Tuesday, January 20, 2015 3:00 pm
Mr Akinwumi Ambode is the All Progressives Congress, APC, Governorship candidate for Lagos State. He speaks with Ademola Adegbamigbe, David Odey, Lanre Babalola, Funsho Balogun and Kazeem Ugbodaga on his life, ambition and how he plans to turn Lagos State around. Photos: Idowu Ogunleye
After emerging as the governorship candidate of the APC in Lagos State, do you feel a burden of history?
I wouldn’t say there is any burden of history. The truth is that I have always been ready for challenges and leadership positions. And if you go through my profile and career, you will see that I have always been in positions of leadership. Winning the gubernatorial primary was just one of those challenges I saw myself going through.
You attended the Federal Government College, Warri. How did that impact on your life directly?
I actually started my primary education at St. Judes Primary School, Ebute Metta between 1969 and 1974, and I went from there at the age of 11 to the Federal Government College, FGC, Warri. I left my parents at that tender age to go to the then Bendel State and I had a very good opportunity of meeting with other students from every part of Nigeria. You know the way the Unity Schools are set up, with students coming in from every state of the country. We had at least 10 people from each state across the nation. I had the opportunity of meeting Igbos, Hausas, Efik, Edos, Yorubas and the rest at that tender age of 11 and I spent seven years in that school. I did my O’ Levels and A’ Levels in Federal Government College, FGC Warri and came back to Lagos in 1981 to gain admission into the University of Lagos. But whatever it is that I am today, had been shaped in those formative years. You actually form the totality of your being in your teen years. I grew up knowing that I was a true Nigerian, and that there was no difference between me and a Hausa man for instance. We lived together. Concerning my nationalist outlook, I will say it was borne out of the fact that I spent several years at the Federal Government College, Warri. That has influenced me till today because I see myself as a Nigerian first by birth and a Yoruba man by tribe.
Can you tell us about your parents?
I was born into the family of the late Festus Akinwale Ambode who was a teacher and to Mrs Christiana Ambode, Nee Oresanya. I was born in Epe and my parents were also from Epe. My father died at the age of 57 in Ebute Metta in Lagos State and was buried at Atan Cemetery in 1981. My mother is still alive and she is 81 years old. She comes from the stock of the Ijebu Epes. I am the sixth of 10 children. I have five brothers and four sisters.
Can you tell us the influence your teacher, Philip Davies had on you while you were at the Government College, Warri?
I was fortunate to have met Pa Philip Davies who was then the Principal of the school. He was a retired military officer in the British army before coming to Nigeria as a teacher and principal. He began his career at Kings College, Lagos before being transferred to FGC Warri. So, the whole lot of us at FGC Warri between the years of 1970 and 1981 had the singular honour of meeting a disciplinarian; you know what it means for a man to be a military officer and at the same time an educationist. He had a particular influence on school children. My character and that of majority of the people who went to the school at that time was shaped by Pa. Davies of blessed memory. I can attest to the fact that the majority of the students who passed through Philip Davies became well rounded personalities.
It is being rumoured that you are not an indigene of Lagos State, how do you react to this?
I am a full blooded Lagosian, born in Epe some 51 years ago. As I told you earlier, I started my primary education at St. Judes Primary School Ebute-Metta, before I left for Federal Government College, Warri, then returned to the University of Lagos, Unilag for my first and second degrees.
I started my career with the Waste Management Board before I got transferred to the Local Government where I spent thirteen years. I was later transferred to the mainstream where I worked for another fourteen years, making a total of twenty-seven years of meritorious service.
My father was a teacher at Ebute-Meta where prominent people like Chief Lanre Razaq and many other notable individuals passed through his tutelage.
Don’t forget that the Lagos State House of Assembly cleared me as an indigene when I was nominated as Auditor General of the State.
So this rumour is not only false, it is also a political gimmick.
Beyond that, the constitution of Nigeria is clear on how to stand for election in the country. One must be a citizen, be above 18, not indicted and must belong to a political party. In all, I am well qualified.