By Temidayo Akinsuyi
There was apprehension in the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday when Wale Oluwo, Lagos State Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, renounced his membership of the party, vowing to work for Jimi Agbaje, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the next governorship election.
This created fear among APC chieftains who said they now doubt the loyalty of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to the party.
Oluwo, who hails from Epe, the hometown of Ambode, also said he had submitted his letter of resignation to the governor.
Though calls and text messages sent to Oluwo’s phone was not returned, a credible source in the party said that he had reached out to the camp of Agbaje ahead of the election, alongside his supporters.
In his resignation letter, Oluwo accused the leadership of the ruling party of being anti-democratic in the process through which Babajide Sanwo-Olu emerged as the flag bearer of the APC in the 2019 governorship election.
Sanwo-Olu, who enjoyed the support of Mandate Movement, a group loyal to Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the party, made history by beating a sitting governor to the ticket of the party.
Oluwo said the governorship primary had diminished the reputation of the APC in the state.
He alleged that a powerful group in the APC had been violating the principle of separation of powers and “intimidating critical institutions of democracy in the state”.
Part of the letter reads: “A few hours ago, I submitted to His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State, a letter of resignation of my appointment as the Honourable Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources.
“Consequently, as a registered member of the All Progressives Congress, I have deemed it necessary to formally notify you of my intention to reconsider my membership status.
“My decision to resign is not unconnected with the events of the last few weeks, which have created a heavy moral burden for me.
“I have found it rather difficult to come to terms or rationalize the party’s conduct of the October 2018 primary elections, which were largely characterised by massive voter disenfranchisement, intimidation, violence, undue influence and non-compliance with all known principles of democracy.
“In the particular case of the gubernatorial primary, which was conducted using the ‘open ballot’ option in violation of the guidelines of the APC that specified the ‘open-secret ballot’ option, it is clear to me that the core principles of merit, competence, justice and fairness have been sacrificed by the APC on the altar of political expediency.
“The integrity-deficient nature of the primary has significantly diminished the hard-earned reputation of our state as a reference point for free and fair democratic practice.
“I have struggled for weeks to understand the rationale for the apparent desperation and brigandage brazenly displayed by the party apparatchik in the various elections. I had never thought such vicious attack could be unleashed on the progress that the state had made in its steady democratic journey.
“The indifference of the APC to the continued use of an arm of government by a powerful group within the party, to intimidate critical institutions of democracy in the state, undermines the doctrine of separation of powers, creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and impairs government’s ability to implement policies and programmes that will benefit the majority of the people.
“This is in conflict with my strongly held belief that group interest, no matter how powerful, must be subordinated to the interest of the majority.
“I am convinced that the present atmosphere of encirclement will not abate anytime soon. I, therefore, resign my membership of the All Progressives Congress, immediately.”
Speaking with Daily Independent on Wednesday, a chieftain of the party said though Governor Ambode had pledged his unalloyed support to the party and had promised to work for the success of President Muhammadu Buhari and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the party’s governorship candidate, Oluwo’s actions had shown that there might be surprises ahead.
He said while Ambode had appealed to Epe residents to work for the APC, many of them who were still embittered were not listening to him and might work against the APC in the forthcoming election.
“To me, I am not surprised by the developments at all. After the primaries, the governor pledged to work for APC but a lot of people doubted him.
“So, if Oluwo, who hails from Epe like the governor, is now leaving the party, promising to work for our opponent, then we will begin to suspect the governor,” he said.
Another party chieftain who refused to be named also said like Oluwo, some loyalists of the governor might also leave the party.
“The coming days will be interesting. They thought they can rubbish a sitting governor like that?
“Ambode may have forgiven them and moved on but I can tell you a lot of his supporters and even Lagosians are unhappy,” he said.
Reacting to the development, Joe Igbokwe, the Lagos APC Publicity Secretary, said he won’t comment on the issue as Oluwo was inconsequential.
“I have no comment to make because he is inconsequential,” he said.
On its part, the Lagos PDP, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Gani Taofik, said by dumping the APC and speaking out against the injustice by the party leadership, Oluwo had written his name in gold.
The party also enjoined other members of the APC to join the PDP so as to free the state from the grip of APC leaders who were milking the state dry.
“We salute him. He has written his name in gold. He has taken a political step never to be regretted. We encourage all remaining true democrats to join the PDP now.
“Lagos has been in bondage of an unpopular rule and control. Indeed, with all that can be conceded to Ambode as due performances, he was denied a second term on the selfish, flimsy, vindictive excuse that he refused to fund APC chieftains.
“Our emphasis here is that APC is desperately holding onto Lagos State to enrich the chieftains directly or by bogus contracts awarded.
“We call on Lagos electorate to join this revolution to free Lagos. We stand on our honour and before God to pledge that Lagos IGR shall be wholesomely spent for Lagos,” the PDP said.