…ex-govs’ loyalists pick governorship forms
Barring any last minute change, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode’s hope of returning for a second term might run into hitches. Gladiators in the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are mobilizing against his re-election.
New Telegraph gathered from multiple sources within the party that based on a directive by the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, all key elements within the party have been told to abandon Ambode and support the Managing Director of Lagos State Property Development Corporation (LSPDC), Babajide Sanwoolu.
This is as there were reports of impeachment threats against Ambode yesterday over his second term ambition.
The move against Ambode’s re-election bid became visible yesterday as some APC chieftains, including the party’s executives and members of the apex body in Lagos APC, the Governor Advisory Council (GAC), presented Sanwoolu to members of the party across the 57 local councils in the state, at a stakeholders meeting held in Ikeja, Lagos.
The meeting took place at Watercress Hotel, Ikeja, which is believed to be owned by Tinubu’s former Chief Security Officer (CSO), Mr. Tayo Ayinde.
The stakeholders meeting, under the auspices of the Mandate Movement was attended by Tinubu’s loyalists. They include former Lagos APC deputy chairman, Cardinal James Odunmbaku; Vice Chairman (Lagos-East), Ashipa Kaoli Olusanya and chairman of the Conference 57, Hon. Omolola Essien, among others.
Speaking during the meeting Odumbaku declared: “Twenty years ago, we started as BATCO (Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organisation), we changed to Mandate and we are now Mandate Movement. Our office is situated in GRA, paid for and we will soon occupy that space. Omi titun tiru, eja titun ti wo (meaning there is a new order). Hon. Babajide Sanwoolu is the incoming Lagos State governor.”
The 57 council chairmen had earlier declared support for Ambode during his declaration on Monday, but they made a detour few hours after to endorse Sanwoolu’s candidature by endorsing his nomination form.
Like in the past, many had thought that Ambode would be the only APC governorship aspirant for the 2019 elections, but the political calculation changed on Monday, when Sanwoolu as well as an associate of ex-Governor Babatunde Fashola and former Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, picked the party’s expression of interest and nomination forms to join the gubernatorial race.
New Telegraph learnt that Sanwoolu and Hamzat are being positioned by different groups with the Lagos APC, who are at loggerheads with Governor Ambode in the struggle for the party’s structures and governance in Lagos State.
A source told New Telegraph that the Mandate Movement loyal to Tinubu, with Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola and a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Bayo Oshinowo, as arrowheads are promoting Sanwonolu based on a directive by the APC national leader to unseat Ambode.
Those rooting for Hamzat are the “Abuja boys”allegedly led by Fashola and the immediate past National Legal Adviser of APC, Dr. Muiz Banire, who fell out with Tinubu and Ambode after the 2015 general elections.
Hamzat’s father, Oba Olatunji, who is one of the kingmakers in Lagos politics, is also said to be rallying support for his son’s governorship bid.
A reliable source, who told New Telegraph that Tinubu is fully involved in the onslaught against Ambode, noted that the Mandate Movement is acting the APC national leader’s script.
The source said: “Tinubu is fully in support of Sanwoolu and that is why his loyalists presented him at a stakeholders’ meeting on Monday night. Those at the event were Tinubu’s men and they cannot publicly declare support for Sanwoolu without Asiwaju backing them. In fact, I was told that Sanwoolu went to collect the APC governorship form immediately after a close-door meeting with Tinubu and some party leaders at Tinubu’s house. This is a clear signal that Tinubu and some party leaders have backed out from Ambode’s re-election plans.”
Also confirming the move against Ambode, another source said: “Ambode is in serious trouble and he may not get the second term ticket because the party leaders are seriously working against him. The fact that the Conference 57 chairmen endorsed him during his declaration at Alausa, but later dumped him for Tinubu’s candidate, Sanwoolu, by signing his nomination form is a clear signal that they are following an instruction by Asiwaju.”
Investigation by New Telegraph revealed that there was a sharp division between members of the Conference 57 over the governorship contest in Lagos as some of them shunned a meeting held at the party’s secretariat few hours before Ambode’s declaration, only to attend the stakeholders meeting held at Ikeja to endorse Sanwoolu.
Meanwhile, the battle for Lagos APC governorship seat among the three aspirants has caused uneasy calm in the party as members of the State Working Committee (SWC) and chieftains are divided over who to support.
A member of the state House of Assembly, who spoke on the development, said: “We are at crossroads over who to back for the governorship position among the three aspirants. What we are doing now is to wait for the final directive, and whichever direction the majority goes in the party is where we will go. What is crucial for us now is getting our own tickets for the House of Assembly election.”
New Telegraph gathered that the party chieftains and aspirants in order to realise their aspirations in 2019 are pitching their tents with the camps of the three aspirants. Some aggrieved members of the party, who have lost out in the Tinubu’s camp are pitching their tents with Fashola, while those who seem not to be favoured by the raging supremacy battle between the gladiators are also going solo to achieve their aspirations.
According to sources, some of the reasons why there is opposition to Ambode’s re-election are his relationship with the party chieftains, including Tinubu and his administration’s policies, which many perceive as “injurious” to APC leaders in the state.
At the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, some workers who are in the know of political developments in the state, expressed concern over the recent development in the state.
A staff of the state secretariat, who spoke with New Telegraph, confirmed the uncertainty in the polity. He, however, said that they have no option than to support whoever wins the governorship primary of the ruling APC in the state.
“The story is everywhere. But what can we do? Whoever wins, we can only pray that such a person will have our interest at heart. We have no choice than to support the winner,” the civil servant said.
Other sources within the secretariat at the state APC pointed the near lack of feedback mechanism of Ambode to confirm whether his projects or message have impacts on the people or reached the target beneficiaries.
Ambode is believed to have incurred the wrath of some of the party’s leaders over the establishment of VisionScape Sanitation Solutions, a waste management company, which has rendered the services of many waste management firms in different local governments owned by politicians inactive.
It was reasoned that the governor took a wrong step by relegating the Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) to a mere regulatory agency rather waste manager as it was under Tinubu and Fashola.
The governor was also said to have stepped on some powerful toes by trying to delve into the politics at the grassroots given the role he played in the appointment of secretaries and supervisors at the local government level, which was contrary to the agreement reached by APC leaders during the last local government elections in the state.
Some party leaders are also said not to be happy with the governor over his inability to “take good care” of APC executives and power brokers in the state and for failing to fund the party as expected.
Some Fashola’s loyalists are also flexing muscle with the governor for trying to reverse his administration’s legacies.
But, Ambode is said to be reaching out to APC leaders in the state and the national level to ensure that they help him pacify Tinubu and other party leaders in Lagos for him to get a second term ticket. Those being approached by the governor include former Interim National Chairman of APC and a close ally of Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu.
An official of the party who spoke to New Telegraph on efforts to resolve the impasse, attributed what is happening to politics, but expressed confidence that the issue would be resolved very soon.
“What is happening in Lagos APC is not yet up to the level people are seeing it. It is small politics being played; nothing serious to warrant that meeting of the 57 local government chairmen. It is just politics and it would be resolved very soon,” he said.
Another source at the party’s secretariat, who expressed confidence that the issue would be resolved soon, assured that Ambode will get the party’s ticket.
“There is no crisis in APC. The issue will be resolved amicably. Some people are trying to put the governor on his toes, but I can assure you that all the issues would be resolved and Ambode will emerge as APC’s governorship flag bearer for 2019. It is a family affair and it would be resolved amicably,” he said.
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