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Akinwunmi Ambode: The Man after Tinubu’s Heart for Lagos 2015

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Akinwunmi Ambode: The Man after Tinubu’s Heart for Lagos 2015

“I understand how you feel and I also understand what the masses feel. Turning Lagos State around for the good of greater number of people should be the uppermost priority of every politician who claims to love Lagos. With the benefit of hindsight now, only enemies of Lagos will say that the choice of Fashola in 2007 was a mistake. We all see what he has done in the state. So when I say this man, whom you don’t know but I know very well, is the next right man for the job, you should be supportive of my choice and let’s work hard to make Ambode, a man of impeccable character the next governor.”


“If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend” is one of the immortal quotes traced to Abraham Lincoln. When Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu called a meeting of few of his first-line trusted allies two weeks ago in his Bourdillon, Ikoyi residence, he had set out to convince them on two major issues of concern to him. First, to successfully get them to buy into the choice of Akinwunmi Ambode as the All Peoples Congress governorship candidate in Lagos in 2015; and second, to get them to work and sell Ambode candidacy to the generality of Lagosians.

In the said meeting that lasted almost three hours, Tinubu explored the pros and cons of adopting Akinwunmi Ambode with his associates, which included top chieftains of the APC in the state and some technocrats with experience in public administration. Leading the APC chieftains was the Lagos APC chairman, Chief Henry Ajomale, while Professor Osibajo led the second group of technocrats.

After a session that saw all parties bare their minds on the choice, Tinubu accomplished the first mission of selling Ambode right there in his room at Bourdillon. It definitely will take coming months to know if his associates have the niche to sell his (Tinubu’s) candidate to Lagosians.

Many names have been thrown up as likely successor of Governor Fashola but all speculations about who wants to be what were put paid to with the Jagaban of Borgu’s choice of Akinwunmi Ambode. Who then is this man in whom Tinubu is well pleased?

The plump, dark-complexioned Akinwunmi Ambode, aged 51 and born in Epe (June 14, 1963), Lagos East, is a consummate technocrat in the area of public finance. Ambode was a permanent secretary and former Accountant-General of Lagos State, as he held many strategic financial positions in the Lagos State government in a career that spanned 27 years in public service.

Ambode is the chief executive officer of Brandsmiths Consulting Limited – a firm that specializes in public sector finance management. He is the founder of the La Roche Leadership Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on developing the next generation of leaders.

Philip Isakpa, in his article, Keeping a keen eye on public finance published in BusinessDay of Friday April 4, 2014, profiled Akinwunmi Ambode as “one of those very few technocrats who, instead of running to the rather more lucrative private sector, chose to devote a greater part of his working life, all 27 years of it, to working in the public sector. His expertise is in public finance, but you will find in Ambode more than a consummate passion and clear personal interest in the management of public finance.”

For a man who was already an acting auditor-general for Local Governments in Lagos at the age of 37 in year 2000; appointed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance in 2005; and by February 2006, became accountant general of Lagos State, (who was in charge of all the financial activities of the state and directly responsible for over 1400 accountants in the state service); his knowledge and understanding of public financial management is not in doubt. Public finance management “is about ensuring that public money is well spent and it is made to stretch as far as possible. It provides leaders and public-sector managers with information to make decisions and to know if they are using resources effectively,” Ambode said.

His expertise in public finance has seen him move across many local governments in Lagos State. He was an assistant treasurer at Badagry Local Government; auditor, Shomolu Local Government; council treasurer, Alimosho Local Government; council treasurer, Shomolu Local Government; and council treasurer, Mushin Local Government.

As shown in the assemblage of his sterling academic records, his excellence in public service rested on formidable intellectual support structure. Ambode attended St. Jude’s Primary School, Ebutte Meta, Lagos in 1969 and was admitted to Federal Government College, Warri in 1974, where he completed his ordinary and advanced levels. He had the distinction of achieving second best result in all of West Africa in the Higher School Certificate Examinations in 1981. He gained admission to the University of Lagos where he studied accounting and graduated at the age of 21 in 1984. He observed his mandatory the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sokoto, Sokoto State, where he completed his mandatory National Youth Service Corps.

He became a chartered accountant and had completed a Master’s degree in Accounting specializing in financial management by the time he clocked 24. He was awarded the US Fullbright scholarship for the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship programme in Boston University, Massachusetts, in 1998.

He spent his fellowship year studying public leadership, emphasising finance and accounting. Ambode’s professional internships in the United States were spent 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 International Monetary Fund.

He completed the Advanced Management Programme in Wharton Business School; he also took courses at the Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield, England; the Institute of Management Development (IMD), Lausanne, Switzerland; INSEAD, Singapore and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Reports say that his year stint as the Lagos State accountant general saw the state’s financial performance improve with the budget performing at a remarkable average of 85 per cent annually.

Rather than recoil to the four corners of his cosy home and enjoy the goodies which life has bestowed on him upon retirement in 2012, his passion for public finance would see him set up Brandsmith Limited. He has since been involved in working with state and federal government agencies to cut-over to the new International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), which takes effect any moment from now.

He is married to Bolanle Patience Ambode (nee Odukomaiya) and they are blessed with children.

Akinwunmi Ambode is available on Twitter as @AkinwunmiAmbode; on Facebook as Akinwunmi Ambode; and YouTube as Akinwunmi Ambode Speaks.


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