2023 LAGOS GOVERNORSHIP: Plot to Drop Sanwo-Olu Thickens

Lagos State governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu

…Gov May Not Get Second Term Ticket
…Successor Being Groomed
…There’s Nothing of Such – Aide

BEVERLY HILLS, February 21, (THEWILL) – There are strong indications that the Lagos State governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, might not make it as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the 2023 Lagos Governorship Poll as plot to drop the hardworking governor from the race gathers momentum.

Plot Against Sanwo-Olu’s Second Term

It is two full years to the next general elections in 2023 but the powers that be in Lagos are already plotting to see Governor Sanwo-Olu’s back. The boyish and dynamic governor is everywhere and on top of every incident that has dogged his administration, right from the very first few months of his inauguration when deadly pipeline fire broke out and ravaged Lagos communities in quick succession to the first index coronavirus case in Nigeria in March 2020 and then the destructive and disastrous #EndSARS protest at the Lekki toll gate on October, 2020.

Rather than get praised for his management skills so far adjudged to be above par and be supported for rising to every trying occasion with pinpoint precision and vigour, he is believed to be getting political mileage that may put him too far ahead of the crowd and then completely fall out of line and out of control if he got a second term.

Alleged ‘Sins’ Perhaps out of zeal or probably unintended, he took an action that was perceived to be avoidable and then put himself on the firing line. According to a dependable source, trouble started

for the governor when he queried the funds, or “interfered with”, as the source put it, a business organisation linked to Seyi Tinubu, son of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC National Leader and Sanwo-Olu’s godfather. The said interference happened shortly before November 5, 2020, Lagos Central Senatorial by-election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Coming on the heels of an allegation of corruption petitioned to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against Alpha–Beta, AB, a tax management consultant by a former Managing Director of the organisation, Oladapo Apara, the governor’s query is said to have riled Tinubu, owner of AB.

Though the governor is said to have “apologised profusely when he learnt of his mistake,” Tinubu, in his usual conciliatory attitude towards his political disciples, was said to have forgiven the governor. But the political strategist that he is, Asiwaju, according to the source, has begun, in characteristic style, to plan ahead.

Grooming a Successor

His immediate response was to start grooming a likely successor. Said the source: “Our godfather has learnt some hard lessons from the two former governors, Babatunde Raji Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode. Don’t forget that Asiwaju had to battle many tendencies within the party to ensure both of them got the party ticket on a platter but sooner had they got it that he began to face a backlash from stalwarts who began to point out wrong moves from both former governors, making it almost a task for him to hold the house together.”

The source illustrated his view with former Governor Fashola and the cloud that surrounded his administration towards the end of his first tenure and haunted him in his second term, which he got by dint of public popularity that trounced and checkmated party counter-movements.

Fashola’s overwhelming popularity was not only trying for the party and bigwigs in the state at the time, it also led eventually to the creation of a strong tendency that has a representative in the current Deputy Governor, Dr. Babafemi Hamzat, The catch -22 situation, almost an ironical one, according to another reliable source, is that these, those who may be conveniently called ‘Tinubu Men’, are part and parcel of the system, politically and administratively, but yet always trying to fall out of line after getting the party ticket with ease.

ALSO READ: APC Hails Sanwo-Olu Over Plan To Abolish Pension For Ex-Govs

Fashola was a Chief of Staff to Governor Tinubu for eight years; immediate past governor, Akinwumi Ambode was a Chief Accountant of the state; Governor Sanwo-Olu graduated from being a Personal Assistant to ex-deputy governor, Femi Pedro, to being a Commissioner of Special Duties, just as the current deputy governor, who was a Commissioner for Science and Technology under Fashola’s tenure. Fashola, a thorough-bred Chief of Staff to Tinubu, was literally sprung from his purely administrative job to a political one as governorship candidate over and above many politically-tested candidates, who had vied for the position in 2007 and were almost sure of getting it. Ambode, his successor, was also said to “have jumped the line” of planned successors to become governor. And Sanwo-olu got “anointed”, in the heat of a party backlash against Ambode, with an accommodation to another strong tendency in the party, represented by the Deputy Governor, Hamzat.

“All of them are good party men until they taste the ultimate power of governorship and they begin to build on their networks. Asiwaju has learnt his lessons,” said a source.

Plan for 2023

Though Tinubu is said to have forgiven Sanwo-Olu, he is not leaving anything to chance and has worked out a plan for 2023. The plan is to groom a successor in the person of Tokunbo Abiru, who picked party ticket for the Lagos East Senatorial by-election and won. A banker by profession and still free of any tie by way of party alliance, he was sprung from the world of finance and plunged into a “four-year tutelage in politics which a tenure at the Senate would afford him,” said the source. By 2023, he would be ready in both ways, politics and finance to govern Lagos State. Though he participated in government briefly in 2011 to 2013 when he served as Commissioner for Finance during the dynamic administration of Fashola, he soon went back to the banking world at First Bank where he rose to become an Executive Director before joining Polaris Bank as Managing Director until his resignation on August 24, 2020 to contest the senatorial election on the platform of the APC. He replaced the late Senator Bayo Osinowo. Polaris Bank is allegedly owned by Tinubu.

Shifting Alliances

Giving the nature of the shifting alliances within the ruling party in the last decade despite the firm grip of the State Governing Council with the overarching dominance of the Jagaban Borgu, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, strong tendencies have been kept emerging in the party with the likelihood of several groups laying claims for control of power.

In the uncertainty created by #EndSARs protest, which brought unexpected mayhem on the economic nerve of the country, things may have to be kept in shape by forward planning and the ASIWAJU wants to remain in control by 2023.

It’s Not True – Lagos CPS

THEWILL tried to reach out to the Media Aide to Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, Mr Tunde Rahman, for his reactions but he was beyond reach. He did not respond to calls nor did he answer a message sent to his phone.

Gboyega Akosile
Gboyega Akosile, Chief Press Secretary to the Lagos State Governor

Gboyega Akosile, Chief Press Secretary to the Lagos State governor, however, thought nothing about the story. He told THEWILL that there was no iota of truth in the story.

“We can’t be talking about 2023 election now but the development of Lagos State, That is what the governor is concerned about. He is concerned about improving the living standard of Lagos people. That is also what the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is also concerned about,” Akosile said.

When reminded of the source of the trouble, he replied, “As far as I am concerned, the governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is a democrat. There is no meddling in the affairs of Lagos State by the National Leader of the APC. The relationship between them is that of a father and son relationship. As far as decisions are concerned, the governor is a democrat, so the governor could not have ruffled any feathers.”

GAC Backs Sanwo-Olu for Second Term

However, most APC leaders, especially those in the Governor Advisory Council, GAC, want him to go for a second term. This is because, Sanwo-Olu returned what former Governor Ambode took from them through the creation of Vision Scape to replace the Lagos Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, in sweeping of the streets in the state He restored the contract for the sweeping of streets through LAWMA to political leaders in the state. This has endeared him to the leaders. However, despite their support and their willingness for Sanwo-Olu to have a second term, they don’t want to come open now as they are watching the body language of their boss, Senator Ahmed Tinubu.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

In the past, Tinubu used to seek the advice of the GAC concerning the choice of governorship candidate. Will he seek their opinion on Sanwo-Olu’s second term? Nobody knows for now. If he consults them, Sanwo-Olu is as good as going for second term. It was learnt that it was their rejection of Ambode that led to his humiliation at the direct primary of the party where Sanwo-Olu defeated him in 2019.