By Olasunkanmi Akoni and Monsuru Olowoopejo
The Governor’s Advisory Council, GAC, of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Lagos Chapter, which is the state’s highest advisory political body headed by the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, insisted on direct primary for all governorship aspirants slated for Saturday to choose the party’s flag bearer for the 2019 general elections.
The aspirants, who have obtained nomination forms and submitted same, include: incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode; Tinubu’s preferred candidate and Managing Director, Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC), Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and former Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Femi Hamzat.
The GAC met, yesterday evening, in Lagos.
The situation, according to analysts, has put paid to Ambode’s moves to automatically secure the ticket of the APC for second term through the endorsement of Tinubu.
The 22 member – council, which met at Tinubu’s Bourdillon, Ikoyi, Lagos residence, ratified the decision. The group had earlier met, last Wednesday, at the same venue and deferred final decision on the governorship ticket till yesterday.
The council is made up of the governor and leaders of the party across the three senatorial districts of the state, including Lagos APC Chairman, Tunde Balogun; Dr. Olorunfemi Bashorun; Senator Anthony Adefuye; Prof. Tunde Samuel; Chief Adeyemi Ikuforiji; Alhaji Tajudeen Olusi; Cardinal James Odumbaku; Chief Lanre Rasak; and Dr. Yomi Finnih.
With this decision, Ambode is faced with a difficult task ahead because of his unpopularity in the party which favoured Sanwo-Olu, courtesy of Tinubu’s support.
Sanwo-Olu had emerged through the Mandate Movement, a group loyal to Tinubu.
One of the GAC members, Adefuye, who confirmed the group’s decision, told Sunday Vanguard: “We (GAC members) met at Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s residence this evening and decided that all governorship aspirants on the platform of APC in the state should go for the primary exercise to pick the ticket for APC flag bearer in the 2019 general elections.
“I think it was only one member of the council that was absent at the meeting.”
The Chairman of the party in the state, Balogun, had, earlier, while reacting to the number of aspirants for the ticket, maintained that it would further strengthen internal democracy in the party.
Earlier, a party leader, who preferred anonymity, had confided in Sunday Vanguard that the outcome of the meeting might not favour Ambode as most members of the GAC were opposed to Ambode’s re-election bid.
“I don’t think there is going to be any shift on the stance to do away with Ambode as he has so many enemies within the council, even if Tinibu’s decides to forgive him (Ambode),”the party leader said.
No retreat, no surrender
One of Ambode’s aides also disclosed that the governor had not withdrawn nor had endorsed Sanwo-Olu or any other aspirant vying for the party’s ticket in the state.
Some of the governor’s aides, in an apparent move to assist their boss to get the APC leadership endorsement before the GAC meeting and primary election, had put up an online campaign advert for him, assuring him of their support.
One of them, who spoke under condition of anonymity, disclosed that his principal, who participated in the APC mega rally in Osogbo, ahead of the governorship election held in Osun State, yesterday, did not endorse any candidate ahead of the primary.
His reaction came hours after the social media was awash with claims that Ambode had endorsed Sanwo-Olu’s candidature for next year’s governorship election in Lagos.
He stressed that there was no any iota of truth in the message making the rounds, saying “he has not done anything of such and the message did not emanate from the governor or any of us.”