#BouncExclusive: Why Ambode Might Not Return As Lagos Governor
The All Progressives Congress in Lagos State has again been thrown into confusion.
The fresh crisis is over plans by some leaders of the party to stop Governor Akinwunmi Ambode from winning his re-election bid.
The initial exclusive information Bounce News had over the weekend was that Ambode proceeded to Abuja on Monday to pick up his forms after getting signals from the national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu that the coast was clear.
He returned to Lagos shortly and met with his cabinet and party officials during which he formally declared his intention for a second term.
Leaders of the party in attendance included the Secretary to the State Government, Tunji Bello; Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro; Sen. Gbenga Ashafa, Sen. Ganiyu Solomon; members of the House of Assembly and all chairmen of the 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).
But by Monday night, the tide was said to have changed in an intricate political maneuver that threatens to leave the incumbent governor high and dry.
Two other candidates allegedly acting on the orders of some party leaders also picked the nomination forms immediately after Ambode left Abuja.
They are Jide Sanwonolu and Dr. Obafemi Hamzat.
With the entrance of Sanwonolu and Hamzat into the race, a storm is about to hit the Lagos political firmament, and Tinubu might find himself in a complicated dilemma.
According to a source, the governor’s main opponent in the party’s primary would be Sanwonolu who is being backed by the Mandate Group.
There are four different groups loyal to Tinubu in the Lagos APC.
The groups are the Mandate led by Gov Rauf Aregbesola, Ideal Group led by immediate Chairman of the party in the state, Dele Ajomale, Like-Mind by Sen. Ganiyu Solomon and Justice Forum.
One Ayilara, believed to be an inner caucus member of the Tinubu political machine, was said to have purchased the forms for Sanwonolu, using one of his office staff to pick the forms on his behalf.
Bounce News gathered that leading members of the group led by Cardinal James Odunbaku mobilised all the party’s local government chairmen last night to Watercress Hotel, Ikeja, believed to be owned by a former Chief Security Officer to Tinubu, Tayo Ayinde, to fill Sanwonolu’s nomination forms, which submission closes on Tuesday.
50 of the chairmen were said to have heeded the call and attended the meeting.
The council chairmen are the most influential grassroots mobilisers under the direct primary system adopted by APC to pick governorship candidates.
During the meeting, Odunbaku popularly called Baba Eto was said to have told leaders present that they should all work for Sanwonolu in the party’s primary election.
Other leaders of the party at the meeting included Ganiyu Badmus and a former Commissioner for Health in the state and a former governorship aspirant, Tola Kasali.
Sanwonolu, said to have been brought into politics by Tinubu’s former deputy, Femi Pedro, is believed to be favoured by the national leader.
He came into public prominence as the political adviser to Pedro and graduated to commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions under Babatunde Fashola, serving only one term.
He is currently the Managing Director, Lagos State Property Development Corporation (LSPDC).
However, some loyalists of Ambode have dismissed Sanwonolu’s endorsement.
Some of them who spoke with correspondent at the party’s secretariat in Ikeja on Tuesday said Tinubu has no choice but to support Ambode.
They noted that Ambode’s immediate predecessor, Babatunde Fashola was treated the same way between 2009 and 2011, when the same Mandate Group pitched Fashola against Tinubu under the guise of the True Face of Lagos.
According to them, they did not succeed then because the stalwarts of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) stood with Fashola, thereby compelling Tinubu to eventually support the re-election of Fashola in 2011.
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