Both the Action Congress of Nigeria and the Peoples Democratic Party intensify the search for a possible successor to governor Babatunde Fashola in Lagos State
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Jul. 8, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
THE battle for 2015 is underway in Lagos, as the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, strategises to pick a successor to Babatunde Fashola, the two-term governor of the state. Many interested politicians are already poised to take over the exalted seat at the Centre of Excellence come 2015. Most of them have started scheming underground for their individual ambitions, as well as romancing with the chieftains of the party, most especially Bola Tinubu, national leader of the party.
Many factors will be considered in determining who flies the ACN flag in 2015. Some of them include, senatorial (zoning) balancing of equation, political influence and the godfatherism. Investigations by Realnews have revealed that most of the candidates who are scheming to succeed governor Fashola are loyalists of Tinubu. Some of the major contenders include Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Tunji Bello, commissioner for environment, Senator Gbenga Ashafa and Senator Ganiyu Solomon.
Others are Hakeem Muri Okunola, permanent secretary, Lagos State Lands Bureau, Toyin Hamsat, former commissioner for local government affairs, Gbolahan Lawal, commissioner for agriculture and cooperatives and Opeifa Kayode, commissioner for transport and the only loyalist of governor Fashola, in the race.
Political pundits are of the opinion that the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, with his antecedent and the fact that his senatorial district has not produced the governor of the state, may have an edge over other aspirants come 2015. However, some analysts are of the opinion that the ongoing case of misappropriation of public funds against him at the Lagos High Court is capable of truncating his yet-to-be declared ambition to rule Lagos. Apparently worried over the danger such development poses to his political career, Ikuforiji recently said that the allegation was politically motivated.
Another strong contender for Fashola’s job is Senator Gbenga Ashafa. A leader of the party who pleaded anonymity said while experience is in favour of Ganiyu Solomon, power shift policy favours Ashafa. He said that Tinubu represented Lagos West and Fashola is representing Lagos central. The political permutation, therefore, according to the ACN chieftain is that the Lagos East, where Ashafa hails from, has been crying of marginalisation, meaning that, he can be used to pacify the people of the zone in 2015.
Another source close to the party caucus, however, spoke about Solomon’s popularity as a former local government chairman, a one-term member of the House of Representatives as well as a three-term senator, representing the largest political space in the state. the source said it would be an uphill task to defeat such a man at the primaries
Another contender is Femi Gbajabiamila, a member of the House of Representatives. Even though people are looking towards his direction, political observers are of the opinion that he may end up picking the flag of the party like governor Fashola, who people then dismissed as a political underdog.
The quest to pick a likely successor of governor Fashola, is not restricted to the ACN. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is not left out. Its leadership has continued the search for credible candidates who can match the ACN in terms of performance and delivery of dividends of democracy. With the task of delivering the South-West handed over to the leadership of the zone by President Goodluck Jonathan, Lagos State is a must win battle ground for PDP
Those being touted in the PDP as strong contenders for the position include Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Ade Dosumu, who contested the governorship election in the state in 2011 and Owolabi Salis, a chieftain of the party. Political pundits believe that any of the three PDP chieftains mentioned can give the ACN a run for its money in 2015, because of their pedigree in the politics of Lagos State.
Despite the permutations by the political parties, political observers in the state believe that the 2015 governorship race will not be decided on the pages of newspapers, but by the calibre of the candidates fielded by the political parties as well as the perceived performance of the political parties. However, both the ACN and the PDP in the state are presently embroiled in internal crisis, which if not addressed, may hamper their performance during the elections. While the top echelon of the PDP is contending with the emergence of various factions within its fold, the ACN is striving to reconcile its members who have gone astray shortly after the conduct of the local council elections.