BY ABDULWAHAB ABDULAH & DAPO AKINREFON
LAGOS—More controversies have continued to trail the recent endorsement of Mr. Akinwumi Ambode by the Oba of Lagos, Rilwanu Akiolu 1, to succeed Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos. The Senate Minority Whip, Senator Ganiyu Solomon, weekend picked holes in the endorsement, saying the monarch was only expressing his personal opinion.
Meanwhile, leaders of Democratic People Alliance, DPA, in Lagos, have said the party’s governorship candidate in 2011, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, remains the only candidate capable of unlocking the potentials of the state for accelerated and even development.
They spoke weekend when the party and coordinators at the wards, local and state government levels, re-grouped to resuscitate his campaign structures ahead of 2015 general elections.
Speaking after a meeting of leaders and coordinators of DPA held at Maryland in Lagos, coordinator of the forum, Mr. Olayiwola Popoola, insisted that Agbaje remained the only candidate for his group.
Popoola said although Agbaje was yet to decide, he maintained that his group was speaking Agbaje’s mind and that his campaign structures that promoted his identity in 2011 were still intact.
Solomon, on his part, told newsmen, that the traditional ruler’s comment was merely a political statement.
He said: “Let me say that in making the pronouncement, Kabiyesi was expressing his preference. He has also expressed his personal opinion. We are talking of a party now; I don’t know which part or provision of the constitution of the party says a traditional ruler endorses or can endorse. Whatever he says is his personal wish, which is not the same thing as the wish of the generality of the people. At the end of the day, we have a party structure. Let me also tell you that he made the pronouncement at a time when we had not even concluded putting party structures in place. So, it could have been in consultation with who? Is it with the political leadership? Is it with the traditional leadership? We have had different opinions since then. We deliberately did not come out to say anything about it because we felt it was a political statement. And what do you do with political statements? You either respond or leave it. In this case, we decided to leave it.
“Every vote carries the same weight, regardless of the status of the individual. So, what anybody can do is to go behind his chosen and preferred aspirant, mobilise people behind him, and provide a level playing field. It is the provision of the constitution; that is the tenet of democracy – provide a level playing field.”