The reason why the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, appears to be bent on denying incumbent governor of Lagos State Akinwunmi Ambode another term in office has been revealed.
It was learnt that some last-minute diplomacy by the presidency and concerned stakeholders to save Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s job for another term might have hit yet another brick wall as Tinubu has remained adamant insisting that he does not want to repeat the mistake he made after several prominent people intervened when he moved against former Governor Babatunde Fashola.
The Fashola experience is said to have left a bitter taste in Tinubu’s mouth as Fashola went on to build his own relationship with Buhari without his (Tinubu’s) endorsement.
It is said that the hawks around him are said to be furiously backing Tinubu not to cave in to pressure to drop his opposition to the governor’s second term for similar reason that Ambode would come after them except there is an ironclad way of forcing him to honour certain conditions that would guarantee their continued relevance.
Tinubu is however said not to be particularly keen on conditions but fears that having literally pulled a gun on the governor, should he now lower it and back the governor’s second term quest, Ambode might come after him when he is re-elected.
Interestingly, while Ambode’s fate is hanging precariously in the balance, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the much talked about alternative candidate to Ambode, was said to be putting finishing touches to his declaration rally, meant to hold today at City Hall, Catholic Mission Street, Lagos Island, by 2.30pm, Lagos Island.
In order to scale up the status of Sanwo-Olu, the various support and interest groups managing his aspiration are taking positions in anticipation of the new power centre. They were said to have beefed up security around him, with bodyguards and some bulletproof Sports Utility Vehicles for ease of movement.
Meanwhile, there is a new thinking within the Mandate Group, which seeks to put pressure on Femi Hamzat to stand down his governorship aspiration and become running mate to Sanwo-Olu before the extrapolations get more complicated.
This idea, sources claimed, stemmed from the need to secure the support of the Justice Forum, one of the key groups set up mainly to propagate the political ideals of Lagos State.
It was thought that with the rate Hamzat was going, especially, with the belief that he is being encouraged to run by Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola, he could upset the calculations within the Mandate Group. Hence, the latest move to prevail on him to stand down and be Sanwo-Olu’s running mate. This combination also seeks to balance the religious factor of the Lagos politics.
The source hinted that Tinubu and other politicians in the state, who were aggrieved that the incumbent governor had not conceded sufficient political patronage to the political class in the state, came up with the difficult conditions that Ambode had to deal with if he must get the party’s ticket for another term.
“The conditions the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Tinubu is giving Ambode are very stringent. In fact, they are impossible demands on the governor,” the APC chieftain, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.
According to him, “The conditions given to Ambode are very tough. In fact, the conditions are designed to ensure that the governor does not have the hope of a second term in office.
“I don’t know how much sacrifice Ambode is willing to make to be back in power in 2019,” the source told THISDAY.
Although speculations had been rife as to why Tinubu was not keen on having Ambode return as governor in 2019, the APC national leader has not publicly expressed his displeasure with the governor.
It is against this backdrop that there have been moves by other APC governors to save Ambode’s return as governor in 2019, as they reason that whatever happens to Ambode can happen to any of them.
The source, which claimed Tinubu was holding him by the jugular, said “This is the point I’ll like you to have in mind: the register of the APC is in the hands of the party’s leader.
“There are efforts to rig Ambode out of the governorship primary. Remember the APC is claiming to have five million members now in Lagos alone. In 2015, the party said it had 2.5 million members.
“Yet, in the presidential poll in 2015, Buhari had less than 800,000 votes and Ambode just a little above 800,000 votes. Are they going to say that the 800,000 plus that voted in the 2015 governorship election were all APC members?”
Among those said to be displeased with Ambode are the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who is reportedly backing Sanwo-Olu as well as other members of the Mandate Group, including Cardinal James Odunbaku alias Baba Eto, and members of the Conference 57, a coalition of council chairmen in Lagos.