An implosion is threatening the political empire of former Lagos State governor and national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu into shreds following a move by his successor and current chief executive of the state, Babatunde Raji Fashola to impose one of his loyalists as the party’s governorship candidate in the 2015 elections.
At the root of the crisis now rocking the newly registered party in Lagos is a directive issued by Tinubu to some chairmen of local government councils who travelled to the United States of America last week to greet the former governor on his hospital bed that the council bosses should go and begin work for whichever candidate Governor Fashola presents as his choice of successor.
Saturday Sun exclusively gathered that prior to the instruction given to the council chairmen in the U.S by the APC national leader, Governor Fashola had met Tinubu in his Ikoyi, Lagos residence where the former presented him with a list of five candidates he will want Tinubu to pick from and anoint as the next occupant of the Alausa Ikeja Government House in 2015.
Top on the list of those shortlisted by the governor is his Commissioner for Works, Obafemi Hamzat; former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice during the governor’s first term, Supo Sasore; immediate past Commissioner for Finance, Tokunbo Abiru who was recently appointed an Executive Director in First Bank PLC; his successor, Ayo Gbeleyi who was before now a Special Adviser to the governor on Private Sector; and the current Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, Waheed Enitan Oshodi.
The two leaders, Tinubu and Fashola were said to have analysed the chances of each of the five candidates in the 2015 election and settled for Hamzat because of the emormous resources and volume of contracts that had passed through his ministry in the past two years. Tinubu was also said to have mentioned the possibility of presenting the current Chairman of the state Internal Revenue Service, LIRS, Tunde Faula, because of the fear that the recent coronation of Hamzat’s father, Oba Olatunji Hamzat as the traditional ruler of Afowowa community in Ogun State may make the issue of indigeneship work against the commissioner.
The silence of Tinubu on the possibility of fielding politically experienced candidates who have since 1999 held his political structures together across the state was said to have angered loyalists of the APC leader. Head of the Tinubu’s political machinery and now Osun state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is also said to be unhappy with the development which the camp feels may make it lose the next governorship election against strong contenders like Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and Jimi Agbaje who were both governorship candidates in the past and likely to emerge on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and Labour Party, LP respectively, for the next guber election.
Other candidates Tinubu’s camp are comfortable with and want to see promoted to face any of Obanikoro or Agbaje who are being prodded by the presidency include a former Commissioner for Health under Tinubu, Dr Leke Pitan; a former Commissioner for Environment, Dr Muiz Banire; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji and two serving Senators, Ganiyu Solomon and Gbenga Ashafa among others.
Armed with intelligence report on the brewing crisis within Tinubu’s political camp, the presidency was said to have already reached out to some of the key figures in the camp with a view to offering one of them the governorship ticket of the PDP so as to divide the APC votes and take hold of the most coveted state governorship seat in the country.
Also sensing the imminent crash of Tinubu political myth in the state, his loyalists under the banner of “Mandate Group” on Monday at an undisclosed location in Lagos began series of meetings to mobilize members across the state ”with a view to helping our leader rediscover himself and save all of us from political suicide”.
One of the local government chairmen, who has been part of the meetings with Tinubu in the U.S and the group in Lagos, told Saturday Sun on condition of anonymity that “there is no need denying the fact that Asiwaju told some of us in America that we should not mind whatever anybody tells us and that it is whoever the governor puts down that we should all go and be working for but when we got home, our leaders reasoned that we need to meet and assess the tension and threats from within and outside the family so that we don’t lose all.”
Governor Fashola had after his re-election for a second term banned all groups within the then ACN and now APC but with the increasing tension in the party, the groups have again begun to emerge and redefine their goals.
When asked to react to the tension tearing the party aside, the state publicity secretary of APC, Joe Igbokwe said that he was not aware that some members of the party had been selected as possible candidates for the governorship election in 2015.
According to him “I have not heard or seen any list. The fact remains that democracy is a slow process and there are insinuations and disagreements over who is to lead the flock. When the time comes, the party will sit and choose a worthy representative for the governorship election in 2015.
“APC is committed to moving Nigeria forward and when the appropriate time comes the qualified candidate will emerge. Our detractors have failed severally and would fail.”
Read more: The Sun