2019: Pressure mounts on Ambode to drop re-election bid

Ex-Lagos PDP chair, Salvador, 6 others to screen APC aspirants
Sen Ashafa’s chances dim on account of romance with ‘Abuja Group’
By Charles Kumolu, Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
LAGOS — PRESSURE was, yesterday, mounting on the Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwnumi Ambode to drop out of the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship contest in the face of increasing differences between him and the grassroots of the party.

Akinwunmi Ambode
The development came as one of the major fallouts of the governorship race, in order to avoid what was described as imminent defeat at the primaries.

The governor, it was learned, had been approached by some party leaders to withdraw from the race in the face of increasing odds against his re-election bid.

This was on the heels of another failed attempt at getting the support of the National Leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Governor Ambode was in Osogbo, Osun, yesterday, for the APC’s state campaign rally ahead of this weekend’s governorship election.

The governor’s hope for a resuscitation of his second term bid had been on a meeting of party elders with President Muhammadu Buhari in Oshogbo yesterday.

It could not be confirmed that the meeting which was expected to have taken place on the sidelines of the meeting even took place. Calls to those who were in the know of it did not go through.

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Salvador, six others to screen aspirants

Also, a former chairman of the state chapter of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Moshood Salvador was named in a seven-man APC committee to screen more than 235 aspirants for the 40 House of Assembly slots.

Salvador had recently defected to the APC from the PDP.

Similarly, the re-election bid of the Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Senator Gbenga Ashafa failed to attract Tinubu’s blessing.

Party faithful asked to steer clear of Ambode

Vanguard reliably gathered that Tinubu, who was yet to publicly speak on the matter, had ruled out the prospects of accepting entreaties from Ambode’s camp.

It was further learned that most party faithful had been asked to steer clear of the governor’s re-election moves or be considered anti-Jide Sanwo-Olu, the aspirant presumably being backed by Tinubu.

Ashafa’s chances dim

While the grouse against Ambode is public knowledge, Ashafa, Vanguard learned, was accused of being close to the Abuja Group,—a group of top APC chieftains of South-West extraction believed not to be on the same page with Tinubu.

Sources revealed that the efforts of the ranking Senator at getting the blessing of the party’s National Leader failed, leaving him with little or no prospects of returning to the Senate on the strength of Tinubu.

However, his camp was hopeful that he would get re-elected considering what they described as his popularity and performance record.

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In what confirmed what had lately been described as Ambode’s dimming prospects, his name was not mentioned at a high-profile party event yesterday.

At the gathering which was convened to welcome defectors from the PDP led by Chief Remi Adiukwu, Tinubu, a former governor of the state, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, and Sanwo-Olu were praised by those who converged.

Adikwu defects to APC

Speaking at the event, chairman of the party, Alhaji Tunde Balogun said: “In our party, we have three loyal members aspiring to represent the party at next year’s governorship election in the state. This is not strange. It would strengthen internal democracy within the party. They all have legitimate rights to aspire for any position in the country including Lagos.

“We must allow people to aspire for any position but to many, it has become a big issue.

“Today, another big fish from the PDP has decided to dump the party for ours. It is a plus for us because just last Saturday, a former chairman of the party joined us with thousands of his supporters in Lagos State. That showed the status of the party in Lagos. People have come to trust us because we have programmes that are transforming Lagos.

“The progressives have been governing Lagos and developments have been witnessed across the state. With the rate of defection, PDP will be obliterated from Lagos completely. Within the last 48 hours, we have inaugurated seven different screening committees for aspirants aiming to become the party candidates.

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“I am happy that many that were in the camp of the progressives have started realising the importance of leaving the party for ours.

“They have realised the need to work with us in order to meet the challenges of a state like Lagos. This is a cosmopolitan city and they have realised that they needed to join us to achieve the aims of the state.

“We are ready to work together to ensure that the state achieves its dream. The coming of Mrs. Remi Adiukwu to the progressives is a plus for us. We will work together to ensure that the party wins all available posts in next year’s election.”

“The committee chairmen are, former chairman of PDP, Moshood Salvador; that is part of the integration exercise for those, who have defected to our party.

“They are meant to work for the party in all ramifications to achieve the goal of the state. Others are, Femi Pedro, Dr. Yomi Finnih, Dr. Jide Idris, and Wale Oshun. We have 230 aspirants aiming to become the party’s candidates in the 2019 polls.