Monday, 14 July 2014


EARLY in the week, the leadership of the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) reportedly held a crucial meeting where several issues, including who succeeds the outgoing governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola in 2015, was tactically debated.

From the grapevine, it became obvious that the ambitions of the former Lagos State Accountant-General, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode and the incumbent Commissioner for Works, Mr. Obafemi Hamzat, to succeeds Fashola may pitch the governor against his predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as the duo are showing interest in different directions.

Ambode, who is assumed to be receiving the blessing of Tinubu, is allegedly the least choice of Fashola whom Tinubu, against numerous odds and opposition, singlehandedly installed in 2007 as the governor of the state.

The outgoing governor is rather throwing his weight behind Hamzat, to succeed him, according to one of the leaders at the meeting.

The source described the matter as a subtle crossroads “the party must carefully address; otherwise, it is

capable of scuttling the chances of the APC in 2015.”

Feelers from the meeting point to the fact that the APC would not face one, but three major challenges in arriving at who will succeed Fashola in 2015.

First, one of the two gladiators (Tinubu/Fashola) would have to shelve his pride and abide by the dictate of the other.

Secondly, the party would also have to carefully address and take into consideration the ambition of other determined aspirants and stakeholders, who are jostling for the seat of power in 2015. Some of them are poised to play the spoiler, “if that becomes necessary,” the source said.

Thirdly, it would be in the interest of the APC not to overlook the ripple effect of the outcome of the recent Ekiti State governorship election on other Southwest states which the party control.

“This is particular so in Lagos, where citizens are perceived to be getting weary over some of the policies of Governor Fashola, which, they claim, are too draconian and unfriendly to the common man on the street.”

According to findings, tens of thousands of ordinary Lagosians, including artisans, commercial bus and motorcycles drivers and traders “are no longer in terms with the APC.”

Coming to the brass tack, the debate over indigeneship, religion and capacity remain the three major factors that are clear to determine the next governor of the state.

One of the party member said: “These are not what the leadership of the APC could easily overlook.

Otherwise, there may be the repeat of what happened in 1991, when the governorship candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC), the late Sir Michael Otedola, took advantage of the disagreement between the candidates of the popular Social Democratic Party (SDP), Dr. Femi Agbalajobi and Chief Dapo Sarumi, to emerge the governor.”

Presently, the Christian community in Lagos is deaf to any arrangement other than that Fashola’s successor in 2015 must be a Christian whatever the party platform such may come from.

The Christians hold that it is enough of Muslims ruling in a state where the percentage of members of the two religions is almost the same.

They posit that Tinubu, who became the governor in 1999 and served for two terms, is a Muslim, and his successor, Fashola, who will complete his second term in 2015, is also a Muslim.

Both men have enjoyed maximum and unrelenting supports from the Christian community throughout their tenure.

But while the public is being made to believe that it was the Christian community, particularly the Lagos State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), is the brain behind the idea, “the fact is the debate over a Christian governor started within the party itself by some disgruntled members who felt that Christians were being sidelined,” another source said.

According to source: “Zoning and religion have become the politics of the day in Nigeria and here in Lagos, every citizen in the country are represented.

“It was a subtle agitation that started within the party, sold to the Christian community and it is not what the party could over look.”

Explaining how the issue of religion is most likely to affect the chances of Ambode and Hamzat, the source said that the first aim and objective of any political party is to win election.

“No matter how perfect your policies and programmes may be, it is only when you are in government they could be implemented,” the source said, stressing, “it is, therefore, imperative for the party to give this issue serious consideration.”

The source continued: “There is no doubt about the capability of Hamzat to succeed Fashola as governor; likewise Ambode. They were both intellectually sound and have all that it takes to go for the job.

“However, politics, in the Nigerian context, and the way it is being played currently, goes beyond looking at capability. Capability must be combined with acceptability.

“Moreover, at this point, Fashola cannot determine for the leadership of the party who will replace him in office, in a situation where we are still battling to correct some of the negative impressions his policies have rubbed on the citizens.”

The source said the Muslim community itself has not, at any point in time since the debate started, come out to dismiss the demand that Fashola’s successor must be a Christian.

“While the leadership of the party, from the side of Tinubu, is considering acceptability and capability in line with the dynamics of Nigeria’s politics of present, the other camp may be naïve, which if not carefully managed, could cost the party its chances of retaining control of the state in 2015,” the source said.

Another respondent, noted that as a matter of fact, whosoever the APC would present for the 2015 governorship poll must not be seen from the perceived pride and aloofness of the outgoing governor, whose policies have been branded too elitist and anti-masses.

“The APC needed a radical departure from what we have at present to what will combine the interest of the masses and the people,” the source said.

The indigeneship of both aspirants have been disputed from various quarters since their aspirations were made known through their channels.

Fashola’s go-ahead to Hamzat

WHEN it became clear to some stakeholders in the party, about a year ago, that Governor Fashola may likely support Hamzat as his successor in office, agitation started right from the Lagos East, where the party eventually zoned the governorship slot this time, that he (Hamzat) is neither from Epe Division nor an indigene of Lagos State.

Reference was quickly made to the fact that his father is a traditional ruler in one of the towns in Ogun State. Indeed, The Guardian reliably gathered that some of the members of the party, who would not, for whatever reason, confront Tinubu, summoned the courage to tell him (Tinubu) that the governor could not determine who succeeds him; “otherwise, we would damn the consequence.”

But despite all odds that are against the aspiration of Hamzat within and without the party, it is being alleged that Fashola remains obstinate on using him with the determination to call the bluff of Tinubu and his camp.

Reliable sources said that the governor has already given directives to the Works Commissioner to start underground mobilisation from all local governments, pending when final mobilisation would start.

But one of those in Tinubu’s camp said if the governor insisted and refused to bend to the dictates of the party, “members of the State House of Assembly may be instigated to commence impeachment process against him.”

“We might witness the repeat of what happened between the State Assembly and Fashola in 2011 when a group, called True Face of Lagos, surfaced,” the source said.

To an extent, both Tinubu and his successor in office are yet to make any open statement on who they intend to support as governor in 2015, but their body language has said it all.

During a book launch in honour of Mr. Ambode at the Civic Centre, Lagos in May, the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, endorsed Ambode as the one to succeed Fashola.

While he endorsed Ambode, Akiolu, a first class traditional ruler with a concrete security background, and who is not used to making frivolous statements publicly, expressed strong opposition to the ambition of Hamzat, whose father, he said, “is a traditional ruler in Ewekoro, Ogun State (wanting) to become the Governor of Lagos State.”

In the presence of many traditional rulers in Lagos, the monarch disclosed that the royal fathers in the state “have consulted widely with the sons and daughters of Lagos and upon the consultation, royal fathers have come to the conclusion that the best person to take over from Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) is Akinwunmi Ambode.”

“You people know me well — that I do not hide my feelings on where I stand on issues,” he stressed.

Oba Akiolu added that Lagos couldn’t have a man like Ambode and allows somebody, whose father is an Oba in Ewekoro, Ogun State, to become the governor of Lagos.

Although wild reactions followed the monarch’s statement, neither Tinubu, the state chairman of the party, Chief Henry Ajomale nor any other leaders of the party either from the state or national level have altered any contradictory statement to what Akiolu said.

In his statement on Ambode, Akiolu dismissed as rubbish and unfounded the insinuations that he (Ambode) is not an indigene of Lagos.

One of the aides to Tinubu, who did not want his name in print, disclosed that when the matter of Ambode’s citizenship of Lagos was tabled, “Tinubu simply asked who is a true Lagos indigene? We all know where we came from and that is not an issue.”

The aide said that his boss (Tinubu), has reached out to other aspirants like Senator Gbenga Ashafa; former Commissioner for Health, Dr. Leke Pitan; former Commissioner for Special Duty, Dr. Tola Kasali and the Speaker House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, the need to drop their governorship ambition.

It is not clear if the party has reached any truce with Senator Ganiyu Solomon, who is another aspirant that has expressed determination to exercise his right to contest for the governorship.

Solomon, a former council chairman, had said several times that his position was that the party should organise a free, fair and credible primary election for all the aspirants to test their popularity.

Whatever the internal wrangling may be in the party, it would not be to the best interest of any of the APC members to allow Lagos slip into the hands of the opposition, as that may be the beginning of the end and extinction of the party’s relevance in the Southwest.

What recommends Ambode to Tinubu, stakeholders

TAKING a critical look at his profile, Akinwunmi Ambode is an Accountant, an Administrator and a Public Finance Management expert.

He joined the Lagos State Waste Disposal Board in 1985, from where he moved to the Local Government Service in 1987, serving for 10 years.

He was, at various times, Council Treasurer in Alimosho, Shomolu, Mushin and Ajeromi-Ifelodun local government councils.

He later attained the position of Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Finance, and organised the first-ever National Tax Retreat in Nigeria in conjunction with Joint Tax Board/Federal Inland Revenue Services in 2005.

He was Chairman of the Technical Committee that produced the Lagos State Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (SEEDS) document.

He led the audit teams as the Auditor General for Local Government to clear and publish the arrears of statutory audits of 1995 to 2004 within 12 months.

He also led the Implementation Team on the restructured wages and salaries payment system for over 3,000 staff of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).

On record as the youngest person ever appointed as Auditor General in Lagos State at the age of 37, Ambode revolutionised the Lagos State Treasury Office and got the state budget performing at a remarkable 85 per cent annually.

He was also the first-ever Permanent Secretary in the state to retire voluntarily.

No comments :

Post a Comment