The gale of endorsement blowing across the country, which has seen political party chieftains endorsing state governors and other public office holders to continue in office in 2019 hit Lagos West Senatorial zone on Friday March 9, 2018.
On that day, elders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from zone, cutting across religious and ethnic lines, converged on the Blue Hall of Lagos Television (LTV) to pass a vote of confidence on Governor Akinwumi Ambode and endorse him to go for a second term in office.
Led by Chief Rabiu Oluwa and other chieftains of the party in the zone, one by one, they endorsed Ambode, describing him as a working governor who must be allowed to consolidate on the good works he has started in the state.
According to Oluwa, the gathering is to celebrate the achievements of Ambode and endorse him for second term.
“What we have come here to do is not for political campaigns but to celebrate the achievements of a working governor and endorse him for another term.
“When Asiwaju Tinubu started the development strides in Lagos, we thought that was the end. Then came Fashola, and he did his best. And now we have Gov. Ambode and he is doing better and better by the day.
“Let us look at infrastructural developments in the state in Ikeja, Berger, Abule Egba, Lekki, in the area of electricity and others; we will see that the government has done very well.
“He has replicated the same in healthcare, education, sports and all the other sectors.
“Since the other senatorial zones have endorsed him for a second term, we feel, as the largest senatorial zone in the state, we should not be left out.
“We are proud of the governor and his achievements and that is why party members and those present today have asked the governor to carry on with his development strides,” he said.
Also speaking, Women leader, Chief Kemi Nelson, described Ambode as an achiever who had done a lot to raise the bar of governance in the state.
“Our governor has done a lot for the state and has done particularly well for women.
“Women in the state are satisfied with what he is doing and that is why we are here to ask him to go for another term,” she said.
Other prominent APC members and government officials present include the deputy governor, Alhaja Idiat Adebule; former deputy governor, Mrs. Sarah Sosan; state party chairman, Chief Henry Ajomale; Sen. Olamilekan Adeola, incumbent senator representing the zone and a former minister, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro.
According to Sosan, Ambode’s performance in office makes him a natural choice for second term.
“I am in support of Ambode for second term and I have no doubt that everyone is supporting our performing governor for a second term. “The governor has surpassed expectations. We are glad with what he is doing in Lagos and that is why we want him to have another term to do more”, she said.
Others dignitaries at the event include Sen. Ganiyu Solomon; Commissioner for Information and Strategy in the state, Mr. Kehinde Bamgbetan, and members of the state assembly including, Mr. Bisi Yusuf (Alimosho 1). Also in attendance were the party chairmen of the 28 councils in the senatorial zone.
In his speech, Chief Omolaja Odumbaku, deputy chairman of APC in the state also said the party is pleased with the performance of Ambode and it is endorsing him for another term on the basis of his handiwork.
Across ethnic lines
The firm belief in the achievements of Ambode spreads across ethnic and religious lines.
The different groups from the north, the south- east and the south- south all thronged the LTV premises to endorse the man they describe as “the working governor.”
Leading the south-east group is Mr. Sylvester Obi. He praised Ambode for the good works he is doing in the state.
According to him, “Governor Ambode has shown that he has the interest of the entire people of the state at heart. He has provided us with infrastructure to ease our business activities and that is why we support him for a second term in office.”
Alhaji Bamako, who led north central residents in the state, also praised the works of the governor, promising that the northern community in Lagos State would support the re-election of Ambode for a second term.
The south-south community was not left out. Like other groups, their endorsement of Ambode is predicated on his development strides in the state. “Some time ago one of our sisters said that when a man does not perform well he should be given an opportunity to repeat but we don’t believe that. Our support for governor Ambode is because he has done well. We want a second term for him so that he can consolidate on the good works he is doing”, the south-south group said.
While the rally was a gale of endorsement of “carry go” for Ambode, it was clear that the APC senatorial primary for Lagos West will be a though one when the time comes.
The people of the zone were divided on what would be the fate of Senator Adeola, the incumbent representative of the district in the upper chambers of the National Assembly come 2019.
Already two groups have emerged promoting different candidates ahead of the election. Supporters of Adeola who thronged the venue in branded T-shirts and fez-caps carried banners with inscription “No Vacancy in Lagos West, We Want You Back as Our Senator”; ‘No Vacancy in Lagos West’; ‘Lagos West is not Negotiable in the senate, Let Yayi Continue the Good Work’’.
The other group, which called itself the Patriot Group, loyal to Obanikoro, the former minister of state of Defence, who recently defected to the APC from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and who has indicated interest in the Lagos West seat in the senate also came in their own uniforms and carried banners with inscriptions of ‘Koro for Lagos West Senatorial Zone’
What was to be a peaceful rally of endorsement almost turned violent when the group loyal to Adeola clashed with the Obanikoro supporters.
The first signs of trouble emerged when Adeola arrived the venue few minutes after commencement of the event with a horde of supporters chanting his name.
Immediately he mounted the rostrum to address the gathering, backed by his supporters, the Patriot Group who were already seated jumped onto the podium with their own banners calling on Obanikoro to contest for the Lagos West seat. The mild commotion that followed saw the two groups trying to outdo one another. This caused a delay of the programme for about 45 minutes.
It took the intervention of party leaders and security agents to restore order and get the contending groups off the podium for the programme to continue.