By Bankole Shakirudeen Adeshina
There is palpable tension across the 20 Local Government Areas and the 37 Local Council Development Areas of Lagos State.
It is about the inability of the political gladiators to successfully harmonize their interests in the appointment of members into the cabinets of the LGs and LCDAs.
The sensitivity of the matter is reflected in the elaborate involvement and subtle indictment of the party’s prominent leaders, especially the governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.
CITYVOICE can report that following the July 22nd Local Government Election in Lagos and the subsequent swearing in of the elected chairmen, the inauguration of the LGA/LCDAs cabinets held on Monday, November 5, 2017, has started raising serious dust.
For instance, Governor Ambode has been accused of unilaterally imposing almost all the inaugurated candidates without recourse to the party, especially the grassroots leaders.
This is said to be a clear departure from what used to be in the past.
Documents made available to this reporter, showed that Ambode, in a move to consolidate his political base, singlehandedly handpicked all the Secretaries to the Local Governments (SLG) and two Supervisors in each of the LGA and LCDAs.
There are at least five appointee supervisors (Works, Health, Labour, and others) to expedite governance at the grassroots.
Investigations further revealed that Ambode’s move may have received the blessing of his political godfather and the party’s national leader, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
In separate chats with the affected persons, some expressed their frustrations openly, while others said their names should not be printed out of fear of victimization by their political leaders.
Mr. Segun Agbaje, a chairmanship aspirant in Iba LCDA (under old Ojo LGA) who was supposed to be considered for SLG but was eventually dropped, said that the development was “heart wrenching and dehumanizing.”
According to him, “to solidify my aspiration, I officially obtained the Form with the sum of N555, 000 from the party. But later on, we the other five chairmanship aspirants were asked to step down for the anointed candidate, Mrs. Rahmota Oseni. And in fairness, the party returned to us the money with which we used to purchase the form.
“But can they return the entire amount I spent in the process of campaigning and networking, an amount I roughly put at N3.5million? The answer is no. besides, what about the high hopes and the psychological implications of that?”
Agbaje, a holder of Higher National Diploma (HND) in Business Administration from Kaduna Polytechnic, insisted that he was more eminently qualified than the candidate that the Governor imposed on the LCDA.
“By the virtue of my education, exposure, contacts and relationship with the people, I’m too qualified to have been ignored and rejected by the party. I’m a graduate, obtained my HND from Federal Polytechnic, Kaduna in 1990 and my OND in Ogun Polytechnic in 1986, same course,” he added.
At Ikotun-Igando LCDA, Comrade Ayinde Akinsanya, the Immediate past Chairman, National Union of Local Government Employee (NULGE), Lagos State Branch, is one of those caught in the uncertainty surrounding the cabinet appointment.
The former NULGE Chairman is among those struggling to make it into the cabinet, preferably as a SLG but didn’t receive such favour on the governor’s list.
“He was supposed to be made the SLG for Ikotun-Igando but that only resonate with the list generated by the party at the local level. On the governor’s list, he was conspicuously absent. But after much effort, he eventually made it as a Supervisor on the Governor’s list. But the whole process is totally dehumanizing,” a supporter of the unionist cum politician disclosed anonymously.
Another affected person who ought to have been made a Supervisor in the Egbe/Idimu LCDA, under the chairmanship of Kunle Sanyaolu Olowoopejo and who preferred his name not to be disclosed, said he was left high and dry, contrary to the party’s pre-election internal agreement.
The respondent did contest for a counsellorship position but was “coerced to step down for the anointed candidate.”
He said the party had promised him an appointment as a Supervisor into the inaugurated cabinet.
He confessed that he “wasn’t happy at the whole development,” but resolved to give up on protesting the injustice, saying “I have to align with the decision of the party. The party holds the majority. So, I give up the fight, hoping that it would be my turn in the nearest possible time.”
APC youth leader in Egbe/Idimu also admitted that the brewing crisis has the potential to consume the party if not resolved amicably.
He explained that in the last three political dispensations, LGA/LCDA cabinet appointments has always been at the discretion of party leaders, with no interference, not even from Senator Tinubu who ensured that his successor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) never interfered too.
“But in this political dispensation, we are seeing a new paradigm shift altogether.”
According to him, “at one of our protest meetings, somebody whispered to my ears that don’t I get it, that the party leaders have been short changing us in the past and that the Governor has come to rescue us.
“Even though I’m tempted to agree with the person, the fact at my own disposal proved otherwise. For instance, one of the beneficiaries of the Governor’s list is one Abimbola Ahmed, nominated as an anointed candidate for Supervisor. He was said to be representing my ward, Ward A in Egbe/Idimu.
“And this is an individual who has never attended any zonal, ward and or any other strategic meetings or activities of the party for once. He claimed to be living in a street that is of a stone-thrown distance from my house;about three minutes’ walk to the Ward meeting venue and nd I never came across him at any of the meetings.
“But finally, I met him recently. And when I confronted him as to what was the justification for his appointment, given that he was never known to be a party member, he starting pledging and praying that I should not be an impediment on the wheel of his success.
“So, to me, this is a clear indication that the Governor may not be helping after all. And it’s important that these grievances are resolved amicably. Otherwise, it could degenerate so fast and be cashed upon by the main opposition party, People’s Democratic Party. Especially here in Market Zone, we are right in the jurisdiction of the leader of the main opposition leader in the local government, Hon. Fatai Shodimu,”
Also speaking the President of the Alimosho Youth Development Association of Nigeria (AYDAN), Mr. Abdullateef Ogungbade, said the process of selecting persons inaugurated as cabinet members in Alimosho was fraught with inconsistency and mistrust.
Ogungbade attributed the crisis to the APC’s inconsistencies even against its own policies and promises, saying if care is not taken, such attitude could spell its doom, especially in the LGAs.
The President of AYDAN alleged that “the Executive Governor of Lagos and other party leaders, including Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, knew the crisis that characterized the July 22 Local Government Election in the state because they knew that most of the candidates across the state were imposed on the people.”
But instead of adopting a proactive approach to resolve it, Ogungbade hinted, “three months after the election, the party failed to reconcile the aggrieved members, who are the most popular candidates, according to our findings. It was until recently when the outcries became deafening that they agreed to look into the matter.
“So, in looking into the matter, the Governor decided to choose certain people but unlike in other areas, Alimosho rejected the list, citing incompetence and lack of merit for the nominees.”
Also condemning the move, a senior member of the National Union of Local Government Employees of Nigeria (NULGE), said the reason for the protest against the Governor’s list was because of the candidates’ obvious lack of competence and qualification for the positions.
Accordingly, the source disclosed, “when the Alimosho political players realised the game put up by the Governor, they quickly moved a step further to counter it. And the joker they played was to generate a different and more deserving albeit qualified candidates on a different list and asked all of them to go for screening.
“It’s on record, with video evidence, that all the candidates of the Governor, especially across Alimosho did perform woefully. Some of them dressed shabbily to the screening. Many of them can’t recite the National Anthem correctly; identify their zonal structures and jurisdictions. And these are supposed to be party ambassadors and leaders,” the source added.
Ambode keeps mum
Efforts to get official reaction from the government proved abortive as both Governor Ambode’s Chief Press Secretary,Habeeb Haruna and Senior Adviser on Media and Communications, Idowu Ajanaku, failed to pick their calls. They also didn’t reply to SMS sent to them on the subject.
Asiwaju Tinubu’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Tunde Rahman also failed to pick his calls even as his boss remains in London, mourning the death of his first son, Babajide Tinubu.
However, it has been contrasting reactions from APC party leaders in the LGAs and LCDAs
Barrister Tunde Lawal, the APC Chairman in Iba LCDA rudely interrupted this reporter when he was called. “What made you think I would be interested in that,” he hissed as he cut the call.
Party chair of Alimosho, Chief Solomon Adimula, dismissed the allegation against the governor though he admitted that the cabinet was indeed composed by the governor.
“But since it didn’t draw the anger of the National Leader of the Party, Bola Tinubu, who am I or anybody else to complain,” he reasoned.
Adimula also denied fighting with Governor Ambode over the matter, saying “it’s totally untrue. Those accusing the governor of singlehandedly constituting the cabinets are only trying to blackmail him.
“The truth is that the nomination and approval of the personnel was done by the leadership of the party. And that is how the party wants it. But the people just chose to translate the situation to suit their own interest.
“For us, we are not against the governor, what he wants is exactly what we want too. He is the leader of the party and he owns the state. At the moment, he is the number citizen in Lagos, so we have to want with him whatever he wants.”
Also defending the Governor, Conference 57, a platform of the Chairmen/Chairmen of the LGAs and LCDAs in Lagos, after a meeting last Friday, backed Ambode’s action.
Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of Egbe/Idimu Local Community Development Area, Oyejobi Olakunle Abdulazeez, said: “We have since inaugurated the cabinet and work has since started. But there are some skirmishes regarding the composition of the cabinet itself.
“And the issue is between Governor Ambode and the party leaders. But I believe that the thing is being resolved. And the outcome is going to be in the interest of good governance, the party, its members and the governed.”