High level intrigues for political ascendancy in Lagos State ended abruptly yesterday after somersaults by the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship election panel.
The Lagos APC primary panel’s recognition of the result of the direct primary which threw up Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the governorship candidate of the party was within hours recognised by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who became the first governor of the Fourth Republic in the state to be denied a second term by his party.
Ambode’s concession immediately cooled tension in the state. There were, however, doubts if the outgoing governor would be accorded the soft landing that had earlier been reportedly packaged for him by the political establishment in the state.
The political leader of the state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was meanwhile holding court in his Bourdillion Road residence as he plotted how to navigate around the fallouts from the governorship spats with Ambode.
The resolution of the crisis followed the stalemate earlier on Tuesday when the chairman of the panel sent by the national leadership of the party, Mr. Clement Ebri ruled that the primary conducted on Tuesday was illegal.
He had said that fresh primary would be conducted throughout the state yesterday. However, early yesterday, Mr. Ebri, a former governor of Cross River State, in a volte face signed the results that the chairman of the state chapter of the party, Alhaji Tunde Balogun had earlier presented to him.
Vanguard gathered that unprecedented pressure was brought on Ebri including on both sides. It was gathered that Ebri collapsed after it became clear that irrespective of his effort the national leadership would overrule him, and with it, expose him to ridicule.
“The chairman was brought to the point of tears because of the pressure,” a source privy to the development said. Ebri did not answer phone calls to his mobile phone yesterday.
Early yesterday morning, Balogun brought the results to Ebri and the chairman signed the same results he had claimed were irregularly processed. The somersault was surprising to many given the hard stance of the committee which it was gathered had insisted on supervising the election of Tuesday in all 245 wards in the state.
The committee, Vanguard gathered was stiffly resisted by the state executive which said that it was only in Lagos to collate results and that the panel did not have the capacity to monitor the election in all the wards.
It was in the midst of the stand-off that overtures were made to the national chairman who, first through coded language at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday evening, said that the process would be concluded to the letter. However, as Ebri and his panel stood their position, it was gathered that Oshiomhole was compelled to reach out to Ebri to define the terms of his engagement in Lagos. “Oshiomhole between midnight and morning called Ebri to define the terms of his engagement,” a source revealed. It was learnt that Lagos chieftains of the party sent a video of the voting process to Oshiomhole and the national party chairman after watching the video queried the panel chairman for not monitoring the voting.
It was further learnt that it was at this point that Oshiomhole ordered the panel chairman to authenticate the result of the primary already announced by the state party chairman. The effect of the call to Ebri was that he was made to realise that he was on his own, a panel member told Vanguard. Even more, the revelation that the panel abandoned the hotel provided for them by the party for the Protea Hotel, Alausa also put its role in Lagos in question.
So, by early morning yesterday the panel had come under serious pressure as to its neutrality, despite his strong stance the previous night that he was going to conduct a fresh primary, the panel chairman called Balogun, the state chairman to bring the result sheet which he then signed.
Mr. Ebri did not say why he changed his mind over the 12-hour period but Oshiomhole was reported to have said Mr Ebri’s panel was sent to Lagos to collate results and not actually conduct the exercise, which took place in 245 wards across the state. A few hours later, Ebri flanked by some members of the panel read out the results.
Sanwo-Olu polled 970,851 votes while Ambode polled 72,901 votes. Read more