Text Box: Says he won’t allow PDP to take over Lagos
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, yesterday declared his total support for President Muhammadu Buhari and the party’s governorship candidate for the state, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, saying he would campaign vigorously for both to win the 2019 general elections.
The governor, who was denied a second term ticket by power brokers in the state, said for the sake of continuity, good governance and sustained development, he would lead a massive campaign to rally Lagos electorate to vote against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, in the election next year.
He made the remarks yesterday during an interview with journalists at the presidential wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) after the inauguration of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) border posts at Seme-Krake border in Badagry.
After the controversial primaries that produced Sanwo-Olu as the APC governorship candidate in Lagos State, Ambode had in his concession speech promised to work for the victory of the APC at the centre and in the state during the 2019 general election.
In a state broadcast he addressed after the governorship primaries, Ambode had said he believed the time “has now come for the state to move forward in order that the gains of the last three and half years are not lost.
“APC is a great party and the interests of our beloved state must always supersede that of any person or group. It is in this regard that I wholeheartedly congratulate the winner of the Lagos State APC primaries, Sanwo-Olu.”
In his capacity as the governor of Lagos State, Ambode had equally pledged “to do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition in the remaining period of this administration and ultimately to the new Governor, come May 2019.”
Reinstating commitment to his concession speech yesterday, Ambode assured that he would lead a strong campaign “to ensure victory for President Buhari and Sanwo-Olu in the presidential and governorship elections scheduled to hold respectively on February 16 and March 2.”
He noted that it was important for the APC to retain its leadership positions both in the federal and the state level due to what he ascribed to the need to entrench the tradition of continuity and good governance.
Ambode said he was committed “to the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari. You can see Buhari’s continuous visit to Lagos reiterates the fact that he is actually a lover of Lagos State. I am committed to ensuring his re-election in the 2019 presidential election.
“We are going to campaign heavily for him. I am equally committed to ensuring that the APC wins the governorship election come 2019. We support the candidacy of Babajide Sanwo-Olu. We will make sure that APC retains Lagos State and the centre for the sake of continuity.
“I have just accompanied President Buhari to the Nigerian-Benin Border Post. So what we have commissioned is a joint border patrol post between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin. It is called Seme-Krake Border Post.”
Ambode had received Buhari at the airport before the duo proceeded to Seme, where the president joined his Republic of Benin counterpart, Patrice Talon to inaugurate the Border Post.
With the inauguration, the Seme-Krake joint border, one of the busiest boundary lines not only in West Africa, but also in Africa daily recording huge movement of persons, goods and services, is expected to enhance the free movement of persons and goods in the region and foster integration between the people of Nigeria and Benin.
After losing the governorship ticket to Sanwo-Olu, multiple sources confirmed that Ambode had been taking different steps to reunite party chieftains, principal officers of the State House of Assembly and members of the State Executive Council (SEC), among others, to ensure the PDP did not take over the state.
At the first SEC meeting after he lost the return ticket to Sanwo-Olu, a cabinet member told THISDAY that Ambode devoted quality time to preach a message of forgiveness and unity, asking all the council members to work in support of the governorship candidate.
He quoted Ambode as follows: “The primaries have been concluded at all levels. We must forgive one another irrespective of what happened before the primaries. As a Christian, I will never be vindictive to any person for opposing my re-election.”
He disclosed that Ambode equally told the cabinet members that the State Executive Council “has taken off fully and that we should focus more on governance and issues of public concern rather than engaging in another round of political conflict that can undermine governance and public administration.”
He explained that Ambode encouraged every council member “to double their efforts to make Lagos a true centre of excellence. All of us must forget what has happened. We must forgive and forget so that we can face the business of government with renewed spirit and approach the next election in unity.”
After Ambode’s address at the SEC meeting, the commissioner disclosed that all council members applauded him, even though they were surprised that he would give in easily. With the development, he said, a taskforce has been set on motion to rehabilitate failed road networks across the state.
Apart from Ambode’s message of forgiveness and rededication at the SEC meeting, an APC chieftain disclosed that Ambode had already collapsed the Ambode Mandate Support Group (AMSG) into the Sanwo-Olu Campaign Council.
Specifically, the APC source disclosed that Ambode appointed a five-man contact team under the leader of the Coordinator of AMSG, Hakeem Sulaimon who held meeting with the Director-General of the Sanwo-Olu Campaign Council, Mr. Tayo Ayinde on how to work together now that the primaries had been concluded.
In addition to Ambode’s decision to set up the contact team that met with the Sanwo-Olu Campaign Council, the APC source explained that the governor had directed all his supporters across 20 Local Government Area and 37 Local Council Development Area (LCDA) to begin grassroots campaign for the APC governorship candidate.
Immediately after the primaries, according to the source, Ambode sent the message to all his supporters and support groups to ensure that the PDP should not win the state for the sake of continuity and President Muhammadu Buhari. All over the state, Ambode’s supporters are now working for Sanwo-Olu.
To demonstrate all the commitment he made in his concession speech, the APC source revealed that Ambode also held a meeting with principal officers of the State House of Assembly also with a message of forgiveness and peace.
He noted that all the principal officers attended the meeting during which the governor pleaded with them “to work for the peace and progress of Lagos State. Irrespective of what happened before and during the primaries, Ambode told them that he had forgotten and forgiven all those who opposed his re-election.”