…Says Sanwo-Olu unfit to govern Lagos
…Tinubu blasts Ambode, wants APC members to vote him out
…Amaechi, Abe hold parallel primaries in Rivers
Determined to breast all odds and confront the powers that be in the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, on Sunday,
insisted that he will go ahead and run in the governorship primaries scheduled to hold today in the state, urging the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to ensure level playing ground for the aspirants and also ensure that the exercise is credible.
Governor Ambode stated this while addressing a world press conference at the Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.
He added that since the party had agreed to adopt direct primaries for the governorship candidate to emerge, it behoves on the party to follow due process to ensure that every aspirant gets a fair chance to contest for the ticket in a credible democratic process.
The governor spoke against the overwhelming gang up by frontline leaders of the party against him including some political office holders in favour of his opponent, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who only on Saturday was endorsed by 36 of the 40-member strong state House of Assembly.
Ambode has however expressed concern that with less than 24 hours to the primaries, membership cards were yet to be distributed, while even as an aspirant, he was yet to be given guidelines for the election, adding that it would be injustice to deny newly registered members of the party the opportunity to exercise their franchise.
He said: “The party constitution allows us to do direct and indirect primaries. The Lagos State APC has agreed to go with direct primaries and in that wise it is open to all contestants and so it is very clear that during direct primaries, I am also eligible to participate in the primaries. What we want is a very clean board to allow everybody to partake in it.
“We believe that it is in the greater interest of the party to allow reason to prevail and allow every contestant to come out and show their strength.
I believe strongly that it is in the interest of the country that our party should activate as much as possible all the democratic values that our party has always been known for and that is what I stand for.
“I believe strongly also that the preparations are still ongoing, but there are some few things that we still need to iron out and I believe strongly that the chairman of our great party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole will be able to correct some of these things that we have noticed.
“We are committed progressives; we are committed to the outcome of the primaries; we are committed to the tenets and principles of our great party,
but what we would not want to accept is to disenfranchise all the millions of people that we have been able to bring into the APC fold just by our performance and so what we heard is that there is a register that is being brought into the state which only includes those who have registered since 2014.
What about all the millions of members of APC that we have gotten in from 2015 till date?
“I carry my own membership slip anywhere I go and now they say this is the membership slip that I have, I don’t have a membership card and so the question is: are they saying me as a Governor, I would not be entitled to vote tomorrow (today)? So, the national headquarters and the electoral committee need to make immediate adjustment to this.
“All the people that have registered as members of APC should be entitled to vote in the direct primaries; that is how we entrench the democratic values that we are all preaching.
So, if someone like me can be disenfranchised because I don’t have a card, what happens to ordinary members of APC? We believe strongly that this can be corrected and will allow everybody to come out and exercise their civic duty and civic right to choose who will represent them as the gubernatorial candidate for the APC”.
Taking a swipe at his closest challenger, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Ambode, who spoke without mentioning his name, stated emphatically that he remains the best man for the job, noting that Sanwo-Olu does not possess the requisite experience and psychological know how to govern the state.
He said, “Now the truth is this, in the last two of three weeks, they have been putting a lot of campaign of calumny in the social media and also disparaging our personalities and character, but we have been extremely humble;
we have never responded; we have never abused anybody, because we believe that there is always a reason for us to come together as a family.
“We are one family in APC, but now the truth is this, the aspirant they are putting up to compete against us is not a fit and proper person to take this position and they know the fact; this is the truth!
“Party leaders and even party members have been misled to understand that this is a better candidate than myself.
I have done everything in the last three and half years to serve the people selflessly and to serve the poor and that is why you see that most of the projects you have seen is to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and the only way out for us is to continue to do that in the next four years.
“This particular aspirant as we all know, you can go and check it, the records are there. This is somebody that has been arrested for spending fake American dollars in a night club and he has been detained for months.
He is also known that he does not have the competence to do what he is being propelled to do, the records are there in Gbagada General Hospital, the records are there; this is somebody that has gone for rehabilitation before.
“We don’t want to go too far; we don’t want to talk about all the things that we know, but what we want is for our leadership to have a rethink because the truth is this,
I will not stand here on the mandate of Lagosians and then allow our great party APC to fretter away that opportunity to put in somebody that the opposition will easily take out because of lack of credibility.
“We plead with all our leaders. They should have a rethink; this is not about me but about the greater opportunities that APC stands to better the progress of Lagos and Nigeria.”
Reaffirming that he was a bonafide member of the APC who believes in the tenets and democratic values of the party, the governor said his administration’s strides in the last three and half years has won more members into the fold.
While welcoming the challenge from other aspirants, Governor Ambode said he was confident that his administration has set a pace since inception and any course to alter the process could have dire consequences on the party’s chances in the 2019 general election.
“As to the other aspirant, of course, we welcome competition and yes it is an open space, but we will not take something that is of good assurance to allow us to fretter away the opportunity that our party has to win the 2019 governorship.
“Beyond this, we would be jeopardising the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket of which I am hundred per cent standing for by promoting another aspirant who would not be able to sell the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket,” he said.
Governor Ambode also seized the occasion to express concern on the heated political situation in the state, saying that the government would not fold its arms and watch political thugs disrupt the peace the state has enjoyed in the last three and half years.
He disclosed that security reports available to the State Government indicate that there was an ongoing recruitment and arming of political thugs to disrupt the tranquil atmosphere of Lagos State, in the guise of holding Primary Elections.
“It has become imperative to put every stakeholder on notice, especially the Federal Government and Security Agencies, to take more than a passing interest in the development in this state that has hitherto been adjudged as the safest city in Africa.
“Consequently, the state government will do all within its powers in collaboration with relevant security agencies to protect our citizens and insulate them from any condition that may breed insecurity or the breakdown of law and order in the state throughout the Primaries campaign and election periods,” Governor Ambode added.
But the National Leader of the APC and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has called on members of the party to vote for a governorship candidate that will keep Lagos State on the path of development different from those who will deviate from the Lagos Master plan as witnessed in the recent past.
Tinubu said as governor of Lagos State, he along with some prominent members of the state and members of that government drew up a master plan for economic development that would improve the daily lives of people which he faithfully implemented,
noting that the government that came after and led by Babatunde Fashola also followed in his footstep by faithfully following in the same line of action, but that such has not been the case in the recent past and the present government seem to have replace it with inferior model.
The former governor in a statement he personally signed, therefore urged party members in the state to vote in the primary conscious of returning the state to a better path.
He said, “We must vote in a manner that returns Lagos to its better path, the one that promises a just chance for all to enjoy the fruits of our prosperity.
We must always pursue our goal of a Lagos energised by creative dynamism, tolerance of others, and guided by a leadership capable of extending a collegial hand to all stakeholders, far and wide.
Tinubu noted that when the leadership of the party decided on direct primary, it was aimed at putting the people’s destiny in their own hands and give them the chance to decide their own future.
He said, “By resort to direct primaries, the party places the people’s future soundly in their hands. As democracy would have it, you shall be the authors of the party’s nomination and hopefully our next state government.
“I trust in the wisdom of the people and will abide it. However, as a leader of the party and as a former governor of our beloved and excellent Lagos, I would be remiss if I did not make a few observations regarding the primary.
“My goal is and shall always be a better Lagos. To this objective, I have dedicated the greater part of my public life. Roughly 20 years ago, a corps of dedicated and patriotic Lagosians,
put aside personal interests and rivalries, to put their minds and best ideas together for the good of the state. Out of this collaborative effort, was born a master plan for economic development that would improve the daily lives of our people.
“Bestowed on me was the honour of a lifetime when I was elected to be your governor in 1999. My administration faithfully implemented that plan. The government of my immediate successor, Tunde Fashola, also honoured this enlightened plan.
“Where state government remained true to that blueprint, positive things happened. During my tenure and Governor Fashola’s, Lagos State recorded improvements in all aspects of our collective existence, from public health to public sanitation,
from education to social services, from the administration of justice to the cleaning of storm and sewage drains. Businesses, large and small, invested, hired millions of workers and thrived.
“All Lagosians were to fully participate and justly benefit from the social dividends and improvements wrought by this plan. From the common labourer, to business leaders, to professionals and our industrious civil service, we all were to be partners in a monumental but joint enterprise. None was to be alienated.
None was to be left out. And none were to be pushed aside. This is especially true for those who contributed so much to our development, whether as a business leader who has invested heavily in Lagos,
the homeowner who struggles to pay his fair share of taxes or as someone employed in the hard work of keeping our streets and byways clean so that others may go about their daily tasks unimpeded.
“I make no pretence that the master plan is perfect. It can always be fine-tuned. However, whenever a government departed from this plan without compelling reason, the state and its people have borne the painful consequence of the improper departure.
Apparently attacking Ambode, Tinubu said, “To ignore this blueprint for progress in order to replace it with ad-hoc schemes of a materially inferior quality contravenes the spirit of progressive governance and of our party. Such narrowness of perspective does not bring us closer to our appointed destination; it takes us farther from that destiny.
“For reasons unknown to me and most Lagosians, we have experienced such deviations from enlightened governance recently.
“This trend is that which most concerns me as the primary nears. We must arrest this trend before irreparable harm is committed against the people and their future.
For the record, let it be known that I shall vote in this primary because I see it as one of extreme import to our state and our party. Just as I shall vote, I equally urge all party members to do so.”
He added: “I am encouraged by the emergence of a candidate in this primary who has served the state in senior positions in my administration, the Fashola administration and even in the current one.
While possessing a wealth of experience and exposure, he is a young man endowed with superlative vision and commitment.
Referring to the emergence of Sanwo-Olu, Tinubu said, “Most importantly, he understands the importance of the blueprint for development. He esteems it as a reliable and well-conceived vehicle for the future development of the state.
He also knows the value of reaching out and working with others in order to maximise development and provide people the best leadership possible.
“With people like him at the helm, the state will write the proper history for itself.
“When the final word is given, let it be said that we want all Lagosians to look to the future with the hope and optimism that our best days remain before us and not behind us.
“We walk into this primary strong and confidently believing in the right course we are to take. We shall emerge from this primary even stronger and more confident that we have taken that course by returning Lagos and our party to their finest path.”
Meanwhile, two factions of the APC in Rivers State loyal to the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe, respectively, held parallel primaries to elect the party’s flag bearer in the 2019 governorship election.
At the primaries of the faction loyal to Amaechi, business mogul and oil industry magnate, Architect Tonye Dele Cole, clinched the governorship flag of the party.
Although, counting of votes at the governorship primaries election which took place at the Igbokwu play field in D/line in Port Harcourt, the state capital, on Sunday, was ongoing as at the time of filing this report, he is expected to win the primaries election with a wide margin.
Four aspirants contested for the party ticket to slug it out with the incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but the results of the other three aspirants in the election were already known.
The Amaechi factional governorship primaries was conducted by the APC Rivers governorship primaries election committee headed by Col. Jaffar Lawal Isa (rtd), a former military administrator and his six members.
The election was also observed by INEC officials who refused to disclose their names, although they expressed satisfaction at the conduct of the primaries.
The primaries of the faction of the APC loyal to Senator Abe, produced him as the flag bearer of of the party for the 2019 governorship race in Rivers State.
In the parallel primaries to Amaechi’s faction of the party on Sunday, Abe scored 144, 929 votes to beat Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs polling 3,444, Hon. Adawari Pepple with 1, 606, and Arch. Tonye Dele Cole who polled 882.
This was announced by the Chief returning officer of the party, Dr. Chigbo Sam Eligwe, at the APC factional party secretariat, Aba Road, Port Harcourt, on Sunday night.
The primaries were were peaceful in the wards in the local government areas visited by The Daily Times Correspondent.
In Ward 3 Rumuakunde in Emohua Local Government Area, Ted Oteh, the leader of the Abe faction of the APC in the area, said that the election was peaceful, credible, free, fair, and transparent.
Oteh said that the APC faction loyal to Senator Abe had carried out direct primaries as recommended by the National Executive Council, NEC, which he claimed was superior to the National Working Committee (NWC) that insisted on indirect primaries.
He revealed that out of the 290 persons that voted in the process, Senator Abe polled 265 to beat Lulu-Briggs, Tonye Dele Cole, and Dawari Pepple who altogether gathered 25 votes.
According to him, the entire Emohua Local Government Area had faith in Senator Abe and expressed confidence that the Senator would become the next governor of Rivers State in 2019.