…Gov fights back, aide says 237 Councillors 3,900 Community Associations back him
…Primary now holds tomorrow
Ahead of All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship primary in Lagos State, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the Governor’s Advisory Council, GAC, yesterday, endorsed Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the party’s ticket for the 2019 elections.
In a reaction, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, also in the race for the party’s ticket, said 237 Councillors, 3,900 Community Associations were supporting him.
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the APC has postponed the governorship primary, scheduled for today, to tomorrow.
Announcing the outcome of the GAC meeting, held at Tinubu’s Ikoyi, Lagos residence, to party loyalists that had stormed the Lagos APC Secretariat, Senator Anthony Adefuye, a member of the group, said that the meeting, which commenced at 10am, ended after several hours of deliberations.
He said: “There was a GAC meeting held this morning, which was attended by Vice President Osinbajo; Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Speaker, House of Assembly, Mudasiru Obasa, among others.
“This meeting was chaired by our National Leader, Tinubu. This is a meeting that we started at 10am. And we couldn’t finish early. After the meeting, I have been mandated by the GAC to announce this to you.
“The governorship primary, earlier scheduled for tomorrow, September 30, has been shifted to Monday, October 1.
“Also, the GAC was informed by Dr Obafemi Hamzat of his decision to graciously step down and he endorsed Jide Sanwo-Olu.
“GAC has endorsed Babajide Sanwo-Olu as its preferred candidate ahead of the primary,”
Adefuye disclosed that Tinubu had earlier planned to address the party members at the state APC secretariat but could not leave his residence “because various organs of the party had decided to meet him on other issues in the state.”
A source told Sunday Vanguard that the leadership of the party may have agreed to give the deputy governorship ticket to Hamzat, who stepped down for Sanwo-Olu, leaving the incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and Sanwo-Olu to slug it out for the party’s ticket.
It was also gathered that Ambode, who attended the meeting of the GAC at Tinubu’s residence, stormed out in the course of the deliberations apparently due to the unfavorable stance to his candidacy.
Why I stepped down – Hamzat
Hamzat, who addressed journalists, yesterday, morning shortly after meeting with Sanwo-Olu in his Ikoyi, Lagos residence, said he decided to step down based on the shared vision he had with Sanwo-Olu on the future direction of the state.
Hamzat, an aide to the Minister of Works, Lands and Housing, Dr. Babatunde Fashola, was, however, quick to discountenance the claim that it meant a reconciliation between the Abuja and Lagos groups. He said that such insinuation of a feud was implausible given that Tinubu was the political father of everyone of them involved in the contest.
Speaking after the meeting, Hamzat, who was flanked by Sanwo-Olu, his wife, Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, his (Sanwo-Olu’s) campaign manager, Mr. Tayo Ayinde and Otunba Lekan Osifeso, said:
“After due consultations with my numerous supporters and in deference to the wise counsel of those I consider my political mentors, I have resolved to step down from the governorship race in Lagos on the platform of our party and, instead, poll resources together with my brother and friend, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
“So, my supporters are hereby directed to vote for Sanwo-Olu to emerge the candidate of the APC in the primary scheduled for tomorrow (today) across the state.”
Lawmakers back Sanwo-Olu
In a related development, members of the state House of Assembly unanimously expressed support for Sanwo-Olu as the candidate of the APC in the 2019 governorship election in the state.
According to a statement by the Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Strategy and Security, Adefunmilayo Tejuoso, the decision was taken at a meeting of the lawmakers which took place yesterday.
The meeting was presided over by Speaker Mudashiru Obasa. Of the 40 members of the House, 36 were present at the meeting and all endorsed the decision and duly signed the statement announcing the decision.
The lawmakers stated that they were in agreement with the leadership of the party and the GAC which had endorsed Sanwo-Olu for the governorship ticket.
The statement read: “At the parliamentary meeting, held on the 29th of September, 2018 at the Lagos State House of Assembly Complex, members do hereby unanimously resolve to support the position of the leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Governor’s Advisory Council(GAC) in Lagos State on the endorsement of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the APC gubernatorial candidate in the 2019 elections.
“The meeting was attended by 36 out of the 40 Honourable members in the House of Assembly.”
I will be party’s candidate – Ambode
Reacting to the situation, last night, Ambode asked his supporters to remain calm and peaceful, saying the will of the people will prevail and he will become the party’s flag bearer for next year’s elections.
The Director General, Ambode Mandate Support Group, AMSG, Hakeem Sulaimon, disclosed this during a press briefing in Ikeja, arguing that the governor’s status alone was a tool that would swing votes in his favour during the primary.
Sulaimon stressed that Ambode was capable of winning the APC governorship primary.
The DG noted that Ambode was not worried about the rash of endorsements of Sanwo-Olu ahead of the primary, saying Ambode has huge supporters across the state.
He disclosed that supporters of the governor held meetings across all 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas, on Friday, and that the support for the governor was overwhelming.
“We had a meeting here yesterday and the Chairman of all LGA Chairmen in Lagos State was here and she spoke on behalf of her colleagues as having endorsed His Excellency Mr Akinwunmi Ambode. Here also yesterday, we equally had about 200 ward chairmen here in that meeting and they were equally led by their chairman who is the chair of chair of all ward chairmen in the state,” Sulaimon said.
“You see, what truly constitutes the structure of the party is the ward and of course the LGA. Beyond the ward and the LGA, we also have the Councilors because we have 377 of the creation of Lagos State Councilors; we have 377 of the creation of Lagos State ward chairmen and so on.
“But again, just this morning, we had an assembly of over 237 Councilors here and at the end of the day, in giving the vote of thanks, one of them stood up to say they were now convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that the only person that would work for their interest and that they have realized that the most endangered political class are the councilors and that they would ensure that they work for His Excellency the Governor in their respective wards and they have assured us that we would get victory.
“We have had also groups within the party, we have had the Ndigbos who are party members; we have had market men and women who are party members and of course the biggest endorsement any one can ever get can only come from Community Development Committee (CDCs) and Community Development Associations (CDAs) because everyone of us is a member of one CDA or the other and if all the 3900 CDAs in Lagos State have openly endorsed His Excellency and their representative still came here yesterday to affirm that same endorsement and if you look at this as translating to acceptance, those who are claimed to have endorsed the others, we are supposed to do direct primary if we are going to do that anyway and in direct primary, every vote must count; and at the stakeholders meeting today, 85 per cent of the people in that assembly are actually supporters of Mr Akinwunmi Ambode.”
‘Show of Sportsmanship’
Also, yesterday, the Director General of Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu Campaign Organisation (BOSCO), Mr. Tayo Ayinde, described the decision of Hamzat to step down for his principal as a show of sportsmanship.
Ayinde made the remarks in a statement by BOSCO’s Director of Publicity, Sesan Daini.