There are strong indications that the Lagos State chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, may soon present Akinwunmi Ambode, a former Permanent Secretary/Accountant-General in Lagos State as its 2015 gubernatorial candidate.
Checks revealed that Ambode’s candidature has the blessing of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a former governor of the state and national leader of APC.
Tinubu reportedly introduced Ambode, an indigene of Epe division of the state to the state local government chairmen as his choice aspirant at a meeting in Lagos about two weeks ago.
Apart from Ambode, the party is also said to have resolved to field a member of the House of Representatives and Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, as Ambode’s running mate, making it the first time since the return of the current democratic dispensation that a christian may emerge as the state chief executive.
An inside source who confided in our correspondent said that the decision to field Ambode as Governor Babatunde Fashola’s successor in 2015 was taken to assuage the feelings of the christian community who are believed to be displeased with the continued emergence of a Muslim as the party’s candidate and state chief executive officer since 1999.
“Ambode retired from service in 2012 as the state Accountant-General and I think his retirement at that tender age was really to prepare him for this assignment. Just like the Fashola emerged out of the blues, Ambode’s candidature, which I think is more of a fait accompli, was meant to follow the same pattern.
“Am not sure many people know Ambode, just like many did not know Fashola then. He is not a politician and that is why of all those that are currently positioning themselves for the job, nothing is being said about him until now,” said the source.
The state publicity secretary, APC, Joe Igbokwe, however denied knowledge of the development insisting that the opportunity was still open to all aspirants in the party.
“I am not aware of that for now. All I know is that we are searching for the best candidate. Whether the person is a Christian or Muslim, it does not matter to us. All we want is somebody who is going to wear Governor Babatunde Fashola’s big shoes,” Igbokwe said.
Born on June 14, 1963, Ambode is an accountant, an administrator and a public finance management expert and currently the chief executive officer of Brandsmiths Consulting Limited – a firm that specializes in public sector finance management.
Ambode was formerly the accountant-general of Lagos State, Nigeria, and held many sensitive financial positions in the Lagos State government in a 27-year career in the Lagos State civil service.
He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and a member of the Nigerian Institute of Management.
Ambode is the founder of the La Roche Leadership Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on developing the next generation of leaders. He is happily married with children.
He attended St. Jude’s Primary School, Ebutte Meta, Lagos in 1969 and was admitted to Federal Government College, Warri in 1974.
Ambode spent seven years in Warri, where he completed his ordinary and advanced levels and had the distinction of achieving the second best result in all of West Africa in the Higher School Certificate Examinations in 1981. He was on the school’s hockey and cricket teams and was part of the then Bendel State Cricket team while still a student.
Ambode proceeded to University of Lagos where he studied accounting, graduating at the age of 21 in 1984 and completed his mandatory National Youth Service Corps year serving with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sokoto, Sokoto State, where he started his relationship with public service.
After his NYSC year, Ambode commenced his career at the Lagos State Waste Disposal Board (now LAWMA) as accountant Grade II. He enrolled for Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and at the same time was awarded a federal government scholarship to pursue a masters degree in accounting at the University of Lagos. By the time he was 24, Ambode had qualified as a chartered accountant and had completed his masters degree programme in accounting specializing in financial management.
He rose quickly through the ranks and in 1988, Ambode was appointed assistant treasurer, Badagry Local Government. In 1991, he was posted to Shomolu Local Government as auditor. He later deployed to Alimosho Local Government as council treasurer. Ambode was again posted to Shomolu as council treasurer and later on to Mushin Local Government as council treasurer.
He criss-crossed many local government councils in different roles in a 10-year period and got a first-hand experience of the direct impact of governance on the citizenry. During his time at the various local governments, he ensured probity in the financial management of the limited resources and also plugged the loopholes that allowed for financial frivolities and recklessness.
In 1998, Ambode was awarded an American Fullbright Scholarship for the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship program, in Boston University in Massachusetts, United States. His fellowship year was spent studying public leadership with emphasis on finance and accounting.
During this programme, Ambode had professional internships at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the Cabinet Office of Administration and Finance (Governor’s Office), City of Boston Treasury Office as well as with the World Bank and the IMF.
On his return from the programme, Ambode became acting auditor general for local government, the position which was confirmed by the State House of Assembly in 2001.
In January 2005, Ambode was redeployed to mainstream public service as the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance and by February 2006, he was given the added responsibility of accountant general for Lagos State, in charge of all the financial activities of the state and directly responsible for over 1400 accountants in the state service.
Under his watch, the State Treasury Office (STO) revolutionized the way Lagos State finances were raised, budgeted, managed and planned. In his six years as the Lagos State accountant general, the state’s financial performance improved visibly with the budget performing at a remarkable average of 85%[clarification needed] annually.
He was known as an achiever and performer. In addition, he was able to motivate the civil service staff around him and all were glad to have worked under him.