Activates ACO across 20 LGs; Sends SMS to supporters
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Dapo Akinrefon, Evelyn Usman, Olasukanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
Lagos—An unusual test of political supremacy is set to play out in Lagos tomorrow as Governor Akinwunmi Ambode faces the challenge of upturning the momentum set against his aspiration for the second term ticket of his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Ahead of tomorrow’s first direct primary of the APC in the state, the two major aspirants, Ambode and his challenger, Babajide Sanwo-Olu were yesterday mobilising their operatives for the battle ahead.
In readiness for Saturday’s direct primary, Governor Ambode yesterday announced his appointment of campaign coordinators in the 20 Local Government Areas and 245 wards.
The Watercrest Hotels, Ikeja headquarters of his major contender, Sanwo-Olu was bustling with activities yesterday with meetings with major stakeholders including religious leaders and party organisers. Several aspirants seeking to win the party’s ticket for the elections were also on hand seeking to be involved.
Ambode had taken up the gauntlet with his declaration last Wednesday that he was set to participate in tomorrow’s primary. His assertion was in the face of pressures on him following the endorsement of Sanwo-Olu by all 57 local government chairmen in the state and by major political actors in the state.
Governor’s courageous act
Governor Ambode’s decision to go ahead with the battle seen as a very courageous act in some quarters.
A press statement from the Directorate of Media and Strategy of the Ambode Campaign Organisation, ACO, said the governor in furtherance of his determination to prove his electoral worth has selected and trained the agents “to be the eyes and ears of Governor Ambode as the candidate of choice in the primary election.”
The statement added that while being vigilant and uncompromising, the agents have been tutored to conduct themselves in a peaceful and orderly manner as loyal members of the All Progressives Congress who want the best for the party and democracy by ensuring that the best candidate emerges on a level playing ground.”
Ambode woos supporters with sms
Aside his poster campaign, Vanguard gathered that the Ambode camp has allegedly embarked on Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, USSD survey, to test his popularity among voters in the state.
USSD is a communication technology often deployed to send text messages between a mobile phone and an application program in the network and that the applications sometimes include prepaid roaming or mobile chatting.
In the survey conducted for Airtel and Etisalat phone users, the mobile users were asked express their views about his planned second term ambition.
One of the mobile phone users, who displayed the survey to Vanguard, disclosed that that it was structured to test public perception on Ambode’s second term.
The camp of Ambode believes that his determination has elicited jubilation and encouragement of his supporters who believe that he deserves a second term in office in order to consolidate on his numerous landmark socio-infrastructural achievements in the past three and half years.
In his declaration on Wednesday, Ambode stated his intention to seek re-election with a “grateful heart, open arms and a pledge to open and deeper attention to the concerns of this one, big family.”
He also stated that a return of the party’s ticket to him would “guarantee the stability of the state’s growing economy; ensure the continuation of the growth and development it has witnessed over time and ensure that the opposition does not take root in Lagos State.”
Ambode has also sought to push forward the narrative that he has no squabbles with the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as against the claim in several quarters that he is at war with the party leader.
As such it was not surprising that in his statement ahead of the primary the governor expressed gratitude to Tinubu and elders of the party in the state who he said had given him the opportunity to seek a second term upon what he described as his sterling performance.
However, the narrative is dramatically different in the camp of Sanwo-Olu where the personal instincts of the governor were repeatedly interrogated as undeserving of a second term.
Tayo Ayinde, the Director-General of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu Campaign Organisation, BASCO in a chat with journalists yesterday dismissed the assurance behind Ambode’s political gambit. In his words, the governor has not just severed himself from the party but also from the performance trajectory as first postulated by Tinubu.
Ambode in the eyes of Sanwo-Olu’s men
“As a governor, it is important for you to be able to merge governance with politics. But this present governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode failed to do that, and that is why you see this uprising from all sectors in Lagos State. Even at Alausa, this governor is not popular.
“In three and half years, this governor has sacked 33 Permanent Secretaries. He has also turned himself into an emperor. Nobody can look at him in the face and give him suggestions. No Permanent-Secretary can confront him; not even commissioners. He is not popular among civil servants; he is not popular among APC members in Lagos State. Even in the business world, he is not popular.
“How can somebody wake up one day and sack all the staff of Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA)? How will somebody wake up one day and sack all the staff of Drain Ducks? Drain Ducks is the parastatal that clears drainages during the dry season so that in the rainy season, you won’t have problem of flooding?
Such assertions against the governor are, however, mirrored against the fact that the Governor’s Advisory Council, GAC was put in place to advise the governor. Was he not taking advice from the council, Ayinde was tasked?
“It is one thing to advise someone; it is another thing for the person to yield to that advice. This is a governor that is not listening to people’s advice. He is not a listener. If you look at the first press conference that Sanwo-Olu granted, he said he would be a listener. That is the kind of governor that we want in Lagos State. This is not the Lagos of our dream. Look at the roads, they are such in bad shape, yet you see the governor constructing bus stops on bad roads. It just doesn’t add up. We believe that Babajide Sanwo-Olu is the right person for us now in Lagos State.”
Fashola, Fuad Oki scheme to outwit Tinubu’s men
Meanwhile, the tension in the state chapter of the party has given opportunity to some interest groups with legendary scores to settle with Tinubu to move in. Among those said to be interested in that direction are former scions of the political leader now based in Abuja.
The scheme of the group it was learnt is to sponsor aspirants for several elective positions against the mainstream as supported by Tinubu.
It is as such not surprising that ahead of the primary elections that pitch battles are going on across the state with supporters and opponents of the different camps engaging one another.
The Abuja Group it was learnt has lined up its aspirants for some positions including those that had been long identified with the group.
There were also insinuations yesterday of plots by one of the groups involved to manipulate the fresh membership register as a way of getting the advantage in tomorrow’s primary.
However, insinuations of further conflict between the two groups seem to be evaporating given what some sources said yesterday was their determination to come together against Ambode.
Chairman of the state party, Alhaji Tunde Balogun disclosed this yesterday, during an urgent and crucial working meeting with all 57 council Chairmen towards the Saturday Gubernatorial primary, held at its Secretariat, Acme, Ogba.
Yesterday, the chairman of the state chapter of the party, Alhaji Tunde Balogun reiterated the determination of the party to give all aspirants a level playing ground during a meeting with party chairmen from across the state.
The meeting, attended by the majority of the chairmen, held behind closed doors lasted for hours resolved to hold the primaries in 245 wards.
A source said the meeting harmonised and agreed on the venues of the primary for each council based on direct voting by all party members.
It was also gathered that the chairmen were directed to provide adequate security around the areas where elections will be taking place and prevent any form of harassment, favouritism, even for any security personnel. The chairmen were also enjoined to report any form of violence or disorderliness for appropriate action to be taken.
Speaking on the development, the Assistant Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Mr. Abiodun Salami, said: “We are completely set for the governorship primary I can assure you. We have put everything in place and perfected plans for successful conduct.
“The party executive just had a meeting with council chairmen and party executives in the local government areas on how to go about the election.
On how the primary would be conducted, he said: “members would queue behind the photographs of the aspirants of their choice just as we had during the SDP and NRC days.
“Then, people on the queue will be counted afterwards, and the aspirant with the highest number of votes would be declared the winner for each ward.
“The results of all the wards will be collated afterwards from which the eventual winner will be announced.”
Salami added that that the party adopted the method to ensure transparency and fairness.
At the campaign office of Babajide Sanwo-Olu Campaign Organisation, BOSCO in Ikeja, yesterday religious leaders of the two major religions in the state, Christianity and Islam went into long prayers for Sanwo-Olu’s victory and promised to keep a vigil on the eve of the primary (which is today) to further strengthen the prayer.”
Alhaji Abdulkareem, representing the Chief Imam of Ikeja and Arch Bishop Olawuyi led the prayers sessions, saying truly, Sawoolu is the God’s anointed man like the Biblical King David for the job in 2019 in Lagos.
Police assures of peaceful poll
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Imohimi Edgal, yesterday, assured that the command would provide watertight security during the APC primaries tomorrow.
To this effect, a meeting between the Edgal and all Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers and heads of Departments has been slated for today, with a view to ensuring due process was followed during the primaries.
He therefore, warned all policemen to refrain from any partisan practice, threatening that severe [punishment would be meted on any policeman who attempted to meddle in the election.
The CP in a statement signed by the command’s image maker, CSP Chike Oti, urged party faithful to be law-abiding and steer clear from any conduct that could jeopardize free, fair and peaceful conduct of the election, advising the aspirants to talk to their supporters to shun violence.
“Any person caught engaging in acts capable of constituting a breach of the public peace will be arrested and made to face the full wrath of the law.