Segun James in Lagos
All aspirants seeking senatorial nomination in Lagos East on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) have withdrawn from the race to back the former Group Managing Director, Polaris Bank Limited, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru.
The aspirants that withdrew from the senatorial contest included the Vice Chairman, Lagos APC, Chief Kaoli Olusanya; a former Lagos State Head of Service, Mr. Segun Ogunlewe; a former Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Rotimi Ogunleye; a former General Manager/Permanent Secretary, Lagos Television, Mr. Lekan Ogunbanwo; a former member of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Olanrewaju Odesanya; and the Chairman, Ikorodu-Oga Development Association, Chief Olusegun Abiru.
The aspirants withdrew from their aspirations ahead of the direct primary election scheduled to hold today (Thursday) across Lagos East in compliance with the requirements of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In their separate accounts yesterday, the aspirants agreed to support Abiru’s senatorial aspiration due to what they ascribed to the need for the APC to conduct a direct primary election free of acrimony and ensure harmony among all that aspirants that indicated interest in the senatorial seat.
Olusanya explained his decision to withdraw his senatorial aspiration was in the overall interest of Lagos APC and to allow a candidate emerge from the primary election without internal conflict, which he said, could polarise Lagos APC.
He said: ”I have to step back and allow someone else to take on the task of representing our senatorial district at this time, for some reasons that seriously have to do with the larger interest of our dear state and our great party.”With their decision to withdraw from the race, Abiru, who formally retired from Polaris Bank on August 31, will emerge the party’s consensus candidate after all registered party members in Lagos East ratify his candidature through the direct primary election.
Apart from the aspirants that supported his senatorial nomination, Abiru has secured the support of Governance Advisory Council (GAC), the party’s most powerful structure in the state, ahead of the direct primary election.
Among others, the Council comprises the APC National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu; the state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Chairman, Lagos APC, Alhaji Babatunde Balogun; his deputy, Chief Sunny Ajose, all previous governors of the state, all serving vice chairmen of the party.
Also, all members of Lagos State House of Assembly have thrown their weights behind Abiru. All members of the National Assembly from Lagos State have equally endorsed Abiru’s senatorial nomination ahead of today’s direct primary election.
At a consultation meeting with the lawmakers on Tuesday, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, assured Abiru that all members of the assembly would deploy their campaign structure to canvass votes for the senatorial aspirant.
Obasa commended the former bank chief for coming in person “to solicit the support of the lawmakers. It is the responsibility of all of us in this assembly and not those from Lagos East alone to support your senatorial aspiration.”
He said all members of the assembly “will support your aspiration physically, morally, and in any other way to make sure you emerge victorious on the day of the election. Let us put the primary election behind us.
“Let us focus on the election proper. It is not just your election, but also our election. It is our election because whatever the outcome, it will have implications on all of us, our party in Lagos and what will happens in 2023 general elections. For us, we have no other choice than to support your aspiration.”
Obasa attested to the integrity of Abiru, who served in various capacities in the banking sector for 29 years out of his 32-year private sector career.
The speaker recalled his encounter with Abiru while he was the Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, noting that he served the state in honesty and integrity for a period of three years.
He said: “Between 2011 and 2013, I worked with Abiru closely as the Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State. Then, I was the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation. For the period he occupied the office, Abiru really demonstrated high-level of integrity.
“We need people like him in the political terrain now. He is a candidate that will change the perspective of people about an average politician. When it comes to integrity, Abiru is naturally conscious of records.”
“At this time, this is the quality we need in politics to make much-needed change in our political system. This is the time we need people with integrity to come into politics and change the erroneous perspective of the people.”