•Ban power blocs in Lagos
National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and top party leaders in the state yesterday moved to strengthen the party by checking intra-party rivalry between groups.
Tinubu, a former governor of the state, along with his successor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who is now the Minister of Works and Housing; Sanwo-Olu’s deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, and over 20 chieftains of the party, rose from a meeting in Lagos, and slammed a ban on power blocs, Justice Forum (JF) and Mandate Group (MG), in the state chapter of the party.
Both groups, founded in the early days of the struggle for the rebirth of democracy in Nigeria and at the nascent stage of the current political dispensation, are linked to Tinubu.
In a communiqué, signed by Tinubu and 26 others who are members of the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC), the party leaders resolved that all factions like JG and MG are inimical to the party’s unity and permanently disbanded and prohibited them within the party.
They said: “These two groups were formed to achieve important but temporary goals. The groups were not ends in themselves.”
Attempts were made in the past by the Tinubu administration to unify and reconcile the two groups by appointing members of each group into his cabinet. Several meeting were also held to eliminate divisions that could hurt the party if left unattended.
“For example, the Governor’s Advisory Council was constituted as an important party mechanism to deliberate over important matters so that such matters are decided by dialogue and compromise, not by fiat. The GAC was comprised almost equally of leading members of both JF and MG and as such the GAC has repeatedly decided to shun factional groupings and eliminate divisions within the party.
“We recognise that membership in a political party is mostly cooperative but also competition is inherent. For the party’s nomination to any given position, there is only one winner; but there can be multiple aspirants. They will compete and there must be some basis upon which that competition is founded.
“The only permitted use of the names will be limited to historic references. Any violation of this decision is subject to party discipline, including suspension and expulsion. This prohibition extends solely to official party business.
“We are in no way trying to abridge anyone’s constitutional rights to free speech or assembly. The party chairman is hereby tasked with promulgating more detailed regulations with regard to prohibited and permissible activities for sub-party groupings.
“The APC in Lagos is one party and one family. We must always act in this spirit if we are to attain the dream of democratic prosperity that we set out to achieve. We must do this in honour of June 12 and those who gave of themselves to make democracy our reality.”
Aregbesola Denies Rift with Tinubu
Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, a member of MG, has debunked claims of nursing presidential ambition in 2023 and that he is at war with Tinubu.
Aregbesola was Commissioner for Works under Tinubu before he was drafted to run as Osun State governor in the 2007 poll, which the Court of Appeal, in a controversial judgement after a three-year legal battle, affirmed his victory in 2010.
He told journalists in Abuja yesterday that his loyalty to Tinubu is total and his commitment to whatever the former Lagos State governor wants is unwavering.
Aregbesola spoke against the backdrop of accusation of re-launching political groups in the state without the knowledge of Tinubu, to further his rumoured presidential bid.
In rebutting the allegation, the minister said: “They even said I have presidential ambition. False!”
Aregbesola reiterated that APC is one, adding that the party is like an oak tree that keeps growing.
He said his focus and goal is to execute his ministerial duties as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He urged his supporters to ignore the allegation and refrain from being distracted from the goal of building a strong APC as well as a united Nigeria.
The Mandate Group, made up of Tinubu’s core loyalists, was relaunched by Aregbesola on May 26, 2020, without Tinubu being in the picture.
APC Organising Secretary in Lagos State, Mr. Abdullahi Enilolobo, was picked as the new chairman to replace Mr. James Odunmbaku, who moved up as the “apex leader.”
Aregbesola was made the grand patron at the meeting, which took place at his Ikeja GRA residence.