Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode’s intense peace moves in the last 72 hours, to save his political career, has fallen flat; following the insistence of All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftains that the governor must go.
Sources revealed that rather than succeed in his bid for a second term in office, Ambode’s main rival in the contest for the state’s number one seat on the platform of APC, Chairman of the Lagos State Property Development Corporation, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s profile has recorded a boost.
Aside all the behind-the-scene efforts, Ambode had, in the last three days, attended two public events which brought him in direct contact with his benefactor and godfather of Lagos politics, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. They were the public presentation of Africa Rise and Shine, by Chairman of Zenith Bank PLC, Mr. Jim Ovia, which held in Lagos on Monday, and the Tuesday mega rally for APC governorship candidate in Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola, an event the governor attended in company with his wife.
Speaking with Daily Sun on the development, a close associate of Tinubu said: “For us in the political family of Asiwaju, we’re done with Ambode. His matter is even beyond Asiwaju himself. APC leaders in the state and many Lagos elders have rejected the governor and Asiwaju will not do anything against the wish of this influential class of people.”
The source further disclosed that many party leaders and Lagos elders, who are now kicking against Ambode’s second term, had, in the last two years, complained to Tinubu about the governor’s drift.
Asked why the party leaders complained of neglect and concerted efforts by the governor to supplant existing party structures with his own, the Lagos elders were said to have expressed frustration in reaching the governor.
“Let me be specific with you; one of our respected elders who has not been able to speak with the governor is a former Inspector General of Police. The former IGP tried to speak with the governor for a whole year; he could not reach him. The same thing applies to Chief Femi Okunnu. How do you want these same influential people to support his second term ambition?” the source queried.
For supporters of the governor, who are desperate for his return, even if on the platform of another political party, especially the People’s Democratic Party, the announcement, yesterday, by the 2015 Lagos State governorship candidate of the PDP, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, further dampened their spirit.
They reportedly saw Agbaje’s entry into the race as foreclosing the possibility of Ambode running on a viable alternative platform.
Agbaje confirmed his fresh attempt for the coveted seat.
“It is true that initially, I did not want to re-contest, but, I had so many people urging me to run. I bought and submitted my nomination form shortly before it closed. I will be part of the PDP Lagos governorship primaries, billed for Friday, September 28,” he said.
Agbaje said he is confident he will to win the election in Lagos State if he picks the PDP governorship ticket. “Most Nigerians now vote for individuals rather than party,” he said.
Nevertheless, elements within the Lagos political space, who are determined not to give Ambode a second chance had, earlier on Wednesday, released to the public, through the social media, a statement purportedly signed by Ambode endorsing his main rival in APC, Sanwo-Olu for the 2019 governorship race.
“After due considerations and consultations, I have decided to suspend my campaign for second term as the executive governor of our great state. This is done in good faith to put the interests of our great state ahead of our personal ambition and to honour the clarion call for a change of leadership by our great party. I am committed to the programme and manifestos of our great party APC to improve the lives of the people of Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole.
“In view of this, I hereby endorse Hon. Jide Sanwo-Olu to represent our party for the office of the executive governor of Lagos State. I thank the leadership of our party at all levels for their supportive role during my term as the executive governor of Lagos State,” the statement purportedly quoted Ambode.
A few hours after the statement went viral, the governor, however, denied it, and vowed that no force can stop his constitutional term of office.
The governor’s reaction was contained in a statement released by his Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna, which urged the public to regard the earlier statement as a hoax.
“There is no iota of truth in the said statement and it did not emanate from the governor or his office. We are not oblivion (sic) of the desperation of some misguided individuals who are hell bent on fanning the emblem of discord within the Lagos APC. The tremendous strides and infrastructural development embarked upon by H.E. will be completed by him within the constitutional stipulated time,” the governor stressed.
Meanwhile, the battle for the minds of the people of Lagos has been extended to faraway London, the United Kingdom, where a number of public transport buses were branded with Sanwo-Olu’s campaign posters.
One of such buses seen by Daily Sun has printed on it, a bold picture of Sanwo-Olu, on the right side of the poster, while the remaining space has boldly written on it: “Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu Campaign Organisation: Support Jide for Lagos State Governor, 2019. Courtesy “BOSCO” Diaspora Chapter (UK).”