With just few days to the governorship election, fear appears to have gripped the political followers of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State governor and national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), over what becomes the fate of the party and its candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in the coming poll.
Before now, many had thought the election would be a walkover for Sanwo-Olu as his main challenger, Jimi Agbaje of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was perceived as not showing seriousness in the contest owing to his mode of campaigns and following his alleged strained relationship with the party leadership in the state.
However, things assumed a different dimension in Lagos after the presidential and National Assembly elections when President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC defeated his main rival, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the PDP with a margin of 132,798 votes in Lagos even with the alleged disenfranchisement of opposition supporters.
According to the result declared by INEC, Buhari had 580,814 votes while Abubakar secured 448,016 votes.
Based on this, our correspondent gathered that some key leaders of the PDP believe that given the violence that marred the elections, especially in PDP strongholds, the party stood a chance of winning the governorship election if adequate security was provided and voters were not harassed or intimidated to vote for a candidate of their choice.
Speaking on the chances of the party, a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the party would take special interest in the governorship election in Lagos in order to protect its votes and ensure the party’s supporters were not intimidated by APC thugs.
He said: “Yes, we will be taking special interest in the election in Lagos State. Based on what transpired in the presidential election, we believe that Lagosians are tired of Tinubu’s yoke in Lagos and they don’t want his puppet, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
“Just look at what happened in the presidential election. They burnt voters’ votes in Okota when they noticed the people were voting for PDP.
“They snatched ballot boxes in Surulere, Oshodi-Isolo, Ajeromi-Ifelodun and other PDP strongholds.
“Sanwo-Olu and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo both lost in their polling units. At the end of the day, Buhari only defeated Atiku with a slim margin.
“If you notice, the ‘O to gee’ thing that happened in Kwara is already gaining momentum in Lagos. That is why they are in panic mode, intimidating and unleashing thugs on non-indigenes in the state so as to scare them from exercising their civic rights in the governorship election.
“We will mobilise to Lagos very soon to sensitise voters on the need for them to come and vote their choice.
“We are also appealing to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to ensure adequate security in PDP strongholds in the state so that what happened during the presidential election will not repeat itself again.”
Also speaking with our correspondent, a chieftain of the APC and one of Tinubu’s key loyalists, said from intelligence reports gathered, the leadership of the PDP, working with some disgruntled APC members, are ganging up to take over Lagos State from the APC.
“It goes without saying from the intelligence report we got, they are working very hard to capture Lagos but they can’t succeed.
“After losing the presidential election, they are very angry because they know the arrowhead of their defeat is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. So, they feel this is the time to take their pound of flesh on him.
“In their warped estimation, they think the way to do that is to ensure that they take Lagos State from his stranglehold.
“As far as I am concerned, all their efforts will fail because Lagos is for APC. But the truth is that they are ganging up,” he said.
However, the Lagos APC said it was not bothered about the development as the PDP would lose, no matter the amount of smear campaign or machinery they deploy to the state.
Abiodun Salami, the party’s Deputy Publicity Secretary, also said ‘O to gee’ movement can’t succeed in Lagos because the people know that APC is a truly progressive party which had the interest of the people at heart.
“We are not bothered about them. Even in 2015, when they had all the dollars, when they came to Lagos with all the treasuries, Lagosians said ‘No’, and they lost woefully. So, we are not bothered about them. They are only strengthening us the more.
“What is O to gee? O to gee can’t work in Lagos because we are the true progressives who put the interest of the people first.
“That is why APC will continue to win. No matter what they come up with, Lagosians will resist them. We are sure of that.”
Also on Sunday, Comrade Adeniyi Alimi Sulaiman, human rights activist and Convener, Save Lagos Group (SLG), said he had concluded arrangement to lead a million man march rally tagged “O to gee in Lagos”, which he would use to canvass for votes for opposition political parties in the forthcoming governorship race in the state.
He maintained that the awareness rally was imperative because Lagosians should “be free from an impostor who lords himself on the people of the state since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999”.
Adeniyi also asked the Lagos masses to take their destiny in their own hands by using their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) to vote out ineptitude party in the state.
According to the group, “The total liberation of Lagos State and her citizens must be a joint responsibility of all and sundry.”
It added: “Whenever we call out for ‘O to gee’ rally, every Lagosian who wants liberation of the state from the present demons should grace it.
“Lagos State must be liberated from the hand of the current political party.”