Meanwhile, a faction of the APC in Lagos State led by Mr. Fouad Oki, has supported Ambode’s return bid, saying like his predecessors, he was entitled to a second term of office without a contest.
The faction, which broke away in February due to alleged cases of illegalities, manipulation and marginalisation against some members, warned that if the deep-seated cases of injustice “are not addressed in the interest of equity, fairness and justice, we may all suffer for it as we are currently suffering for the Osun debacle.”
In a telephone conservation with THISDAY yesterday, the Chairman of Lagos APC faction, Oki, supported the privilege of first refusal for a performing first-term governor, though admitted that there was no provision for such privilege in the APC Constitution.
Contrary to the position of the party leadership, Oki explained that every first term governor should be given the privilege of first refusal, though acknowledged that the APC Constitution did not make provision for such privilege.
However, according to him, it has become a convention in our party over the years. It is a privilege for elective officials in the executive cadres. And the purpose is to enable them complete the work they have started.
He, therefore, justified the privilege, which he argued, should be extended “to the person that occupies the office of Lagos State Governor because we rotate governorship position in Lagos State on the basis of senatorial district. Since 1999, this has been the practice. Why do we want to change it now?
“It is assumed that once a governor scales through the first term and once a governor performs well during the first term, the second term is automatic. It is just a privilege. The right of first refusal is not in the APC Constitution. Rather, it is a convention that previous governors in the state have enjoyed,” the factional chairman explained.
He cited the case of the APC National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu who ruled between 1999 and 2007, noting that Tinubu, who then represented Lagos West, enjoyed the privilege.
He also cited the example of Tinubu’s immediate successor and the Minister of Works, Power & Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), who spent two good terms in office between 2007 and 2015, representing Lagos Central.
Like his predecessors, the factional chairman said the case of Ambode, who hails from Epe in Lagos East, should not be different, noting that Lagos East should enjoy the same privilege irrespective of the person occupying the office of the governor.
Oki, specifically, said the rift with Lagos APC “is not Ambode. It is not about Sanwo-Olu. It is not about Hamzat. Rather, it is about equity, fairness and justice. This is how we started 26 years ago. This is how Sir Michael Otedola became governor in 1992. We may all suffer for it as we are currently suffering for Osun debacle.
“This is what we are facing in Osun because the party leadership has refused to be equitable to all the members. The party leadership has refused to be fair to all interests in the chapter. The party leadership has refused to be fair to all its stakeholders.”
Unless these issues are resolved, Oki warned that there might be “another Otedola phenomenon in 2019. We must not pretend that there is no problem in Lagos APC. Unless we go back to the basis of the APC crisis, we will continue to have challenges.
“They must address all issues on the last congresses. The chapter conducted congress in 337 wards instead of 245. It also conducted congress in 57 local councils instead of 20. The exercises were in violation of the 1999 Constitution. I cannot be a party to illegality.
“They had a meeting with me. But I made my position known to them. I cannot be a party to what is going on. I cannot be a party to illegality. They already know where I belong. I gave them audience because we belong to the same political family.
“But it does not mean I am supporting their candidate. We must be fair. We must be just. We must be equitable. We are just watching them. After Saturday, there will be acrimony that throws the chapter off the balance except there is fairness and justice.
“But if they continue this way, we are heading to a repeat of what happened in Osun State. I saw it. I told them. But they failed to listen. The same thing will happen if they fail to do the right thing. The party is yet to resolve the fallout of the last congresses that culminated in two factions. It is about fairness and justice.”