Wednesday 15 October 2014

Lagos APC governorship race hots up - by Kazeem Ugbodaga

The race for the 2015 governorship election continues to gather momentum with aspirants, especially those in the All Progressives Congress, APC, strategising ahead of next month’s primaries. 

Many of the aspirants are putting finishing touches to their plans to be elected as the governorship candidate of the APC in Lagos. For Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, former Accountant-General in Lagos, contesting under the platform APC in next year’s governorship election to replace the incumbent, Governor Babatunde Fashola is key to repositioning Lagos and sustaining the gains already achieved.

In APC alone, a sizable number of aspirants kicked off their campaigns in a subtle way immediately after Governor Babatunde Fashola convincingly won re-election in April 26, 2011. Such aspirants include the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Commissioner for Works & Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat and former Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Tola Kasali.

Other aspirants are the Senate Minority Whip, Senator Ganiyu Solomon, Vice-Chairman of Senate Committee on Lands & Housing, Senator Gbenga Ashafa and former Commissioner for Health, Dr. Leke Pitan among others. But only last week, Ashafa, currently representing Lagos East senatorial district, stepped down from the race, citing the need to serve his people more at the National Assembly.

For Ambode, his ambition began after he resigned his appointment as the Accountant General of Lagos, even when he still had 12 years to go. With his endorsement early this year by the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, the former Accountant General’s name appears to be on the lips of many Lagosians as the likely successor to Fashola.

As the race for the 2015 elections hots up, Ambode has unveiled his vision to govern Lagos. He has since been marketing his goals, potentials and vision to 5.436 million registered voters in the state. He has been constructively engaging the APC leaders and delegates across the state.

In spite of the challenges he said he had been facing on the political field, Ambode recently told journalists that he remained convincingly unrelenting, networking with the youths in the metropolis and suburbs, reaching the elders across all the strata as well as connecting the masses with his vision, which he said, would definitely take the state to another level if given opportunity.

Ambode said he had toured all the administrative divisions in Lagos from Epe to Badagry, Ikeja, Ikorodu and Lagos Island, adding that he had reached out to all Local Government Areas (LGAs) and local council development areas (LCDAs), seeking their views and soliciting their support. From all indications, Ambode might have warmed himself into the minds of the elite and the masses alike after presenting them with his agenda for Lagos and telling them why they should join forces with him.

Recently, he unveiled his vision for Lagos at a leadership lecture series on Victoria Island, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, where he addressed thousands of youths. The lecture was organised by For the Future Nigeria (FTF), an affiliate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which provided ample opportunity to x-ray what he described as the pro-poor programme he had developed “to realise a Lagos of excellence.”

Ambode explained how he had tailored his programmes sector by sector and agenda by agenda to APC’s manifestoes. He said APC has developed an all-inclusive action plan to give all Nigerians the tools to get out of poverty and better their lives. He stated that the quest to take governance to the next level is why he wants to contest.

He stated that APC is an alternative to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He acknowledged the good works the previous administrations had done in the state since the tenure of Alhaji Lateef Jakande through the era of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his successor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, all of whom he said he had the opportunity to work with in his 27-year public service career.

Ambode disproved his critics who said he lacked requisite experience to govern a city state like Lagos. He said he had worked with seven governors, who he said, had sufficiently equipped him for the task of putting Lagos on a good pedestal for massive investments and sustainable growth. He added that his experience under different administrations had prepared him for the challenges ahead.

At a meeting with the people of Badagry recently, Ambode said he had envisioned an all-inclusive economy in Lagos, where public transportation would run 24 hours; security of lives and properties would always be guaranteed; environment cleaner and safer at all times; economic activities sleepless; and where the younger generation could pursue their aspirations with strength and vigour.

“I see a prosperous Lagos; a Lagos that is easily accessible, open to foreigners and Nigerians to pursue their potentials; a safe and clean environment; a Lagos that allows every person to achieve their potential; a Lagos that knows no gender, no race, no sex, no religion, no colouration; a Lagos that has connectivity and mobility; a 24-7 Lagos, a Lagos where the economy does not sleep at 8pm,” he said.

According to him, he had been consulting with critical stakeholders, community leaders, party chieftains, youth leaders and women leaders to harness their views on how to take Lagos from where Tinubu and Fashola have stopped to where everyone actually desires for the metropolis.

Ambode’s aspiration has indeed gotten public approval, especially from the state’s top political officers he had worked with in recent years. His record showed that he served the Fashola administration for about five and half years.

In a letter of commendation, which Fashola wrote him on 2 December, 2012, the governor saluted his courage. According to Fashola, “I write on behalf of the government and people of Lagos State to specially commend you for the high sense of dedication, selflessness, loyalty and integrity, which you have brought to bear during your public service career.”

Former Chairman of Conference 57, Abiodun Faleke said Ambode’s aspiration “is a product of providence.” Faleke, now representing Ikeja Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, acknowledged that there “are many aspirants, but we all decided to support Ambode voluntarily” citing his leadership qualities and passion for the masses.

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