Lagos APC and the Battle Within
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State is currently at a crossroads. In another four days, the local government councils elections are expected to take place, but the crisis rocking the party and the outcome of the elections would be a foreboding of what is coming in 2023. Lagos is no longer the same politically.
Lagos may be a lost cause for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Centre of Excellence may still be as pro-APC as ever, a situation which leaves the state at the continued mercy of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. What is obvious, however, is that the opposition to Tinubu’s overlordship is swelling within the party and gaining traction.
Whoever for a moment imagined that there were no factions in the party has another thing coming. The fact is that despite Tinubu’s best effort, there are growing discontents in the Lagos chapter. And the gladiators are waiting for the opportune moment to strike. The truth also is that Tinubu is fast losing grip of the politics in the state as many are more willing to challenge him frontally more than ever before.
For the past three years, the APC in the state has been in crisis. Led by Fouad Oki, opposition to Tinubu’s continued leadership is not a surprise. Now, the opposition is principally led by the Lagos4Lagos Movement.
The landscape has certainly changed as the political scene in the state heads into a critical period. The last few months have shown the state to be the most volatile on record as aspirants as well as candidates and their associates are attacked, mugged and even murdered. It saw young Lagosians revolting against imposition and the system. This may indeed be the premonition of things to come as the political scene continues to grow violent
For a desperate political leader trying to position himself for 2023, the outcome of the councils elections would put him in a position to bargain effectively. Yet, Tinubu vowed that he never imposed any favorite candidates on the party. The party primaries were never held and candidates emerged to the chagrin of the party members and delegates. While the primaries held, both the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy stayed away.
Panic shows itself in a lot of ways – none of them pretty. It is when reason gets shouted down and shown out of the room. It is when people quit being governed by what they know and instead, by what they fear. It is the situation in Lagos until a few months ago, when some young Lagosians stepped up to challenge the status quo.
Today, the nerves of the state is jangled by the continued overlordship and activities of Tinubu in the APC in Lagos State. In the midst of these is a sense of grievance in the ruling party in the state as another round of intra-party crisis is threatening to tear the state chapter of the party apart as over 6,000 members have been mobilised to challenge the political leadership of the APC national leader, Tinubu, in the state. Their aim: Enough is Enough.
Leading the battle is a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Princess Aderenle Adeniran-Ogunsanya and the convener, Lagos4Lagos Movement, Mr. Abdul Azzez Adediran.
Both Adediran and Ogunsanya at a meeting held with members from across 245 wards in Ikeja, the state capital, called on the Governor Mai Mala-Buni-led caretaker committee to sack the Lagos caretaker committee headed by Chief Tunde Balogun. They urged Buni to probe the committee over allegations of fraud. Ogunsanya and Adediran alleged that the leadership of the party deceived aspirants to pay N2 million for nomination forms for local government chairmanship and N550,000 for councillorship.
While passing a vote of no confidence on the Balogun-led caretaker committee, the duo called on the Buni-led committee to investigate what transpired at the Lagos local government primaries.
Ogunsanya is an unlikely agitator. But this soft spoken politician is a firebrand in the political field. While many have failed in the attempt to wrestle with Tinubu over the control of the political soul of the state, will she succeed? That’s the question.
A look at the APC today will make any observer understand part of what the current tussle for control of the party’s soul is all about. What you will see is a welter of desperate politicians trying to maintain the status quo and a leader that is strategically trying to position himself for 2023.
Sometimes, the best news is what never happens, but during a run-up to an election, all kinds of apocalyptic predictions surface. Yet, there is gloom in Lagos politics these days, and it does have a lot to do with oppression. For all his mercenary pitilessness on the political field, Tinubu achieved something. That a man can make the difference – good or bad.
But to Fouad Oki, a former factional chairman of the party in the state, “You (media) are part of those who continue to deceive APC leadership in Lagos State that they don’t have opposition. You continue to give the party a false sense of popularity. When you create a false sense of popularity, a false sense of there is no opposition, you are gradually pushing that person or that party into an obnoxious position that will help the kernel to burst and put it to death.”
He insisted that the PDP was a more and better organised party than “what we do in our contraption which we call APC and that is the truth. I also alluded to what you were saying in one of my interviews about five weeks ago, where I said APC will continue to win. APC will continue to win not because we are popular or the populace is satisfied with us but because there is no veritable, there is no robust opposition to what we do.”
Oki questioned the state of the party in the state. According to him, “It is nothing to write home about in Lagos, that is the state of our party. You know what the court frowns so much at? It is when you infract or violate your own rules, your own laws. Look at Article 20 of our party constitution, every letter in that article was violated in the so-called charade that was tagged as local government primary elections. It exposes us that we are nothing but people, who do not have respect or regard for the rule of law. It exposes the democratic credentials of the so-called tyrants and despots, who parade themselves as party leaders.
“You will recall that they have armstrong LASIEC, the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission. It has been armstrong from conducting local government elections until I cried out, telling LASIEC that I will approach the courts and force them to do that which is right. I cried out to say, listen, we see what is happening, you try it, we will go to court and you will pay dearly for it. And that is why overnight, they started the process.
“Before you know it, LASIEC now issued out notice of election to all the parties and the public and they started. I saw the charade coming. You now want to ask, did we as a tendency or group within the party participate? No, we did not. You now ask, why? We did not participate because you will recall that in 2018, we approached the court to interpret the status of the law vis-à-vis recognised local governments in Lagos State. So, we have told them that you cannot operate 20 Local Governments and 37 LCDAs in Lagos State, because it is illegal.
“It is on the basis of that, that we did not participate in the charade. But I have a responsibility and duty to draw attention of the party to those things that will make us lose faith, whatever that is left, it remains with the public, which we have done. We have shot ourselves on the leg. I don’t know where to turn to now, they have taken us back one century with the event of May 29th. And you all know, as we speak that the party does not have a list of candidates even in their charade and sham 57 LGs and LCDAs.”
Also, a Lagos-based group named Concerned APC Progressives, has petitioned the party’s National Caretaker Committee over the forthcoming local government elections in the state. The group alleged that it was unconstitutional to allow Balogun present candidates for local governments not recognised by the 1999 constitution.
The group in a petition signed by its chairman, Kabir Onalapo, and secretary, Olajide Olukogbe, said the constitution only recognised 20 local governments for the state and not 57, adding that allowing Balogun to present candidates for 57 local governments was a subversion of the provisions of the party’s constitution and capable of eroding the core values of the party.
The group, therefore, considered it expedient and imperative to bring the infractions to the knowledge of the party, because if left unattended, it could thwart the overall efforts of the national body in deepening democracy in Nigeria.
“If this is allowed without the party at the National level taking urgent steps to correct the anomaly, it might grievously affect and undermine the existence of the political party in the state”, the groupalleged.
It further stated that if LAISEC went ahead to conduct any local government election as stipulated forJuly 24, 2021, it would not only violate the core values of the party but also the section of the provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria, which recognises only 20 local government councils for Lagos State as against the much flaunted 57 local government councils.
The group reminded the APC Caretaker Committee Chairman and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni that, it would amount to travesty of justice and an act of impunity for the ruling political party at the national level, which usually acts in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution in all States of the federation to allow the political party in states to behave otherwise.
It urged the national body to prevail on the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to advise LAISEC to conduct election only in the constitutionally recognised 20 local government councils and desist from conducting election in the 57 local government councils to avoid national embarrassment for the party.
Overall, when you have a foot on the neck of your enemy, keep pressing. This adage sprang to mind when you look at the situation in Lagos politics and the stranglehold that Tinubu has over the state. But for how long will it continue?
With the February 2023 general election approaching and the leader and his people seem to be inhabiting alternate political universe; and after two decades in which one man has been dictating where the political pendulum swings, the people are determined to take up the gauntlet and decide who goes where, when and how.
Has Lagos, the true giant of Nigeria, woken up from its slumber?