As Epe indigenes seek divine intervention for the governor
Whether the governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode will be re-elected in 2019 or not will be decided today as the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state holds its governorship primary.
The exercise was originally scheduled for Sunday, September 30, but the party’s national chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole said it had been shifted to Monday and cited “logistic challenges” as reason.
“We have decided to postpone the election in Lagos to Monday even though it is public holiday; there is nothing in the law that says we cannot conduct our party affairs on the day of public holidays,” he said.
Ambode is being challenged by former special adviser, commissioner for establishment, training and pensions, and managing director of Lagos State Property Development Corporation (LSPDC), Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Sanwo-Olu is widely believed to have the support of the national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who commands tremendous loyalty amongst party members, especially the delegates who would vote in the primary to decide the party’s standard bearer in 2019 election.
Tinubu is believed to have ditched Ambode because of irreconcilable differences between them despite the governor’s insistence that he and Tinubu are like Siamese twins.
“I want you to know that there is no fight anywhere. The national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and my good self, we are not in any fight, we are not in any controversy.
“We are praying to God that the best is yet to come and the best will be what Lagos State deserves and I want you to just continue with your prayers that at this time, God will show His hand and make sure that everything that is of blessing to Lagos State and also blessing of Epe will come to pass,” he said.
Some of Ambode’s alleged “sins” include sidelining party elders and the advisory council in policies and affairs of the state since his emergence as governor in 2015.
Ambode was asked to step down to avoid the humiliation of a sitting governor losing his party’s ticket a suggestion which the governor has shunned to declare his readiness to contest his return ticket for next year’s election.
But an indication that Tinubu has parted way with his godson came on Sunday when he (Tinubu) said in a statement that Ambode had deviated from the developmental blueprint of Lagos and urged delegates to reject him at the primary
“Roughly 20 years ago, a corps of dedicated and patriotic Lagosians, put aside personal interests and rivalries, to put their minds and best ideas together for the good of the state. Out of this collaborative effort, was born a master plan for economic development that would improve the daily lives of our people.
“Bestowed on me was the honour of a lifetime when I was elected to be your governor in 1999. My administration faithfully implemented that plan. The government of my immediate successor, Tunde Fashola, also honoured this enlightened plan.
Where state government remained true to that blueprint, positive things happened. During my tenure and Governor Fashola’s, Lagos state recorded improvements in all aspects of our collective existence, from public health to public sanitation, from education to social services, from the administration of justice to the cleaning of storm and sewage drains. Businesses, large and small, invested, hired millions of workers and thrived.
“All Lagosians were to fully participate and justly benefit from the social dividends and improvements wrought by this plan. We all were to be partners in a monumental but joint enterprise. None was to be alienated. None was to be left out. And none were to be pushed aside.
“I make no pretence that the master plan is perfect. It can always be fine-tuned. However, whenever a government departed from this plan without compelling reason, the state and its people have borne the painful consequence of the improper departure.
“To ignore this blueprint for progress in order to replace it with ad-hoc schemes of a materially inferior quality contravenes the spirit of progressive governance and of our party. Such narrowness of perspective does not bring us closer to our appointed destination; it takes us farther from that destiny.
“For reasons unknown to me and most Lagosians, we have experienced such deviations from enlightened governance recently.
“This trend is that which most concerns me as the primary nears. We must arrest this trend before irreparable harm is committed against the people and their future. For the record, let it be known that I shall vote in this primary because I see it as one of extreme import to our state and our party. Just as I shall vote, I equally urge all party members to do so.
“We must vote in a manner that returns Lagos to its better path, the one that promises a just chance for all to enjoy the fruits of our prosperity. We must always pursue our goal of a Lagos energised by creative dynamism, tolerance of others, and guided by a leadership capable of extending a collegial hand to all stakeholders, far and wide.
“I am encouraged by the emergence of a candidate in this primary who has served the state in senior positions in my administration, the Fashola administration and even in the current one.
“Most importantly, he understands the importance of the blueprint for development. He esteems it as a reliable and well-conceived vehicle for the future development of the state. He also knows the value of reaching out and working with others in order to maximize development and provide people the best leadership possible,” said Tinubu.
Meanwhile, House of Representatives members on the platform of Lagos State APC have endorsed Sanwo-Olu for governor.
The legislators described him as a hardworking, competent and result-driven technocrat and politician, who will take Lagos to a horizon of progress.
Led by the House Majority Leader and Tinubu’s strong ally, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, the legislators visited Sanwo-Olu’s Ikoyi residence to decorate him with the insignia of endorsement.
Gbajabiamila described the endorsement by the “community of friends” as the last pre-direct primary endorsement by a crucial political structure that has its taproots across the constituencies.
Noting that the forum had earlier endorsed Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, he explained that politics is dynamic explaining that Ambode was endorsed then because he had no rival.
“This is the last political structure that is lending support to Sanwo-Olu. We needed to take our time, look at issues dispassionately and deliberate extensively. We had endorsed the governor before. He has done well in infrastructure development. But, politics is dynamic. We have sat down. Governance is not just about infrastructural development.
“The Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) had spoken. I was at the meeting. There was no dissenting voice in GAC. Sanwo-Olu is a man of rich pedigree; he has intimidating credentials. He has a lot of experience. We are going to support him at the primary tomorrow (today),” he said.
Ahead of today’s exercise, the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo flew into Lagos at the weekend and met with Tinubu and the GAC at Tinubu’s Bourdillon residence where Sanwo-Olu was endorsed as the party’s candidate.
Sanwo-Olu also enjoys the support of 36 of the 40 member of the Lagos state house of assembly.
Chairman of the house committee on information, strategy and security, Mr. Adefunmilayo Tejuoso, said the decision was an outcome of a meeting of the lawmakers.
Also, chairmen of 52 out of 57 local councils in the state have endorsed Sanwo-Olu to be the party’s governorship flag bearer.
The three in exclusion are the chairmen of Epe division of the state where governor Ambode hails from.
Meanwhile, the Ambode Mandate Support Group (AMSG) has sent a petition to Oshiomhole over the endorsement of Ambode’s opponent in the governorship primary by the party leadership in the state.
Chairman of the group, Mr. Akeem Sulaimon said at the last minute rally in Lagos to mobilise support for the governor’s second term bid said the action of the state chairman of the APC, Mr. Tunde Balogun, and members of the GAC endorsing an aspirant as candidate of the party is a violation of the party’s constitution.
Sulaimon, who is also the special adviser to the governor on communities and communications, said the support group could not fathom why the second term bid of the governor was being hindered.
He said current events had shown that the leadership of the state executive had been compromised and therefore could not produce an unbiased primary election.
But in a last minute campaign to save his job, Ambode said his administration had served the people well in the last three years.
He also took a swipe at his challenger saying he lacks the competence to do the job.
“We have never responded to the campaign of calumny on social media. We have one family in APC.
“The aspirant being put up to compete against us is not a fit and proper person to take this job.
“I have done everything in the last three and half years to serve people selflessly and to serve the poor.
“Most of the projects we are doing are about alleviating the sufferings of the poor.
“And the only way out for us is to continue to do that in the next four years.
“This particular aspirant is someone who has been arrested for spending fake dollars in a nightclub in America, and he was detained for months.
“He doesn’t have the competence to do what he is being propelled to do.
“This is somebody that has gone for rehabilitation before. The records are there at the Gbagada General Hospital.
“We don’t want to go too far. Our leadership should have a rethink,” he said.
Meanwhile, former speaker of the Lagos State house of assembly, Mr. urged Epe indigenes to pray for Ambode’s successful clinching of the APC governorship ticket at the governorship direct primary holds today.