Ahead of the 2019 general election, the governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, and his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, are at different stages of negotiation to try to get the support of the Igbo residing in the state, Akelicious can report.
While Sanwo-Olu has allegedly agreed to reward the Igbo with a position in the State Executive Council (SEC) and release N300 million for the purpose of mobilisation, Akelicious investigation revealed that Agbaje was still in talks with different Igbo groups and leaders in the state.
Multiple sources confirmed the quest of the two governorship candidates to Akelicious at the weekend, noting that Sanwo-Olu appointed the Publicity Secretary of Lagos APC, Mr. Joe Igbokwe “to coordinate Igbo leaders and residents to support him and other APC candidates in the state.”
An APC leader, who spoke with Akelicious in confidence, disclosed that the Igbo leaders had allegedly accepted the offer “to cede a cabinet position to an Igbo resident and N300 million as conditions to canvass support for the APC and its candidate in the March 2, 2019 governorship election.”
Following the sealing of the deal, the source revealed that Sanwo-Olu “had already agreed to release N100 million before Christmas with a promise to settle the remaining part before the end of January 2019.”
However, according to the source, some Igbo leaders, mainly the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) leaders, are dissatisfied with the offer because they were initially demanding N1 billion, among other conditions, to support the APC candidate in Lagos State.
Consequently, the source noted that Igbokwe “has lost ground as long as Igbo people in the state are concerned. For some Igbo leaders, they believe Igbokwe cheapened the Igbo with N300 million deal.”
Another competent source, who also craved anonymity, claimed that Agbaje had initiated talks with different Igbo groups and leaders in the state ahead of the March 2, 2019 governorship election. The source disclosed that majority of Igbo leaders were negotiating with the PDP candidate for a better deal, noting that the Igbo meetings with Agbaje, started since the last four weeks, are gaining momentum.
According to the source, most Igbo leaders are more comfortable with Agbaje for different reasons. First, they have strong affinity with the PDP. Second, they want a government that protects their interest better. Third, they did not like the way Lagos APC maltreated Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
However, the source noted that some influential Igbo leaders, like the former military governor of Imo and Lagos states, Rear Admiral Ndubisi Kalu, were not part of the meetings with the PDP candidate.
In telephone discussion with Akelicious yesterday, Igbokwe admitted that he was the one coordinating Igbo residents for APC and its governorship candidate in the state. He said he had been able “to secure Igbo support for Sanwo-Olu without any condition attached to it.”
Igbokwe, however, denied the claims that Sanwo-Olu had agreed to cede a cabinet position to an Igbo resident and release N300 million for the purpose of mobilising Igbo voters in support of the APC and all its candidates.
The APC state publicity secretary said, “It is not true that there is an agreement to give Igbo a commissionership slot if Sanwo-Olu wins the governorship election. Also, our decision is not based on any pecuniary gain or political patronage.
“However, all we are asking from the government and people of Lagos State is a deal to protect the interest of Igbo people and residents in the state. We are business people. Igbo people have huge investment in Lagos State, cutting across different sectors of the economy.
“We are grateful that the government and people have accommodated us over the years without rancour. Our support for Sanwo-Olu is a way to show appreciation to the government and people of the state.”