What many people may term political suicide or costly miscalcuation is about to the manifested in the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the forthcoming 2019 General Elections approach.
This is said to be playing out in the reported failure of the party not to do what millions of the residents of the state have been looking forward to in the countdown to the elections.
We were reliably informed that the leaders of the party are working on the possibility of denying Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of the state second term of office despite the belief in many quarters in the state and beyond that he has performed creditably well since he got to the coveted office in 2015.
Reliable sources in the party informed us that some chieftains of the party have been speaking to the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to allow another person contest as the Governorship candidate of the APC in 2019 on the pretext that a lot of people are on queue to rule the acclaimed centre of excellence.
Interestingly, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has not declared his intention to run for a second term, but there are clear indications that his supporters and a vast array of Lagosians want him to run in order to complete the adjudged sterling performance of his first term. Curiously, there are still no other aspirants that have shown clear interest in the coveted office.
“Governor Ambode’s Political Godfather in Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, may be reluctant to endorse his political godson for the second term just like he did in Babatunde Fashola’s second term bid in 2010. He is being pressurized by a few of his long-term associates,” said a source.
According to Hon. Fouad Oki, who purports to lead a faction of APC in Lagos, the head of this group is Rauf Aregbesola, the Governor of the State of Osun; the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, who is reported to be eyeing the Lagos Governorship seat in 2023 and Hon. Bayo Oshinowo, the billionaire Chairman of the Lagos House of Assembly Committee on Lands, who is currently eyeing the Lagos East Senatorial seat in 2019.
Sources revealed that a new entrant into the group is Dipo Eludoyin, another billionaire Ife, Osun State-born Prince and businessman with real estate interest all over Lagos and who is reported to have strong links to the Abuja group opposed to Asiwaju’s continuous overall control of Lagos politics.
Reports indicated that there are other disgruntled fringe groups and players who are concerned with the Governor’s growing popularity, the whispers of greater political future and possible inheritance of Asiwaju’s political empire.
There is of course Fouad Oki’s splinter group and other shadowy characters both within and outside the party. There are even some rabid loyalist who are reported to be pushing Asiwaju to draft his wife or son into the race over Ambode.
All these forces appear to be converging at rapid speed to thwart the Governor’s quest for a second term.
Reference was made to the stakeholders meeting of the APC called by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on Tuesday 14 August, 2018 at the party’s secretariat in ACME, Ikeja, where he said that Ambode was only building on the foundation laid by his predecessors and that his successor would take over from where he stops since Lagos is bouyant enough.
A lot of Lagosians are however beginning to question whether unarguably one of the greatest Nigerian political tacticians and leadership head-hunters has lost his touch and intuition.
They wonder how in this time of strife and uncertainty, the Jagaban of Borgu would even consider tinkering with “a winning hand at the behest of Aregbesola, Eludoyin and their cohorts.”
Politics is a weird game and some have attributed Asiwaju’s vacillation on his perpetual quest to retain power, old age, fear or even envy of a political son who appears to be outperforming his predecessors.
Some say it might be based on Asiwaju’s desire to run for the presidency in 2023 and Ambode’s possible threat to that desire.
A source stated that “nobody can say for certain what goes on in a politician’s mind but it appears a battle royale is brewing and Jagaban’s core associates appear bent on pushing him over that proverbial precipe.
“Asiwaju has already allowed his estranged political sons turned rivals to set up beach heads in Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun with their support for Adeoti of the ADP.
“The ultimate aim it appears is to wrest his “prize possession” – Lagos – from his grasp with the attendant complete political and economic demystification of the Jagaban of Borgu.
“Those who advocate for Asiwaju’s retirement say 20 years at the helm of power is enough and it is time for him to give way to younger turks who can carry his legacy. They say if he does not retire voluntarily they will force him into compulsory retirement.
“They also boast that his core loyalists have already been infiltrated and have clandestinely begun preparations for their assault on Lagos.”
On the other hand, there have been speculations that the politicians who feel Ambode’s popularity must be checked are wooing Femi Otedola, the oil magnate, who is reported to have recently sold his Forte Oil business, to finance his ambition.
They stated that Femi Otedola is a Christian from Epe (the same local government as the Governor), but a complete political novice will be controllable by them and they can continue to perpetrate their political control in Lagos.
Some of the leaders of the APC are insisting that Femi Otedola, who is reported to be heavily scandal-prone and is said to have similar credentials problems like Senator Ademola Adeleke in Osun State, will be a worthy candidate to present to Lagosians as Governor of the centre of excellence.
There are also the serial candidates such as Hon. Obafemi Hamzat, Supo Sasore and a new name recently thrown up, Jide Sanwoolu, who are said to be waiting in the wings to reap should Asiwaju be swayed in the run up to 2019 election or propably 2023.
There is also the twist of Senator Musliu Obanikoro, who is reported to be eyeing the Lagos West senatorial seat to serve as a platform for his governorship push in 2023 which now appears to be shaping up as a battleground year.
Several stakeholders are waiting to see what moves Governor Ambode will make if it becomes apparent that he will be denied a return ticket by his Party.
“Considering that there are 68 political parties lined up ahead of 2019 that won’t mind adopting a popular governor that is adjudged to have performed creditably well, a platform to run should not be an issue should push comes to shove.
“By this time in 2010, former governor Babatunde Fashola was already fraternizing with the Labour Party and perfecting plans to run on that party’s ticket until Asiwaju beat a last-minute retreat and endorsed him for another term under the then ACN.
“Apparently, that bruising experience took its toll on the Mentor-Mentee relationship and despite the photo-ops it has never been the same since then,” a source said.
Followers of events are now wondering if the same experience is going to play out again as it happened in 2010, when former governor Babatunde Raji Fashola was seekiñg second term of office.
“Does lightning strike twice? Perhaps not, Ambode has proven a bit more docile and compliant than Babatunde Fashola and may have placed his second term fate squarely on the benevolence of the Jagaban of Borgu, the support of the Vice-President Professor Yemi Osibajo and Oba Rilwan Akiolu the Oba of Lagos amongst others,” a party chieftain said.
Some members of the APC, who did not want to give their names, stated that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, would not toy with the idea of not allowing Governor Akinwunmi Ambode contest for second term in office.
They emphasised that Tinubu knows what is good for the party and that he is sensitive to the opinions of millions of residents of the state that Ambode has beaten all the records in the state.
They added that “it would be suicidal not to field such a man with great ideas that has transformed Lagos State to a smartcity from megacity since he took over as Governor in 2015.”
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