By Abiodun Babajide
The emergence of other 2019 Lagos governorship aspirants from the stable of APC brings to the fore a previously unseen possibility that the incumbent Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode will be battling for the party’s ticket in the primaries. The development, which is not unconnected with the influence of APC’s political czar and party leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is currently a silent storm in the party’s seemingly calm ocean.
A past commissioner of the State Babajide Sanwo-olu, and a former gubernatorial aspirant Obafemi Hamzat, have thrown their hats in the ring, set to compete for the same ticket that Gov. Ambode requires to drive home his work in line with the model of leadership that Lagos has implemented since 1999.
The party has however refuted claims that it is the wish of Tinubu to oust Ambode; reports have it that the party has decided to create an open arena for interested contestants to gun for the ticket. Not many people believe this. The feeling is that a game is being played and there is a grand scheme to edge Ambode out. The Lagos APC leadership has anointed another candidate for reasons best known to them and seem determined to give him the coveted trophy.
The ugly head of history
Seemingly, history is about to repeat itself. In 1991, two contestants from the favorite party – Social Democratic Party – Femi Agbalajobi and Dapo Sarumi were locked in a fight for the party ticket. The father of Lagos politics at the time, Alh. Lateef Jakande, favored the former while the latter challenged this imposition. At the end of the day, another candidate Yomi Edu, was presented by SDP to the ire of the previous duo. Meanwhile, Sir Michael Otedola was the gubernatorial flag bearer for the National Republican Party (NRP), the under-dog party. While the heat in SDP consumed the players, Sir Otedola coasted to victory and became the governor. Everyone is watching as things unfold within the APC.
For the APC, a lot is indeed at stake here. From the ruling party at the centre to the party’s two-decade firm grip of Lagos, and with the general elections just months away, it is a very wrong time for costly permutations. It is also not a time for painful history to repeat itself. These are undoubtedly the reasons why bold steps are being taken by the larger party stakeholders to douse the cold war between Gov Ambode and the party.
At the APC mega rally for Osun State gubernatorial candidate Alh. Gboyega Oyetola prior to Saturday’s elections, party stalwarts made attempts to bridge the gap. Chief Bisi Akande and Aremo Segun Osoba, both past governors led the way for truce. President Mohammadu Buhari was there. So also was the Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu. The mediating stakeholders also met with the Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. The meeting was said to have brought renewed hope for the Ambode’s camp.
Guarding the stakes
A famous quote by Sallust said that “harmony makes small things grow, lack of it makes great things decay.” The party stakeholders know that the stability of the party is paramount. They clearly understand that the strength of Lagos State in the national APC scheme of things cannot be taken for granted. With the centre still grappling with continuity come 2019, they know better than to allow any form of instability to rock their boat at this time. In the words of former US president, Barrack Obama: “this isn’t a matter of understanding of political correctness; it is a matter of understanding what makes us strong; the world respects us not just for our arsenal, it respects us for our diversity and our openness.”
Lagos has moved too far into the day to begin to recalibrate the way it has deployed its governance since 1999. From infrastructure development to security, health and education, Lagos has been on a consistent streak of development. With visible ongoing projects all other Lagos State, the improved look of the State is already a dream Lagosians are waiting to come true.
Gov. Ambode has adapted the 2012 – 2025 Lagos development programme well. The world has seen the light of positive economic and infrastructural development in Nigeria, particularly Lagos. Recently, President Buhari attended the 7th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing with nine ministers and four governors, including Gov. Ambode. Some of the strategic consultations that they had in China has Lagos in the plan. The prospects for foreign direct investment has been pretty good in Lagos. The mega city development structure is adding up on a daily basis.
The stakes are way too high at this time for a gap to seep in. It is in APC’s interest that the Governor is allowed to complete the good works before handing over to another governor that will take the stake notches higher.
– Abiodun Babajide, a public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos