Will the fate that befell Akinwunmi Ambode, immediate past governor of Lagos state, which cut short his desire for a second term also befall his successor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu? That is the question many Lagosians are debating now as a silent battle for the next occupant of the seat of power, Alausa Government House begins in earnest.
While Sanwo-Olu will naturally desire a second term as enshrined by the constitution, there is a however a caveat as a credible source informed our correspondent that there was an unwritten agreement that Sanwo-Olu who is a Christian, will only serve one term in order to complete the four year term which Ambode began in 2015.
He added that by the time Sanwo-Olu completes his tenure in 2023, the two terms allocated for a governor of Christian denomination would have been completed, while a Muslim candidate will continue from there.
While many dismissed the argument as unfounded as no one could ascertain if such agreement exists, Pastor Sam Ogedengbe, a former Senior Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor on Christian Religion few weeks ago said that a Muslim will succeed Sanwo-Olu in 2023.
Ogedengbe who is the National President of the All Christian Leaders and Ministers Forum, said he was one of those who clamoured for a Christian governor after the end of Governor Babatunde Fashola’s tenure, which later brought about the emergence of ex-Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and Governor Sanwo-Olu.
He said without being economical with the truth, he and other Christian ministers and leaders would not be ingrates, but would take the necessary line of action by supporting a Muslim governor.
“We Christian leaders and ministers hail administrations in the state since 1999, but we will insist that Sanwo-Olu’s successor should be a Muslim in the interest of justice and equity, ”Ogedengbe had said.
However, while it is uncertain if such agreement exists, our correspondent gathered major stakeholders in the Lagos state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have kicked against the rumoured governorship ambition of Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Obafemi Hamzat, the state’s deputy governor.
Others seeking to replace the incumbent governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu in 2023 according to findings by our correspondent are Tokunbo Abiru, senator representing Lagos East and Hakeem Muri-Okunola, the Head of Service in Lagos.
Our correspondent gathered that the leaders have told those nursing the ambition of replacing Sanwo-Olu in 2023 to perish the thought as there is no vacancy in Alausa, the seat of power.
Findings also revealed that Sanwo-Olu’s performance has endeared him to party elders in the state who removed Ambode and ensured his emergence in 2019. They are thus canvassing a second term ticket for him.
Our source, a key member of the defunct Mandate Movement in Lagos APC who does not want his name in print however said just like the last minute political maneuverings that threw up former governor Babajide Fashola in 2007, Ambode in 2015 and Sanwo-Olu in 2019, a shocker may await those already indicating interest in the number one office in Lagos in 2023.
According to him, Gbajabiamila’s reason for wanting to be governor in 2023 was that even if APC returns as the ruling party, the zoning equation may not favour his return as Speaker of the House of Representatives as the position may not be zoned to the South-West.
The other option for Gbajabiamila is to go to the Senate through Lagos Central senatorial district but the position is currently being occupied by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who may want to extend her reign as the longest serving senator in Lagos state history.
He said the desire to be governor and test his popularity was why Gbajabiamila took active part in the just concluded local government primaries.
In the case of Hamzat, our source said the deputy governor who believes that he will be the favourite to succeed Sanwo-Olu if the one-term agreement was implemented has been seriously involved in politicking as evidenced in the just concluded local government primaries of the party where some of his loyalists emerged as chairmanship aspirants.
He also added that Hamzat may have started seeing himself as the next governor of the state, given the statement made by Sanwo-Olu during the electioneering campaign that with him and Hamzat on board, Lagos state will be getting ‘two governors in one’ and the fact that the deputy governor was always with the governor, so he knows the workings of government and can easily continue the administration’s programmes if he emerge as the successor.
On the part of Muri-Okunola, it was learnt that being an indigene, the first son of the late respected Justice Muritala Okunola gives an edge among elders in Lagos. He is one of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s favourite and he is one of those considered as the future governor of Lagos.
“Okunola is one Asiwaju’s favourites. He and Oba Gbolahan Lawal, who was a former Commissioner in Sanwo-Olu’s cabinet, have strong desires to be governor. But Oba Lawal’s case has been settled with his emergence as Oniru. Muri-Okunola is also doing fine in his capacity as Head of service and with age on his side, he is being considered as one of the young people who may occupy the number one office in Lagos”.
“Abiru’s elevation as managing director of a bank to the Senate is also seen by some as a ploy by the power brokers in Lagos to groom him politically ahead of 2023 if the one-term agreement succeeds” our source said.
While some have argued that Sanwo-Olu has resigned to his fate as ‘one-term’ governor , our source added that the likelihood that Sanwo-Olu will be returned for another term is very high as “he has tactically avoided some of the pitfalls of Fashola and Ambode by facing governance squarely and allowing those who saw to his emergence as governor to run the political affairs of the state”.
“Yes nothing stops those you have mention to aspire to become governor. They have constitutional rights to do so. But one thing is certain, if the party leaders in Lagos, led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu didn’t endorse you, then you are just wasting your time”.
“People should learn from Fashola and Ambode’s experience. In 2011, it was some of these party elders that stood up for Fashola when Asiwaju decided he won’t get a second term. Asiwaju bowed to them and later endorsed Fashola. For taking sides with Fashola, a popular senator was even denied the opportunity of returning to the senate”.
“In 2015, it was these party leaders who choose Ambode among top politicians in APC and worked for him to emerge as governor. In 2019, it was these same elders who rejected him and brought Sanwo-Olu as his replacement. I don’t think the scenario will change in 2023”.
“Why I said the odds favour Sanwo-Olu is that he has had no issues with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the party elders since assuming office. Many people said he is weak politically and he has no single structures but I tell you that it is this weakness that will be his advantage”.
“Tinubu can sleep soundly with his two eyes closed in Bourdillon with Sanwo-Olu in charge of Alausa Government House. I doubt if that can be said about others” he said.
An aide of Sanwo-Olu who played a key role in his emergence in 2019 said the governor is ready to abide by any decision taken by the party leaders.
“I can’t speak for him but I know he will abide by any decision taken by the party leaders. For now, he is only focused on delivering his electioneering promises to Lagosians”.
However, speaking with our correspondent, Matthew Akinlose, a public affairs analyst said there is nothing like a one-term Christian agreement in Lagos politics.
“If truly they said Ambode performed badly and they wanted his replacement, justice demands that they replace him with a Christian from Lagos East where he (Ambode) hailed from. Why did they settle for Sanwo-Olu from Lagos Central? I don’t think that argument of a Christian or Muslim governor holds water in a cosmopolitan city like Lagos” he said.
Source:- Guardian Ng