Lagos 2015: The Final Battle Between Tinubu, Fashola

If the national leadership of the party approves that the primaries eventually hold in Lagos State, the Onikan Stadium will be the battle ground today.

The contest for the ticket is the real test of the might and supremacy by the separate camps of a national leader of APC, Senator Bola Tinubu and incumbent Governor Babatunde Fashola, who is on the last lap of his two terms of office.

The dizzying build up marked a climax to the series of meetings and consultations among key stakeholders in the party, in a frantic bid to strike compromise over what some party buffs described as a political logjam.

Feelers within the Lagos APC last night indicated that the stakeholders were busy till the wee hours of today, holding meetings at different locations in the city.

Some party chieftains, who spoke with Nigerian Tribune on condition of anonymity, said the contest remained the final battle to determine who controls the soul of the party in Lagos.

And to underscore the importance of the primaries and the import of the outcome, the major combatants and their backers had been locked in a fierce battle of wits and all shades of gerrymandering to the chagrin of even other party members.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that many of the delegates may be N1 million richer today.

One camp was said to have offered mouth-watering sums of money, including foreign currency, in a frantic bid to induce delegates.

A camp of one of the governorship aspirants was also said to have made arrangement for uniforms (aso-ebi) to celebrate the emergence of the aspirant as the standard-bearer of the party tomorrow.

Going by the official guidelines of the APC, the delegates tor the primaries comprise APC leaders from the 20 local government areas and the 37 local council development areas of the state; members of the party’s state and local government executive committee, as well as members of the state government executive council.

The candidature of a former Accountant-General of the state, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, has split the party down the line, as he is reportedly the choice of Senator Tinubu.

Dr Hamzat, currently a commissioner in the state, as well as Shasore are touted to enjoy the backing of Fashola in the battle for Government House, Alausa.

Lately, local government administration in the state had also been caught in the politics of the governorship race, as the state government had put on hold any interim leadership to run their affairs after the three-year tenure of the hitherto chairmen lapsed.

Checks showed that the interim arrangement might be put in place once the ongoing series of APC primaries designed to elect party candidates at all levels were concluded.

The initial moves by some power brokers and godfathers to arm twist Fashola to have the interim council managers, especially some of the immediate past council bosses to stage a comeback temporarily, met a brick wall from the establishment.

The action was interpreted by most analysts as a masterstroke by Fashola to clip the wings of the former council chairmen, who had become overtly partisan by promoting the aspiration of Ambode.

The domino effects of the battle for the APC soul, particularly on the choice of standard-bearer for the governorship election, are equally being felt in the highly populated state civil service, as most of the bureaucrats and other career civil servants had reportedly opposed any arrangement, be it interim or otherwise, aimed at bringing back any of the immediate council bosses to administer the LGs.

The preponderance of opinion is that they could use the increasingly lean resources of the councils to further promote and protect the interest of a particular chieftain of the party if given a safe landing, after been blown out office by the political hurricane currently sweeping the landscape of Lagos politics.

Even within the APC itself, some diverse interests are also angry with both Tinubu and Fashola for their assumed preference for bureaucrats as governor, rather that the two leaders looking inward for an astute and competent politician, who has consistently paid his due in loyalty, dedication and contribution to the growth of the party over the years.

Their argument is that such choice would breed less acrimony and avoid tension like the current situation that appeared to be putting all Lagos APC members on edge over the choice of a candidate in less than three months to the election.

The current anxiety within the party is also the culmination of other forms of protracted cry of marginalisation and agitation, some of which bothered on religion and ethnicity and other extraneous factors fast becoming a recurring decimal in partisan politics.

While some elders and indigenes of the state had led a subtle but sustained campaign for a “son of the soil” to take over from Fashola, other agitators want a paradigm shift of power in term of a Christian emerging the next helmsman.

The frenetic action of the promoters of the latter cause had indeed impacted on the psyche of the main political actors in the ongoing battle for supremacy in Lagos APC.

At another level, the campaign in the APC for the governorship ticket was hinged on power rotation among the three original divisions of the state: Ikorodu, Badagy and Ikeja.

Lagos East senatorial district; Lagos Central and Lagos West current make up the local councils created from them. All the contenders for the ticket have traced their roots to Epe, which is one of the local councils in Lagos East senatorial district.

While the results of the primaries held on Tuesday for aspirants to the state House of Assembly created some upsets, the main gainers and their loyalists see the governorship primaries as an opportunity to consolidate, preparatory to the APC national convention coming up next week Wednesday.

By Wednesday, members of the main power blocs in the party were seriously digging in as the moment of decision approached and deploying enormous chest war capable of putting their candidates in good stead.

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