By Akinwale Kasali
The hope of Akinwunmi Ambode hoisting the All Progressives Congress, APC, flag as the candidate of the party in 2019 Governorship in Lagos State is dangling like a pendulum.
The reason for this is not far-fetched, as the media have been awashed with the politicking that has rocked the party, with Jide Sanwo-Olu, an aspirant challeging Ambode for the APC ticket is been tipped to be the party’s flagbearer.
Ambode is however jittery, following the overwhelming support Sanwo-Olu is enjoying from top chieftain of the party, most especially the endorsement given to Sanwo-Olu by the Mandate Group. The Mandate Group, is a group that determine what happens in the APC and who emerges as the candidate of the party in recent times.
Ambode, has not been in the good book of the Mandate group since he came into the saddle as the governor of the state, as he was been alleged to have stepped on toes, making him not to have the nod of the group to be the preferred candidate for the party.
Sanwo-Olu currently has the backing of the powerful Mandate Movement on the Lagos APC and that of the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Following the postponement of the APC primary in Lagos for the second time in three days, this has even made Ambode more jittery. According to sources close to him, he has been consulting, strategizing and wooing delegates with huge sum of money to vote for him in the primary coming up tomorrow, Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018 at the party’s secretariat on Acme Road, Ogba.
On Sunday, Ambode said that his counterpart vying for the party’s ticket was not fit to be the governor of the state during a press conference.
The governor lashed out for the first time since his rift with Tinubu, his godfather, became public knowledge, added that the other aspirant (referring to Sanwo-Olu) was not fit and proper to occupy the seat he wanted for a second term.
Ambode alleged that Sanwo-Olu was once arrested for allegedly spending fake dollars in the US, adding that he was once a patient at the Gbagada General Hospital, where he had gone for rehabilitation.
He said, “The aspirant that has been put up to contest against us is not a fit and proper person to take this job.
“This particular aspirant is somebody that has been arrested for spending fake dollars in a nightclub in America, and was detained for months.
“It is also known that he doesn’t have the competence to do what he is being propelled to do. This is somebody that has gone for rehabilitation before. The records are there at the Gbagada General Hospital.
“We don’t want to go too far; we don’t want to talk about all the things that we know; but what we want is for our leadership to have a rethink because the truth is this, I will not stand here on the mandate of Lagosians and allow our great party APC to put in somebody that the opposition will easily take out because of lack of credibility.”
Earlier today, Ambode tasked the panel appointed by the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress to conduct the governorship primaries in the state to do all within its powers to ensure a level playing field for all aspirants.
A release signed by the Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna, states that Ambode spoke when he received members of the panel led by its chairman, Mr. Clement Ebri.
The governor said it was important that the election, when conducted, is seen to be free, fair and credible to all aspirants, adding that it is only in such situation that democracy, which the party upholds, will be entrenched.
Members of the panel include Ahmed Mahmud Gumel (Secretary); Nze Chidi Duru, Clever Egbeji, Clever Ikisikpo and Ambassador Jerry Ugokwe.
Expressing confidence in the selection of panel members, Ambode said he had no doubt that the panel would live up to expectations and deliver a credible process, which, according to him, will go a long way to determine the future of Nigeria and the greatness of Lagos in particular.
“This is a very star-studded election team; they are distinguished Nigerians in their individual and collective rights.
“There can’t be any better collection of a team to any state election monitoring in this country than the distinguished personalities brought to Lagos; and it only shows us the importance the national chairman of our great party attaches to what is happening in Lagos.
“I receive this election team as being acceptable and credible to me enough to discharge their civic responsibility to the best of their abilities and to also say that whatever it is that is the outcome of the primaries, your presence has also shown that this will be credible and this will be acceptable by me,” he said.
The Governor recalled that he had gone through the same process with 12 other aspirants to emerge as governorship candidate of the APC in 2014, saying that it was not out of place to have other aspirants contest for the same ticket this time, however, the eventual process of choosing who flies the party’s flag must be seen to be fair to all concerned.
“So, all I seek is credible primaries, transparent primaries and level playing ground that we will all be proud of at the end of the day for the outcome.”
He also urged the Panel to use its prerogative to decide the best possible time for the primaries election and make a public announcement on the time, date and venues of the exercise to enable members of the party partake in the process.
Ebiri said the panel deemed it fit to pay a courtesy visit to the governor as the number one citizen in the state and to also intimate him on the process for the conduct of the primaries.
“We have come to intimate you that this exercise is going to take place in the next few hours. I also like to apologise for the delay, it had to be postponed as a result of logistics in Lagos, Imo and some other states because of the pressure and work load from the secretariat and other developments that have taken place,” Ebri said.
Ebiri, a former governor of Cross River State, assured Ambode that he and his team were ready for the task ahead and would do everything possible to ensure that the process is seen to be free, fair and credible.