If Governor Akinwunmi Ambode finally scales the hurdles before his second term bid, it is unclear if his deputy, Dr. Idiat Adebule will get the nod of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State to run with him. MURITALA AYINLA examines the factors that will determine the emergence of the governor’s running mate
As preparation for the 2019 general elections gear up, the political atmosphere is becoming more interesting by the day. From the gale of defections that have rocked the leading political parties – All Progressive Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it is a season of betrayal among political stalwarts, gladiators and even powerbrokers thereby confirming the belief in some quarters that in politics, personal interest is more germane than bond of friendship.
Across the country, people are watching out as the drama keeps unfolding over who gets what, how and when even as political gladiators are already dumping their friends and even relatives for hitherto political foes. Some are also abandoning their parties and ideologies (if any) as well for new ones considered a safe heavens and where their interests could be protected, all in the struggle for power and relevance in the coming general elections.
While some outgoing governors are busy struggling to head to the Senate, others are battling to install their cronies as their successors just as some senators who have not tasted executive powers are scheming to govern their respective states. The struggle for power is fast turning friends into enemies and aged-long foes to the best allies when their interest clashes or conforms.
In Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, the story is not different even with the perceived dearth of “serious” opposition parties in the state. If power of incumbency counts in the state, as it has always, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode may be elected for a second term, but the questions on the lips of most Lagosians is: Will his deputy, Dr Idiat Adebule, also be his running mate for a second term?
With the speculated opposition of APC leaders in the state, including the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to Ambode’s second term bid, which many said was responsible why the governor had to wait till the last minutes to publicly declare his interest, it is believed that if the move to stop the governor from running for a second term fails, his deputy may be the sacrificial lamb irrespective of her loyalty to the powers that be.
This, according to political pundits, explains why Ambode’s successors, especially Mr. Babatunde Fashola, failed in having his loyal deputy, Princess Sarah Sosan, emerge as his running mate for a second term. The analysts opined that the likelihood of Ambode having a say on who flies the party’s flag with him is very slim.
It was also argued that if Tinubu, the political godfather who holds the state party structure could have about three deputies – Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor (1999-2002), Femi Pedro (2002-2007), Abiodun Ogunleye (2007) in his eight year term, there is no way Ambode will be allowed to have one person as deputy throughout his two terms.
Besides this, factors such as religion, gender, political consideration and performance are likely to shape the emergence of his running mate and those already on the cards include Adebule, Uzamat Akinbinle-Yusuff, Giwanson Aramide and Abdul-Hakeem AbdulLateef
In politics, nothing is impossible. If this is so lucky, Dr Idiat Adebule could break the second term jinx in the state. Since she also enjoys goodwill from Tinubu who has at many public fora, made complementary remarks about her, Adebule could still be picked again as the next Awori indigene to occupy the office of the deputy governor.
If loyalty and dedication to service count, the incumbent deputy governor could be retained as running mate of Ambode, should the governor win the APC gubernatorial primaries scheduled for September 26.
Adebule is said to be so loyal to the extent that Governor Ambode has during the state executive council meeting honoured her for being one of the most dependable deputy he has ever worked with. But, only time will tell whether her loyalty will count in her bid to retain her seat.
Also a likely candidate, who many thought could be used by the political leaders in the state should they want to follow the template adopted under Fashola’s administration where an Alimosho-based female politician, Princess Adejoke Orelope Adefulire was used to replace her counterpart from Ojo axis, Princess Sosan. If the same game of dropping an Ojo-based politician for an Alimosho grassroots mobiliser plays out again, the pharmacist fondly called Moremi of Alimosho may be the next deputy governor. She is said to possess the requisite qualities, especially in the area of grass root mobilization, which she was able to demonstrate while serving as commissioner for Youth and Social Development before she was deployed to the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment. Like others, she is also a Muslim and has some grassroots support.
Born on December 9, 1965, her father hails from Itogbesa in Ojo Local Government Area and her mother from Ajido in Badagry Local Government Area of the state. She is also an Awori, who from one of the riverine communities in Ojo. Like Adebule, Giwanson is also one of the cabinet members loyal to Governor Ambode and most especially his deputy, Dr Adebule.
Coming from the Ojo axis like the current deputy governor, Aramide operates very closely with Adebule such that she has become the “number one” in the entourage of the Lagos deputy governor at any function. It was also gathered that she was deployed to the Ministry of Toursim, Art and Culture from the Housing ministry to be prepared for a more tasking job of deputy governor, if fortune smiles at her.
Many say that Giwanson is being considered because of the qualities she possesses. It is also said that by her nature, she is not expected rock the boat if chosen.
Obviously one of the most highly rated commissioners in Ambode’s cabinet, Abdul-Hakeem Abdullateef holds PhD in Law. He was touted to be Ambode’s running mate during the heat of the 2015 gubernatorial election campaign before the shocking announcement of Adebule as the party’s choice.
Banking on his prowess and influence as an Islamic cleric, the highly versed commissioner was able to convince several Muslim organisations on the choice of a Christian governor in the person of Ambode as Fashola’s successor. But he was suddenly dropped for Adebule, the then Secretary to the State Government (SSG) by APC leaders shortly before the party’s primaries.
Abdul-Lateef who served as Special Adviser on Legislative Power Bureau to Fashola is also an Awori, and many are of the view that he could be favoured this time. His recent emergence as the Lagos Man of the Year Award could be a pointer to his popularity and acceptability among Lagos populace as the most outstanding public officeholders in the state in terms of commitment to duty.
But sources close to him said that he is too popular for the deputy governor’s slot. They described him as one of the possible Tinubu’s jokers who could be picked to govern the state in the nearest future.