There are strong indications that the Lagos State governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, might not make it as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the 2023 Lagos Governorship Poll as plot to drop the hardworking governor from the race gathers momentum.
Plot Against Sanwo-Olu’s Second Term
It is two full years to the next general elections in 2023 but the powers that be in Lagos are already plotting to see Governor Sanwo-Olu’s back. The boyish and dynamic governor is everywhere and on top of every incident that has dogged his administration, right from the very first few months of his inauguration when deadly pipeline fire broke out and ravaged Lagos communities in quick succession to the first index coronavirus case in Nigeria in March 2020 and then the destructive and disastrous #EndSARS protest at the Lekki toll gate on October, 2020.
Rather than get praised for his management skills so far adjudged to be above par and be supported for rising to every trying occasion with pinpoint precision and vigour, he is believed to be getting political mileage that may put him too far ahead of the crowd and then completely fall out of line and out of control if he got a second term.
Alleged ‘Sins’ Perhaps out of zeal or probably unintended, he took an action that was perceived to be avoidable and then put himself on the firing line. According to a dependable source, trouble started
for the governor when he queried the funds, or “interfered with”, as the source put it, a business organisation linked to Seyi Tinubu, son of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC National Leader and Sanwo-Olu’s godfather.
The said interference happened shortly before November 5, 2020, Lagos Central Senatorial by-election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Coming on the heels of an allegation of corruption petitioned to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against Alpha–Beta, AB, a tax management consultant by a former Managing Director of the organisation, Oladapo Apara, the governor’s query is said to have riled Tinubu, owner of AB.
Though the governor is said to have “apologised profusely when he learnt of his mistake,” Tinubu, in his usual conciliatory attitude towards his political disciples, was said to have forgiven the governor.
But the political strategist that he is, Asiwaju, according to the source, has begun, in characteristic style, to plan ahead.
Grooming a Successor
His immediate response was to start grooming a likely successor. Said the source: “Our godfather has learnt some hard lessons from the two former governors, Babatunde Raji Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode.
Don’t forget that Asiwaju had to battle many tendencies within the party to ensure both of them got the party ticket on a platter but sooner had they got it that he began to face a backlash from stalwarts who began to point out wrong moves from both former governors, making it almost a task for him to hold the house together.”
The source illustrated his view with former Governor Fashola and the cloud that surrounded his administration towards the end of his first tenure and haunted him in his second term, which he got by dint of public popularity that trounced and checkmated party counter-movements.
Fashola’s overwhelming popularity was not only trying for the party and bigwigs in the state at the time, it also led eventually to the creation of a strong tendency that has a representative in the current Deputy Governor, Dr. Babafemi Hamzat,
The catch -22 situation, almost an ironical one, according to another reliable source, is that these, those who may be conveniently called ‘Tinubu Men’, are part and parcel of the system, politically and administratively, but yet always trying to fall out of line after getting the party ticket with ease.
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Fashola was a Chief of Staff to Governor Tinubu for eight years; immediate past governor, Akinwumi Ambode was a Chief Accountant of the state; Governor Sanwo-Olu graduated from being a Personal Assistant to ex-deputy governor, Femi Pedro, to being a Commissioner of Special Duties, just as the current deputy governor, who was a Commissioner for Science and Technology under Fashola’s tenure.
Fashola, a thorough-bred Chief of Staff to Tinubu, was literally sprung from his purely administrative job to a political one as governorship candidate over and above many politically-tested candidates, who had vied for the position in 2007 and were almost sure of getting it. Ambode, his successor, was also said to “have jumped the line” of planned successors to become governor. And Sanwo-olu got “anointed”, in the heat of a party backlash against Ambode, with an accommodation to another strong tendency in the party, represented by the Deputy Governor, Hamzat.
“All of them are good party men until they taste the ultimate power of governorship and they begin to build on their networks. Asiwaju has learnt his lessons,” said a source.
Plan for 2023
Though Tinubu is said to have forgiven Sanwo-Olu, he is not leaving anything to chance and has worked out a plan for 2023. The plan is to groom a successor in the person of Tokunbo Abiru, who picked party ticket for the Lagos East Senatorial by-election and won.
A banker by profession and still free of any tie by way of party alliance, he was sprung from the world of finance and plunged into a “four-year tutelage in politics which a tenure at the Senate would afford him,” said the source. By 2023, he would be ready in both ways, politics and finance to govern Lagos State.
Though he participated in government briefly in 2011 to 2013 when he served as Commissioner for Finance during the dynamic administration of Fashola, he soon went back to the banking world at First Bank where he rose to become an Executive Director before joining Polaris Bank as Managing Director until his resignation on August 24, 2020 to contest the senatorial election on the platform of the APC. He replaced the late Senator Bayo Osinowo. Polaris Bank is allegedly owned by Tinubu.
Giving the nature of the shifting alliances within the ruling party in the last decade despite the firm grip of the State Governing Council with the overarching dominance of the Jagaban Borgu, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, strong tendencies have been kept emerging in the party with the likelihood of several groups laying claims for control of power.
In the uncertainty created by #EndSARs protest, which brought unexpected mayhem on the economic nerve of the country, things may have to be kept in shape by forward planning and the ASIWAJU wants to remain in control by 2023.