Sesan Olufowobi, Olalekan Adetayo and Oladimeji Ramon
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday met behind closed doors with the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The meeting which was held inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja, came barely 24 hours before the APC governorship primary for the state slated for Tuesday.
It was gathered that the state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, was, however, not part of the meeting Buhari had with Tinubu.
A Presidency source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the meeting to one of our correspondents.
“There was a meeting. But I don’t know what the meeting was about,” the source said.
Tinubu and other critical stakeholders in the party in the state had adopted Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu as their preferred choice for the party’s governorship ticket despite the fact that the state governor had expressed his intention to seek re-election.
The party leader had accused Ambode of deviating from the development blueprint prepared for the state.
While confirming the meeting between Buhari and Tinubu, another source in the camp of the former Lagos State governor, however, said nothing has changed.
He said, “You know that Asiwaju meets regularly with the President. They discuss party and the nation’s matters regularly. So there is nothing unusual about this meeting.”
When asked if Buhari had succeeded in resolving the matter, he replied, “What issue will be resolved when tomorrow (Tuesday) is primary?
“There is nothing to resolve. The people will elect their candidate at the primary on Tuesday.
“Asiwaju is back in Lagos from Abuja. Everybody is preparing for the primary.”
Ambode meets NWC panel, insists on credible primary
However, Ambode on Monday met with the panel appointed by the National Working Committee of the APC to conduct the primary in the state, insisting on a level playing field for all aspirants.
The governor, who spoke when he received members of the panel led by its Chairman, Mr Clement Ebri, said it was important that the election was free, fair and credible.
Ambode said he had no doubt that the panel would deliver a credible process, adding that such would go a long way to determine the future of Nigeria and the greatness of Lagos in particular.
“This is a star studded election team; the members are distinguished Nigerians in their individual and collective rights. There can’t be any better team than these distinguished personalities.
“I must tell you that what you have taken up may look like a political assignment, but history is on your side. You are being called upon to discharge a selfless service that would determine the future of this country and the greatness of this state.
“I receive this election team as being acceptable and credible to me enough to discharge its civic responsibility to the best of its ability; and to also say that whatever it is that is the outcome of the primaries, your presence has shown that this will be credible and this will be acceptable by me,” he said.
The governor, who recalled that he had gone through the same process with 12 other aspirants to emerge as the governorship candidate of the APC in 2014, said it was not out of place to have other aspirants contest for the same ticket.
“But all I seek is credible primary, transparent primaries and a level playing field.
“There were issues that we have raised and they have been put in form of a letter which I will pass to the chairman and I believe the committee will look into it judiciously,” Ambode said.
Earlier, Ebri, a former governor of Cross River State, said the panel deemed it fit to pay a courtesy visit to the governor as the number one citizen in the state.
“We have come to intimate you that this exercise is going to take place in the next few hours. The process we are laying out will ensure and guarantee transparency and credibility.
“We have people of integrity in this panel and I can assure you that we have the experience to conduct this exercise. We assure you of our sincerity and transparency and we seek your cooperation,” the chairman said.
He said a stakeholders’ meeting had been fixed for Monday evening at the party secretariat in Acme to enable aspirants and other stakeholders exchange ideas concerning the primaries in accordance with the democratic principles of the party.
Other members of the panel are Alhaji Ahmed Mahmud Gumel (Secretary), Mr Nze Chidi Duru, Chief Clever Egbeji, Senator Clever Ikisikpo and Ambassador Jerry Ugokwe.
‘Address Ambode’s allegations against Sanwo-Olu’
Meanwhile, activist lawyer, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has challenged the APC to come clean on the image and personality of one of its governorship aspirants in Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Adegboruwa’s challenge followed the allegations by the governor, that Sanwo-Olu, who sought to unseat him, was unfit to govern Lagos State because he had a criminal record.
Ambode had during a world press conference on Sunday alleged that Sanwo-Olu was once arrested and detained in the United States of America for spending fake dollar bills at a nightclub.
Ambode added that his challenger had undergone rehabilitation at the Gbagada General Hospital and was therefore unfit for governance.
In a statement on Monday, Adegboruwa said Ambode’s allegations against Sanwo-Olu were too weighty to be ignored by the leadership of the APC.
He argued that Nigerians deserved to know the true status of whoever would govern Lagos State.
He said, “Nigerians and Lagosians, in particular, deserve to know the true status of anyone aspiring to public office; not just in relation to health, but also his preferences, his financial status and all other areas of common concern. It is not proper to just wish this away.
“The APC, as a party, owes a sacred duty of disclosure. A sitting governor will not just wake up one day and be throwing allegations of mental instability against his opponent, who he knows very well, just for the sake of winning an election.
“The import of any serious health challenge for any person aspiring to the position of the governor of the largest economy in Nigeria is that of capacity.
It then raises the issue of a lame duck governor installed only as a figure head, but in truth not capable of governance.”
Crisis in APC, blessing for Lagos – Oyeniji
A governorship aspirant in Lagos State on the platform of the Alliance for New Nigeria, Mr Oluyinka Oyeniji, on Monday described the wrangling in the Lagos APC as a blessing to the people.
According to him, the crisis has provided an opportunity to dislodge “a few individuals who have for nearly two decades” ruled the state without accountability and transparency.
Oyeniji lamented what he described as uneven development in the state, arguing that under the current political arrangement, no governor in Lagos State could work independently.
The aspirant, who said the education and health sectors in Lagos State had been left in shambles, said, if elected governor next year, he would immediately declare a state of emergency in the two sectors.
He spoke ahead of ANN primaries in Lagos this week, according to a statement on Monday.
He decried the systematic dismantling of public institutions in the state and insisted that this could not have been the dream of the founding fathers of the state. (Punch)