December 3, 2014 – The D-day is here. In a matter of hours, residents of Lagos will know the candidate that will be the flag bearer of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Lagos State.
Thirteen candidates were cleared by APC for the primaries scheduled to hold today (Thursday)at Onikan Stadium, Lagos Island.
The 12 candidates are former Accountant General of Lagos State, Akinwumi Ambode, former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice In Lagos, Mr. Olasupo Shashore, Speaker of Lagos House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Commissioner for Works, Dr. Femi Hamzat, Mrs. Adetokunbo Agbesanwa, Senator Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon and former Commissioner for Health, Dr. Leke Pitan. Others are Mr. Tola Kasali, Kunle Disu, Tayo Ayinde, Hon. Lanre Ope, Abayomi Sutton and Tokunbo Wahab.
Of all the candidates, two stand out, Ambode who has been endorsed by party leader, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Shashore, one of the three candidates that the Lagos State Governor Mr. Babatunde has put forward so far.
Analysts say the governor initially showed interest in Tinubu’s former aide, Toyin Ayinde before throwing up Hamzat, whom he has since dropped for Shashore, the other two were also cleared to contest. The governor threw up Shashore at the book lunch ‘Possessed’ and he has since been waxing stronger. Shashore is from Lagos Island.
Indication to this came to the fore on Monday when he splashed over N60 million on wrap-around adverts in three national newspapers, Punch, ThisDay and Vanguard newspapers. Political pundits see it as a definite statement from him to all that matters that he has state support and remains the man to beat today in the primaries.
Besides, sources say that Fashola has hinted of his intention to support the APC candidate in 2015 with N5billion if his candidate emerges today in the primaries.
But this notwithstanding, the pendulum seems to be swinging in the direction of Ambode who now has open endorsement from the Lion of Bourdillon , Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. His photographs paring with Ambode are already allover in stickers. Besides, the Ndigbo in Lagos have also thrown their weight behind his candidate.
Speaking to journalists at the APC secretariat, Mr. Chris Egwilo alias Political Gas said his group will swim and die with Ambode.
Egwilo who also printed stickers showing the pair of Tinubu and Ambode told reporters that Tinubu has called him aside and told him openly that Ambode is his candidates and has called on him to mobilize Ndigbo to support his candidate. He attributes the undoing of Fashola to introduction of three candidates into the governorship race and his refusal to service the political machinery of the party.
Besides, the voting pattern seems to favour Ambode. According to guidelines published by the APC, delegates that will vote today in the primaries are principal officers of the Ward Executive Council, chairman, vice chairman and secretary, woman leader, youth leader, organizing secretary, treasurer legal adviser, publicity secretary, welfare secretary, auditor and financial secretary.
Others are all members of the local government executive committees from all the local government areas, all members of the state executive committee, all members of the national executive committee of the state, all members of the board of trustees and national caucus from the state, all elected persons from councilors upward from the state. The election will be by secret ballot.
Based on the composition, analysts are of the view that the primaries will be nothing but a walkover for Ambode. The reason they proffered is that the party which Fashola has failed to service in the last eight years is fully controlled by the state Chairman, Otunba Henry Ajomale who is not only an appointee of Tinubu but has in the past complained about lack of funding from the state government.
One other factor that is working in favour of Ambode appears to be the voting pattern already exhibited in the primaries held to elect those who fly the party’s ticket to the Lagos State House of Assembly on Tuesday.
From the results so far released, Tinubu has had the upper hand with candidates of party officials defeating even incumbent lawmakers in most cases. This pattern of votes, pundits say will characterize the voting configuration of today for the governorship primaries.
Contributed by Emmanuel Ukudolo