that the choice they have made with their vote is, indeed, yielding the much-desired milk and honey of democracy. In one word, Social Contract fulfilled – to the happiness of Jean Jacques-Rousseau.

At the heart of the study, “Ambode: A Projection into the Economics of Government of Inclusiveness as an ingredient for Urban Renewal”, was how Ambode could expand the internal revenue base of Lagos State. Back in February 2017, it was gathered that the 82-page study was part of two doctoral theses in public administration and political economics in a democracy in one of the universities in the Niger Delta region.

It referred to urban renewal by the Ambode administration, informed by aggressive tax drive and an ambitious sortie into the tourism sector of the state’s economy. Indeed, on pages 47, 51 and 63 of the study, a generous mention was made of AbdulLateef as the hand behind the religious peace and harmony that Lagos enjoys for sustainable development.

Of the pre-Ambode study, the control was the sustainable peace and development that issues from a palace-village-square relationship, where sustainable peace and development are seen as compelling products of a symbiotic traffic from the crown, which holds power in trust for the public, and the cluster, which is law-abiding and pays tax regularly.

Today, when Ambode preaches the binding gospel of imperative of Lagosians having to pay tax, the avuncular approach he adopts in freighted on the peace that Lagos State enjoys. It’s an admission that AbdulLateef – the man he has charged with the duty of keeping peace in a certain thriving aspect of the state’s economy – faith – has done well and could do more – probably up to 2024.

For AbdulLateef, keeping peace via the state’s unit of Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) has, so far, been a success, in that Lagos is the only one in the federation that holds regular meetings of the leading faiths on maintaining the status quo ante and fashioning out forward-looking peace strategy.

Some insiders have argued that within the Ambode-AbdulLateef duo, it was trying to help the hostile effects of recent recession that it made religious peace and coexistence an unfailing feature of state policy: recession may bite, but let it not trigger off some destructive social discontentment with a religious complexion.

For the inviting picture of inter-religious harmony, AbdulLateef had cause at the Ramadan prayers to exhort the Muslim faithful to vote, once again, for Ambode, so as to transmit his second coming to reality. It was an appeal made beyond the shallow slogan of one good turn that was deserving of its kind. It was more of a function of peace that drives development, and Ambode as an embodiment of tested and verified good leadership; government of inclusiveness.

Besides, it’s to AbdulLateef’s credit that, in the past three years, the Ambode administration has clawed in nearly N3.8 billion via a necessary review of the state’s religious policy by slashing expenditure on pilgrimage to the holy lands. Perhaps, the persuasive argument was that, religion is a private affair and whoever is desirous of visiting a holy land should look for funds to that effect elsewhere.

It makes a lot of Ambode-AbdulLateef duo sense so much that Ambode – a Christian, listens to Muslims and fraternizes freely with them, while AbdulLateef, a Muslim, is very much respected by Christians, who see him as sociable and tolerant of constructive criticism.

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