-A parade of contenders who want to be Lagos governor
ASIWAJU Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), is certainly very influential in Lagos politics in particular and South West in general. It is therefore, not surprising to hear many aspirants claiming he had anointed them for one political post or the other. Of recent are the aspirants in the gubernatorial race in Lagos, where virtually all of them are claiming to be anointed by Tinubu. Did Tinubu actually anoint any of the aspirants or they are just using his name to boost their chances of clinching the ticket. ENCOMIUM Weekly takes a cursory look at all the aspirants and their relationship with Tinubu.
DR. OBAFEMI HAMZAT
Is the Commissioner of Works and Infrastructure in the state. Prior to this, he was Commissioner for Science and Technology in Tinubu’s second term and Fashola’s first term as governors of Lagos State.
Aside this, he is the son of Oba Olatunji Hamzat, an influential chieftain of APC in Lagos State, who is now a king in Ogun State.
The dramatic way Dr. Femi Hamzat became Commissioner of Works and Infrastructure in 2011 pointed to the fact that he was being positioned for a greater responsibility in 2015.
Prior to the inauguration of the cabinet in 2011, Dr. Hamzat was penciled down as Commissioner of Science and Technology. It was Engr. Ganiyu Johnson that was penciled down as Commissioner of Works and Infrastructure. It was right there at Bero Adeyemi Hall, Lagos Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, where the inauguration took place that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu collected the list from Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), and changed the name from Engr. Johnson to that of Dr. Hamzat as the substantive Commissioner of Works and Infrastructure.
Engr. Johnson was asked to retain his former position as the Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure, a position he had been holding since 2007. It was since then many started suspecting that Asiwaju was probably positioning Hamzat for the governorship seat in 2015.
So, when he started giving body language that he was eyeing the governorship seat, the rumours was that he was Tinubu’s anointed. Even his inclusion in the five name list submitted by Fashola to Tinubu as his likely successor was guided by this fact.
Fashola’s real interest is in Mr. Supo Sasore, Tokunbo Abiru and Ayo Gbeleyi, his nominees and clique in the cabinet.
RT. HON. SABIT ADEYEMI IKUFORIJI
The longest serving Speaker of Lagos House of Assembly. He became a member of the legislature in 2003 and became the Speaker in 2005. Twice after this, he has been successfully elected the Speaker. Hon. Ikuforiji is also very close to Asiwaju Tinubu, particularly since 2009, when it was obvious Governor Fashola wanted to be a man of himself. If not for the Assembly headed by Hon. Ikuforiji, Governor Fashola certainly would have been removed by his predecessor and benefactor, Asiwaju Tinubu.
Towards the 2011 elections when it was becoming obvious that Tinubu might not support Fashola’s second term bid, Hon. Ikuforij started positioning himself as his likely replacement. The impression then was that he had the backing of the godfather of Lagos politics, Tinubu. But that was not to be because eventually Tinubu succumbed to pressure and gave Fashola the second term ticket. But Ikuforiji had certainly not abandoned his ambition of occupying the Lagos House as the No. 1 citizen of the state.
Aside the fact that he is from Lagos East senatorial district, where many assumed the next governor would emerge, he still gave the impression that his ambition had the full support and approval of Ahmed Tinubu.
DR. MUIZ ADEYEMI BANIRE
He is currently the Interim National Legal Adviser of APC, the same position he held before ACN merged with the other parties. He was a member of Tinubu’s cabinet in his two terms as governor of Lagos and that of Governor Fashola in his first term.
He almost became a household name as Fashola’s successor in the build up to 2011 general elections when many thought Tinubu would not give his nod to Fashola’s second term bid.
No doubt, he is very close to Tinubu and Aregbesola, the two powerful people that control the party in Lagos and was said to be the anointed of Tinubu then.
Today, though he has decided to keep a low profile concerning his ambition to govern Lagos State, many still believe he is influential enough to still pull a surprise.
SENATOR GANIYU OLANREWAJU SOLOMON
A.k.a GOS, is the Senator representing Lagos West Senatorial District in the upper chamber of the National Assembly. He is serving his second term. Prior to this, he was a member of House of Representatives representing Mushin Federal Constituency from 2003 to 2007. He has aspired twice to be the governor of the state -2007 and 2011.
He is probably the only aspirant who has not dropped the name of Tinubu openly as his sponsor. Of course, this is not denying the fact that he is close to Tinubu.
SENATOR BAREHU GBENGA ASHAFA
The incumbent Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District in the upper chamber of the National Assembly. He is serving his first term. Prior to this, he was the Permanent Secretary, Lands Bureau in Lagos for several years. He was also the chairman of the Campaign Organisation of Governor Fashola in 2007 general elections.
No doubt too, he is very close to Tinubu. In fact, his joining the civil service after a brief stint in the private sector when he came back from abroad was influenced by Tinubu.
Many also believed that his being the beneficiary of the feud between Tinubu and Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, a consummate lawmaker and political analyst, speaks volume of his closeness to Tinubu. Though, he has not openly declared his gubernatorial ambition has the backing of Tinubu, many believe his body language is more than enough.
DR. BABATUNDE FOWLER
In fact, Tinubu had to amend the statutory entry age into the civil service in Lagos, from 35 to 50 to allow him join the service from the banking sector. This certainly shows that he can be conveniently referred to as Tinubu’s boy.
So, it is not surprising therefore, when his promoters came out to say he has been anointed by Tinubu as Fashola’s successor.
His promoters became very vociferous in recent times when the issue of a Christian as the next governor of Lagos became an issue. The impression now is that he is the choice of Tinubu as the next Christian governor of Lagos.
He is a medical doctor who was Commissioner of Health and Education during the two terms of Tinubu as governor of Lagos. He is very close to him because he has been representing him in many functions in recent times. But whether that closeness could be termed as Tinubu’s tacit support for his gubernatorial ambition is another kettle of fish. But he has not openly told anybody that Tinubu instructed him to aspire for the governorship slot.
MR. AKINWUNMI AMBODE
A former Accountant General/Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Finance in Lagos until his voluntary retirement in 2012, after 27 years in service. He was probably the first civil servant to resign from such a plum position when he still had many years left in the service. The impression was that Asiwaju Tinubu told him to do so because he was preparing him for greater responsibility.
When he left the service, he went to Harvard Kennedy School, of Government, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, where we learnt he studied one or two things about governance in his preparation for the greater responsibility.
Luckily for him, while abroad studying his wife of 18 years gave birth to a set of twins, a boy and a girl for the first time in their marriage.
With the clamour for a Christian governor in the state, he has been parading himself as Tinubu’s choice as the next governor in waiting.
Are all these aspirants actually anointed by Tinubu, the godfather of Lagos politics or they are just capitalizing on their closeness to him? Time will tell.
– TOLANI ABATTI