By Emmanuel Aziken, Dapo Akinrefon, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Ebun Sessou & Monsuru Olowoopejo
Lagos APC primary — High level intrigues for political ascendancy in Lagos State ended abruptly yesterday after somersaults by the All Progressives Congress, APC governorship election panel.
The Lagos APC primary panel’s recognition of the result of the direct primary which threw up Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the governorship candidate of the party was within hours recognised by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who became the first governor of the Fourth Republic in the state to be denied a second term by his party.
Ambode’s concession immediately cooled tension in the state. There were, however, doubts if the outgoing governor would be accorded the soft landing that had earlier been reportedly packaged for him by the political establishment in the state.
The political leader of the state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was meanwhile holding court in his Bourdillion Road residence as he plotted how to navigate around the fallouts from the governorship spats with Ambode.
The resolution of the crisis followed the stalemate earlier on Tuesday when the chairman of the panel sent by the national leadership of the party, Mr. Clement Ebri ruled that the primary conducted on Tuesday was illegal.
He had said that fresh primary would be conducted throughout the state yesterday.
However, early yesterday, Mr. Ebri, a former governor of Cross River State, in a volte face signed the results that the chairman of the state chapter of the party, Alhaji Tunde Balogun had earlier presented to him.
Vanguard gathered that unprecedented pressure was brought on Ebri including the both sides.
It was gathered that Ebri collapsed after it became clear that irrespective of his effort the national leadership would overrule him, and with it, expose him to ridicule.
“The chairman was brought to the point of tears because of the pressure,” a source privy to the development said.
Ebri did not answer phone calls to his mobile phone yesterday.
Early yesterday morning, Balogun brought the results to Ebri and the chairman signed the same results he had claimed were irregularly processed.
The somersault was surprising to many given the hard stance of the committee which it was gathered had insisted on supervising the election of Tuesday in all 245 wards in the state.
The committee, Vanguard gathered was stiffly resisted by the state executive which said that it was only in Lagos to collate results and that the panel did not have the capacity to monitor the election in all the wards.
It was in the midst of the stand-off that overtures were made to the national chairman who, first through coded language at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday evening, said that the process would be concluded to the letter.
However, as Ebri and his panel stood their position, it was gathered that Oshiomhole was compelled to reach out to Ebri to define the terms of his engagement in Lagos.
“Oshiomhole between midnight and morning called Ebri to define the terms of his engagement,” a source revealed.
It was learnt that Lagos chieftains of the party sent a video of the voting process to Oshiomhole and the national party chairman after watching the video queried the panel chairman for not monitoring the voting.
It was further learnt that it was at this point that Oshiomhole ordered the panel chairman to authenticate the result of the primary already announced by the state party chairman.
The effect of the call to Ebri was that he was made to realise that he was on his own, a panel member told Vanguard.
Even more, the revelation that the panel abandoned the hotel provided for them by the party for the Protea Hotel, Alausa also put its role in Lagos in question.
So, by early morning yesterday the panel had come under serious pressure as to its neutrality, despite his strong stance the previous night that he was going to conduct a fresh primary, the panel chairman called Balogun, the state chairman to bring the result sheet which he then signed.
Mr. Ebri did not say why he changed his mind over the 12-hour period but Oshiomhole was reported to have said Mr Ebri’s panel was sent to Lagos to collate results and not actually conduct the exercise, which took place in 245 wards across the state.
A few hours later, Ebri flanked by some members of the panel read out the results.
Sanwo-Olu polled 970,851 votes while Ambode polled 72,901 votes.
Sanwo-Olu thanks Tinubu, supporters
“Following this result, I, Clement Ebri, the chairman of the Lagos State APC Governorship Primary Committee, hereby declare Babajide Sanwo-olu the winner of that election.”
Mr. Ebri did not elaborate on why he made a U-turn on his stance of Tuesday, amidst intense politicking from party leaders in the state.
Following the development, Sanwo-Olu quickly offered his gestures to supporters, his backers and commended Ambode.
In his speech, Sanwo-Olu thanked Tinubu, who he said provided the platform, the National Chairman of the party, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole who reportedly played decisive role in turning Ebri round and the party grassroots.
“I want to thank the entire structure that we have in APC, from our National Assembly members, distinguished senators from Lagos State, members of the House of Representatives, especially the majority leader and his entire team, the Speaker and members of the Lagos State House of Assembly. I want to thank all the 57 chairmen and all our 57 local government areas. I want to thank all our ward chairmen, our councillors.”
He also thanked Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of the state, wishing him all the best during the remaining part of his tenure.
He also promised to run an inclusive government.
“I think it’s also important to thank the executive governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode for a good fight. I wish him the best in the remainder of his tenure.
I’ll ensure smooth transition — GOV
Ambode finally caved in during a live television broadcast yesterday afternoon, saying it was time to draw the curtain on the issue that had seemingly paralysed the state as he promised to make arrangements for a smooth transition.
He said: ”Fellow Lagosians, the last few days have witnessed intense political activities that have gripped the attention of the nation and created palpable tension in the polity. I strongly believe that the time has now come for the State to move forward in order that the gains of the last three and half years are not lost.
Dear Lagosians, APC is a great party and the interests of our beloved state must always supercede that of any person or group. It is in this regard that I wholeheartedly congratulate the winner of the Lagos State APC Primaries, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and urge all Lagosians to immediately support our party’s gubernatorial candidate in the 2019 elections and work for the success of our dear party.
”As governor, I will do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition in the remaining period of this administration and ultimately to the new Governor, come May 2019.
I, therefore, appeal to all our party members that we remain one family and unite behind the candidate of the party, so that we can continue to move this state forward.
”The progress of Lagos state is non-negotiable. It is a project that I have passionately worked for in the last three and half years as your governor and one to which I will forever be devoted.
”I wish to use this opportunity to thank our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the leadership of our great party at state and national levels, all party faithful and all Lagosians.
”I thank all Lagosians for their faith and trust in me. I urge you not to relent in your support for our party as we prepare for the general elections.”
Life returns to Alausa after Ambode’s concession speech
Meanwhile, minutes after Governor Ambode accepted the outcome of the gubernatorial primary, activities returned to the seat of power, Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja.
The developments yesterday put the political spotlight in uncertainty as the rival Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was believed to have been hedging its bets on what happened to Ambode.
It’s a lesson for all — Lagos lawmakers
A member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Rotimi Olowo, chairman, Local Government and Community Affairs Committee, said the development was a lesson to anyone in the corridor of power to know that everyone around him has a role to play.
Rotimi, who spoke to Vanguard in a phone interview, maintained that, no matter the position one occupies in life, it is just a while and that the person should endeavour to use the position wisely.
According to him, “Message is clear and simple. When you are leader, you should carry everybody along because you will definitely need everyone later in life. No matter who are, you must understand the roles and responsibilities of everyone thereby ensuring synergy that would uphold the principles and policy of the organization you belong.
His counterpart, Saka Fafunmi, chairman, on environment said, the lesson is for public office holders to be accountable not only to the party but also to the leadership of the party.
According to him, “What played out was the supremacy of the party leadership and I am optimistic that the party will be stronger afterwards,” he said.
Also, Emeka Jude Idumogu, chairman house committee on commerce and industry, said, “The election was free and fair and the most popular aspirant emerged the winner.
According to him, “What happened was a party affair. The leaders have spoken and the responsibility of the followers is adhere to the principles of the leadership.”
Experts brainstorm on sustainable devt at ICAN confab
By Providence Emmanuel
Experts and economic professionals are to chart the way forward on Nigeria’s economic development at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN 48th annual accountants’ conference.
The conference, which started on October 1, 2018 is themed: “Securing Our Shared Future: A Collective Responsibility.”
According to a statement signed by Principal Manager, Corporate Communications, Mrs. Bunmi Owolabi, the theme of the conference was chosen in line with the country’s human and natural resources endowment which have not been optimally leveraged to achieve sustainable development set out by its founding fathers.
President of the International Federation of Accountants, IFAC, Ms. Rachel Grimes, would deliver the lead paper titled: “Securing Our Shared Future: Avoiding the Tragedy of the Commons” with a view to providing insight into how unhealthy politics of governance, poor leadership and tussle for resource distribution have stunted, rather than accelerated the nation’s social and economic development.
Owolabi who said that the conference will offer a platform for professionals to chart a course for the future of Nigeria, pointed out that the second paper, titled: “Professional Accountants: Building A Greater Nigeria Through Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship” hopes to find solutions to the myriads of developmental challenges such as poorly diversified economy, decayed infrastructural facilities, poor healthcare, lack of potable water, education that lacks innovation and entrepreneurship content and huge youth unemployment that have been tormenting the country.