One-term Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode appears to be warming up to challenge the incumbent, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu in next year’s governorship election.
Only four years ago, both technocrats-turned-politicians squared up for the governorship ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Sanwo-Olu did the seemingly unusual by roundly defeating Ambode, the incumbent Governor, with 970,851 votes as against Ambode’s score of 72,901 votes.
Two days ago, Sanwo-Olu picked the nomination form of the APC to run for a second term in office having been unanimously endorsed by the highly influential Governance Advisory Council (GAC) of the party to fly the party’s banner for the second time.
But the Ambode Campaign Organisation (AMCO) has vowed that former Governor Ambode would not only challenge the incumbent but would go all the way to win the general election.
Oluwo, who joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) upon quitting Ambode’s administration, faulted GAC for endorsing Sanwo-Olu, saying the group’s stance did not totally reflect the views of the generality of APC members.
The former commissioner said: “Ambode is seriously interested in what happens in Lagos”, adding that the former Governor had indicated readiness to stand by his ideals.
He claimed that feasibility studies conducted revealed that Lagos residents were not getting dividends of democracy under the present administration, compared to what was obtainable during the previous administration.
“Performance for performance, the administration of Sanwo-Olu cannot be compared to what Ambode achieved. You have to start with security and infrastructure. We can show a lot of things now. But this is not the time to start tearing ourselves apart”, he said.
He went further: “The way that the GAC sponsored its candidate is the same way that we will do that for our own candidate too. And members of the party will have the option of determining which of the candidates, either AMCO or GAC, they will like to vote for. We acknowledge that Sanwo-Olu has picked his nomination form. The AMCO candidate will also do his own. And the primary will happen.
“For AMCO, we are participating at all levels of the election. From Governorship to the House of Assembly. We will field candidates for all positions”.
The AMCO Chairman then contradicted himself: “Our candidate will not be Akinwunmi Ambode. That is not where we are going. We will present our own aspirant and he would challenge the Governor for the seat in Lagos.
“The process of presenting our own candidate is almost concluded and I can assure you that by early next week, that candidate will be announced. The GAC is only promoting their own interest by announcing Sanwo-Olu’s as their candidate”.
However, the APC in the state has described Oluwo and his group as faceless and clandestine, and that such associations had been banned “because of their divisive tendencies,” according to the Acting Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Hon. Yesiro Karamo.
He wondered that it had taken three years after the ouster of the Ambode administration in the state for “such a group to spring up and claim relevance”.
Karamo restated that although the GAC had endorsed Sanwo-Olu for another term in office, that did not foreclose other party members from aspiring to that position.
“As a democratic party, we remain committed to provide a level playing for all aspirants for various offices and ensure internal democracy,” he explained.
He however said: “It is distasteful and unacceptable for a group purportedly committed to our party to take on the role of the opposition within. While we want to welcome back our members who hitherto left our party to the progressive family, we need to caution them not to unnecessarily heat up the polity with unguided utterances. In their absence, the party successfully conducted congresses at the ward, local, state and national levels to fill party offices.
“The process of reconciliation is also on, especially in Lagos State making steady progress.
“Therefore, our returning members will be expected to conduct themselves in a manner acceptable under our party’s constitution, rules and guidelines.
“As a party, we remain proud of the landmark achievements of Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu.
“He has not only kept faith with kernel of his social contract with Lagosians, the THEMES agenda, he has returned the state to the path of steady progress. He has been a symbol of responsible, stable, responsive, humane and humble leadership. He has indeed delivered on the policies and the politics”.