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Tinubu bent on Ambode as Fashola’s successor

By NONSO INEKWERE
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Former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is sticking to his preference for ex-Accountant General of the state, Akinwunmi Ambode, to succeed incumbent Governor Babatunde Fashola in spite of criticisms against the choice, Daily Independent has learnt.

But even then there are strong indications that the state chapter of the APC has agreed to conduct primaries to select its flag bearers for elective offices in the 2015 general elections.

Before now the belief in political circles in Lagos is that Tinubu is the king maker and that his choice of a candidate for an office is unquestionable.

The bulk of criticisms against his choice this time around though centre on claims by many party members that Ambode is not a Lagosian.

The criticism against Ambode's choice to succeed Fashola whose tenure lapses in May 2015 became more pronounced when Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, gave his blessings to Ambode for the plum job at a book launch earlier in the year.

But a competent chieftain of the party told Daily Independent in Lagos on Wednesday that Tinubu is unmoved by the criticisms and that he has instructed leaders of the party to continue working for the Ambode project.

The party chieftain believes that other aspirants for the position of the state Governor are “just trying their luck”.

“Asiwaju Tinubu has insisted that the right candidate to succeed Fashola is Ambode. He has instructed leaders of the party to carry on with the Ambode project. And I believe he will have his way at the end of the day.

“He didn't just arrive at his choice. It was borne out of a careful thought.

“He has proved himself to be a tested and trusted leader who has a great sense of foresight. Not many agree with him when he stuck with Fashola, the unlikeliest of aspirants in 2007.

“But what do we have today? Many are praising him for that singular decision.”

However, it was learnt that unlike in previous elections where aspirants were asked to step down for a favoured candidate, the party leadership has agreed on the need to have a primary where the flag bearer will eventually emerge.

Other notable aspirants who have indicated interest in the Governor's job come 2015 include incumbent Commissioner for Works, Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, former Commissioner for Health, Leke Pitan, Senator representing Lagos West, Ganiyu Solomon, Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and Tola Kasali among others.

And in spite of Tinubu's permutation, Hamzat, who is believed to be the choice of Fashola is leaving no stone unturned in realising his own ambition.

He recently opened his campaign office in Aromire Street in Ikeja while his posters have flooded major areas in the state.

But our source insisted: “Yes, I think the party leadership has agreed on the need to have a primary. Many people have emphasised the need to do things in a democratic way so as to prevent crisis within the party.

“The PDP members are watching
and they may capitalise on that.
“Many of the aspirants have said they will clinch the ticket if there is a free and fair primary and we want them to test their popularity.

“Failure to do so may polarise the party and may affect our chances of winning the election. We don't want to lose any of our supporters to the opposition.

“But one thing is certain: Tinubu will have his way even if the primary is conducted a hundred times.

“That is my personal opinion but every right thinking person in Lagos who understands the dynamics of politics knows that anywhere you turn, you will always meet Tinubu at the front.

“We understand Fashola is pushing for Hamzat's emergence. We can't underestimate Fashola's power as the sitting Governor.

“Many people have said he does not have a political structure but they should not forget that he is the one to release the money that whoever that emerges as the candidate of the party will use in prosecuting the election,” the source added

FROM
NONSO INEKWERE
ABUJA