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February 1, 2019

Lagos APC: House divided against self ?

Lagos APC: House divided against self ?

Assembly Mace

By Jubril Gambo

A PEOPLE’S Democratic Party, PDP,  leader in Edo State in a recent media interview noted that most members of the governing All Progressives Congress, APC,  in the state are waiting for the governorship elections to sabotage the party at the polls. He attributed the development to the fact that many of such potential saboteurs felt cheated in the just- concluded primaries to choose party leaders and representatives in the state. This antagonistic attitude of frustrated party supporters is not peculiar to the APC in Edo State. Indeed, in Lagos State many APC supporters are bidding their time for vengeance against their party at the governorship election in Lagos in March 2019.

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The grievances of the party followers arose out of the directive from the party leaders that direct primaries would be the order of the day. The chairman of the APC, Lagos State Chapter, Alhaji Tunde Balogun had declared before the governorship primaries were held on Tuesday, October 2, 2018: “In pursuit of the constitution, it was stated that the primary would be conducted in direct open system where voters would queue behind their preferred candidate.” This was a way of bringing democracy closer to the people. The primaries were structured such that people lined up and were counted at the ward level and upwards.

Yet, when a list of winners from such transparent electoral process was released, those who lost featured and clear winners could not find their names on the list.  A process that was expected to promote democracy and bring responsibility to the grassroots in APC had been hijacked and sabotaged. Indeed, the Chairman of the National Working Committee of the APC, Mr. John Ebri, initially invalidated the governorship primaries, saying that it never authorised such to go ahead when the modalities were not followed as scheduled.

At a media briefing at Ikeja, Mr. Ebri displayed result sheets showing that the elections were yet to be conducted as he actually ruled that a fresh primary would be conducted to determine the governorship candidate of the state. But he was apparently forced to eat his words by the powers-that-be at the airport on his way back to Abuja to reverse his stance. The somersault was surprising to many given the position of the committee some few hours back. The Lagos APC primary panel’s recognition of the result of the primary which threw up Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the governorship candidate of the party made Akinwunmi Ambode become the first governor of the Fourth Republic in the state to be denied a second term by his party.

This is the beginning of the groundswell of resentment and frustrations rocking the Lagos APC. It is getting worse by the day by the intrigues and persecution dogging Ambode and his administration since then. Many leaders of the party in the state and beyond are deeply suspicious that these outright “oppressions” could jeorpadise the chances of their candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Lagos State governorship elections this March as many of the electorate are not amused by the goings-on in Lagos. The attempt to impeach Mr. Ambode by the Lagos State House of Assembly is the latest offensive against the Lagos State Government.

What is more worrisome to APC party leaders, however, is the difficulty in finding out those who are loyal on the surface but planning sabotage in secret. It has been a daunting task trying to read faces of hitherto trustworthy party loyalists to know those who are transparently happy and those who are not. As the Yorubas have always said, all lizards lie prostrate and it is difficult to know their thoughts. That is the major problem of apprehending the enemy within the APC leadership in Lagos State.

As usual in politics, one man’s food is another man’s poison. The beneficiary of the internal resentment in the APC is the main opposition PDP, and more especially its governorship candidate, Jimi Agbaje, who is bound to reap bountifully, particularly from the shortchanged and embittered APC supporters. They are hoping to settle scores with their party by voting massively for Jimi Agbaje as the next Lagos State governor in the coming governorship elections.

Whilst many voters, including both disenchanted and hitherto committed APC members cannot wait to vote for Jimi Agbaje, there are those who are also campaigning on the line that voters should not waste their votes on many candidates who have no chances at the polls. They have asked Lagosians to limit their votes to only the opposition.