The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is angry with the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, as a result of the latter’s conduct before and during the just concluded APC governorship primary in the state.
Tinubu became angry when Fashola initially told him that he did not have a particular candidate for the APC primary only to emerge much later with a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Mr. Olasupo Shasore, as his (the governor) preferred candidate.
Akinwunmi Ambode, who defeated 12 other aspirants, had remained in public discourse as Tinubu’s favourite.
The other aspirants are Olasupo Shasore; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji; a former Commissioner for Health, Dr. Leke Pitan; an incumbent Commissioner for Works, Obafemi Hamzat; a former aide to Tinubu, Mr. Tayo Ayinde; Mr. Adekunle Disu, Mr. Wahab Tokunbo, Mr. Olanrewaju Ope and a former Commissioner for Rural Affairs, Mr. Tola Kasali.
Ambode polled 3,735 votes to emerge the party’s candidate for the February 2015 election. Hamzat, who came a distant second, polled 1,201 votes.
But a source close to the APC chieftain revealed that the former governor was not only angry with Fashola, but was “disappointed in him. ”He said anger was a mild word to use in the situation, noting that the governor had a right to have a candidate. He said all Tinubu wanted was to know his mind.
The source said, “But Fashola kept Tinubu guessing. He told him he did not have a candidate. Though there were signs and media reports that he was backing someone, but Tinubu could not be relying on media reports about the governor in a situation like this.
“In fact, Asiwaju told him that he had a candidate and sought the governor’s support for him. The governor said he had no candidate only for him to emerge with a candidate in the last minute. Asiwaju did not know where the governor stood.
“I believe with the outcome of the primary, the governor will have enough time to reflect.”
There was already a crack in the wall of the camp of disgruntled governorship aspirants, as their voices were no longer united on their next action.
It was learnt that some of the defeated aspirants were already working on how to get themselves back into Tinubu’s good books.
The aspirants had earlier scheduled a press conference in Lagos on Thursday night immediately after the end of voting at the primary but the press conference was called off and rescheduled for Friday.
The conference was to hold at Protea Hotel, Lagos. But the meeting was called off again as none of the aspirants showed up as journalists waited for hours in vain on Friday.
But party sources said many of the aspirants had begun to court Tinubu afresh following their defeat at the primary.
One of the sources said, “There is nothing like association of aspirants. Now that a candidate has emerged, everybody is trying to realign. The primary has succeeded in separating the boys from the men.
“One of the governorship aspirants, Obafemi Hamzat, has to separate himself from the boys because he cannot be seen to be championing the cause of the boys,” the source said.
On legal option previously being considered by aggrieved aspirants, he said, “There is no locus stand for any of them to go to court. The party approved of the Modified Delegate System that Lagos used. It is a party decision and there is no way anyone can fault the system. And if there is any legal issue, they have to slug it out with the party at the national level.”
On threat to defect to Labour Party, another source said, “Where is Labour Party now. The only governor that the party had has defected to PDP, so what is Labour Party. So, what is remaining of the Labour Party?”
Hamzat had congratulated the winner of the primary.
But analysts believe despite the victory of Tinubu’s candidate, the fact that his closest aides could keenly challenge him showed that his political empire might not be as cohesive as it was.
A close aide of the former governor said, “The ex-governor wielded so much power in the past. In the past, none of his closest associates would have dared to challenge him they would have dropped their ambition. But even his closest boys insisted on running.
“But then, it is a positive development because it brought transparency into the whole system. He didn’t use his power to suppress anybody. That’s the positive side.”
Asked to comment on Tinubu’s disposition to Fashola and the purported moves by disgruntled aspirants to return to Tinubu’s good books, his aide, Sunday Dare, said the aspirants were still members of the party even as aspirants.
“They demanded a transparent process and it was granted,” Dare said.
He said though none of the aspirants had got in touch with him seeking to meet his boss, he noted that they all had access to his boss and could reach him without going through him.
Also, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Hakeem Bello, said there was no friction between the governor and Tinubu. But those who say so buttressed their argument with the fact that Fashola was absent from the primary.
“Where did you hear that? There is no problem at all. The governor went to bury his uncle yesterday (Thursday).”
However, a source told our correspondent that the issue on ground was the fact that Fashola was unwilling to fund the campaign of a candidate he considered as an enemy.
“Some elders of the party have, however, called the governor and Tinubu in a bid to resolve the issue. It is the outcome of the peace meeting that will determine what will happen next,” the source added.
It was learnt that Fashola was not happy with the conduct of the primary.
One of the aspirants, who asked not to be named, had said, “The way things are going, there may be mass defection from the APC as even the governor may dump the party soon. Tinubu has emasculated all of us, including Fashola who is not even being given a say. “We planned to shun the primary in protest after the party refused to postpone it following our request but we all agreed to come so that we can observe it properly in case the matter is taken to court.
“In any case, the dubious manner in which the state congress was carried out is already at a Federal High Court so there is a high possibility that the result of this event will be nullified.
“Only Tinubu has the list of the delegates and most of us were not able to reach out to them. This is most unfortunate.”
Delivering his acceptance speech, Ambode, praised the “orderliness and transparency of the process” that produced him.
He said, “It is with a deep sense of gratitude and humility that I accept this ticket to run as the candidate of our great party, in the 2015 gubernatorial elections. The victory was made possible by you the people.
“The spirit of sportsmanship devoid of bitterness that characterises this process signposts a better future for our democracy.
“Our party has demonstrated to all that we are a party of great minds and democratic ideals.
“We have a legacy to build upon. We have a challenge to meet and speedily too. The responsibility belongs to all of us. Let us put aside the disappointment of yesterday and embrace the opportunity of today. Not forgetting that the future begins today. We must never forget that the future of Lagos is bigger than the summation of our ambitions.
“After this victory, we must move quickly to retain the party APC in the column of the progressives by returning the APC to power in Lagos. On my part, I promise never to waiver or fail. I promise to energise and mobilise our teeming supporters in the next phase of this struggle.”
Ambode will be presented with the party’s flag on December 10 during the APC national convention in Lagos.
One of the governorship aspirants, Olanrewaju Ope, had congratulated Ambode on his victory in the primary.
Ope said, “Congratulations, my dear brother. The primary and the campaign preceding the election have been an interesting family affair. There is therefore no victor and no loser.
“Our great party has won and the loud voice of the delegates has been heard. You can count on me and my campaign organisation to join in the battle ahead.”
He, however, urged other aspirants to work together for the success of the party in next year’s general elections.
However, the remaining 11 aspirants had yet to congratulate Ambode as of Friday night when this report was filed. Pitan and Tokunbo were said to have rejected the result of the primary.
Seven of the defeated aspirants – Wahab Tokunbo, Leke Pitan, Obafemi Hamzat, Tola Kasali, Ganiyu Solomon, Adekunle Disu and Tokunbo Agbesewa – had met at Protea Hotel, Maryland, Lagos, on Friday where they hoped to address a press conference.
However, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, who was the last to arrive the venue, called some journalists aside and told them that the event had been cancelled.
It was learnt that Ikuforiji prevailed upon most of his colleagues not to fight Tinubu as the consequences of such could be far-reaching.
Still, Tokunbo blasted the APC for organising what he described as a “sham primary.”
He said, “If the APC, a party in the fore front of the change movement could subject itself to a shoddy, suspicious preparation, what then is the moral justification for blaming INEC regarding the flop in the voter registration and PVC distribution in Lagos State?”
Pitan has also rejected the result of the primary, describing it as not free and fair.
Pitan’s media aide, Mr. Adebiyi Afolayan, said his principal would not congratulate Ambode as the primary was a sham.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, who spoke on behalf of the governor said, “There is no problem between Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the governor. The two of them are working together in driving Lagos forward, so, there is no reason to fight.
“We all belong to the same party and that’s why Lagos keeps running. It’s one house, one family, and one voice, altogether driving Lagos forward.
“We had our governorship congress on Thursday, it went well, all the aspirants were together and they had a warm congress.”
While explaining why the governor had yet to congratulate the winner of the primary election, Ibirogba said, “Not congratulating him does not mean we did not support him. It was a rancour-free primary. We have been able to tell the world that the party has internal democracy after all.”