Babajide Sanwolu’s hope of second term hangs in the air as party favours Deputy Obafemi Hamzat

Lagos: Deputy Obafemi Hamzat dashes Sanwolu's hope for Second Term

Dr. Obafemi Hamzat vs Babajide Sanwo-Olu: The battle for who the All Progressive Congress (APC) will field in 2023 as governorship candidate has began in earnest. Already, party stalwarts and top government officials are beginning to position themselves for the top slot in the state and in the process narrowing the chances for the incumbent, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

 

Will he be denied the opportunity of flying the party’s ticket like his predecessor, Akinwunmi Ambode? Will his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, known for his levelheadedness and closeness to the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola snatch the second term ticket from him? Will Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila throw his hat into the ring?

 

These are the posers waiting for an answer as Lagos state Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu tries to impress the godfather of Lagos politics, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu that he deserves a second term. Sanwo-Olu’s quest for second term endorsement took him to London recently, where he conferred with Asiwaju Tinubu and to also demonstrate his loyalty to the national leader of the APC.

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Though, he looks calm and unruffled, Sanwo-Olu is not comfortable with the scheming of his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat and His Chief of staff, Mr. Tayo Ayinde who have their eyes on the Lagos top job. During the last Local Government election, it became a rat race as the trio of Sanwo-Olu, Hamzat and Ayinde tried to outdo each other in the number of chairmen and councilors they will empower ahead of 2023.

 

In fact, Gbajabiamila was not left out of the scheming. After the initial efforts to talk the aspirants in Surulere, Itire/Ikate and Coker/Aguda to support his candidates using Tinubu’s name failed, it became a free for all to such an extent that the primaries in Surulere became so bloody that two people allegedly lost their lives in the struggle.

 

For Hamzat, it seems he has the levers of power at his beck and call. First, he was appointed to oversee the nomination and conduct of the local government election. In fact, everything revolves around him. Second, he was able to fix some of his men and loyalists in Epe, Ikosi-Ejinrin and some other local governments across the state.

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His blood brother, Usman Akanbi Hamzat was elected chairman of his traditional local council of Ifako- Ijaiye where his late father, Oba Olatunji Hamzat held sway as the leader of the Justice Forum before he was installed as a traditional ruler in Ewekoro.

 

Now, Obafemi Hamzat has relocated to Epe preparatory for the 2023 governorship election. Ayinde also made attempt to install his loyalist in Onigbongbo LCDA but failed because of the power structure there.

 

 


Sanwo-Olu did not have a single councilor, let alone chairman to his credit and that has led to his deft political move recently. He is said to have complained bitterly to fellow governors in the APC that he’s been sidelined because of 2023.

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Some of his strategists have also advised him to take over the structure of the party at the state and that explained why he paid for all the wards executives during the just concluded congress. The team that came to conduct the congress were picked at the highest level of the party to favour him.

 

As things stand now, Sanwo-Olu will also replicate the same thing at the local and state congresses to install his loyalists. Hon James Abiodun Faleke, a member of House of Representatives from Ikeja Federal Constituency almost indicted Sanwo-Olu while explaining that he did not organize any parallel congress.

 

He accused Sanwo-Olu’s Aide In Ikeja, Mrs Toke Benson, of highhandedness during the congress. For now, it’s not certain where the pendulum will swing, but Sanwo-Olu has intensified efforts to take over the state executives as a fall back position. Tinubu who’s contesting the 2023 presidential election has not spoken if Sanwo-Olu will have a second term or not. The Lagos4Lagos Group has also not given up, the Lead Visioner, Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran popularly known as Jandor is lurking, waiting to unleash his mass movement of supporters across the state ahead of 2023.

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The only hurdle to cross for Hamzat remains the Oba of Lagos endorsement. Unlike Ambode, Oba Rilwan Akiolu was in support of Mr. Babatunde Fashola’s second term in 2011 that it became an issue between him and Tinubu. In 2015, Oba Akiolu vehemently rejected the candidature of Hamzat that Fashola put forward on the ground that his father, Oba Olatunji Hamzat was a traditional ruler in Ewekoro, Ogun state then. Now, that Hamzat’s father is late, it’s not certain if Oba Akiolu will be favorably disposed to him.

 

For Sanwo-Olu, apart from his scheming to get his loyalists to populate the state executive, he’s also banking on God. He has told those who cared to listen how God miraculously put him ahead of Hamzat who he (Sanwo-Olu) was lobbying to be his chief of staff in 2015. He’s saying the God who made it happened in 2019 will determine his fate in 2023.

 

 


His performance has been a little above average mainly because of the virulent COVID-19 and the second level approval to get things done. He promised to clear the road leading to Apapa in 90 days during his electioneering campaign. He has failed to deliver on this. Also, the fourth mainland bridge that he celebrated with much gusto has remained a dream few months to 2023 election.

 

As a source in Alausa puts it, “What’s on ground now does not favour Sanwo-Olu. Hamzat is the toast of everyone, but Tinubu will still determine who he will put forward in 2023.”

 

Caritas C.

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