By Bankole Shakirudeen Adeshina
THE Secretariat of the All Progressive Congress in Lagos State at Acme Road, Ikeja, on Friday, was a beehive of activities, as the ruling political party conducted the final stage of the screening exercise for all its aspirants contesting in the next general elections.
The process was said to be the last ritual preceding the party’s primary, holding the next day, Saturday, September 29, 2018 at the venue, where all the candidates will eventually know their fates regarding those that would become the party’s flag-bearers in the poll.
The most anticipated part of this exercise is the contestation between the second-term-seeking-aspirant, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and the party’s anointed candidate, Dr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The political heavyweights are slugging it out for a single ticket in an unprecedented selection process—direct primary, which has always been relegated for consensus arrangement since the emergence of the opposition political party in the state since 1999.
The events leading to the emergence of Sanwo-olu as the possible next governor of Lagos were extensively reported to be linked to the existing rancor between Governor Ambode and his political godfather, the national leader of his party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, hence the sifting of loyalty and the political machineries from behind the incumbent governor to the new “anointed” candidate.
The matter has already heightened tension across the state, with the shockwaves being practically felt at the secretariat.
Palpable tension enveloped the party secretariat as politicians were seen in groupings, discussing the issue in hush tones.
“You guys will be shocked tomorrow,” an average height, dark and chubby lady boost, while buying soft drink from one of the women making brisk business at the event.
About an hour later, it was the turn of a young man, decked in branded face cap belonging to Sanwo-olu.
He shouted in Yoruba language “omi titun tiru eja tutu ti fe wo le lola (a new sheriff is about to hit town tomorrow.”
CITYVOICE exclusively gathered that the primary may actually produce an unexpected result, given the testimonies of some of the aspirants and delegates at the secretariat.
One of them, who is aspiring to become a member of the assembly, Hon. Sesan Oladipupo, representing Alimosho Constituency, visibly expressed fear over the inconclusive nature of the arrangement.
According to him, “since the issue was not sorted before the primary, it was important to leave no stone unturned in ensuring the desired result for the good of the party and it members.”
Another politician at the secretariat, who simply identified himself as Godwin, and assumed this reporter to be a fellow delegate, confided in him that, “people are just too relaxed for my liking.”
According to him, “that lazy attitude may turn out to be the weakness that would be exploited by Governor Ambode tomorrow,” he said.
He continued that “yes, Asiwaju has given the order. And everybody is aware. But we should not fold our arms without working. We have heard that the governor is spreading highly irresistible sum across board to lure candidates.
“And that is a risky thing, because at the end of the day, these delegates may give in, after all, the vote is for the party. So, I expect the leadership to work harder, following up on the verbal assurances given by the local government chairmen and other holders of the political structures,” he added.
As early as 10am, aspirants, in the company of their family members, friends and supporters, from across the 20 Local Government Areas and the 37 Local Community Development Areas of the state, had started trooping into the venue, all decked in different elegant attires and branded political shirts and face caps.
As observed by this reporter, there were heavily armed security men on guard too—Mobile Police and many plain-clothed operatives of the secret service, all wielding their sophisticated arms as they stroll around, apparently in an attempt to forestall any possible breakdown of law and orders at the venue.
Ironically, about 3pm, on a distance of about 100 meters to the secretariat, it was all the campaign banners of Governor Ambode that initially dotted both sides of the way leading to the secretariat without that of Sanwo-Olu.
But about an hour later, that of Sanwo-Olu were soon conspicuously place side-by-side his rival’s and also at the main entrance to the secretariat.