As expected, various political permutations dominate the public space as different political parties conduct their primaries, prelude to the general elections slated for Februaray,2015. Sad to note however, that many of these are characterized by sheer intrigues, horse-trading, blackmail, back stabbing and barefaced subterfuge. But while many of the pretenders to the various political posts behave like the parrot, making all the noise, a few wise ones have conducted their affairs, more like the eagle; soaring above the heated clouds of conspiracy from their arch rivals to clinch their party’s tickets.
Interestingly, Mr.Akinwunmi Ambode, the former Accountant General of the Centre of Excellence, Lagos State falls into the second category. Against all odds he emerged victorious on Thursday, December 4, 2014 to become the flag bearer of the All Progressive Congress, APC. In doing so, he beat 11 other aspirants with landslide votes of 3,735 to that of his closest rival, Dr. Kadiri Hamzat who got 1,201 votes. While mass jubilations and goodwill felicitations reverberated across the state on account of the popularity of the man who did his homework well, the likes of Ola Idowu writing in Sahara Reporters threw caution, decorum and circumspection to the dogs as he alleged imposition of Ambode on the other contenders by much-respected APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu whom he tactlessly and shamelessly referred to as “King Tinebuchadnezzar’.
Yet, this throws up some fundamental issues and burning questions. Was any of the contenders coerced to step down for Ambode? Was a level playing field not made available to others jostling for the same governorship seat? Was the process, which was aired live on some choice television and radio stations, not made open and transparent? Indeed, why did the other so called 11 ‘aggrieved’ governorship hopefuls attend the primary in the first instance, if they as much as suspected any foul play in the process? One only hopes that Idowu in his warped sense of judgment will provide answers to.
Said he: “The list of delegates to the election were not made known to other contestants except Ambode, neither was it a direct primary like was held in the old Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999 when Bola Tinubu narrowly defeated in controversial circumstances the late Funsho Williams. In 1999, the primaries were held across the different wards in the 20 Local Governments (LGAs) in the state, while in this indirect primary held on Thursday delegates were selected across the 20 LGAs and instructed on who the favoured candidate was hence the obvious selection of Ambode.”
A closer look and more analytical perspective of Idowu’s treatise connote a collective insult on the integrity of the delegates. For God’s sake, this is a democratic dispensation that provides adequate latitude for politicians to freely discharge their electoral franchise based on informed choices. If Tinubu was such an overriding influence on the delegates none of them would have voted for Hamzat, Solomon, Ikuforiji, Sashore, Pitan and Kasali amongst the lot.
To have alluded to the insinuation that Tinubu single- handedly foisted Ambode on the delegates while it was obvious that all of them expressed their choices in an open contest, witnessed by INEC officials is more like giving a dog bad name just to hang it. It also paints Tinubu in a bad light as an all-conquering overlord which is far from the reality on ground. That the list of delegates was made known only to Ambode is a tale by moonlight, meant to titillate the fancies of children, which the delegates are certainly not. And good enough, Ajomale the APC leader in Lagos state had distanced himself from the spurious text message which had gone viral on social media that he too had a preferred candidate.
Not done, Idowu, in his jaundiced and sensational essay devoid of facts went further to say this: “The fact that the political space has been shut against many qualified and valuable politicians is the alarming danger in it all. There is no genuine politics going on in Lagos state except an empire built for the purpose of one king alone which is Tinubu. Here is how it works, if you are a politician with genuine mass appeal or grass-root following you would never get the godfather’s approval. The scam is to talk about electing a technocrat as governor who would not focus on politics while in office, ensuring you have no political structure or machinery to deploy for your political ambition. By the third year in office, should you have performed and begin to have any political following, the godfather instigates the state House of Assembly against you with the threat of impeachment which makes you reach out to him to save you.”
Beyond attempting to demonize the Asiwaju, a tested and proven democrat, in and out of government Idowu’s spineless diatribe, it would surprise him that several of the other contenders were given a nod of approval when they made their intentions known to Tinubu. Ganiyu Solomon gave a hint of this in one of his numerous press interviews prelude to the primary. If Tinubu was that ‘jealous’ of their so called mass appeal at the grass roots he would not have told any of them to square up against Ambode.
It would be recalled that Tinubu was conspicuously absent at the primary just as he had at the book launch hosted by Ambode earlier on in the year where Oba Akiolu of Lagos state had openly endorsed his political ambition to be Gov. Fashola’s successor. He, Tinubu had also repeatedly stated that he was not rooting for any particular candidate. Now that they have lost gallantly, the onus lies with them to find out what Ambode did that they did not.
Furthermore, it would be surprising that given the widely acknowledged political sophistication of the South-West, nay Lagos leaders none of the ‘aggrieved contenders’ found his way to the court of law to question the selection of delegates across the 20 LGAs. They ought to have raised alarm that the delegates were mostly APC LGA and state party executives drawn from the 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs, state House of Assembly and National Assembly members representing the state. But none of them did.
To have attempted to raise any dust after the primary simply means such a person is crying over spilled milk, which no one can gather. Or better still, such an aggrieved politician is crying wolf where there is none, perhaps like a an attention-seeking baby, wanting some form of comfort or consolation.
One would admonish all the 11 who lost at the primary to swallow their pride, queue behind Ambode and devolve their energy and resources towards retaining Lagos state for the APC. It makes much more political sense. Senator Hillary Clinton did so for President Barack Obama.
Good enough, Idowu did admit to the inalienable fact that Tinubu has built an enduring political structure on ground here in Lagos. According to him: “The major bed-rock of APC in Lagos are the foot soldiers (both low-level, medium and high-level)”. But he got it wrong by saying that: “once you deny the middle and high-level foot soldiers a chance to be part of the success they’ve all worked for in the state or at least give them a level-playing field to play politics and pursue their ambitions, then whilst they may not decamp from the party having being there since 1999, they are not be compelled to work for the party at the polls.”
While there would naturally be feelings of personal loss on the part of some over ambitious contenders who lost at the primary, the thought of them working against APC is a remote consideration. With many of them having benefitted immensely in terms of elective posts as lawmakers or commissioners, working for the opposition party PDP does not come into the picture.
With the brilliant performance of the outgoing APC administration led by Barrister Babatunde Raji Fashola(SAN) in virtually all the sectors of the economy-from massive infrastructural development, transportation, education, skills acquisition, agriculture and environmental protection through an effective waste disposal system and job creation, few, if any right thinking aggrieved APC gubernatorial contender or voter would cast his vote for the crisis-riddled PDP in the state.
Electoral disputations arising from the conduct of the primary such as the one recently held in Lagos could be resolved in a mature manner devoid of internal acrimony. That would strengthen the party. Good to note that the APC in Lagos has put in place mechanisms for such resolutions.
It would therefore, interest Ola Idowu, that rather than adopt the ‘siddon look’ as he has canvassed for the losers , he and his deluded acolytes may be the ones left in fool’s paradise by the time Akinwunmi Ambode, the APC flag bearer emerges the clear winner come 2015. Saharareporters.com