Two aspirants out of six people competing for Surulere Local Government chairmanship seat under All Progressives Congress (APC), Lagos chapter, have decided to step down their ambition and put their weight behind one of four remaining contenders, Youth Organising Secretary, Idris Aregbe, who they believe would represent their interests, should he emerge as the party’s candidate during forthcoming primaries.
Their decisions, Funmi Braithwaite and Billy Balogun, on the eve of primaries, were said to have been reached after APC leaders across nine wards within Surulere had spoken to them on needs for Aregbe to emerge as the party’s candidate and that the two aspirants also agreed to collapse their campaign structures for the youth organising secretary.
Both aspirants, as learnt, have already started working with Aregbe alongside their various sub-groups within Surulere local government area to ensure the youth leader comes victorious during the primaries set for weekend.
To further ensure that Aregbe becomes victorious, the two aspirants, as gathered, were already holding meetings with some of their loyalists to inform as well as enlighten them of their decision and that there was need to give youth opportunities to lead the council.
Speaking exclusively to The Guild through telephone, Balogun, who was anointed candidate of the council chairman, Tajudeen Ajide, for the race, hinted that his decision was not for personal gains, rather for development of Lagos state especially Surulere, a council considered strategic to economy of the state.
The incumbent supervisory-councilor on works and infrastructure for the council added that the development desired for Surulere would require giving youth opportunities to serve at different leadership positions across the state.
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He, however, appealed to other APC leaders within Surulere to consider giving Aregbe and other youths the needed platform to serve Nigeria, especially at a public office.
Balogun, who described Aregbe as a visionary youth, explained that he stepped down for him considering his vibrancy and contribution to Surulere’s development over the years.
He said: “I believe that it is time for youth to assume leadership positions across Surulere. And we have to support the youth to assume leadership with ease.
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“I have done my part because I want development for Lagos particularly my council, Surulere. I hope that our leaders will also follow this path that I have toed.
“I know Aregbe and I can tell you little about him, he is a vibrant youth that can lead Surulere to a height that we have desired over the years”, he added.
When The Guild contacted Braithwaite for her confirmation on the decision to step down, she promised to call back after concluding a meeting she chaired to discuss issues within the council.
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Meanwhile, sources close to her camp authoritatively told The Guild that she has collapsed her structure and has thrown his weight behind Aregbe, directing members of her campaign groups to mobilise other APC members towards casting their vote for the youth leader during the primaries.
The source added that the woman leader had taken the decision earlier before Friday and that she has decided not to make her decision of the chairmanship race public.
He said: “Madam Braithwaite has stepped down for Aregbe but this is a decision that she has decided not to make public considering her status. I want you to understand that she is a strong supporter of youth development and that formed one of the reason she shelved her Surulere chairmanship ambition for the party’s youth organising secretary”.
Reacting to his endorsement by his fellow aspirants, Aregbe commended Balogun and Braithwaite for their support for his candidacy, describing their decision to step down as a gesture that would be held greatly to bring development to Surulere should he emerge as the winner of the primaries and the polls proper.
The youth organising secretary, in a telephone interview with The Guild, added that both aspirants’ decision to step down from the race would further strengthen his chances of securing APC council chairmanship ticket ahead of the elections expected to be conducted by Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC).
While assuring his supporters of victory during the primaries, he hinted that the Aregbe campaign movement visited all nine wards within the council alongside volunteers that joined the train to sensitize the public on why they should support his candidacy for Office of Surulere local government.
According to him, we have campaigned across wards, and based on all we have done, including the supports received from fellow aspirants, further indicated that victory is certain for us.
However, the aspirant appealed to his supporters including the youths to eschew violence and conduct themselves peacefully during and after the primaries, saying our victory has been cast on the rock.
“Everything that we need to do in other to push our campaign forward has been done. And the support received from the great people of Surulere including my fellow aspirants has further boosted my confidence that victory is certain”.