- Reconvenes on Wednesday for final decision SGF, PGF send message to Buhari, Tinubu
By Gboyega Akinsanmi
After an inconclusive meeting on whether Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode should be allowed to seek re-election unopposed on Saturday or not, the state’s highest advisory political organ, Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) has constituted a committee to consider the feasibility of conducting primary election.
The GAC has also adjourned its meeting till Wednesday to consider the report of the committee it set up to look into the possibility of holding governorship primary election in the state and take a final decision between giving Ambode the privilege of first refusal and allowing all aspirants face primary contest.
Multiple sources disclosed the resolutions of the GAC meeting to THISDAY in confidence yesterday, acknowledging that Ambode’s push for automatic ticket polarised the last meeting of the GAC into two distinct groups with a section supporting Ambode and the section calling for governorship primary contest.
Ambode’s political future has been uncertain after the Managing Director of Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC), Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and former Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat declared intention to challenge Ambode in a primary contest.
Consequently, the Mandate Movement, a powerful political machine of the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, had endorsed Sanwo-Olu for the governorship contest, thus heating up the state’s political climate ahead of the primary election slated for September 29.
Ambode’s travail had attracted the intervention of the presidency, former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) and the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), pleading for reprieve for Ambode.
On the GAC resolution, an APC source acknowledged that the advisory council reconvened last Saturday, noting that the status of each governorship aspirant was reviewed with a section of the meeting supporting Ambode’s push for automatic ticket while the other section opposed the proposal.
He noted that a section of GAC leaders “believes Ambode should be given the right of first refusal. For them, it is a standard practice in advanced democracy that a first-term governor or president be allowed to seek re-election unopposed.”
The APC source equally noted that the pro-Ambode group warned against rubbishing the office of Lagos State Governor as an institution, citing different campaigns of calumny against the person of the governor on the social media.
The APC source acknowledged the position of the other section of GAC leaders, which according to him, opposed giving automatic tickets to Ambode while warning against encouraging the sense of entitlement in the rank of first-term governors.
Rather, the source maintained a position that all governorship aspirants “should test their popularity in the primary contest as scheduled. Whoever wins at the contest becomes the governorship candidate. For them, the party should not encourage the incumbent to continue with a sense of entitlement.”
After considering the two positions, the source said the GAC agreed that all aspirants should face primary election, and went ahead to “set up a committee to consider the feasibility of primary election or other options within the APC Constitution and the 1999 Constitution.”
He, therefore, disclosed that the GAC leaders would reconvene either on Wednesday or Thursday “to deliberate the report of the committee and take a final position. But with Osun election result at the weekend, a lot of things can still change because the APC cannot afford to lose Lagos State,” the source explained.
Beyond the resolutions of the GAC meeting, a cabinet source last night confirmed that the Southern Governors Forum (SGF) “has already sent a collective message to President Buhari and Senator Bola Tinubu. Ambode is the Chairman of the SGF. “The SGF simply wants the APC leaders to becareful with Lagos State. Aside, the Forum believes Ambode has performed well in the three and half years and should be allowed to complete the programmes his administration initiated.”
With the performance of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Osun governorship election, THISDAY checks revealed that the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) had initiated another peace effort aimed at avoiding the repeat of Osun’s scenario in Lagos State in 2019.
Under the leadership of Imo State Governor, Mr. Rochas Okorocha, the source confirmed that PGF “is still speaking with Buhari. The Forum has again sent a message to Tinubu to prevail him to resolve issues around Ambode’s re-election.
“With what happened in Osun State, we hope reason will eventually prevail. But failure to reason may lead to the repeat of what happened in Osun election. That is why the APC leader should handle Ambode’s re-election with wisdom if he does not want people to revolt during the 2019 general election.”