By Olasunkanmi Akoni
As part of preparations toward ensuring electoral victory in the forthcoming 2015 general elections in the country, particularly in Lagos, the All Progressives Congress, APC, Lagos State chapter, will today holds its all important state congress that will produce the executive members of the party to steer the ship for the next four years.
APC had earlier postponed its state congresses scheduled for Wednesday, April 23rd, to allow state governors under the a egis of the party to attend the rescheduled expanded National Security Council meeting, fixed for that day to discuss the security situation in the country.
In a statement issued in Lagos by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, “the postponement is a confirmation of the party’s stated stand to be part of all genuine efforts to end insurgency in the country, and its strong belief that bi-partisanship must replace the crass partisanship of the presidency and the ruling party if the security crisis is to be overcomed.”
It will be recalled the APC is an amalgamated party following agreed merger of different political parties. The parties were: Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP and the new Peoples Democratic Party, led by Alhaji Rafiu Jafojo.
Meanwhile, tension is currently high in Lagos chapter of the party as delegates from the 374 wards across the 20 Local Government Areas, LGAs and 27 Local Council Development Areas, LCDAs, file out today to elect 23 new state executive members that will oversee affairs and functions of the party in the next dispensation. Five delegates from each ward will vote at the open ballot.
Leading the pack in the fight for the chairmanship seat is the incumbent, Chief Henry Ajomale; Ademola Seriki; James Odunbaku, alias Baba Eto and Mr. Sunny Ajose, former Chief of Staff to former Governor of the state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Among other offices to be filled include: Vice- Chairman from each of the three senatorial districts; Secretary; Publicity Secretary, and Treasurer.
It was gathered that new members from other political parties prefer to have considerable number of representatives in the new executive members particularly, the chairmanship. They argued that the present chairman, Ajomale should step aside for a new person to reflect the new status of the party.
Also, majority were said to be stoutly, behind the incumbent chairman because of his laudable achievements and well-rooted knowledge of the state’s terrain. At the end of today, the winners and losers would be known.
But the big issue among faithful members is, who will Tinubu pick as the chosen one to fly the party’s flag in the forthcoming 2015 governorship election?
Many political watchers believe that Tinubu is the one who will ultimately pick the party’s flag bearer as he did years back when he singularly picked Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) who was then his Chief of Staff for eight years.
It was gathered that because of Tinubu’s unmatched influence within the Lagos political circle and especially the APC, his role in who emerges is paramount.
According to feelers, Tinubu is most likely to settle for a Christian candidate.
Also within the party, the choice of who the party anoints has been zoned to Lagos East. This is because the Christian community in Lagos State believes that the next choice has to be a Christian after 16 years.
Besides, Lagos West has produced a Governor (Tinubu) and also Lagos Central (Fashola) leaving Lagos East made up of Ikorodu, Epe, Ibeju Lekki and some areas in Ajah out.
Though, Fashola had once said that he was interested in who succeeds him, recently, it had been confirmed that Fashola has resigned to fate by supporting Tinubu’s choice on the strength that he (Tinubu) is his political leader and mentor.
Recently, a lot of names of possible aspirants have come up in public. On the list of aspirants are: Akin Ambode, former Auditor General in the state; Senator Bareehu Gbenga Ashafa; Senator Ganiyu Solomon; former Commissioner for Health, Dr. Leke Pitan, member, House of Representatives; Femi Gbajabiamila, the Minority Leader Federal House of Representatives and few others.
The national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu had at a stakeholders’ meeting early in the year declared that APC was indivisible despite efforts from different quarters to divide the party.
He however, assured all members and intending members that the party would follow due process to the letter in the selection of candidates for various offices and urged all prospective and old members to register in accordance with the party’s constitution, saying that only registered members would get the party’s identity cards and be recognized as such.
Tinubu, said: “We love peace in this state. We want peace at various senatorial districts, local governments and ward levels. Let there be peace. We will not allow those who are trying to divide us, we are indivisible. We are five and six, twin brothers and sisters and that is the only way we can achieve victory.
“If you are contesting and start running a caucus and campaign organization, once that campaign is over, dissolve into the party like a cube of sugar.
“We want to show example with Lagos State, because I’m still sending some of you to other South West states because we want to show maturity, leadership and good quality that we know what we are doing and we will bring it to victory. In this party, we will remain as one to victory and it must start from now.”
Tinubu also warned members against using the congress to create divisions among the rank and file. “There is discipline in APC. If you are caught promoting division, you will be suspended pending trial. APC is my party. I do not have a group. We cannot encourage grouping or caucuses in APC. If you want to contest for any office, the procedure is in the party constitution”.
Dismissing the allegations that he was planning to impose the former Accountant-General of Lagos, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, as the next governor of the state, Tinubu described it as not unusual especially as elections are around the corner.
Speaking through his Media Adviser, Mr. Sunday Dare, Tinubu said;“It’s the season of politics and an election year. Such allegations and insinuations will be commonplace. This particular one is unfounded. Let them provide proof. He who alleges must prove.
“Just like he governed Lagos and laid a foundation for Governor Babatunde Fashola, the next governor of Lagos must also be competent and qualified.”
Also commenting on the allegation, Lagos State chapter of APC, through Interim Publicity Secretary, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, described it as false, unfounded, baseless and mere rumours. According Igbokwe, “it was a well known pattern in political de-marketing which the opponents of the party use to try to confuse and deceive Lagos residents”.
The party therefore explained that at present, the party merely zeroed the choice of its governorship to the Lagos East senatorial zone in line with the tenets of justice, equity and fair-play and that there are many credible aspirants of the party that had indicated interest in governing Lagos and “these would meet in a credible primary to elect a worthy, competent candidate who would be expected to continue the great works the APC had been doing in Lagos for the past fifteen years.”
Igbokwe, said, “The unholy rumour about the imposition of a candidate when we are still far from the process of gubernatorial primaries fits into the sorry political calculation of the perennial losers who will cling to any straw to whittle down the overwhelming support APC enjoys in Lagos.”
The state party therefore, urged members and residents to ignore the false and syndicated rumours and join the party in the present building process for the purpose of securing the change Nigerians seriously needed.
“We therefore, counsel our members to remain steadfast and continue to chart the progress of the party. We enjoin the aspirants to continue their mobilization towards a free primary and be assured that they will have a level playing field.”
Other big wigs expected at the congress include:Governor Babatunde Fashola, Deputy Governor, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire; Prince Tajudeen Olusi; Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora; Senator Tony Adefuye; Admiral Lanre Amosu (rtd.); Prince Abiodun Ogunleye; Mr. Ademorin Kuye; Mr. Rotimi Agunsoye and State Woman Leader Mrs. Adetoun Adediran, members of the National Assembly, representing Lagos, council chairmen among others.
The four merging parties are: the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, and Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, later joined by new Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Lagos.