- Buhari, Osoba seek end to impasse
- Beijing investors may end $1.4 billion rail deal
After a brief deliberation on the rift between the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, and Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the state’s highest advisory political organ, Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC), wednesday adjourned till Saturday its decision on the governor’s re-election bid.
Also at another meeting in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, on Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly appealed to Tinubu, Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, and other parties on behalf of Ambode to resolve all issues threatening the governor’s re-election bid amicably in the spirit of oneness and unity.
Multiple sources gave THISDAY the updates on the Ambode-Tinubu standoff yesterday, lamenting that the rift had already taken international dimension and warn that the state might lose foreign direct investments (FDIs) valued about $1.4 billion if the Mandate Movement, a political group loyal to Tinubu, succeeded in thwarting Ambode’s re-election bid.
Ambode’s political future has been uncertain since the Mandate Movement endorsed the Managing Director of Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC), Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to challenge him at the party’s primary.
Shortly after Sanwo-Olu’s emergence, former Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure in the state and a godson of the APC leader, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, indicated interest in the governorship contest, thereby making the contest a three-horse race.
Ambode’s travail had attracted the intervention of the presidency and some governors, including Oyo State’s Senator Abiola Ajimobi that pleaded for reprieve for him.
Confronted with a possible mutiny by his foot soldiers, however, Tinubu insisted that Ambode should test his popularity at the direct primary contest for the party’s ticket, noting that he did not want to be accused of imposing any candidate on the party.
Contrary to public expectation wednesday, an APC source disclosed that the GAC postponed its meeting till next Saturday after taking briefings on the political uncertainty that the governor had been facing since Tinubu’s powerful political machine threw up Sanwo-Olu to challenge Ambode in the primary contest.
According to the source, the GAC members convened as planned. After they were briefed about Ambode’s re-election bid, however, they could not really deliberate due to the need to consult wider. The meeting has been deferred till September 22 while the governorship primary will now hold on September 29.
At Tuesday’s meeting in Osogbo, another APC source revealed that Buhari had a brief meeting with the key actors, pleading with them to resolve all issues causing dissension and resentment in the ranks of the party leaders in the state.
Apart from Aregbesola and Ambode, the source disclosed that Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, and two other governors “were at the meeting. At the meeting, Buhari reportedly appealed to all parties on behalf of Ambode that all issues about his re-election should end. None of the parties raised objection.
“The meeting was positive. But there will be another meeting in Abuja tomorrow and Friday. Buhari has directed all parties to resolve their differences in the interest of peace and unity. The meeting informed the decision of Tinubu to consult with the GAC for deliberation,” THISDAY source revealed.
Before Buhari’s meeting on Tuesday, it was also gathered that former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, facilitated another meeting between Tinubu and Ambode on Monday night in Osogbo, though the APC leader could not give categorical answer on whether he would intervene in Ambode’s uncertain political future.
Despite Tinubu’s unyielding posture, THISDAY reliably gathered that Osoba pleaded with Tinubu to intervene in Ambode’s travail.
“Even though Tinubu did not give any specific answer, the meeting was promising. Other party leaders are intervening. The way things are now, there is green light already, especially with the intervention of Mr. President and Aremo Osoba,” a source said.
Even though Ambode has issues with some party leaders, the APC source noted, none of them, he said, “can deny the fact that Ambode’s performance is impressive under three and half years. Aside, the crisis has also energised the PDP in the state. Mr. Jimi Agbaje’s declaration has changed the governorship race in the state. Ambode’s performance has been a challenge for Agbaje. That is why he did not declare until yesterday.”
Also, the source noted that there “is internal wrangling in the rank of the party leaders. The leaders from Lagos East are not in support of taking the governorship from the senatorial district for any reason. Lagos East has started agitating against the choice of Sanwo-Olu because the zone will lose the governorship slot.”
With the lingering political crisis, a business leader confided in THISDAY last night that foreign investors “now see Lagos as high-risk market,” which according to him, might cost the state foreign investment worth of $1.4 billion if Ambode’s re-election does not sail through.
About a fortnight ago, the business leader explained, Ambode attended the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, during which Ambode signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) on power, rail, road and light-up Lagos projects.
After the summit, he said, “There should be follow-up meetings in Lagos. Representatives of Beijing investors, especially Power China, were in Alausa this week. But they could not really get things done due to this intra-party crisis. We are talking about $1.4 billion investment coming to Lagos alone.
“This crisis has already taken international dimension. The investors are agitated that if Ambode loses out, the new government may not key into the projects. Apparently, their confidence is becoming weak about this market.
“The projects include the Okokomaiko-Badagry wing of the Lagos Light Rail (Blue Line), red line, light-up Lagos and embedded power project. Apart from Beijing investors, the crisis has started taking toll on an agreement the Ambode administration signed with a French multinational, Alstom SA to complete the rail project.”