Facts emerged on Wednesday on how Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State is said to have incurred the wrath of some party elders and stakeholders in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
There have been speculations that the governor’s second term ambition is under threat owing to alleged crack in his relationship with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, his political benefactor.
It is also alleged that while the stakeholders believe that the governor is working, they claimed he has refused to give money to elders of the party, has failed to award contracts to party members, and that he has stopped some of the privileges party members get such as Hajj tickets, Sallah rams, Christmas gifts, and that he has embarked on building his own political structure, and so on.
Some even alleged that the demand by Tinubu during the last stakeholders meeting of the party on August 14 that the Lagos State chapter will go for direct primaries is targeted at the governor.
Speaking with Daily Independent on Wednesday, a founding member of the party said majority of the party’s stakeholders were unhappy with Ambode because they felt they contributed financially to his election in 2015 but that he had not repaid them in kind.
While denying that the governor had any rift with Tinubu, he said the party leaders first expressed their indignation at the governor’s alleged tightfistedness during a stakeholders’ meeting last year at the party secretariat where they accused him of not giving out money to those who contributed to his electoral success.
Speaking further, he said: “Many of the stakeholders perceived Ambode’s predecessor, Fashola, as a stingy fellow who concentrated his efforts on projects without taking care of party elders.
“They thought Ambode will be totally different but their expectations have been cut short.
“There was a meeting that was held last year at the party’s secretariat on Acme. The governor was in attendance as well as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. During the meeting, a couple of people who spoke actually expressed their feelings on the fact that the governor was not doling out money, especially to party leaders who contributed to his campaign in 2015.
“During that meeting, they gave the impression that ‘okay, we will wait for you in 2019 when we get to the election time’.
“It was a very stormy meeting. The stakeholders really spoke their minds that they will deal with the governor, but Asiwaju Bola Tinubu prevailed on them to be patient, that the issue will be amicably resolved and that he will talk to Ambode.
“But the personality of the governor is not the type that is moved by all those things. He is not somebody that does eye-service or succumbs to threat or intimidation.
“To him, he is doing the right things through various projects, improved security and the people are happy with him. To him, the fact that he is carrying out meaningful projects, the face of Lagos is changing and the world is seeing the great developments in the state is enough joy for him.
“He believes in the maxim of the greatest amount of good for the greatest number. He is a governor who is well groomed for leadership, a Fulbright scholar. He also believes that posterity will judge him after leaving office.
“But it didn’t go down well with the elders who believe they need to get their share regardless of whatever project they want to do. They believe that is why they are there as elders and you cannot be anything in Lagos politics without them. So, that has played on in the last one year and half.
“The G-7 has always been meeting with the governor but they are under so much pressure from people who claim the governor must sort them out financially before getting a second term.”
Our source also added that the allegations that the governor did not award contracts to party members was unfair.
He said the governor, as a thoroughbred professional, believes that certain projects should only be assigned to experts, though many of the party members benefitted from projects in their communities.
“The claim that the governor has refused to empower the party members through award of contracts is untrue.
“When the governor started the 114 roads projects in the 57 councils, many of these leaders benefited from the projects.
“But I think there are some critical projects in the state which can only be handled by professionals and as such he will not give out such projects to anyone based on party affiliations.”
Also speaking on the claim that the governor has stopped yearly benefits to members such as Hajj tickets, Christmas gifts, another source said the governor had not stopped the provisions though the quantity had greatly been reduced.
He said the governor took the decision owing to the lean resources, especially when the country went into recession in 2015.
“On the issue of Sallah gifts. Yes, he did actually. But it wasn’t that he stopped it totally. They still gave to some people but it is not general again as it used to be.
“Here in our place, we used to get like 400 rams but during the last Ileya festival, we got only 40. So, you expect those that used to get but didn’t get this around to be aggressive.”
Also speaking on the claim that the governor is trying to create his own political structures through the funding of political groups, our source said the governor could not stop people who believed in his good works from forming associations to canvass for his re-election.
“In election season, people will form different political groups for their own personal interests because they know through that means they can get some financial rewards from the governor.
“There is no way the governor can stop them since the constitution allows freedom of association. But that is not to imply that it is Ambode that is funding them to dislodge the political structures that brought him to power,” he said.
When Daily Independent contacted Alhaji Tunde Balogun, the Lagos State Chairman of APC, he denied knowledge of any rift between Ambode and Tinubu.
“I don’t know of any rift between them and I don’t think any exists, in the first place. The governor is working and Lagos APC is one united happy family,” he said.
His view was also shared by Prince Tajudeen Oluyole Olusi, a Second Republic federal lawmaker and Senatorial leader of Lagos Central Senatorial District. He accused the media of spreading rumours of a rift that didn’t exist.
“You journalists are fond of poking your nose into other people’s affairs. Lagos APC is united. There is no crisis of any sort in our party. We are happy here. Go and investigate PDP who has problems. Their state chairman just resigned to join our party,” he said.