December 5, 2014 -The waiting game is now over with the announcement of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode as candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the 2015 general election.
He polled a total of 3, 735 votes out of 5,725 valid votes to defeat 12 other contestants. Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Kadri Hamzat, came second with 1,201 votes.
Senator Ganiu Olanrewaju Solomon, GOS, came third with 272 votes while the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforji came fourth with 182 votes.
Former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Olasupo Sasore(SAN) seen to be backed by the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola(SAN) came a distant 5th with 121 votes, while former Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, Dr. Leke Pitan was 6th with 112 votes.
Others are former Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Tola Kasali (69) votes ; Former aide to Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Mr. Tayo Ayinde scored 17 votes; Adekunle Idris,(9 )votes; Tokunbo Wahab(7) votes, Mrs. Tokunbo Tobun-Agbesanwa(0), Abayomi Sutton(0) vote and Lanre Ope(0) vote.
There are over 6000 delegates that participated in the election comprising principal officers of the Ward Executive Council, party executive including state chairman, vice chairman and secretary, woman leader, youth leader, organizing secretary, treasurer legal adviser, publicity secretary, welfare secretary, auditor and financial secretary.
Others were made up of 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 and all elected persons from councilors upward from the state. They all throng Onikan stadium in Lagos Island, venue of the ceremony to choose the party flag-bearer.
While announcing the results, former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Dr. Peter Obada said he was highly impressed by the people of Lagos state and what the leadership of the party has put in place to ensure a smooth primary election in the most transparent manner.
“We tried as much as possible to be fair to all,” he said amidst jubilation as theme song of Manchester, Stand Up for the Champion electrified the arena. In his victory speech, Ambode who was welcomed to the podium with thunderous ovation expressed gratitude to all that gave him the needed support.
“My fellow Lagosians, it is with a deep sense of gratitude and humility that I accept this ticket to run as the flag bearer of our great party, APC in the 2015 gubernatorial elections.
“This victory was made possible by you the people. And to my fellow contestants, I have nothing but commendation and respect for putting up a good fight. The success of this primary and the victory that has come out of it is not just for me but for all of us that stepped into the water. It is a victory for Lagosians and for democracy.
“I thank all the delegates, over 6,000 of you who voted according to your conscience. For once, you did not waver in your faith in the process put in place by our great party, APC. To the State party Executive and the National officers, I extend my appreciation for the long hours and the experience invested in this exercise”, he said.
According to him, the orderliness, the transparency of the process and the spirit of sportsmanship devoid of bitterness that characterized the process signposts a better future for democracy.
“Our party has demonstrated to all that we are a party of great minds and democratic ideals. The flag of the party that you have handed over to me I accept with a deep sense of history, knowing fully well that Lagos deserves nothing but the best in terms of good governance and dynamic development. We have a legacy to build upon. We have a challenge to meet and speedily too. The responsibility belongs to all of us. Let us put aside the disappointment of yesterday and embrace the opportunity of today. Not forgetting that the future begins today.
“We must never forget that the future of Lagos is bigger than the summation of our ambitions. After this victory, we must move quickly to retain the party APC in the column of the progressives by returning the APC to power in Lagos.
“The task ahead of is daunting, but surmountable. We have only just commenced the first phase of the execution of our political agenda. The next phase beckons. We must all work together to usher APC back into power in Lagos state.
“On my part, I promise never to waiver or fail. I promise to energize and mobilize our teeming supporters in the next phase of this struggle. I put myself to the task, knowing fully well that the foundation laid must never be destroyed but built upon. I commit to the continuation of excellence and the ‘upliftment’ of the lives of all Lagosians, he said and extended his hand of fellowship to other aspirants in his quest to move Lagos forward to greater heights.
“The victory is for all Lagosians and for democracy. I thank the delegates who voted according to their conscience and I commend the orderliness and the spirit of sportsmanship displayed during the contest. APC has demonstrated to all that it is a party of great minds.
“I accept the challenge, Lagos State deserves good governance. We have a legacy to build upon. Let us put aside the disappointment of yesterday and move on. I assure you that we will win the election next year, though the task may be daunting, but we will do it,” he stated adding that his ability to reach everybody at the grassroots was a factor in his landslide victory.
It was however not an election devoid of intrigues as some delegates were left out of the whole process, with some complaining that they only had contact with the list of the delegates for the first time at Onikan. But the whole process appears very transparent on the surface.
But before close of accreditation on Thursday, party chieftains had tried to convince delegates about the credibility of the process and allay fears of many who are apprehensive about outcome of the primaries based on rumours of inducement.
Chairman, All Progressive Congress (APC) in Lagos, Otunba Henry Ajomale explained that there was no favoured candidate, neither did he bribe delegates to cast their votes in favour of any particular aspirant. Ajomale also denied sending text messages to induce delegates to cast their votes for Akinwunmi Ambode.
“I Otunba Henry Ajomale did not send any message, I did not attend any meeting. Stop using my name, I don’t have any preferred aspirant. Please stop sending message. All the aspirants are my aspirants”.
To prove his innocence, Ajomale an hour later took to the stage to reiterate his message, declaring that he would abstain from taking part in the voting process. After dousing the tension, he explained that all aspirants were qualified to represent the party at the governorship election.
“But only one of you will emerge among 13 of you. You are all respected leaders of the party, but remember that only one of you will emerge. There is no winner, no vanquish, you are from the same family. Whatever result we have today, know that it is not a do or die affair. Let the battle begin,” he said.
National leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu had earlier charged all the 13 governorship aspirants of the party in Lagos to accept the result of the primaries whenever it is announced in order to move the party forward.
The former governor, whose speech was read by APC Publicity Secretary Lagos State, Joe Igbokwe, said over 6,000 delegates had gathered to choose a governorship candidate among the 13 aspirants, saying the event marked the beginning of the march for democracy.
While commending the aspirants for playing the game with decorum, Tinubu reminded them that only one of them would emerge winner at the end of the day.
“All of you are qualified but only one of you will win. We must join hands together to ensure the party wins at the general election.
“The way you conduct yourself will determine how Lagos State presents itself. All of you should comport yourselves and accept the result of the primaries as the choice of the party,” he said, adding that the party had worked tirelessly to make the day possible.
According to Tinubu, the enemies of the party lie in wait to see if the APC would fail, urging the aspirants that none of them should tear the party.
“No one should tear down, let us put the enemies to shame and remain as one big family,” he appealed to the contestants. But as the primaries gathered momentum into the night, it became very clear to all that Ambode would carry the day.
Not satisfied with the proceedings, about 10 of the candidates decided to stage a walk-out.
Among those who left the venue were Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Obafemi Hamzat, former Attorney General of the State, Supo Sasore, former Commissioner for Special Duties, Tola Kasali and Speaker of the House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji among others.
Speaking to journalists on telephone, one of the aspirants who staged a walk out, Mr. Tokunboh Wahab, expressed his displeasure about the exercise saying that there were lot of lapses on the part of the committee saddled with the responsibility of the primaries.
He alleged that the party’s delegates list was not made available until the day of election. Also kicking against the primaries, Mr Adebiyi Afolayan, the media aide to Dr. Leke Pitan, said his oga is dissatisfied with the primaries and that he is going to address a press conference on the issue.
“The position of Dr Leke Pitan about APC governorship primaries would be known tomorrow. So, I don’t want to speak for him but I can tell you confidently that he is not satisfy with the primary,” he said. Sources informed us that some of the aggrieved candidates may go to court to seek redress.
“I can tell you that my principal and some other aspirants are not satisfied with the outcome of the primaries. In fact the 11 aspirants are going to write a petition to the party leadership.
You know some of the aspirants are lawyers so they will address the matter. They are likely to take the party to court if their complaints are not quickly addressed,” the source said.
The outcome may not have come as a surprise to many of the candidates. Just few days before, 11 of the candidates who lost out in the exercise x-rayed the process leading to the election and recommended direct election in one venue against plans of the party to hold the primaries in selected areas and move the ballot boxes to the party secretariat where results will be announced.
But they appeared to have their way even though the outcome was not favourable to any of them. However, one of those likely to be jolted by the result is the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola who allegedly threw up Shashore in the last minutes.
Shashore got an embarrassing 121 valid votes despite over N70 million his sponsor lavished on wrap-around adverts in three national dailies and the broadcast media.
Pundits say one of the undoing of Shashore allegedly by the governor has been the governor’s refusal to oil the machinery of the party. Even, Ajomale had in the past complained about failure of Fashola to support the party. 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 advised him to mobilize Ndigbo to support his candidate.
He attributed the undoing of Fashola to introduction of three candidates into the governorship race and his refusal to service the political machinery of the party.
Others see Shashore as an unpopular candidate from Lagos central like Fashola sand blame the governor for picking him based on his antecedent at the Ministry of Justice where he served as commissioner.
“They see him as an elitist person who hardly relates with the common man. He is not a welfare person”, a civil servant told our correspondent adding that the delegates that turned the tide against Shashore and all others were the common and ordinary people in the streets.
Contributed by Emmanuel Ukudolo