Lagos 2019: Inside details of Ambode’s surrender

Buhari Ambode

Facts have emerged that pressure from the Presidency, prominent Yoruba monarchs and leaders as well as senior lawyers forced Lagos state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, to concede defeat after Tuesday’s All Progressives Congress, governorship primaries in the state.

Atop state official authorized to speak for the governor but who chose to be anonymous because of the political tension still gripping the state confirmed to Saturday Sun that indeed Mr. Ambode made calls to the Presidency and prominent Yoruba monarchs and leaders on Tuesday before backing out of the race. This was after he learnt that the Chairman of the APC governorship primaries, Mr. Clement Ebri, had capitulated and accepted the results of the primary election conducted by the state chapter of the party on Tuesday. “We are aware of the threat of impeachment but that won’t frighten the governor to accept an unjustified defeat because we know that Lagosians will revolt against any impeachment move”, the governor’s aide stated while down-playing the fact that Ambode buckled to starve off impeachment plot against him.

Saturday Sun gathered that despite the speed at which party leaders across the state was dumping the governor in the run-up to the governorship primaries to queue behind Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the preferred candidate of the APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he was emboldened to challenge the age-long power establishment in the state through words of encouragement from the Presidency and some notable Yoruba traditional rulers and leaders. Indeed, President Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, never hid their preference for Ambode’s second term and had put pressure on Tinubu to allow the governor re-contest. This remained their position until last Monday when Ambode addressed a world press conference, where he lost his cool, accusing his challenger in the race, Sanwo-Olu, of fraud and mental illness. This, presidency sources revealed, forced the Villa to soft-pedal on their support for him.

It was therefore a softened side of the presidency the governor got on Wednesday when he put a call through to update them about Clement Ebri’s volte-face. He was promptly advised to allow peace to reign by letting his estranged godfather have his way. Dazed but humbled by the advice from the seat of power, the governor decided to equally call a num- number of eminent Yoruba Obas and leaders to brief them about the advice from Abuja. They in turn prevailed on him to let go to save what is left of his political career and reputation.

Explaining what really transpired before the governor conceded defeat on Wednesday afternoon, the top government official said “I can confirm your information that the governor was indeed shocked to see the Clement Ebri committee announcing the result of an election they told the world never took place few hours earlier. Note that Mr. Ebri made the announcement at the airport while already on his way back to Abuja. As the chief security officer of the state who does not want a breakdown of law and order, the governor had to call the Presidency, where they advised him to back down. He thereafter called some prominent Yoruba Obas and leaders as well as some senior lawyers who have supported him and they equally advised him to let go in the interest of peace. But while speaking with the Presidency earlier, he promised them he will not dump APC because he believes he is still young with a lot of opportunities ahead of him.”

Multiple state officials close to the governor who spoke to Saturday Sun however warned that the party leadership has not won the battle yet. “They need to bring Sanwo-Olu to Ambode to smoothen their relationship so that the governor can present the candidate to the public, otherwise the party will be doomed at the polls because of protest votes”, one of the officials disclosed. Another Ambode’s aide said, “It is now left for Lagosians to take their destiny in their hands and decide the future of their state.”

The threat of protest votes was also confirmed by a factional chairman of APC in Lagos, Mr. Fouad Oki when he spoke to Saturday Sun on Thursday evening. According to him, “I despise cheating, I was not involved in the primaries, but the way the man (Ambode) was humiliated left, right and centre got me so concerned and deeply worried. It is not Ambode that you are humiliating, it is that institution you are desecrating; it is Lagos governor’s office. On this, I’m resolute and I’m determined and I have no other address than Lagos, I will take everything to fight for Lagos. They have broken the party into pieces and I will see how they mend it before February. A lot of them don’t understand the unfolding picture. The first election is that of President Buhari and after that, they will see what happens.”

The camp of the godfather is, however, not going to sleep after the sudden acceptance of defeat by the governor. One of Tinubu’s associates told Saturday Sun on Friday that, “we are not fooled by the decision of the governor to back down. We have to keep our gunpowder dry so that we are not taken unawares. We need to put the security agencies on alert, get our legal team ready and keep our eyes and ears wide open.” (The Sun)

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