Reports on the plot to stop Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of Lagos, in 2019 have been dismissed by stakeholders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state — but emerging signs show he is fighting for his political life.
Credible sources have informed TheCable that there is a threat to impeach Ambode if he does not drop his second term bid.
Over 50 council chairmen loyal to Bola Tinubu, his estranged godfather, have met and pledged their support to Jide Sanwonolu, who is believed to be Tinubu’s preferred choice, according to APC insiders.
The council chairmen are the most influential grassroots mobilisers under the direct primary system adopted by APC to pick governorship candidates.
Most members of the Lagos house of assembly are also loyal to Tinubu.
“Meeting is over. Ambode is out. Jide Sanwonolu is the new governor of Lagos. All 57 local government chairman have signed his form. It’s over,” the source said.
TheCable could not independently verify this claim.
On Monday, the governor, alongside some members of his cabinet, stormed the headquarters of the APC in Abuja to get expression of interest and nomination forms for his 2019 bid.
He later told some APC members that he was not tired and needed their support to continue in office beyond 2019.
“With your support, we have made Lagos a better place and changed the face of our state. I did not do it alone; we did it together, because you believed,” he had said.
“So, I humbly call you again, to give me your support as I seek to continue with your mandate to steer the affairs of our state. I ask you to believe again and together, let’s achieve more.”
However, Sanwonolu and Obafemi Hamzat, two prominent members of the APC in Lagos, also picked the nomination forms for the governorship election of 2019.
Sanwonolu, who served as a commissioner under Babatunde Fashola, Ambode’s predecessor, is currently the managing director of Lagos State Property Development Corporation (LSPDC).
He is being backed by Mandate Movement, a group fiercely loyal to Tinubu.
At a meeting held after Sanwonolu picked up his nomination form, James Odunmbaku, an ally of Tinubu known as “Baba Eto” in the political circle, said “Sanwololu is the incoming governor of Lagos.”
There have been reports of a rift between Tinubu and Ambode. When the APC leader canvassed for direct primary in Lagos, rumors were rife that Ambode was one of the targets but both men have carried on as if all is well.
Hamzat, a former commissioner in the state, is also eyeing Ambode’s seat, having failed to secure the party’s ticket in 2015.
Heavyweights of the ruling party had rallied round Ambode who defeated Hamzat and Olasupo Sasore, the choice of Fashola, to clinch the ticket of APC in 2015.
Asked to comment on the latest development in the state, Joe Igbokwe, publicity secretary of Lagos APC, told TheCable: “Do you know that Ambode picked his nomination form yesterday? That puts to rest the speculations you’ve been hearing for years. Ambode is the man. Take it.”
Tunde Rahman, spokesman of Tinubu, promised to get back to TheCable when he was contacted but had not done so as of the time this report was filed.
Abib Haruna, chief press secretary to Ambode, was not available for comments as his phone was out of reach.
The latest development is coming at a time when an APC faction led by Fouad Oki is plotting to stop the primaries for the 2019 elections which are to commence across the country on Wednesday.