• How Osinbajo, Akiolu, others intervened
The All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has finally agreed to endorse Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode for another term, THISDAY has learnt.
However, Tinubu’s resolve to endorse Ambode was made possible with the interventions of Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, both of whom the governor allegedly asked to wade into the situation that hitherto threatened his re-election in 2019.
An authoritative source confirmed the development to THISDAY at the weekend, noting that the two eminent Nigerians approached Tinubu at different times and prevailed on him to reconsider his stand on Ambode’s re-election, considering the larger implications.
The source noted that the APC leader yielded to the intervention of the vice president and the monarch out of respect for the two leaders.
This development regardless, the political class was still believed to be angry with the governor over alleged lack of respect and poor treatment of the people, who made it possible for Ambode to become governor in the first place.
The source said although Tinubu was displeased with the running of the government, he did not have any fundamental differences with the governor, the reason he yielded to the pleas to let Ambode return.
While the debate on Ambode’s fate in 2019 lasted, according to the source, Tinubu deliberately stayed above the fray because he did not want to get involved in the politics of conjectures about the governor’s re-election, more so that it might not be totally in his interest to do so given the state of the party and government at the national level.
Another source hinted that one of the problems the governor had with Tinubu and many of the political leaders in the state was, because he wasn’t consulting on critical issues of state and had at a point, alienated everyone in the political class in the running of the state.
The source noted that while Tinubu had managed the situation with the best of political maturity, it didn’t take away the fact that he also had disagreement with Ambode over some of of his decisions and was displeased with the way the governor handled some critical issues.
“You’d agree that Asiwaju boasts an undeniable father figure and so, we cannot continue to attribute some of these petty politics to him. Yes, he may not be happy about certain things in the government, he really does not have any fundamental differences with the governor. That much I know. So, to your question, it is true there have been interventions and he is set to endorse him in order to put paid to some of these speculations,” the source said.
Fears that Ambode’s second term bid might have hit the rocks started to manifest significantly after the recent stakeholders meeting chaired by Tinubu himself at the party’s Lagos secretariat on Akilo, Ikeja. It is pertinent to state that the former Lagos State governor and Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, went through similar re-election baptism with Tinubu, but many people in the state rose early in support and defence of Fashola, which forced Tinubu to yield and eventually endorsed Fashola.
Thus, a similar stakeholders’ meeting was organised during Fashola’s time and it was at the meeting that Tinubu laid to rest all the speculations surrounding his re-election by raising his hands and pronouncing his second term a fait accompli.
But much longer than it took Fashola to clinch his re-election ticket, Ambode’s is still battling to known his fate, not to talk of the fact that he has refused to openly endorse him for re-election at the stakeholders’ meeting, which held on Tuesday.
“He will give him the ticket. It is our oga’s way of raising the stakes. He did it to Fashola and when the stakes were resolved, he endorsed him. In Ambode’s case, the stakes have been raised and will be resolved. He will endorse him. There is no problem, really. It is all just politics. We call it politics 101,” a party source said.
Yet, a different party sources believed the reason Tinubu kept quiet on Ambode’s re-election at the meeting was, because of the new party directive, which insisted that party primaries must be through the direct process, a development which forces primaries by delegates to yield way to all members of the party.
As a result, the source said if Tinubu had openly endorsed Ambode at the stakeholders’ meeting, he would have violated the national directive of the party, which ordered direct primaries, and further infurtiated an already angry political class in the state, saying however that he has agreed in principle to let him return.
There were other party sources that said the recent understanding to let Ambode return was merely consented to in order to subdue the intensity of pressure being mounted on Tinubu by some stakeholders.
According to the source, “Except the governor does not know the meaning of direct primaries, but let me ask you, does he have the party register? Does he know all members of the party across the state? The answers are no. Yes, he may have the money, but he would not even know who to give.
“So, I would say it is not totally correct to say Tinubu has endorsed him, because what is on the ground is much deeper and serious than that. The only thing that can guarantee his re-election is an open endorsement, which precludes him from participating in the primary. But as long as he is lured to the primary on the understanding that everything had been tilted in his favour, he should just pack his bag and go.
“The truth is, it is difficult for Tinubu to turn against the party directive now, and if a direct primary is held in the state, Ambode would not pic as many as 50 votes, so, how does he intent to come back? Honestly, I’m not saying anything is impossible, but as someone, who is neck deep in all that is happening today, Ambode’s re-election is the most unlikely feat that Tinubu can pull off today in the state,” he said.
The source said while the intervention by the acting president and the Oba of Lagos might have softened the situation, albeit on the surface, those people who have also come to plead on his behalf, the acting president especially, “would not ask Tinubu to overturn the directive of the party. Would they?
“If you agree they may not, then, start putting your mathematics together, because the same members of the angry political class are the ones that would vote at the primary. How has he treated them? That is where the problem is,” he said.