By Rotimi Agbana
There are strong indications that there could be a mass defection in the Lagos chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress ahead of the 2019 elections.
The mass defection, our correspondent learnt, is being spearheaded by some aggrieved members of the party over the recent endorsement of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for second term and Remi Tinubu for third term in the Senate.
The aggrieved members, who described the endorsement as “a unilateral decision”, are mainly from the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), which merged with the ACN faction to form the current APC in Lagos state.
It will be recalled that at a meeting of the Lagos Central Senatorial District Leadership Forum held at Victoria Island, Lagos a week ago, Prince Tajudeen Olusi (OON) endorsed Ambode and Remi Tinubu for another term.
It was gathered that the development triggered Mr. Fouad Oki and his followers to form a pressure group within the ruling APC in Lagos State.
Members of the group said they might disengage themselves from the extant merger if the leadership of the party in the state continued to make unilateral decisions.
They described the endorsement, which is expected to be formalised during the party’s senatorial conference, as undemocratic.
They also called for the interpretation of the merger through necessary instruments.
Speaking on behalf of the aggrieved members, an APC chieftain and former gubernatorial candidate under the defunct CPC in the 2011 election (before the merger in 2015), Ambassador Abayomi Mumuni, berated Prince Olusi’s announcement and the unilateral endorsement of Governor Ambode and Senator Tinubu.
Mumuni said, “We are still experiencing the actions of the ACN, not the merger we signed before the election. If not, why would the party take a unilateral decision by endorsing (defunct) ACN candidates alone without considering the interests of other merging parties who also have candidates?
“We may not see a complete APC in Lagos come 2019, as the defunct CPC might consider stepping aside from the merger arrangement except there is an immediate resolution on the interpretation of the merger.”
The two-time ANPP senatorial candidate in Lagos Central District explained that the lopsidedness and maltreatment against his members started after the merger was sealed in 2015.
“Since the merger, I still perceive myself as CPC because the merger wasn’t visible in Lagos. Nothing was offered to us (in CPC) and others (ANPP and part of APGA). We were excluded from the Senate, House of Representatives and State Assembly seats. It was zero patronage by the State Government,” he added.
The security expert and author of two books on terrorism expressed disappointment that CPC members in the state were also abandoned by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
He wondered why the former presidential flag bearer of the same party (CPC) would abandon his members.
“He (Buhari) forgot his constituency, which is the CPC. He is now surrounded by those who called him and his party unprintable names. These same people are telling us that he (Buhari) has mortgaged us (the Southwest CPC). I told them there is no way I would allow the merger to mortgage my people.
“Whether we were mortgaged or not, we aren’t going to take what happened in 2015 come 2019.”
Mumuni regretted accepting the mandate to contest as the CPC candidate in the Lagos State governorship election, saying he would have defeated Senator Oluremi Tinubu in the 2011 Lagos Central Senatorial election.
He said, “I didn’t have the intention to contest against Fashola. My mandate had always been the Lagos Central Senatorial District, which is my constituency. I am a son of the soil. My first election was against Obanikoro of AD in 2003. I contested against Ade Dosumu in 2007. I would have defeated Asiwaju’s wife in 2011.
“But I changed my intention because there was no governorship candidate for the defunct CPC in the South West, except Barrister Shittu in Oyo State. With me, we were the only two CPC gubernatorial candidates that supported President Buhari’s bid to become Nigeria’s President. My withdrawal from the senatorial election gave Asiwaju’s wife an edge in the election.
“In 2019, with zero patronage, I don’t see the merger happening in Lagos. Actually, we might disengage ourselves from the merger and return to our constituency – the CPC. There are no two ways about that, except there is an immediate resolution and interpretation of the merger.”