There are strong signals that efforts of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State to pacify aggrieved members ahead of 2019 general elections are not yielding the desired result.
The Guardian learned that most of the aggrieved members are still upset, despite efforts to reconcile them.
Although Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has officially endorsed the chosen gubernatorial candidate, Mr. Babatunde Sanwo-Olu and his running mate, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, asserting that the duo would move the state to greater heights, APC still has a lot of homework to do to achieve a united house in the state.
For instance, at a recent meeting to reconcile members, held at Lagos House, Marina, with the governor as a member of the National Peace and Reconciliation Committee, there were still signs of disagreement among members.
Addressing reporters at the meeting, Ambode said there was no crisis in the state, and that there was no need for reconciliation. But a source privy to the closed-door meeting with party members, hinted that contrary to what the governor said some party members in the state were still aggrieved.
He explained that a member actually tried to express his grievances, but was quickly shouted down on grounds that the governor who was denied a second term had been pacified.
Also, at a meeting organised for Ambode’s loyalists and held at the governor’s campaign office in Ikeja (now Sanwo-Olu’s), all did not seem well.
The meeting was organised for Sanwo-Olu to meet Ambode’s loyalists, but many of them were still angry over the manner their boss was treated, especially when Sanwo-Olu didn’t show up for the meeting.
“We are not happy with this arrangement at all,” one of Ambode’s loyalists fumed. “Ambode would never do this to us. We have been here since morning only for him to call that he was not coming when it was already late. He shouldn’t worry; his deputy will deal with him very well.”
When asked what he meant by that, he retorted, “The deputy is smarter and will not condone any nonsense from him.”
Also, at the state secretariat, Alausa, The Guardian noticed that a number of Sanwo-Olu’s campaign banners had been destroyed.
This is an area that is predominantly APC, where opposition members ought to find it difficult to carry out such an act.
Furthermore, it was reported that “25, 000” APC party members defected to Accord Party (AP) last week, even as the party’s governorship candidate, Joseph Ola Beckly, stepped down for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Jimi Agbaje.
The general impression was that all is still not well in the house of APC in Lagos State, although the party is strongly denying it.
The state APC factional chairman, Mr. Fouad Oki said: “I don’t know anything about the reconciliation, I am just hearing about it for the first time. I don’t know what manner of reconciliation they are undertaking, if they refused to be holistic about it. There were some issues on ground before the primary elections, and until they do something about them, I don’t know what reconciliatory efforts are being put in place. Some people who were cheated felt deeply aggrieved even before the primaries. There are two factions of APC in Lagos, whether anyone likes it or not. So, how will you reconcile, if you don’t start from there? Trying to reconcile those that were aggrieved from the fallout of the primaries alone cannot work.”
Reacting to Governor Ambode’s statement that there were no more aggrieved members in the state, Oki declared: “If the governor said there was no need to meet in Lagos, it is unfortunate but I don’t believe so. I’m sure he wouldn’t have said that. Maybe what he meant was that they were making efforts to reconcile everybody, because he (Ambode) is also aggrieved. It was not correct for him to say he was no longer aggrieved. If in wanting to ensure that the party moves forward, he came out to say he is no more aggrieved, like he did at the stakeholders’ meeting, fine. Why are they deceiving themselves?”
Asked if he would support Sanwo-Olu and his group, Oki said he and his team would support all candidates fielded by the party.
He said: “I remain an APC member. I just returned from Iseyin for party activities. My faction is not fielding anyone, so whoever becomes the party candidate is our candidate. There are 40 candidates for the state’s House of Assembly, 24 at the federal constituencies, three at senatorial levels, one gubernatorial candidate and his deputy, one presidential candidate and his vice. So, as far as we are concerned, whoever emerges the party’s candidate is our candidate. We are supporting all the party candidates to enable them to emerge winners in the 2019 elections.”
An APC chieftain, Olawale Oshun told our correspondent that it would be wise for aggrieved members to shield their grievances and support the ruling party, as it would be risky to allow the opponent win.
He expressed optimism that the party would overcome its challenges and get all aggrieved members working for it ahead of 2019.
“It has always been a united family in Lagos APC, and nobody would deny that there had been difficulties in the party lately,” he explained. “But certainly in all political processes where you have a contest, there will be some difficulties. The party’s strength in Lagos State lies in dialoguing and smoothening rough edges. It has always been able to unite different factions and work for the party’s progress.
“Normally, during electoral processes, some people would be dissatisfied over the outcome, but what is important is that at the end of the day, every good party member realises that the party’s strength and performance depend on unity. It is better to be part of a cohesive unit and face the election together than be dispirited and allow people who don’t mean well to take over he stage.
“It is best for us to work together and defeat our opponents. It will be stupid for any member to give room for despondency and allow the opponent have the upper hand. That is why the reconciliation process is needed at this period.”
For the first time in five years, the 2019 budget would be presented the same year, making it the most delayed in recent years.
Ambode’s predecessor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola presented the 2015 budget of N489.69bn on November 25, 2014. Ambode presented his first full circle budget of N666bn for 2016 on December 17, 2015.
The presentation improved significantly the following year, as the 2017 budget of N813bn was tabled before the House of Assembly on November 29, 2016, while that of 2018, N1.04 trillion was presented on December 11, 2017.
Observers noted that the delay might be a reflection of struggling governance since the primaries. They said the vibrancy associated with the state has continued to wane since then.
Some sources also attributed the delay to the fallout of the primaries. In their views, although work on the 2019 budget had begun since June with consultations with relevant stakeholders and Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), it ran into some hitches during the build-up to the primaries.
The dust generated by the primaries was said to have slowed down the budgeting processes, owing to high-level mistrust in government, as some commissioners and cabinet members shirked their responsibilities.
The height of the politicking was the resignation from office, last month, of Ambode’s commissioner for energy and mineral resources, Mr. Wale Oluwo.
Oluwo, who cited the fallout of the party primaries and the use of a powerful group in the party to intimidate and harass government, said he was joining the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to fight his former party (APC).
However, Akinyemi Ashade, the commissioner for finance, said work on the 2019 budget was being concluded, and would soon be tabled for deliberations and approval by the State Executive Council.