Lagos ‘golden boy’ becomes Buhari’s ‘Actualizer’

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI (R), CONGRATULATING MR BABATUNDE FASHOLA AFTER TAKING HIS OATH OF OFFICE

PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI (R), CONGRATULATING MR BABATUNDE FASHOLA AFTER TAKING HIS OATH OF OFFICE

ONE hundred and sixty six days after dropping the saddle as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nigeria’s richest state, Lagos, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), who would forever be remembered for the sobriquet, Eko oni baje, was yesterday recalled from rest to take up a higher responsibility for national assignment when President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated his cabinet and assigned portfolios to the ministers.
While social media leaks had skirted around the probable nomination of Fashola as Minister of Works or the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), no one, not even the ex-governor, would have won the bet on the president’s plans to assign three heavy portfolios. Alas, when the president unveiled the ministers and their portfolios, the former governor of Lagos got the lion’s share as he was given a combination of three ministries – namely power, works and housing.

Fash He joins the newly constituted cabinet on the strength of his antecedent with his above-average performance as Lagos helmsman. Former governor Bola Tinubu’s eight-year administration laid the groundwork of modern Lagos as has been rightly termed ‘The Navigator.’ Fashola came on board and did his spell as ‘The Actualizer’ to implement the development and policy thrust of his predecessor before Akinwunmi Ambode’s emergence, who is touted as ‘The Consolidator.’
Fashola, the ‘Actualizer’ must have earned the absolute trust of President Buhari for a few reasons, some of which shone brightly during the intense campaign for the general elections. Others were the way he carried himself brilliantly during his eight-year administration of Lagos, which made him far ahead of his peers and first among equals of the Governors’ Class of 2007 to 2015.
Before the president selected Fashola as a ministerial nominee, there was a lot of talk from some quarters that Buhari might drop him due to some powerful forces within the ruling All Progressives Congress APC working against his nomination. However, the president had other ideas. He had so much faith in Fashola. Moreover, Buhari saw Fashola as a disciplined man just like himself who was ready to work assiduously.

Fashola during his appearance at the Senate for Ministerial Screening

Fashola during his appearance at the Senate for Ministerial Screening

One of the qualities you can’t deny Fashola of is his high spirit of patriotism. The former governor has always showed his passion for the progress of Nigeria. He believes in the project of a prosperous Nigeria. He proved this sufficiently when he steered the ship of Lagos, and became the toast of other African countries and foreign investors across the world.
Next to his patriotism is the fact that Fashola is a workaholic. The new minister of power, works and housing is a person who never gets tired of whatever he sets his eyes to achieve. When he came in as governor of Lagos in 2007, he could count the number of grey in his hair. Today, the reverse is the case. Eight years of intense work has made his hair all grey.
The minister, who would be the cynosure of all eyes in the new cabinet, also has a soft spot for innovative ideas. And his signature and indelible marks are all over the state. From the boosted Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to the Lagos State Security Trust Fund, which assisted in reducing crime in the state; the restructuring of the once notorious Oshodi under bridge and beautification of some notorious hotspot are few examples.

L-R; New Ministers, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (Power, Works and Housing); Lai Mohammed(Information); James Ocholi, (State, Labour and Employment)and Alh. Abubakar Malami (Justice) taking the oath of Office as Federal Ministers

L-R; New Ministers, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (Power, Works and Housing); Lai Mohammed(Information); James Ocholi, (State, Labour and Employment)and Alh. Abubakar Malami (Justice) taking the oath of Office as Federal Ministers

For the poster boy of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Fashola has proved the saying to be true that the reward for hard work is more work. In a sense, he has had his short rest abruptly truncated to help deliver the change the ruling party promised Nigerians.
In August, when during the twists of an intra-party high-wired politics that was meant to dim his chances of being considered for a national call into the president’s team, he had replied his traducers, particularly the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) on the subject of the N78 million personal website that he was not looking for a job.
“I cannot conclude without responding to the crusade of CACOL and their ilk, seeking my prosecution on allegations that have no proof and writing “pre-emptive” letters to the Presidency. In case they are unaware, I am not looking for a job. I expect them to know that allegations of wrongdoing are not resolved without evidence, neither are they resolved in press conferences.

Readers are definitely Leaders

Readers are definitely Leaders

“I have served my state, and by extension, my country for twelve and half years and I did so with my heart. I am taking the rest that I believe I have earned. For those who still wish to remain in the mud, they should look in the mirror. For those who wish to throw mud at me, they should look at their own hands. As for me, I have moved on. My job is done.”
After taking the oath of office yesterday as Minister, the job is beginning afresh, on a national scale, where he is expected to drive the vision of the president.
All hopes are on Fashola to succeed. Some of the fangs he released at the Federal Government during the previous administration will now be used to measure his achievements in office. The Federal Government must live up to its responsibility to Lagos. Expectedly, he stole the show during the ministers’ screening at the Senate, Nigerians now expect him to steal the show with a sterling performance.

 

Lagos ‘golden boy’ becomes Buhari’s ‘Actualizer’

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The Emerging Colour Of Lagos Politics

By Tope Templer Olaiya

It is 40 days to the dawn of a new era in Lagos. On May 29, the Governor-elect, Akinwunmi Ambode, will be sworn into office as the next Lagos ‘Driver’ to pilot the affairs of the nation’s commercial nerve centre till 2019.
For the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), which has held the reins of power since the fourth Republic in 1999, things may never be the same again in the next dispensation beginning from next month. It was a long-drawn and hard-fought battle for the party since the day its top hierarchy projected Ambode to be the next occupant of Lagos House in Alausa.
From the thorny issue of preparing the grounds for the emergence of a Christian governor to satisfying agitators from the Lagos East Senatorial district, who were yet to be represented at the Lagos ‘Oval Office’ and finally managing the combustible reactions of losers, who had desperately eyed to be on the party’s ticket, it was not a 100-metres dash race.
If the APC thought they were nearing the finish line when against all odds, they shrugged off all internal schisms to sell Ambode’s candidacy to Lagosians, they sooner than expected woke up to the reality that there were many rivers to cross, with their main challenger, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), digging deep to present a formidable match in Jimi Kolawole Agbaje.

LAGOS HOUSE: Front view of the Governor's Office, Alausa

LAGOS HOUSE: Front view of the Governor’s Office, Alausa

Bola Tinubu’s eight-year administration laid the groundwork of modern Lagos as has been rightly termed ‘The Navigator.’ Governor Fashola came on board as ‘The Actualizer’ to implement the development and policy thrust of his predecessor before Ambode comes on stream as ‘The Consolidator.’
Though this was the first time the opposition PDP went into the election without much rifts, the party was for the fifth time unlucky. Many political observers, including leaders of leading political parties in the state have admitted that last week’s election was the fiercest in the history of governorship elections in the state since the return of democracy in 1999.
The campaigns leading to the elections were very tense and fear of violence gripped residents. This was further heightened a week to the elections when the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, threw away the garbs of decency in a hate speech to canvass support for his anointed candidate. He told some non-indegene visitors to his place to vote Ambode or be damned.
He had infamously threatened the Igbo and non-indigenes, who were showing much love for the PDP, to drown them in the lagoon if they fail to vote for Ambode, whom he has chosen.

Ambode (middle) discussing with close associates

Ambode (middle) discussing with close associates

The governor on Wednesday restated the obvious when he described the 2015 election campaigns as the most difficult he has ever participated in. Fashola, in his confession, said never has any political contest divided over 120,000 Lagos civil service than the 2015 general elections did.
The governor, who, however, thanked the workers for giving APC the edge, said it was time to close ranks and give the in-coming administration massive support. “I have been involved in four elections till date. In 2003, I was the Chief of Staff to Governor Bola Tinubu, 2007 and 2011 as candidate while 2015 as governor. But not in any of those elections have I seen a campaign that tried to divide our public service.
Last Monday, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) drew the curtains on the April 11 governorship and House of Assembly elections in Lagos, it was a subdued celebration that greeted the announcement of Ambode as the winner of the election, after polling 811,994 votes to defeat Agbaje who scored 659,788.
This has been the closest and tightest race so far between the two parties. And for the ruling party, it is an election result that is too close for comfort. They cannot sleep easy anymore from now till 2019. In 2003, the late Funsho Williams polled 700,000 votes as against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s 900,000 votes to secure his second term in office.
At the 2007 poll, outgoing governor, Babatunde Fashola, who scored over 800,000 votes, hedged out Musiliu Obanikoro, who was able to secure about 300,000. In 2011, Fashola dusted the PDP’s Ade Dosunmu with over a million votes polling 1,509,113 to 300,450.

From Right: Lagos APC Chairman, Henry Ajomale, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola and Pa Odunsi

From Right: Lagos APC Chairman, Henry Ajomale, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola and Pa Odunsi

For the first time since 1999, the ruling party will have to carry on its business of marrying politics and governance, while a keen opposition breathes down their neck. Out of the 40 House of Assembly seats, the PDP has claimed eight. When the Eighth Session of Assembly resumes on May 29, 2015, about half of the faces will be newcomers and some of them members of the opposition PDP.
The eight PDP lawmakers will change the complexion of the House that has in the last eight years been a one-party chamber. Besides the eight, 11 newcomers on the platform of the APC will also join 21 returnees for the coming Assembly that has already been touted to be more competitive and feisty along party line.
Composition of principal officers will be the first acid test. With the current Speaker of the House, Adeyemi Ikuforiji and Deputy Leader, Lola Akande voluntarily quitting the business of law making; Majority Leader, Dr. Ajibayo Adeyeye and Chief Whip, Dr. Rasak Balogun losing at the APC primaries; and the last principal officer standing, Deputy Speaker, Taiwo Kolawole, crashing at the polls last Saturday, the Assembly will be walking the tight rope of leadership battle.

Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and Jimi Agbaje

Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and Jimi Agbaje

Roll call of the PDP-lawmakers has Fatai Olatunji Oluwa, representing Ajeromi-Ifelodun I Constituency. Oluwa defeated the sitting Deputy Speaker and the longest serving member of the House, Taiwo Kolawole, who has represented the Ajegunle axis of the state in the last 16 years. In Ajeromi-Ifelodun II Constituency, Dayo Famakinwa of the PDP defeated the sitting APC lawmaker, AbdoulBaq Ladi Balogun.
For Surulere II Constituency, Mosunmola Sangodara-Rotimi of PDP won with 33,583 votes against 32,767 pooled by Abiodun Awobotu of the APC. Dipo Olorunrinu and Hakeem Bello, both of the PDP also clinched the tickets for Amuwo Odofin Constituencies I and II seats. Olorunrinu ousted incumbent Sultan Adeniji-Adele of the APC, while Bello also clinched the Amuwo Odofin II seat from sitting Ramota Akinola-Hassan of the APC.
In Oshodi/Isolo Constituency II, the Ndigbos in Ajao Estate and Ejigbo axis ensured that the PDP candidate, Emeka Idimogu, won with 27,423 votes after defeating Olayinka Ajomale, son of the Lagos APC Chairman, Henry Ajomale, at the polls. A PDP candidate also clinched one the constituencies in Ojo area of the state.
If the story of the Lagos 2015 elections will be told in years to come, one of the highlights would be the remarkable success of the non-indigenes in Lagos to make a loud statement about their future stake in the Centre of Excellence.
In one fell swoop, three non-Yoruba including two Ndigbos from the opposition PDP won elections into the House of Representatives from Lagos State. They are Chief Oghene Egboh, Mrs. Rita Orji and Mr. Tony Nwoolu. Egboh won the House of Representatives seat for Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, while Orji won in Ajeromi-Ifelodun LGA and Nwoolu won the Oshodi/Isolo Federal Constituency.

Governor-elect Akinwunmi Ambode and the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akinolu when the former paid the latter a courtesy visit after the election

Governor-elect Akinwunmi Ambode and the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akinolu when the former paid the latter a courtesy visit after the election

In the governorship election, PDP won in five out of 20 local government areas. They are Ojo, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Surulere, Amuwo-Odofin and Oshodi/Isolo. These places are suspected to be stronghold of non-indigenes in the state.
Remarkably, all three defeated incumbent holders of seats and they all won in areas heavily populated by the Igbo in Lagos State. The victory of the Igbo candidates in Lagos, according to some observers, is not a surprise as Igbo candidates have in the past won national elections in the state.
They cited the era of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), led by the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, when Igbo residing in Lagos won elections into the regional and central legislatures.
The Igbo may have fled Lagos in 1966-67 during the civil war but 2015 has proved the year of their resurgence in Lagos politics. Igbo, by sheer industry, has dominated street commerce in Lagos in the past few decades and as their businesses flourished, their numbers grew. The Igbos’ preferred trade apprenticeship system meant that as Igbo entrepreneurs grew they brought in family and friends from the east as apprentices.

Welcome to Lagos

Welcome to Lagos

Preoccupied with commerce, wary of politics, mindful of the war and their residency status, Igbos helped build and develop Lagos but played only at the fringes politically. The ambitious trader aspired to be the president of the market union or the Eze Ndigbo Lagos for vainglory, but that stereotype has been consigned to the dustbin of history, as a new Lagos emerges, where everyone has a stake.
Gradually, a score that the Nigerian Constitution has been unable to settle as it relates to citizenship and indigeneship is being addressed in light of modern day realities – a system in which citizens can live all their lives in a city, raise children, pay taxes, have constitutionally protected rights to vote and be voted for but are somehow not expected to occupy elective positions.
However, in the light of the 2015 experience, it remains to be seen if in the nearest future, politically ambitious “settlers” would not be looked at as ungrateful usurpers.

Fashola’s successor… Testing the water with debate on religion

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
The dress rehearsal for the battles ahead over who occupies Lagos State’s coveted governorship seat come May 29, 2015 is now in full swing.
So far, nothing has been spared by top and lowly rated performers to devote greater attention to details in the run-in to the gubernatorial election, and this includes non-verbal signs of serious and media-hyped aspirants like the nuances of facial expressions and body language, political and social affiliations, social media ratings, attendance at public functions, and visibility in mainstream media.
For the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the choice of a party flag bearer has been benchmarked on one score: Ability of aspirants to trace their genealogy to Lagos East senatorial district.
This zoning arrangement, which is alien to the APC or the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), is a deft move by party leaders to take the governorship round the three senatorial districts. Lagos West have had it for two terms of eight years with APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu from 1999 to 2007 before the baton was handed over to the incumbent governor, Babatunde Fashola, from Lagos Central, who is on the last lap of his eight years in office.
The zoning clause may not count much for some aspirants in the APC, who only need some high-profile endorsements to validate their claims of hailing from any of the three major strongholds in Lagos East – Ikorodu, Ibeju-Lekki, or Epe.

RelFurthermore, it is not a strange phenomenon for politicians in the state to cross-carpet from one senatorial district to the other without qualms.

For instance, Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji is currently representing Lagos West after his first term in the same capacity (office) representing Lagos East from 2007 to 2011.

But of great concern to Lagosians in the ongoing scheming and game of wits is the faint drumbeat from political gladiators, which is being given expression through religious ‘politricking’. It is the agitation for a Christian governor in 2015.

Waiting in the wings to benefit from this crusade (although not of his own making or that of his benefactor, who is a Moslem) is the state’s former Accountant-General, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, whose ‘dark horse’ entry into the race for Fashola’s successor got a massive lift with the recent endorsement by the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu.

This endorsement, which was viewed as too early by some political watchers, has elicited criticisms, which could end up as a distraction to the Ambode project.

However, Fashola unsurprisingly threw jabs at promoters of religious consideration for governorship campaign when he condemned the demand by some groups in the state that a Christian should be his successor in 2015, saying: “Do they really believe in God? It is only God that can insist.”

Ambode (middle) discussing with close associates

Ambode (middle) discussing with close associates

It is believed that Fashola expressed this sentiment while declaring open an inter-faith conference in Lagos, with the theme: ‘Peace, Religious Harmony and Good Governance: Issues and Challenges,’ because of his perceived leanings towards one of the aspirants and his Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Obafemi Kadiri Hamzat, a fellow Moslem.

According to Fashola: “People have said that they want one particular governor and I have asked myself two questions – the people who said that they want one particular governor or that there must be this other particular governor, are they still conscious that it is an election where a choice has to be made? If there are two democrats, they should expect that citizens must have a say in who is sworn-in as the governor of their state. Secondly, can you insist that you will be alive in the next one hour?”

The governor, who insisted that religion should not used to determine his successor, added: “Good governance means different things to people. For the majority, good governance is just food, the ability to get a job and provision of social amenities. For those people, the faith of the governor is never their problem.”

Currently, several Lagosians, aspirants inclusive, have made religion an issue in a cosmopolitan and pluralistic state like Lagos. Prominent among them is Senator Ganiyu Solomon, representing Lagos West at the National Assembly. For him, religion has never been an issue in Lagos politics and should be kept out of it.

“It is a very emotional and sensitive issue in view of what is going on in the country today. In this particular part of the country, we don’t discuss religion when it comes to governance. This is the first time some people are bringing it up and I can tell you that they are bringing it up because of their own selfish interests. I don’t want to go further,” he said.

Governor Fashola

Governor Fashola

An APC chieftain, Alhaji Ganiyu Oseni, while describing the attempts to infuse religion into politics as political shenanigans, tricks and manipulations said: “There is a clear cut difference between the church and the state. Can anybody go to Abia, Imo, Anambra, Rivers, Akwa Ibom or Cross River and say they want a Muslim candidate?

“Democracy is a government of the people by the people for the people. You can’t go to Zamfara, Katsina, Kano and Jigawa states and say you must have a Christian governor. I am very disturbed that people are bringing religion into politics. We may know the beginning of such issues, but nobody knows the end.

“Deep down in me, I don’t believe in imposition. The choice must be by the people. Lagos State is not a state of a particular religion, we have Muslims, Christians and other religious adherents in large number, but all we need is good leadership that will deliver dividends of democracy to the people.”

A Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart, who is also eyeing his party’s governorship ticket, said the issue of religion is a weapon that aspirants, who, on their own, cannot win election, are employing to gain advantage that they don’t deserve. He declared: “If you examine all the aspirants, who are using religion today, none of them has the political weight to make any meaningful impact on their own. Is it Ambode with no political relevance or Jimi Agbaje, who doesn’t know which party to join less than eight months to the general elections? The beauty of Lagos is its religious neutrality and it is in our common interest to protect that.”

LAGOS HOUSE: Front view of the Governor's Office, Alausa

LAGOS HOUSE: Front view of the Governor’s Office, Alausa

To sample people’s opinions on the matter, The Guardian took the debate to the streets of Lagos and the following was the response:

The time is ripe for a Christian governor

– Akinnibi Damilola Shina

Religion would influence the next election because it has suddenly come to the notice of everybody that majority of those in the present cabinet in the state are Muslims. Sensitization is ongoing about this and we Christians are ready to ensure we determine our fate.

The media should focus more on serious issues

– Idris Olakunle Bello

I am perturbed and disappointed that the press failed to address key issues. Growth and development of the state should be greater imperatives than question of religion. The press should stop misleading the electorate. We are wiser than the falsity of the pen.

It is politically wise for parties to pick a Christian candidate

– Olawale Oladejo

Although religion shouldn’t be a yardstick to determine who governs, but many people are clamouring for a Christian governor and to win public sentiment any serious minded political party will choose a Christian candidate and with such scenario, I believe religion will influence the choice of the next governor.

Lagos is a pluralistic state

– Akinyele Akinrujomu

Religion cannot and will not play any meaningful role. As a Christian, I know that the bulk of the people troubling Nigeria today profess to be Christians. Leadership is a calling, anybody that is called, chosen or elected should be allowed to lead and add value to governance. Lagos is a civilized and pluralistic state. Religion should not be allowed to cause division and disaffection in 2015.

We say no to godfathers

– Abdulhakeem Olanrewaju

We have both Christians and Muslims in government presently, what have they done? Nothing. Both adherents of the two religions in politics do not fear what their end will be. My opinion is that Godfatherism should be out of politics. Let us vote in a new party entirely that will govern not under the influence of some people. That’s all.

Religion will largely determine 2015 election

– Charles Iwenofu

Religion is something that can never be removed from politics of the under-developing nations, unlike the rest of the developed world. Religious forces will largely determine 2015 election, at least by 60 percent, while credibility of candidates will make up the remaining 40 percent.

Lagosians will vote for personality not religion

– Oshiobugie Ronald

Religion can’t play any significant role in Nigerian politics at the state level, though it has a way of influencing at the federal level. Lagosians vote personality and not on religious basis.

Religion should not be allowed to divide us

– Jamiu Abdullahi

My advice to Lagosians is that politics and politicians should not be allowed to divide us. There is hardly a family where you won’t find Christians and Muslims and they have coexisted peacefully.

Religion may end up breaking Nigeria

– Adetolu Abdulrazaq

That is the beginning of our problems in Nigeria. And if we don’t take religion out of it, we will end up breaking the country.

Those campaigning with religion are enemies of Lagos

– Asuni Ademola

Religion has never been part of Lagos politics. Those who are calling for religion are jokers and enemies of Lagos. Bringing religion into politics is a very dangerous thing.

Muslim governors are better

– Chuks Michael

Religion has nothing to do with good governance. Though I am a Christian but I see more development from most Muslim governors. I am not trying to prove others wrong but we Christians still act like unbelievers.

Religion should decide for equity sake

– Chiemeka Lloyd Agu

Yes, religion has to decide who becomes the next Lagos State governor because to the best of my knowledge, Lagos needs a Christian person as the next governor in 2015 for equity.

History will repeat itself

– Paul Yabugbe

It has happened before in Lagos when the late Michael Otedola of the NRC beat Dapo Sarumi of the SDP though SDP dominated the House of Assembly.

Religion will play a factor

– Adedoyin Adeleke Samuel

It would definitely; because that is just our mentality in Nigeria. If God says yes, no one can say no.

The game is played by the Muslims

– Iheanyi Wisdom

A Christian will hardly rule Lagos. That is the truth, just like a Muslim will never rule Abia State. Never.

Religion will play a big role

– Innocent Ani

Religion will play a big role come 2015 in Lagos. If APC wants to give the PDP a chance, let it field a Muslim candidate.

It does not determine success

– Sunmola Temitope Shogbesan

Whether it is a Christian or Muslim that rules, it doesn’t guarantee any success. Only God can lead us right. I pray God should give us the person that would have the interest of the masses at heart.

Religion should not matter

– Anthony Agbo Nath

Religion shouldn’t matter but the person who is capable of bringing development to the people. However, I have observed that Muslims can’t exist without being in power.

This debate is a distraction

– Akeem Faruq

The introduction of religion into Lagos politics is a wicked strategy to create an opportunity for a weakling to become governor. Lagosians have never been known to vote for a governor based on religion. I don’t believe religion can play any meaningful impact in the Lagos governorship elections.

Religion is a non-issue

– Banjo Julius

It should not but it may. For me religion is no longer an issue, but finding a leader who is more concerned about the people he leads.

The voters are now wiser

– Harrison Aduluwa

If the people’s wishes speak, I think Nigerians are getting wiser. But come to think of it, the Southwest never allowed such until Rauf’s unity school plan played up religion as a factor.

Rigging, not religion will decide 2015

– Nwagwu Kelechi

Religion won’t, but multiple taxation will. And just as they have been doing in the past, assassination and rigging would also decide the election.

Politics is a game where nothing is impossible

– Jephtah Omavueya

Politics in Nigeria is like football where nothing is impossible.

Crusader group reignites battle of the caucuses in Lagos APC

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

With the successful completion of the All Progressives Congress (APC) membership registration nationwide, though the total number of Nigerians captured during the recent exercise is still shrouded in secrecy, and the unveiling last week of the party’s roadmap, the stage is now set for the intense and fierce jostle for relevance ahead of its inaugural national convention billed for April 26.

   Since the conclusion of the merger of dominant opposition parties – Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) last year, management of the party at the ward, local government, state and national levels had been on an interim arrangement.

   In Lagos, one of the opposition’s legacy states, the emergence of a caucus group within the APC, named the Crusader Group, is drawing bad blood among party leaders and reigniting tension among existing caucuses in the defunct ACN, whose activities had before now been vetoed.

   In 2006, during the dying days of the Bola Tinubu’s administration, because of problems the factions were creating in the party, an attempt was made to collapse all the groups, such as Justice Forum, Mandate, Mega and Asiwaju Unity Forum to work for the success of incumbent governor, Babatunde Fashola, ahead of the 2007 elections.

   Since assuming office, Fashola has operated without the caucuses as much as possible, while trying to run a more efficient administration with less interference from politicians. However, the ambition of the Chief of Staff to Fashola, Mr. Mikhail Olanrewaju Babalola, to succeed his boss has been fingered as the force majeure behind this new group.

   Inside sources revealed to The Guardian that despite repeated denials, the brainbox of the Crusaders is the interim chairman of the APC in Lagos, Chief Henry Ajomale.

ImageFrom right: Interim chairman of Lagos APC, Chief Henry Ajomale; national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Governor Babatunde Fashola and a party chieftain at a recent function.

“The Babalola mandate was given to Ajomale to organize and in doing so, he formed the Crusader Group. This group was launched at his own base, Oshodi-Isolo constituency, last year and members were recruited across the other local government areas in the state. Several people in Justice Forum, where Ajomale belonged to, also moved en mass to Crusader,” the source informed.

   With this development, other groups are now at daggers drawn in the bid to resuscitate their activities. This scenario is, therefore, an irritant to the leadership of the party, as it is sending a wrong signal to other interests in the APC not from the defunct ACN.

   Reports say there have been clandestine meetings of party stalwarts coming from CPC and ANPP in recent times to ensure they have a voice in the APC once a new leadership structure replaces the present interim arrangement.

   “This is the latest challenge within the Lagos APC. Everybody is now meeting in groups and caucuses to start harmonizing their interests, which was ignited by the emergence of Crusader. Though we hear he has denied having anything to do with Crusader, plans are that he wants to push his son forward to run for House of Assembly in Isolo Constituency II,” another party source informed.

   Factions and caucuses in party politics have proved very useful for influential members to negotiate for positions within the party but in the APC’s history, which trailed its Alliance for Democracy (AD), Action Congress (AC) and ACN days, managing the avalanche of interests in the party has been thorny.

   The original faction between 1999 and 2003 was just Justice Forum. All other groups came after. In 2002, the leadership of the Justice Forum felt Tinubu was becoming too powerful and wanted to checkmate him by working against his second term. This was coupled with the intrigues playing out in the then Afenifere leadership.

   This made the governor on the advise of his loyalists and late Mama Mogaji to set up another group that served as Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organization (BATCO). This later metamorphosed into Mandate Group. From 2003 to 2007, Mandate Group was dominant organ in party politics.

   But in 2007, there was a change of guards. Though the Mandate spearheaded Fashola’s emergence, when he got into office, as a way of asserting himself, Fashola withered down the patronage and influence of the Mandate in government.

   At the end of Fashola’s first term, majority of the Justice Forum leadership had become closer to the governor and wanted to use him to upstage the Mandate Group. This was the basis of urging Fashola to go for second term without Asiwaju Tinubu’s consent.

   However, wise counsel prevailed and Commissioner for Works, Kadiri Hamzat’s father, Oba Olatunji Hamzat, was instrumental in mending the fence between Fashola and Tinubu.

   As founder of Justice Forum, he was reported to have told his members that: “it was someone who brought this man to us, we cannot go ahead and endorse him without asking what has happen between him and the person who brought him to us.”

   As a result, a rapprochement was reached between the governor and his godfather as the second ticket was given the green light.

Day ‘Owanbe’ shut down Lagos Island

By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor

It was lockout day in most parts of Lagos Island on Tuesday as three important celebrations paralyzed economic activities in the area.
On a normal weekday in Lagos Island’s commercial business district the place is always the hub of trading activities but Tuesday’s events namely, the Oba of Lagos 70th anniversary, installation of Mrs. Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, daughter of former governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu, as the new Iyaloja General of Nigeria and the 70th anniversary of Island Club combined to turn Obalende and Isale Eko into a holiday of some sort while celebrations rent the air at the Oba’s palace and the Island Club.
Even the absence of popular Lagos showstoppers, including father of the new Iyaloja-General, Bola Tinubu, Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, did not remove colour from the installation ceremony.
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Deserted Balogun Market, Lagos Island on Tuesday.

Whereas the Oba of Lagos, Oba Riliwanu Babatunde Akiolu 1, had, in the days preceding his 70th birthday, opted for low-key celebrations and appealed to associates and admirers including corporate organizations not to place advertisements for him in the media, the decision to include the installation of the new Iyaloja-General as part of his birthday’s activities made it a massive event.
Notwithstanding the monarch’s earlier directive that those who wish to honour him should direct the funds earmarked for such purpose to the Iga Idunganran Primary Healthcare Centre because the current atmosphere in the country does not call for any form of merriment but he was wrong.
After returning from the Palace Mosque by 10am, he was surprised to meet a mammoth crowd in colourful Aso Ebi with matching geles, who had besieged the palace to witness the Iyaloja General’s installation ceremony.
As it is customary with such celebrations, major markets in the state were expected to be grounded. So, it was a total shutdown of some sort as virtually all the markets in the Island and other parts of Lagos were closed down because the traders were mandated to head to the venue of the installation ceremony at the Oba’s palace.
At the ceremony, Oba Akiolu, who advised the new Iyaloja to be diligent and committed to the service of humanity, noted that the position was important to the development of market activities in Lagos and the country at large.
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Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Babatunde Akiolu (second left); the Iyaloja General of Nigeria, Mrs. Folasade Tinubu-Ojo (left); Oyetunde Ojo and Senator Oluremi Tinubu during the installation of the Iyaloja-General at the Oba’s palace in Lagos.

… Sambo, royal fathers celebrate Island Club’s 70th anniversary
As the euphoria which heralded the installation of Iyaloja General of Nigeria was dieing down and the sounds of talking drums and dancing were ebbing, policemen and protocol officials of the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, laid another siege on Obalende and Onikan as members and well wishers of Island Club besieged the area to receive the representative of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who is the grand patron of the club.
As usual, the roads leading to the club had been blocked to motorists. The chopper that brought the Vice President landed at about 3pm.
The grand occasion for the club was its 70th anniversary and foundation stone laying ceremony of a multi-storey car park.
According to the chairman of the Club, Prince Ademola Dada, the car park project would be beneficial, when completed, not only to members of the club but also to visitors to the island.
He declared: “Apart from providing this worthy civic service to the community, the car park would also generate employment for many people and bring revenue to the club.”
Vice President Namadi Sambo, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan at the event, extended the president’s congratulatory messages to the club and the Oba of Lagos. He spoke on the process of electing officers of the club, which he said was primarily based on service and what candidates are willing to offer to extend the frontiers of the premier social club.
Dignitaries who graced the occasion included the Obong of Calabar, Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu, Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, Amanyanabo of Nembe, Dr. Edmund Daukoru and Olugbo of Ugboland, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan, among others. They all danced to the melodious and sonorous music of the legendary music icon Chief Ebenezer Obey.
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Vice President Namadi Sambo (middle) investing the Amanyanabo of Nembe, Dr. Edmund Daukoru (right) as Vice Patron of Island Club as the club chairman, Prince Ademola Dada (left) looks on at the 70th anniversary of the club in Lagos… on Tuesday.

… how Tinubu-Ojo stepped into grandmother’s shoes
The installation of Folashade Tinubu-Ojo as Iyaloja General of Nigeria alongside Alhaja Bintu Tinubu, mother of Oando’s CEO, Mr. Wale Tinubu, as the Iyalode of Lagos, nailed the coffin of repeated denials from Lagos State government of All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftains that Mogaji’s granddaughter has been made the new Iyaloja-General.
Shortly after the death of Abibat Mogaji, the late President-General of Nigerian Market Men and Women, there was a rumour that Mogaji’s granddaughter has been made the new Iyaloja-General.
Succession to the position left by the late Mogaji was expected to be stormy, partly because Lagos is the commercial-nerve centre of the country and the intrigues within each market guild in different parts of Lagos is well known.
This may not be known to most people because the last Iyaloja-General held the market men and women in her grip for over 50 years and while in office, she successfully suppressed, schemed and manipulated the various guild of Lagos markets preparatory to the smooth take over of the post by her successor.
At her transition at 96 on June 15, the stage was set for intense lobbying by foremost market leaders to be in the chase for who succeeds Mama, as the late leader was fondly called.
Unknown to many that the succession arrangement had long been concluded and perfected, as the usual burial traditions were being observed and market men and women paid their last respects to the departed mama; and for three days markets were shut in the state as traders trooped out in Aso Ebi to the third and eight-day fidau prayers, those who were gearing up for the race to succeed mama got the shock of their lives when the rug was pulled off their feet barely a week after Mogaji’s demise and her grand daughter was announced even amid mourning that she was the new successor.
abibatu_mogaji1                                                                Late Abibat Mogaji

Nobody had expected that the coup would be executed so soon and at an inauspicious time, which was during the eight-day prayers for the former Iyaloja.
For the secret aspirers, their thinking was that, usually, when a market leader dies, it was customary to shutdown the market for a day in the neighbourhood where the deceased held the fort and vacuum was expected to last for at least 41 days after the final 40th day prayer must have been held.
They were of the opinion that the six weeks gap was enough time to play underground politics in all the market guilds and factions in the bid to garner support. But all these were not observed.
Sources informed The Guardian that Mogaji appointed her successor before she passed away. A market leader, the Iyaloja of Oyingbo Market, Basirat Balogun, said Folashade Tinubu-Ojo had been unofficially appointed to understudy Mama as the natural successor few years before her death. The first step to actualize this was Tinubu-Ojo’s appointment by Lagos State government as chairman of the state market board.
“Contrary to popular opinion that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu foisted his daughter as the Lagos market leader, it was a consensus agreement by market leaders of all the 57 local councils in the state, including the Babaloja of Lagos, Alhaji Wasiu Balogun to support her since she was the closest to mama in her dying years.”
Political watchers in the state would, however, found it difficult to believe that this arrangement never had the secret backing of Tinubu, who is revered in Lagos and popularly hailed as the Jagaban Borgu.
“What do you expect when market leaders in all the 57 LGAs and LCDAs have consented to Tinubu’s choice, there is little any opposition can do because the stronghold of grassroots mobilization, which is mainly market men and women, road transport workers and their union, and the local councils in Lagos is effectively controlled by Asiwaju,” a market leader said.

Mogaji… Farewell to an Amazon of the market

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An era ended on Saturday evening when the revered president of the market men and women and a strong pillar of progressive grassroots politics in Lagos State, Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji, breathed her last. She was aged 96.
The quest for an eco-friendly, economically viable, humanly habitable and hygienically welcoming market place has been the life battles of Alhaja Ashabi Abibatu Mogaji – the Amazon of the market place. Until her death on Saturday, she had dedicated a larger part of her adult life to protecting the rights of market men and women, mobilising them for greatness and innovation, and giving every market person a brand to associate with.
After taking tutelage and learning the ropes before taking the mantle of leadership from her mentor, late Madam Pelewura, Alhaja Mogaji threw her great weight into the battle to have a saner market place, where the rights of the market people are not trampled upon, and at the same time not in conflict with the rules of the state.
Under her leadership, Thursdays of every week was made compulsory sanitation day for market men and women. This is aside the daily advocacy campaign of her administration to enlighten the market folks on government policies like census, voting, climate change, immunization and other economically beneficial initiatives by the private sector.

Chief mourner, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (middle), flanked from the left by Oyo State governor, Ajumobi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun and wife, Oluremi Tinubu

Chief mourner, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (middle), flanked from the left by Oyo State governor, Ajumobi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun and wife, Oluremi Tinubu

Lagos market is a mixture of an elitist class who prefer the malls and the petty traders who prefer to haggle over price. It was no tough choice in 2009 when Lagos State government picked Mogaji to chair the state’s market board in its bid to efficiently administer the market system and bridge the elite-market women divide.
Various traditional rulers and interest groups honoured Mogaji in her lifetime with more than 10 titles across the nation. Some of such titles include President General, Association of Nigerian market women and men, Iya Adinni of Yaya Abatan Central Mosque, Ogba-Agege, Yeye Oba of Ikirun Land, Yeye Oba of Kweme Kingdom, Badagry, Yeye Oba of Osolu Kingdom, and Yeye Oba of Lagos among others.
In 2011, the late Iya Oloja of Nigeria was listed in 50@50, a catalogue of celebrated female achievers, ranging from professionals to business owners, community advocates, home-makers, political and everyday women, who in the course of their careers, charted worthy paths for others to follow.
Others in the exclusive list of 50 to mark Nigeria’s 50 years of independence include Grace Awani Alele-Williams, first Nigerian woman to earn a doctorate degree and first female Vice Chancellor of a Nigerian university; Agbani Darego, first black woman from an African country to be crowned the Miss World and Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche.
Smarting from massive loss of goods, properties and means of livelihood due to market fires, Mogaji led a campaign in recent years challenging insurance companies to bring their services closer to market women as part of the enlightenment campaign to popularise insurance among traders.
At a recent event, she advised insurers to toe the line of banks that in the wake of stiff competition opened shops in various markets across the country, which helped to inculcate banking habits in traders, who before then were storing their money in their homes.
Extolling her leadership virtues, chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area, Kehinde Bamigbetan, said: “Alhaja Mogaji made her mark as a deft manager of leadership in the market, which is one of the most complex arena of power struggle, particularly among guilds and the governmental regulators. She was not only the mother but also the coach of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in his foray into politics.”

Tinubu performing the dust-to-dust rite

Tinubu performing the dust-to-dust rite


‘Fond memories of my mother,’ Tinubu

Speaking to newsmen shortly after the interment, the former governor of Lagos State recalled some of the fond moments he spent with Alhaja Mogaji, saying that she inspired him greatly during his eight years reign as Governor of Lagos State
“I miss her lunch even when I am full. I am very happy that she is my mother. She is a very successful mother. She is a good leader. She didn’t put anyone in suffering before she departed from this world. She is so kind and the God was also kind to her. She is a good thinker, passionate and compassionate. She has left a very good legacy for everyone”.
He said he took solace in the fact that she impacted in all those she came across during her 96 glorious years on earth.
“She was the one who asked me to look at the face of three women who had the challenge of paying their children’s West African Examination Council (WAEC) fee, which touched me. It isn’t the amount of money I pulled out of my pocket but as a Governor then, I began to the policy of paying WAEC fee of pupils in Lagos state public schools. Those are the things that will fascinate anyone about my late mother”.
“She taught everyone she came across contentment, love and the act of sharing especially to the needy.
The former governor said there were many lessons women could learn from the life of Mogaji, saying that “as women leaders of the society, they have to continue to plan together, share issues, share discussions and look at the right direction. Commitment to the education of their children is the best weapon against poverty and ignorance. Once you get out of that, definitely the nation will benefit and progress.”

How my boss was kidnapped, by driver

BY TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA,
ASSISTANT LAGOS CITY EDITOR

Kehinde Bamigbetan at Bungalow, Jakande Estate during his tour of CDAs in Ejigbo LCDA on Monday evening

Kehinde Bamigbetan at Bungalow, Jakande Estate during his tour of CDAs in Ejigbo LCDA on Monday evening


THE middle-aged driver of Chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Authority (LCDA), Kehinde Bamigbetan, who was kidnapped on Monday night, Abiodun Olayiwola, said those who kidnapped his boss at about 11pm, were patiently waiting for his arrival at the junction to his street on Ona Iwa Mimo Street, Ori-Oke, Ejigbo.

He was with his driver in his black Ford Everest Jeep with special registration number KOK, without any police orderly, as the chairman was never known to use police escorts since assumption into office.

The suspected kidnappers made contact with the wife of the chairman, Fatima, a few hours after he was abducted, demanding $1 million dollars.

According to a source close to the family, while close associates of the chairman were consoling Fatima in the wee hours of the morning, “her phone rang and it was the chairman’s number calling her. Immediately she picked it up, she was told by a male voice that her husband was safe and would only be released to her if she cooperated with them by not informing the police.”

“Few minutes later, they called back with the same number that she should not attempt to play smart because their men are everywhere and that the ransom is $1 million.”

Bamigbetan's Jeep in the ditch

Bamigbetan’s Jeep in the ditch


According to the driver, who sustained minor injuries, the gunmen released several gunshots into the air to scare away residents before catching up with Bamigbetan.

“We were coming from Victoria Island on Monday night where we had gone to visit Hon. Dele Alake. From there, we went to Bourdillion to see the ACN national leader, Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu. When we left there, he said we should not pass through Third Mainland Bridge.”

He continued: “So, we went through Stadium, Ojuelegba to Agege Motor Road to Akowonjo, Egbeda and Ikotun. When we got to Ikotun, my boss got on the phone with a friend. Nobody followed us from Ikotun because I was always watching my rear mirror. We got to Ile-Epo bus-stop and I turned back towards Ori-Oke.”

“Even when we arrived Ona Iwa Mimo Street, there was no vehicle tailing us. Just a few metres to the chairman’s house, I saw a black saloon car, which I slowed down for and before I could know what was happening, the vehicle double-crossed me and they opened their doors and headed towards us.

“Immediately, I put on the jeep’s full light to blind them while I put the vehicle on reverse gear to escape but I accidentally hit a PHCN pole. On my next attempt to negotiate, I drove into a ditch. At that point they started shooting, at first into the air and later they directed the shot at the car.”

“A bullet entered through the bonnet to break the engine cover. It was at that point I ran out of the car into the darkness thinking the chairman would follow me. I left the car running just in case they were robbers, so they can make away with the vehicle.

“It was when I returned that I discovered my boss had been captured. They took his phone and laptop. It was only his shoes I saw on the floor. Throughout they never said a word, so I couldn’t know if they were Yorubas or Igbos,” he added.

Bamigbetan's dirver, Abiodun Olayiwola

Bamigbetan’s dirver, Abiodun Olayiwola


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The driver, fondly called Abbey, had been driving Bamigbetan since 2007. The council chairman had on Monday evening visited Bungalow in Jakande Estate for his ongoing tour of Community Development Associations (CDAs) before making a quick stopover at the secretariat. He eventually left his office around 8pm to head for Victoria Island.

He was on the phone with a friend (name withheld) when he was abducted. According to the friend, “we were deep in conversation for over 10 minutes when the communication started shaking and immediately I sensed something was wrong with the chairman. All I heard though were gunshots in the background and the chairman’s voice suddenly going silent.”

Continuing, his driver said: “Before I ran out, I saw him bend down to avoid being hit by the bullet and I whispered to him to get out that they would be blinded by the full light. But I didn’t know they were almost near the car. There was a young man they dropped from the car. The man told us that he had been abducted four days ago and was released at that spot after paying N500,000, but I was the one who said he should not be allowed to go.”

According to the young man in his 30s, who has since been detained at the Ejigbo police station, he was released at the spot by his captors after his family members paid a ransom of N500,000.

Bamigbetan's house at Ona Iwa Mimo street, Ori-Oke, Ejigbo, with members of Neighbourhood Watch and NSCDC on guard yesterday

Bamigbetan’s house at Ona Iwa Mimo street, Ori-Oke, Ejigbo, with members of Neighbourhood Watch and NSCDC on guard yesterday