BY GBENGA OKE
The All Progressives Congress, (APC) in Lagos State left no one in doubt about its determination to hold on to its domination of the state when it flagged off its campaigns last Wednesday.
The flag-off from Ikeja, the state capital left all roads linking the state capital blocked while security operatives of the Nigeria Police Force sweated all day as they controlled supporters that besieged the campaign rally.
The sun did not deter the supporters and dignitaries who flooded the venue of the launch.
The candidate of the party, Mr. Akinwu
nmi Ambode had emerged after a hard fought primary that saw him beating veteran party chieftain, Senator Ganiyu Solomon, former commissioner of justice Olasupo Sahshore among others. Given the hard tackles among the combatants it was expected that most of Ambode’s rivals and their supporters would be absent at the flag-off. But it was not so.
Senator Solomon who had been on the governorship project for many years surprisingly showed no hard feelings that Wednesday. He was commended by the national party leader, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu that day.
Other dignitaries that graced the event included the state party chairman, Chief Henry Ajomale, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, Alhaji Wale Mogaji, National woman Leader, Mrs KEMI Nelson, Mr Femi Pedro, Otunba Oyewole Fasawe, Mr Joe Igbokwe, Mr Demola Seriki, popular musician, Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde Marshall and several Yoruba actors.
The event, to many, was not just only a campaign rally but a carnival given the convivial spirit and festivity that pervaded the venue.
The event which was to kick off by 12 pm could not start until about 1 pm when major political players within the party started arriving the venue. The arrival of the dignitaries was climaxed by the arrival of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola at about 1.46pm and after the arrival of National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in company of the party candidate, Mr Akin Ambode at exactly 1.49pm.
Party leaders took turns to shower praises on Ambode and proclaim what the party would do in Lagos, and also, at the national level if Muhammadu Buhari emerges as president at the forthcoming polls.
In his message, Tinubu lambasted President Jonathan for poor governance. He also dismissed the bid by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to win in the state, saying Lagos was not a laboratory where the party could perform some experiment.
Jonathan is full of excuses — Tibunu
“Our President is a man full of excuses and he confirmed it recently when he said he has failed. His government has squandered all the money he met and we cannot afford another four years of PDP led government”.
“Nigeria is at crossroads and need a straightforward, honest Nigerian like General Muhammadu Buhari to run its affairs else the Jonathan government will run the country aground if given another opportunity”.
On the choice of Ambode as its gubernatorial candidate, Tinubu maintained that the party flag bearer is the best that can happen to Lagos State right now.
His words, “we said we want continuity and we have gone round to pick the best for you. In 2007, I handed over to a young man in person of Governor Fashola, I told you he is a sound mind and an intellectual. Today, my saying of 2007 has come into reality as we have seen the development that took place in Lagos during the last eight years of Fashola”. “The same way I gave you Fashola in 2007, that’s is how I am giving you Ambode today. He is a young man, intelligent, dynamic, brilliant and he is the man to continue the progress we have seen under Fashola. Like I said in the past that help is on the way, the person that will further rescue Lagos has arrived and we are happy to present him here today”.
Tinubu also showered praises on all the other APC aspirants who contested during the primaries with Akin Ambode. He described them as great men and the party will be forever thankful to them for playing a unifying role when Ambode emerged as the candidate.
PDP is a deceptive party — Fashola
In his speech, Governor Fashola stated that PDP has nothing more to offer Nigeria. He said the president was full of excuses.
“As governor, I have always appreciated those who held office before me and I will forever respect them for laying a foundation which am building on right now. But in the case of President Jonathan, he has been blaming past presidents for his mistakes. Buhari left office since 1985 and our president claims he didn’t buy military equipment. My question is does Mr President want to use the 1985 guns to fight this present Boko Haram menace that is ravaging Nigeria? It is really worrisome when the president gives this kind of excuse”.
Pledging his support for Mr. Ambode, Fashola called on Lagosians to vote en masse for APC so that they can experience another level of development for the next 4years.
I will make Lagos economically viable — Ambode
In his speech, the governorship candidate, promised to take Lagos to the next level if voted in as governor.
“This is a moment of history today and I must say that APC is out to transform this country like never before. The economy of Nigeria is in shambles today and if we continue to live our economy in the hands of the PDP, then this country will collapse”
“What the PDP has given us so far is poverty and we cannot continue to toe that path. In a month now, we have to elect a new president and if anyone of us wants to build a future for our children, then we have to vote for General Buhari on the 14th of February and vote for Ambode on the 28th of February” he said.
He went further, “If you vote for APC, we intend to build a new Lagos where everybody will have a voice irrespective of your tribe, an economically viable state and we intend to make Lagos safe for everyone.”