The political intrigues shaping the governorship race in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State intensified yesterday as Governor Akinwunmi Ambode indicated that he would not go down without a fight, reaching out to the Presidency to intervene on his side as he battles the Mandate Group, the political machine of his godfather, Senator Bola Tinubu.
Assured of the support of Tinubu, who is also the party’s national leader, to run for a second term, Ambode had flown to Abuja on Monday morning to obtain the governorship nomination forms.
But by the evening of the same day, the tide had changed with two of his political siblings, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, found to have also obtained the nomination forms by proxy.
While Sanwo-Olu has the backing of the Mandate Group, the political machine that brought Ambode to power, Hamzat rides on the back of the Justice Group, which has the former governor, Babatunde Fashola, as its leading light.
The governor, who was said to have been perplexed by the development because he claimed he obtained the nomination forms after due consultation with the party’s national leader on Sunday, had his doubts, about the position of Tinubu, cleared when by yesterday afternoon, the chairmen of the 20 local government areas and 37 local council development areas (LCDAs) had appended their signatures to the nomination form of Sanwo-Olu.
THISDAY’s multiple sources said although Ambode was being prodded by some of his loyalists and friends who believed that having done his best to take care of the political and economic interests of his godfather, he had not been treated fairly, and should consequently fight back.
The embattled governor appeared to be listening to his close confidants who asked him to respond to the challenge to his return bid.
His strategy, said a reliable source close to the unfolding power game, is a mixture of diplomacy and war. First he would seek to persuade Tinubu to change his mind and support him. If that fails, he would fight, believing that he has enormous capacity to do maximum damage to the political fortunes of the APC in the state.
Consequently, THISDAY gathered that Ambode had contacted the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha, to intervene, the earlier involvement of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo having failed.
On the home front, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, is expected to lead a delegation of the Council of Traditional Rulers in the state to Tinubu’s Bourdillon residence today to plead the case of Ambode.
Meanwhile, Governor Ambode, yesterday said reports of a rift between him and national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, were untrue.
Ambode made the clarification in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna, in Lagos.
Both the social and traditional media have been awash with news of a major rift between Messrs Tinubu and Ambode over alleged disagreement on the second term bid of the governor.
Aruna quoted Ambode as telling party faithful in Epe during the election of delegates for the presidential primary election and national convention of the party that the reports indicating a fight between him and Mr Tinubu were out of place, and ”there was no fight anywhere.”
“I want you to know that there is no fight anywhere. The national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and my good self we are not in any fight, we are not in any controversy.
The governor commended leaders and party faithful who contributed to the success of the delegates’ election in Epe, saying APC remained the party to beat in Lagos and Nigeria.
“We have just concluded our delegates’ election in Epe local government and by consensus, we have picked our three delegates that will be going to the national convention come October 6 for the presidential direct primaries and the convention for all other people.