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The crisis over who becomes the next governor of Lagos State could drive a wedge between the presidency and some state governors on the one hand and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his loyalists on the other.
Tinubu is believed to have withdrawn support for Ambode’s re-election in favour of a former Commissioner of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu. The party leader however has been under intense pressure to have a change of heart.
The governors were said to have urged the presidency to prevail on Tinubu not to ridicule Ambode, whom they fondly refer to as ‘Governor General’. A cabal in Aso Rock, consisting mainly of northern elements, is also backing the same agenda.
On Tuesday, during a rally for Gboyega Oyetola (APC’s Osun State governorship aspirant in Saturday’s election), Buhari, some governors and party leaders pleaded with Tinubu and his close ally, Governor Rauf Aregbesola, to give Ambode a second chance.
Ambode meanwhile held talks with Buhari behind closed doors in Abuja yesterday. The Guardian learnt that the visit to the Presidential Villa might not be unconnected with the Governors Advisory Council (GAC) meeting held in Lagos on Wednesday.
Tinubu, in Osun, was said to have called for the meeting to seek the views of Lagos stakeholders on Ambode’s fate.
The incumbent reportedly sought to update the president on the latest developments, particularly the outcome of the GAC meeting. APC governors were in Abuja Wednesday night and had urged the president to intervene.
Sources within the party said Buhari is worried that the trouble in Lagos may affect his second term ambition, if the rift between both men is not resolved.
They noted that the president is concerned that the southwest region is key to his re-election, following his dwindling popularity in the southeast and south south, and the gale of defections to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the north.
They said the president is relying on the southwest. And if Lagos is allowed to drown in crisis, the ripples may affect other states in the region. Buhari hinged his argument on the premise that, since Ambode does not stand accused of lacklustre performance, his sins should be forgiven, they said.
The sources added that Buhari could invite all parties in the Lagos crisis including the powerful Mandate Group and some southwest APC leaders to Abuja next week, with a view to resolving the matter.
A member of the party in Lagos however insisted there is no going back on Sanwo-Olu’s ambition, unless Tinubu plans to self-destruct.
“It is political suicide for Tinubu to allow Ambode to go for a second term. This is because of the way the governor conducted himself and sidelined party members since he emerged,” he said. Sanwo-Olu is going ahead to attend the screening scheduled to hold in Abuja today, he said.
As at the time of filling this report, members of the Mandate Group maintained that Ambode’s exit is a done deal, stressing that under a democratic setting, a president lacks the powers to dictate who becomes governor in any state.
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