National leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has insisted that he is throwing his weight behind Babajide Sanwo-olu in the Lagos Primaries.
This was the position of the Tinubu during and after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja which also had in attendance other top government functionaries.
According to reports, a jet was reportedly dispatched yesterday to pick up Tinubu and party chieftain, Bisi Akande, for a meeting with Buhari in Abuja.
The move was a last-minute effort by to resolve the political differences between Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and Tinubu, his estranged godfather, ahead of today’s Lagos State governorship primary.
A reliable source told The Guardian that Buhari still believes Ambode “ as a performing governor” has a better chance at the poll than his contender, Jide Sanwo-Olu.
At the meeting, attended by Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and other stakeholders, Tinubu was asked to sheathe his sword and allow Ambode a second term.
There are insinuations Tinubu is becoming uncomfortable with the pro-Ambode disposition of the presidency and the national headquarters, especially with how this might impinge on his own political lot.
After the meeting, Tunde Rahman, Tinubu’s media adviser, issued a statement saying that Tinubu’s support is for Sanwo-Olu.
He was quoted as saying: “Asiwaju Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande were invited by President Buhari and it turned out to be a good and productive meeting. Asiwaju was quite pleased to have conferred with the President who has always shown himself to be a committed party member and a true democrat.
“Just like the President, he is looking forward to a good and credible primary that is peaceful and free of rancor. As previously stated, Asiwaju plans to vote in this primary and his position regarding the relative merits of the candidates remains unchanged.”
Meanwhile, there has been a slight disagreement between the APC National Working Committee (NWC) delegates and the state party bigwigs over the conduct of the election
The election monitoring committeearrived at the state party secretariat in Ikeja at around 5:00 p.m yesterday, led by Clement Ebiri. They immediately went into a closed-door meeting with party officials, led by the state chairman, Tunde Balogun.
After two and a half hours, some other party stalwarts arrived. They proceeded to the main hall of the secretariat and began another round of deliberations. They included: Majority Leader at the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila; Member of the House of Representatives James Faleke; Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly Mudashiru Obasa; Chairman Bariga LCDA David Kolade; and Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi.
At the end of the meeting, Ebiri told newsmen that the meeting was an interactive session for party members to draw out the basic principles of the primaries scheduled.
“You need to have your membership card and your name must be on the register. If you don’t have your membership card and you have a slip, and your name is on the register, you will vote. I am not aware of the primaries that was held in some places in Lagos today (Monday)” he said.
But following his departure with the delegates, the state party chieftains held another closed-door meeting. At its end, Obasa told reporters the primary might not hold, as the state was not ready to abide by the position of the delegates.
He said: “Members of the House of Assembly, representatives and party officials were briefed about the coming election. They told us they have directives from Abuja that we should adopt the use of ballot papers, which we, as stakeholders, have rejected. This is based on the fact that we have been earlier informed that the primaries would be a direct one and we have informed all the party members around Lagos.
“Our consideration is this, if we are going to adopt ballot papers for the primaries, there is no time to train the officials in all the local governments. We see that that is not feasible for now and we have told them our mind that here, in Lagos State, we stand for direct primaries.
“We also reminded them that the presidential primary election was conducted in the direct primary process, even with only the use of slips. We have told them our mind and we believe they will listen to us. We haven’t reached a conclusion yet. They informed us they would get back to the national body and get back to us. It is possible the primary does not hold tomorrow.”
Obasa also confirmed that elections were held in some parts of Lagos yesterday. “Yes, the election that was held in Lagos today (Monday) was successful. It was held in Mushin, Ifako Ijaye and Ketu. It was very successful. This is to show that going by direct primary, there is no problem. It will be successful. Our people are ready and we must allow them.” He, however, stressed that the elections would be cancelled.
Some supporters of Ambode and members of the APC staged a peaceful protest over their inability to access membership cards in their wards.
Led by the deputy chairman of Somolu Local Government Area, Alhaji Ola Sheu, the protesters gathered at the party’s secretariat, Acme Road, Ikeja, chanting solidarity songs.
A factional chairman of the state chapter, Fouad Oki, furthermore questioned the validity of the membership register the party will use today. He noted that if the party uses the existing membership register, it would “amount to disenfranchising members loyal to his group and also giving Tinubu the sole privilege to foist his choice as the governorship candidate in the next election.”