By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Tony Nwankwo, Omeiza Ajayi & Providence Emmanuel
ABUJA — The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has said that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State was not in any way embattled over the contention for the governorship ticket of the party. Oshiomhole’s assertion came as he rallied governors of the party in support of Ambode.
The moves came as Ambode, following his screening in Abuja met with President Muhammadu Buhari in a last-minute move to rally the discontented party base in Lagos to his side.
It was also gathered that governors elected on the platform of the party are rallying round Ambode in order to make him secure the party’s ticket.
The political drama was still unending yesterday after it emerged that two of the leading aspirants against the governor were collaborating on a joint ticket.
The decision of Dr. Obafemi Hamzat to run as a running mate to Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, it emerged, may make things tighter for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
The Babajide Sanwo-Olu Campaign Organisation, BOSCO in an acknowledgement of its political ascendancy yesterday, welcomed the endorsements it had got, noting among others, the approval of the Conference of 57, comprising the local government chairmen in the state.
An official of the rival Ambode Mandate Support Group, AMSG, nevertheless expressed hope that things would be turned around.
Lagos APC okay, says Oshiomhole
Speaking Wednesday night at a meeting with the party’s governors, the national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said the Lagos State chapter of the party was in sound health, irrespective of the discontents against the governor.
“Now, the attempt to say an embattled governor…….there is no APC governor that is embattled and because we are democratic, the best way to measure democracy is the presence of more than one person showing interest in an office.
“That does not make any other person embattled. But, of course, the media can create this impression that there is an earthquake in Lagos; there is no earthquake. At every level, I have seen people claiming that in one or two offices there was no opposition.
“In every other office, we have more than one candidate expressing interest. Those people who are currently occupying those positions are not by reasons of those new expressions of interests embattled.
“Three, to say that you have never seen Lagos State governor in our meetings is to the extent that your lens is blurred. My records and minutes of our meetings will show the participation of Lagos State governor in all the meetings in which he has been invited.
“I think our party in Lagos is at peace,” he said.
A senior official of the Ambode campaign outfit, who was with the governor in Abuja, said yesterday: “We are still in Abuja with the governor to meet with some personalities to have the current situation turned around.
“The moves are advancing, and we are hopeful that at the end of the day, before Saturday’ GAC’s meeting, we will have something good to talk about. And by next week, we can roll out our campaign machinery for Ambode.”
We’re forging ahead, says Sanwo-Olu Campaign
The Sanwo-Olu campaign was quick to counter that as it said in a statement yesterday evening that it is marshalling its endorsements.
Director of Media of BOSCO, Mr. Olusesan Daini, said that apart from Conference 57, which had identified the sterling qualities of Mr. Sanwo-Olu, many other groups and leading political personalities had identified with the project.
“We have received calls from hundreds of notable politicians from across Lagos State, declaring their love for the choice of Mr. BabajideSanwo-Olu. Some have written us letters to pledge their support and to endorse our man.
“Just yesterday, the PSP operators in Lagos issued a statement to applaud the choice of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, whom many have described as a great administrator, a listening leader and a man of character.
“We need thousands of our members to come out en-masse to vote for Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Saturday 29th of September, 2018. We need to show that our strength as a political movement is in our numbers as we are working round the clock to ensure that we record a huge turnout of party faithful on the day of the primary election,” Daini said.
He also dismissed insinuations in some quarters of the social media that the Conference 57’s support for Sanwo-Olu was for economic reasons, saying those spreading such falsehood were either bereft of knowledge of Lagos politics or only out for mischief.
He said Conference 57’s endorsement and support for Mr. Sanwo-Olu was borne out of the group’s desire to take Lagos to a greater height.
Mandate Group, Justice Forum join forces
Vanguard gathered yesterday that the two major political groups in the APC in the state, Mandate Group, led by Governor Rauf Aregbesola and Justice Forum, led by Oba Olatunji Hamzat; both of which report to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu might have decided to join forces against Ambode.
It was learned that Hamzat may have agreed to step down from the primaries to serve as running mate to Sanwo-Olu.
The collaboration, Vanguard gathered, could see the Lagos group working together with the Abuja group of APC members. Both tendencies had in the past worked at cross purposes on issues both in Lagos and other parts of the South-West.
Hamzat, who served in the Babatunde Fashola cabinet as commissioner for works, currently serves as a special adviser to the Minister of Power, Works, and Housing.
Among leading personalities in the Abuja tendency of the Lagos chapter of the APC are Fashola and the immediate past national legal adviser of the party, Mr. Muiz Banire.
Responding to the supplications on behalf of the embattled governor, a source disclosed yesterday that the Lagos political leader, Tinubu, may have moved on concerning the issue.
“I think Tinubu has made up his mind and not with all these issues on ground concerning the governor. It may have become a dead issue and what is on ground is how to negotiate a soft landing for the governor,” the source disclosed.
It was learned that efforts were being made to convince the governor to come for a negotiated political settlement that could open up the prospect of a ministerial appointment in a possible new Federal Government.
“However, if he wants to fight it out, he can go to the primaries and the matter will be decided there,” the source disclosed.
Throw away godfatherism, Wike tells Ambode
Meanwhile, interested stakeholders have expressed diverse views on the developments in Lagos.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State speaking in an interview on The Osasu Show, yesterday called on his Lagos State counterpart to use the opportunity of the crisis to throw away “godfatherism” in his state.
Wike said: “If it is correct that the godfather is against Ambode, I will tell him (Ambode) to resist it. I will tell him to promote the interest of his state. Godfatherism is not good. It negates development.
“For the over three years that we have managed Rivers State, nobody of good conscience will say that we have not done well. We are not threatened because, in Rivers State, PDP is a dominant party.’’
Tread softly, IMG tells Tinubu
The national coordinator, Ijaw Monitoring Group, (IMG) Comrade Joseph Evah, on his part, called on Tinubu to handle the issue with tact to prevent the problem from having a boomerang effect on the political fortunes of APC in Lagos State.
In a statement in Lagos, Evah said: “In the last few years of APC presidency, Tinubu faced frustrations from his party men, but Ambode stood by him. All the APC governors avoided Tinubu except Ambode and Governor Aregbesola of Osun State. So, now that Tinubu is back in power in the party, Tinubu should do his homework to find out whether Ambode did not really perform.”