- The power tussle between the National Leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his godson, former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola appears to be further polarising the state chapter of the party, as the sack of Fashola’s men from agencies and parastatals by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has caused further rift, writes BABATUNDE BANGBOSE, Lagos.
Obviously, the long reign of peace in the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has been eroded. There is now tension and apprehension in the party. The smooth running of affairs of the party from ward to state level which had been emulated by other state chapters of the party is no longer the same as party members now live in fear , especially as the local government elections approaches by the day and the battle of the leaders appears may affect the party fortunes.
The conflict going on between the immediate past Governor of Lagos, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is affecting the unity of the party in Lagos, as stakeholders of the party, who were aides to Fashola are unhappy with the way the incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, has been revoking contracts awarded by the Fashola administration and sudden removal from positions in the state’s agencies.
Some of Fashola’s loyalists were recently quoted as arguing that it will be unfair for Tinubu to allow Ambode to revoke and sack some of those appointed to head state parastatals by Fashola when they are all party loyalists.
They argued further that the fact that they supported Fashola’s choice of successor did not warrant them to be sacked and as well did not mean that Fashola should be diminished by Ambode’s policies.
Nigerian Pilot Sunday gathered that the radical reformation of the civil service by Ambode is targeted at some top civil servants who benefitted from Fashola’s administration and who played key roles in how he managed resources without interference from Tinubu throughout the years he governed.
The strained relationship between Fashola and Tinubu began to grow when the former, in 2011, was to contest for second term while the latter was against it because of the fact that he identified that Fashola was going beyond his boundary as he was terminating some of the contracts, which were handled, by the companies and associates of Tinubu. But Fashola was able to re-contest in the 2011 governorship because of the interference of traditional rulers in the state who were bent on supporting him for the second term and prevailed on Tinubu to allow Fashola to seek re-election under the defunct ACN.
The battle between the duo further thickened when the party was preparing to select candidates of the defunct ACN for the local government election in the state, as Tinubu was bent on nominating and appointing all the council chairmen without the interference of Fashola.
The relationship continued to go sour until the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, intervened and the duo settled with a sharing formula, which at the end was favourable to Tinubu. With this, Tinubu was able to have in his control over 90 percent of the local government structure of the party as well as the party machineries at the state level by fixing his loyalists as council chairmen.
This did not augur as Fashola became stricter with local government finances, leading council chairmen to accusing of settling his score with Tinubu through them.
Fashola and Tinubu’s relationship deteriorated further when the tenure of the Council Chairmen expired in 2014. Tinubu was believed to have wanted the council chairmen to serve as caretaker chairmen so that he could use them to help his choice candidate at the party’s governorship primaries.
However, it was rumoured that Fashola insisted on appointing fresh hands as executive secretaries to manage the local government before the conduct of local government election because of his belief that the local government chairmen did not perform to his expectation and considering different misappropriation allegations levelled against them by the residents of the local councils.
Although, Fashola succeeded through the collaboration of some other party leaders like the National Legal Adviser of the party, Dr. Muiz Banire, who already had issues with Tinubu over the state congress, the major factor that caused their conflict was the battle for Fashola’s successor, which brought about the emergence of Ambode as Governor.
It would be recalled there was a clash over choice of candidate for the guber race between Fashola and Tinubu, as the former supported the then Commissioner of Works, Dr. Kadri Hamzat against Tinubu’s choice of Ambode. This conflict of interest nearly tore the party apart and gave the opposition party in the state, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP advantage, as some unsatisfied aspirants after the primary election, planned to pitch tent with the PDP.
Analysts however argued that the intrigues behind the successful emergence of Ambode as party’s standard-bearer remained strong factors that have prompted the policy character of the present administration.
In a phone chat with Nigerian Pilot Sunday by the Chief Press Secretary to Ambode, Habib Aruna, after revoking the Falomo Shopping Complex contract, he stated that the governor has the power and right to revoke any contract awarded by the immediate past Governor, stressing that the governor owes nobody any apology for the decision.
“Governor Ambode has the power and right to revoke any contract awarded by the immediate past administration and he owes nobody an apology for such a decision. Whoever feels he is being affected knows what to do,” said Aruna.
While speaking with this paper on the development in a phone chat, the Lagos State APC Spokesman, Joe Igbokwe, stated that the ongoing feud between Tinubu and Fashola has no effect on the unity of the party executives and stakeholders in Lagos.
Igbokwe stressed that there is no division in the party and that the unity of the party in the state is not negotiable. He also emphasised that the feud was a figment of some people’s imagination.
“There is no division among the party executives and major stakeholders in Lagos. It is a pure figment of imagination of those that are wishing us bad in the state. We remain one house in the state. The feud has nothing to do with our party unity,” said Igbokwe.
Also, the Lagos APC Legal Adviser, Barr. Ademola Sadiq, stated that the state executives do not play such politics, adding that the party executives cannot be divided because of the interpersonal conflict of the two leaders. Sadiq added that a divided executive cannot face and win elections as APC did, adding further that the executives are united and focused under the leadership of Otunba Henry Ajomale.
“Nothing can be farther from the truth. The State Executive members do not play such politics. The executive is united and focused under the leadership of Otunba Henry Ajomale,” “The logic is that if the state executive members are to be divided when individual leaders are in conflict you can imagine how many caucuses and divisions you would have in the executive. Such an executive cannot face and win elections as APC did. It is untrue,” said Sadiq.
Analysts have opined that the ongoing feud between Tinubu and his erstwhile political godson would continue to generate heat in the state, as the party stakeholders would continue to pitch tent with any of their preferred leader in the party, most especially if Fashola is given an appoint at the federal level by President Muhammadu Buhari.