Dayo Oketola, Sesan Olufowobi, John Alechenu, Gbenga Adeniji and Oladimeji Ramon
There were indications on Thursday that the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had yet to back down on his decision to find an alternative to the incumbent governor of the state, Akinwunmi Ambode, in the 2019 governorship election.
There had been reports that Ambode was no longer in the good books of Tinubu, which political watchers said might cost him his second term as governor.
On Tuesday, two new aspirants emerged under the APC umbrella to vie for the governorship ticket with Ambode, blowing open the discord between the governor and his godfather.
They are Dr Obafemi Hamzat and Jide Sanwoolu.
The mandate caucus, headed by Tinubu in the APC, had endorsed Sanwoolu, while the chairmen of the 57 councils in the state also gave their backing to the former Lagos commissioner.
The development was said to have rattled the governor, his team and the people of the Epe division, where he came from.
President Muhammadu Buhari, Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi; and Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, were said to have embarked on a last-minute move to save Ambode.
It was gathered on Thursday that after the meeting between Tinubu and Akiolu did not yield any result, the former Lagos State governor was summoned to Abuja.
Sources told our correspondents that the meeting was influenced by the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, who was said to have been called by members of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials, a body currently being headed by the governor’s wife, Bolanle Ambode.
Although the details of the meeting remained sketchy as of press time, it was gathered that Tinubu, who flew to Abuja on Wednesday, did not back down from the position of the mandate group that Sanwoolu should become the next governor of Lagos State.
The source said, “The issues are many – alleged sidelining of party elders, the scrapping of PSP waste management initiative, the sacking of highway managers, award of contracts to a few cronies, ignoring advice from party leaders – they are many, and Asiwaju did not see how all could be resolved without Ambode leaving.
“However, the presidency has put pressure on Asiwaju and although the man has yet to back down, there is hope because he has gone back to Lagos to consult with his followers in the mandate group. We hope that all will be well.”
Meanwhile, in Lagos, Ambode declined to see some monarchs in the state, who had come to pay him a solidarity visit.
It was learnt that the monarchs had gathered at the Adeyemi Bero hall in the state secretariat for their regular meeting and had afterwards decided to visit the governor.
“But the governor did not see them. He just stayed in his office. Some officials of the government later came to talk to them and they left,” an official, who declined to be named, said.
He added that the governor was hopeful that Tinubu would support him, saying that the governor was not ready to fight those who brought him to power.
‘We’ll free Lagos from political vipers’
Meanwhile the African Democratic Congress has said it will rescue Lagos State from the stranglehold of “political vampires and emperors.”
The National Chairman of the party, Chief Ralph Nwosu, said the people did not chase away the military to enthrone emperors who would corner the nation’s commonwealth.
Nwosu, who said he was upset by what was transpiring in the state, urged the people to rise up and reject the continued rule of the APC in the state.
Also, the Lagos State Chairman of the ADC, Chief Babatunde Daramola, urged the people to reject an arrangement where “one individual is collecting N4bn of your money every month.”
He said the ADC had come to give the people back their right such that anyone could become anything in Lagos State without needing to “visit Bourdillon to go and see the lion or go to Lugard, to see an elephant.”
Nwosu and Daramola spoke on Thursday at the official opening of the ADC Lagos State Secretariat in Onipanu.
Nwosu said, “Some of us worked and fought under NADECO; we spent our resources. We didn’t get the military to leave power to now have emperors; enough is enough. The victory of this party must begin from Lagos State because Lagos State is full of political vipers and they must be removed.”
Daramola, who spoke earlier, said it was time for Nigerians to reject political oppression.
He said, “Nobody is coming to rescue us; we must rise to the occasion. If we don’t rise up, God forbid, our children will be enslaved.”
Daramola said what the ADC stood for was participatory politics, saying the party was out to create a level-playing ground such that even the children of the poor could become great in Lagos.
Lagos can’t continue to be in Tinubu’s pocket – Group
A socio-political group, Lagos Democracy Advancement Forces, has said Tinubu, should cease to dictate the political pace of the state.
It noted that the political atmosphere in the state was unnecessarily overcharged due to the “shenanigans of one individual desperate to maintain a political stranglehold on the state.”
The group said, “Lagos State cannot continue to be in the pocket of Asiwaju Tinubu. 2019 provides an auspicious opportunity for a mass political revolution by Lagosians to liberate the state from continued political and economic enslavement.
“Lagos State with a population of almost 30 million people is a mini Nigeria and cannot continue to pay homage to the insatiable appetite of a political tarantula.’’
Speaking at a news conference in Lagos on Thursday, Convener of the group, Mark Adebayo, said there was the need to stop the state from continuing to be a pawn on the chessboard of an individual.
Sanwoolu to make formal declaration – Team
Meanwhile, Sanwoolu Campaign Organisation has said the aspirant would soon make a formal declaration his intention to vie for the Lagos governorship of seat.
A statement on Thursday by the Director General of the organisation, Mr Tayo Ayinde, read in part, “The Olusola Sanwoolu Campaign Organisation is on course. His formal declaration will happen shortly, followed by his rally.
“The campaign organisation remains focused on its objectives and will not be distracted by unfounded rumours and insinuations.
“We thank all APC members in Lagos for their overwhelming support.”