Describing Sanwo-Olu, a former Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions, as a man of “integrity, great humility and extraordinary intelligence,” Hamzat also recalled that both of them had worked closely with former Governor Tinubu, his successor, Fashola, and Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
Announcing his formal withdrawal from the race, Hamzat said: “After due consultations with my numerous supporters and in deference to the wise counsel of those I consider my political mentors, I have resolved to step down from the governorship race in Lagos on the platform of our party and, instead, poll resources together with my brother and friend, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu.”
Hamzat, who had lost the ticket to Ambode in 2015, emphasised that “the loyalty of our party members should never ever be taken for granted,” adding that the way forward was for like-minds to close ranks and poll resources together, forge a formidable front and advance the ideas that can serve the larger interest of party members.”
Responding, after raising his hands up for the symbolic endorsement, Sanwo-Olu, flanked by his wife, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, his campaign DG, Mr Tayo Ayinde and Otunba Lekan Osifeso, thanked Hamzat for endorsing him.
He also described him as a “good friend, compatriot and comrade in progress.”
With Hamzat’s withdrawal, if Ambode insists on fighting till the end, the battle for the ticket will now be a straight one between him and Sanwo-Olu.
It was also gathered that the APC as a party in the state had met yesterday and foreclosed the possibility of Ambode running for next year’s governorship on its platform, following its official endorsement of the candidature of Sanwo-Olu.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Asiwaju Tinubu, GAC members, Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa and other major APC stakeholders were said to have met by 10:00 a.m yesterday at Tinubu’s Ikoyi residence to deliberate on the endorsement. But Governor Ambode was reported to be absent at the meeting.
After the meeting, which lasted for over three hours, a member of GAC, Senator Anthony Adefuye, announced the decisions that were reached at the party’s state secretariat.
He said: “After a long meeting which was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, our national leader, Bola Tinubu, GAC members, the Speaker of the state Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, and other stakeholders, we decided to shift the governorship primary to Monday, October 1, 2018.
“We also decided to endorse Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the governorship candidate for the 2019 governorship election in Lagos State. We also announced that one of the governorship aspirants, Obafemi Hamzat, has graciously agreed to step down and has endorsed Sanwo-Olu for governor.”
Sources within the APC revealed that part of the negotiations was that Hamzat, a former Commissioner for Works in the administration of Fashola and his close ally, would emerge as Sanwo-Olu’s running mate, an indication that the factions within the state APC may have been resolved.