Nigeria News

NIGERIA: How Congress Set the Stage for Lagos Governorship

Penultimate Saturday, the All Progressives Congress (APC), had its state congresses nationwide but, of particular interest was the Lagos State congress which was followed with keen interest by stakeholders.
The congress attracted the consciousness of the people for various reasons. One, it is the home base of one of the founding fathers of the party, former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu. Many would like to see how successful a congress in his domain would be.
Secondly, there had been acrimonious outcry following the ward and local government congresses, with groups, among which was the New Lagos Movement, accusing the former governor and party leader of dictatorship and imposition of candidates on the party at various levels.
Lastly, there were those who believe that the next governorship election in the state would be a hard nut to crack for Tinubu and his party, and that the state congress could be the first place to test the waters to see if some of his party men would attempt to stage a surprise to change the party leadership.
That was not to be as 2105 accredited delegates from the local government throng to the Acme Road, Ogba, State secretariat of the APC to unanimously return former state chairman of the party, Otunba Henry Ajomale and his deputy, Cardinal James Odunmnaku, as leaders of the party in a largely peaceful and affirmative voice election.
Those who were elected to fill the remaining 35 vacant offices are: Chief Funso Ologunde (Vice Chairman, West), Alhaji M.A Gafar (Vice Chairman, East), Mr. Fouad Oki (Vice Chairman, Central), Wasiu Sanni (State Secretary), Mr. Femi Saheed (Assistant Secretary), Mrs. Rebecca Ajose (State Treasurer), Mr. Joana Adebobuyi (Assistant Treasurer), Mrs. Olayinka Osinubi (Financial Secretary),  Hon. Bola Badmus-Olujobi (Assistant Financial Secretary), Joe Igbokwe (Publicity Secretary) and Hon. Abiodun Salami (Assistant Publicity Secretary)
Still on the list are Hon. Abiodun Salami (Assistant Publicity Secretary), Mr. Ademola Sodiq (Legal Adviser), Mr. Toke Benson (Assistant Legal Adviser), Ramota Bankole (Welfare Secretary), Alhaji R.O. Olorunfunmi (Assistant Welfare Secretary), Alhaji Abdulahi Enilolobo (Organising Secretary), Mufutau Kadiku (Assistant Organising Secretary), Wale Ariyibi (Auditor), Mr. Ismail Azeez (Assistant Auditor), Mrs. Kemi Nelson (Women Leader), Mrs. Idera Adeyemi (Assistant Woman Leader).
Others are Woman Leader, West, Mrs. Kofoworola Ajayi; Woman Leader, East, Fausat Gbadebo; Woman Leader, Central, Mrs. Fadeke Otitonaye; Youth Leader, Taiwo Sanyaolu; Assistant Youth Leader, Busola Akeredolu. While Usman Jimoh, Bashiru Adkoya and Olanrewaju Mohammed emerged Youth Leader for the West, East and Central senatorial districts respectively, Alhaji Musa Idris, Alhaji Abu Akilapa, Princess Abigail Onu and Mrs. Adebisi Adebajo became ex-officio members.
At the end, Chairman Congress Committee, Alhaji Garba Abari, expressed joy over the peaceful conduct of the election which he attributed to the maturity of party loyalists. Although the nature of the congress can be said to have been peaceful and members were openly happy about the choice of Ajomole, there was however some observable trends at the congress.
For instance, Governor Raji Fashola was absent at the event. Even his deputy, Princess Adejoke Adefulure, who represented him, did not stay long before leaving. Likewise, Tinubu was not present but, represented by a former minister, Hon. Demola Seriki, who spoke on his behalf. That aside, two most prominent governorship hopefuls in the party, Senator Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon and Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa were both present.
Though it is certain that all that happened at the congress had been perfected through the local government chairmen before that day, it is yet unclear how the emergence of the new executive committee may affect the governorship ambition of some of the party members whose names are already on the lips of the people as potential replacement for Governor Fashola.
The duo of Solomon and Dabiri-Erewa made no fuse about the congress before or after the conduct of the election. When approached by newsmen before the election, Solomon had expressed optimism that it was going to be a free and fair election that would reposition the party through which he hopes to assume the mantle of leadership in the State. The same opinion was expressed by Dabiri-Erewa whose Ikorodu Division has continued to agitate for an opportunity to produce the next governor and who, if the zoning arrangement being proposed by Tinubu sees the light of day, stands a chance to contest.
But while the event was on, some members of the party under the aegis of Adekunle Disu (AKD) Movement engaged in a dance parade and, in the process distributed brooms, cups, cakes, minerals and water to delegates and guests at the venue. While doing this, they were at the same time subtly selling the governorship aspiration of Disu. A silent entrant into the Lagos governorship race on the APC platform, Disu who is yet to officially announce an interest, is considered by his supporters as likely to be the next Lagos State governor.
While Disu, as well as Dabiri-Erewa are yet to officially announce, Solomon has set up a campaign office, said to be located somewhere along Obafemi Awolwo Way, Ikeja, Lagos in pursuit of his governorship ambition.
A curious dimension to determining the governorship aspirant is the contentious issue of zoning. There is a report that the governorship slot has been zoned to the Lagos East and that the Ikorodu division of the East is asking that the governorship should be specifically zoned to them; a request some believe would throw up Dabiri-Erewa. Some on-going underground moves may favour the trio of Solomon, Dabiri-Erewa and Disu.
While Disu and Dabiri-Erewa are yet to formally declare, Solomon, with the opening of a campaign office, has continued to reaffirm his 2015 governorship ambition. If the move by the Ikorodu leaders is achieved and their desire to have the governorship zoned to their division, Dabiri-Erewa would most likely benefit from it as being speculated, by being in the race. While all these calculations are expected to play out, some are already saying that Disu may be enjoying backing within the party hierarchy.

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