New State Chair triggers crisis
A major political crisis has continued to fester between Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and one of his protégés, the Minister for Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, following deft moves to take control of political structures in the state.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Tinubu, has established his stranglehold over Lagos State and the party machinery after he completed a two-term of eight years as governor from 1999 to 2007.
Aregbesola had served for eight solid years under him as the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure.
Tinubu, popularly called the godfather of Lagos politics and Tutor-General of Nigerian politics, has continued to hold sway, dictating who becomes what in terms of political appointments and elective positions such as governor.
Aregbesola’s influence in Lagos on completion of his eight-year tenure as Governor of Osun State has continue to soar especially in his political base — Alimosho, APC’s stronghold which delivers the highest votes in the state.
It was learnt that Aregbesola had in recent times began subtle moves to build a formidable political base ahead of 2023 elections.
One of the bone of contention is the appointment of the State Organising Secretary of the party, Alhaji Abdullahi Enilolobo as the new Chairman by a group loyal to Aregbesola within the Mandate Group, the biggest and most powerful political group in the state.
Enilolobo, who is seen as the alter ego of Aregbesola, was appointed after a strategic meeting of the group held recently at the Ikeja GRA residence of the Minister of Interior.
It was gathered that the decision for Enilolobo to succeed Alhaji Ganiyu Badmos as the new Mandate Group helmsman was also endorsed by the Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Sikiru Adebayo Osinowo (a.k.a Pepper) his counterpart from the Lagos West Senatorial District, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (a.k.a Yayi) Chief of Staff to Governor Sanwo-Olu, Mr. Tayo Ayinde, Cardinal James Odunmbaku (a.k.a Baba Eto), among others.
The group is also touting Aregbesola as its “Grand Patron’’ while Cardinal Odunmbaku would serve as the “Apex Leader’’, a development which irked Tinubu, who said it was done behind him.
However, the crack within the Tinubu camp became manifest before June 8 Extraordinary Meeting of the Governors’ Advisory Council (GAC), where a communiqué was issued to ban all political groups in Lagos within the APC.
According to the communiqué, both the Mandate Group and the Justice Group were declared extinct, a tactical move by Tinubu to consolidate his hold on the state and cut to size the rising profile of Aregbesola.
Former governors Akinwunmi Ambode and Babatunde Raji Fashola were absent, according to sources.
The communiqué was signed by 27 party chieftains including Tinubu, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, the deputy governor, Tajudeen Oluyole Olusi, Henry Oladele Ajomale, Bushura Alebiosu, Abiodun Ogunleye, Murphy Adetoro, and James Odunmbaku.
Others are Tony Adefuye, S.A. Seriki, Olorunfunmi Bashorun, Rabiu Oluwa, M.A. Taiwo, Mutiu Lawal Are, Yomi Finnih, Muyiwa Sosanya, Tunde Samuel, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Rasak Lanre, Speaker Mudashiru Obasa, former party chairman, Mr Babatunde Balogun, ex-Commissioner Wale Edun, ex-Deputy Gov. Ranti Adebule and ex-Commissioner Kemi Nelson.
The communiqué read in part: “It was unequivocally resolved that all factions like JG and MG are inimical to party unity and are hereby permanently disbanded and prohibited within the party.
“Party members should no longer make use of these factions or their names with regard to future party business and activities. To continue to hold meetings in the name of these groups or to continue to promote such associations will amount to a violation of this resolution.
“The only permitted use of the names will be limited to historic references. Any violation of this decision is subject to party discipline, including suspension and expulsion. This prohibition extends solely to official party business. We are in no way trying to abridge anyone’s constitutional rights to free speech or assembly. The party chairman is hereby tasked with promulgating more detailed regulations with regard to prohibited and permissible activities for sub-party groupings.
“The party remains supreme. It has developed structures from the ward level to local government and state levels. These are recognized by the party’s constitution. They are adequate platforms for members to congregate and to present their views.
“The APC in Lagos is one party and one family. We must always act in this spirit if we are to attain the dream of democratic prosperity that we set out to achieve. We must do this in honor of June 12 and those who gave of themselves to make democracy our reality.”
Sources also said Tinubu is uncomfortable with the persistent attacks on his nephew and Governor of Osun State, Mr Gboyega Oyetola by Aregbesola’s men for “destroying’’ his legacies in the state.
Oyetola since he took office had reversed some policies of his predecessor.
“There is no way Tinubu would be comfortable with the persistent animosity brewed by Aregbesola and his boys against Governor Oyetola. It’s only distracting the governor, but also making it difficult for him to face the difficult task of governance”, the source said.
The filling of the vacant stool of the Oniru of Iru in Lagos at the weekend has also put Tinubu and Aregbesola on war path.
Prince Hakeem Ajasa, a former Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to Aregbesola, was billed to emerge as the 15th Oniru of Iruland but was thwarted by the group loyal to Tinubu.
Gov. Sanwo-Olu had at the weekend installed former Commissioner for Agriculture in the Ambode administration and Tinubu’s ex-ADC, Prince Gbolahan Lawal as the Oniru following his nomination which was endorsed by the Lagos State Executive Council and within 72 hours, he was installed.
Again, Tinubu’s overwhelming influence has saved the embattled Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa from being impeached over some weighty allegations of fraud and misappropriation.