The scenario that played out in the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the build-up to the reelection of Babatunde Raji Fashola, former governor of Lagos, is repeating itself as the chances of his successor, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who is seeking a second term is slim.
Daily Independent had last week exclusively reported that Ambode may have incurred the wrath of some elders in the party who felt shortchanged by his administration.
Sources even alleged that the demand by Bola Tinubu, National Leader of APC, during the last stakeholders’ meeting of the party on August 14 that the Lagos State chapter will go for direct primaries is targeted at the governor.
As at Tuesday, all the 20 local government chairmen and 37 Local Council Development Areas’ (LCDAs) chairmen in Lagos have endorsed the governorship ambition of a dark horse, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, a former Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions, who is now the Managing Director of the Lagos State Property Development Corporation (LSDPC).
Daily Independent gathered that the Nomination and Expression of Interest forms were purchased for Sanwo-Olu by the Mandate Group, a group of party leaders and local government chairmen loyal to Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
In a viral video circulating on Tuesday which was seen by Daily Independent, Asipa Kaoli Olusanya, the APC State Vice Chairman, Lagos East Senatorial District, said their leader, Tinubu, has instructed them that Sanwo-Olu is the next governor of Lagos State.
Speaking further, Olusanya, who was a former Commissioner for Agric in Lagos State added that it was Tinubu who instructed them to queue behind Babatunde Fashola in 2006, queue behind Governor Ambode during the 2015 election and now support Sanwo-Olu as the candidate for APC in the 2019 elections.
He said, “In 2006, we were in the council, cabinet of Lagos State. We have a large number of aspirants wanting to be governor. When Asiwaju (Bola Tinubu) gave the signal, those of us who believe that this is a visionary leader who can be trusted, because it is God who appoints a leader in a season. This season, this is the man whom God appoints and we all accepted.
“Where (he) Tinubu directed us then, many protested then that his preferred candidate doesn’t know anybody in the party, be it ward, women, or party leader. Then, we went to Adebola House, it was a serious fight but our oga (leader) insisted that this is my preferred candidate who will succeed me as governor of Lagos State? Did we enjoy him or not? We enjoyed him because he performed creditably well.
“During the 2015 election, our oga again gave signal. Some people again protested, saying this person you are canvassing for the position is just a civil servant. Each time oga makes recommendation or say this is where we are going, some of us who believe in him, we don’t question it.
“We follow it and we have never regretted it. This one that oga has again given us and we accepted it because we believe our oga and we believe in God because it is God that chooses a leader in any season. The leader God has chosen for us, this one he has given us as his preferred candidate, we will be successful.
“We may be wondering why is this so? But if we yield to our boss’ direction wholeheartedly, we will be happy at the end of it. His preferred candidate right now is our man, our brother, our son, our member, our friend. It is the person Jagaban hands over to us as his choice, we will follow. By the grace of God and the support of the people of Lagos State, we will assume the leadership in the State House by God’s grace. Sanwo-Olu will sit as the next governor of Lagos State. If he assumes the position, none of us will be missing in action”.
Olusanya’s position was corroborated by Cardinal James Odunmbaku, the former Deputy Chairman of APC in Lagos, who emphatically said, “Honourable Babajide Sanwo-Olu is the incoming governor of Lagos State”.
Speaking with our correspondent on Tuesday, a local government chairman who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they have respect for Ambode as governor but their ultimate loyalty as far as Lagos politics is concerned goes to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is the political godfather of the state.
The female council boss when asked about the earlier endorsement of Ambode by the 57 council chairmen in the state said, “Yes, we all endorsed Ambode for second term given the fact that he performed and the tradition in the state since 1999 where serving governors are asked to return. But now that our party leaders have withdrawn support for the governor, we have no option than to toe that line”.