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Tinubu behind Sanwo-Olu, GAC insists as controversy surrounds second-term bid

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Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu

• Only gov has picked nomination form – Lagos APC

CONTROVERSY has surrounded the second term bid of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

While the Governor’s Advisory Council maintained that it has cleared Sanwo-Olu to return in 2023, it is not clear whether or not the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has endorsed the governor’s second term bid.

There had been reports (not by The PUNCH) that Tinubu had dumped Sanwo-Olu for another loyalist, Mustapha Olorunfemi, ahead of the May 23, 2022 governorship primary in the state.

Efforts to get the reaction of Tinubu’s spokesman, Tunde Rahman, on whether Sanwo-Olu had the nod of the APC leader proved abortive as he did not take calls and reply to the message to his line on Thursday.

However, GAC member, 85-year-old Prince Tajudeen Olusi and APC chairman in Lagos, Cornelius Ojelabi, in separate interviews with The PUNCH on Thursday, noted that Sanwo-Olu had GAC’s support to return to office.

The GAC, the highest decision-making organ of the party headed by Tinubu, had mid-April endorsed Sanwo-Olu for second term.

GAC had in 2018 kicked against the second term bid of a former governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, which led to the emergence of Sanwo-Olu as the APC candidate in the 2019 governorship election in the state.

Ambode’s predecessors were in office for two consecutive terms.

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They include Tinubu, who was governor between 1999 and 2007; as well as current Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who was governor from 2007 to 2015.

Responding to viral reports that Tinubu had rejected Sanwo-Olu just as he opposed Ambode in the build-up to the 2019 governorship election, Olusi told our correspondent in a telephone interview on Thursday that Tinubu had filled Sanwo-Olu’s endorsement form which would be transmitted to the party’s secretariat in the state before the May 23 governorship primary.

Olusi said, “All members of GAC are happy with Sanwo-Olu’s first term performance and we support his return for second term.

“A lot of our members have also filled a form endorsing Sanwo-Olu’s second term bid. Tinubu also signed the form. Any other thing is untrue.”

Another GAC member, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, did not respond to inquiries by The PUNCH as of press time.

When contacted, Kayode Odunaro, an aide to another GAC member and Senator representing Lagos West, Solomon Adeola, said his principal won’t go against GAC’s decision.

“Whatever GAC has decided is what they have decided and I don’t think my principal will go against it,” he said.

On his part, the state chairman of APC, Ojelabi, said though the party did not have a consensus candidate yet, no other aspirant aside from Sanwo-Olu had picked up APC governorship form for Lagos.

Ojelabi said, “We don’t have a candidate yet. I only know that Governor Sanwo-Olu has obtained his nomination form. I have not seen any other person that has obtained form from Lagos State.

“The GAC made a statement that they have endorsed Sanwo-Olu for second term and they have not changed that. Asiwaju is part of the GAC.”

Efforts to speak with Sanwo-Olu’s Chief Press Secretary, Gbeyega Akosile, proved abortive as calls to his line and a text message were unreturned as of press time.

But Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotoso, told our correspondent that the reports making the rounds were so because of what happened to Ambode in 2019.

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Omotoso said, “Asiwaju is a member of the GAC and GAC, about two weeks ago, endorsed Mr Governor. What is going around is mischief.

“People are talking about this because of what happened during Mr Ambode’s tenure but that should not make them give Asiwaju the name that he doesn’t bear; I think it is not fair to the man. The GAC has spoken.”

A source close to Sanwo-Olu accused Ambode’s camp of peddling falsehood.

The source said, “Tinubu has no problem with Sanwo-Olu. They were still together in Abuja days ago when their nomination and expression of interest forms were presented to them individually. It is Ambode’s people that are peddling falsehood.”

Responding, the Chairman of the Akinwunmi Ambode Campaign Organisation, Wale Oluwo, in a telephone chat with our correspondent, refuted the allegation.

He said, “The same way they heard about it was the same way we heard about it. The person that they said has been picked to replace Governor Sanwo-Olu is not from AMCO. He doesn’t work with us; we know him because he was in government and had been a PS (Permanent Secretary).”

When asked whether Ambode had purchased APC N50m form for the May 23, 2022 governorship primary, Oluwo said, “No”.

On whether the ex-governor had any intention to do so, he said, “The organisation, AMCO, will announce it. The organisation has to meet and finalise things and announce.”

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Adeleke freezes government accounts, reverses state name

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Ademola Adeleke

The newly inaugurated Governor of Osun State, Ademola Adeleke, has frozen all government accounts in the state.

Adeleke directed this in his first executive order upon inauguration on Sunday.

Adeleke, in his speech delivered at the inauguration, alleged that the erstwhile governor of the state, Adegboyega Oyetola, carried out some actions “maliciously” after he (Adeleke) won the July 16 governorship election, including “hurried” employments without provisions to sustain them.

He claimed these actions were roadblocks channeled at making things difficult in his administration.

Adeleke also reversed the state name from ‘State of Osun’ to ‘Osun State’, saying the former was alien to the constitution.

“My good people of Osun, since you elected me as your governor on the July 16, 2022, which the Independent National Electoral Commission announced on July 17, 2022, the former Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, maliciously started putting road blocks to make things difficult and almost impossible for the new administration to serve you.

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“Mass employments were carried out without budgetary provisions for salary payments for the new employees; even when the state was struggling to pay salaries and deliver other services. Various hurried and criminally backdated contracts were awarded and again without budgetary provisions.

“Appointments of several Obas were hurriedly done without following due process, just to mention a few.

 “All efforts to get the governor set up a Transition Committee and submit hand-over notes in line with best practices proved abortive.

“It is therefore my desire to ask for your patience and understanding to give my administration a few weeks to review and sort out all the actions and malicious confusions which the immediate past administration has created since July 17, 2022. Those actions were indeed vindictive measures against the people of Osun State for voting them out of office,” Adeleke said.

Giving new orders, he said, “Consequently, I hereby issue the following directives which will be backed up with appropriate Executive orders:

“Immediate freezing of all government accounts in banks and other financial institutions;

“Immediate establishment of a panel to carry out an inventory and recover all government assets.

“An immediate establishment of a panel to review all appointments and major decisions of the immediate past administration taken after July 17, 2022.

“An immediate reversal to the constitutionally recognised name of our state, ‘Osun State’. All government insignia, correspondences and signages should henceforth reflect Osun State rather than State of Osun which is unknown to the Nigerian constitution.”

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Ebonyi INEC office set on fire, PVCs, ballot boxes burnt

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Hoodlums on Sunday set ablaze the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office at Iboko in the Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

This was disclosed by the National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement.

He said the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ebonyi State, Mrs Onyeka Pauline Ugochi, reported that that the incident occurred around 10am.

Although he said no casualties resulted from the attack, the main building and all the movable and immovable items inside it were destroyed.

“These include 340 ballot boxes, 130 voting cubicles, 14 electric power generators, large water storage tanks, assorted office furniture and fixtures and yet to be determined quantities of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs),” Okoye said.

According to him, this is the third attack on INEC local government office in less than three weeks having earlier recorded similar attacks on the commission’s offices in Ogun and Osun states.

He said that the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies had commenced a full investigation into the incident.

 

The statement read, “The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ebonyi State, Mrs Onyeka Ugochi, reported that our Izzi Local Government Area office located in Iboko, was set ablaze this morning.

“The incident occurred around 10.00am when some unidentified persons set the entire building ablaze.

“Although no casualties resulted from the attack, the main building and all the movable and immovable items inside it were destroyed. These include 340 ballot boxes, 130 voting cubicles, 14 electric power generators, large water storage tanks, assorted office furniture and fixtures and yet to be determined quantities of Permanent Voters’ Cards.

“The attention of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies has been drawn to the incident and have commenced investigation.

“Sadly, this is the third attack on our Local Government office in less than three weeks following similar attacks on our offices in Ogun and Osun States on 10th November 2022.”

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We haven’t endorsed Peter Obi, Dogara, aggrieved Northern APC

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Former House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and other members of the aggrieved Northern All Progressives Congress, APC camp have dismissed speculations that the group has endorsed the Obi-Datti presidency ahead of the 2023 general elections.

The group made the dismissal in a statement jointly-signed by Simon Achuba, Hon Albert Atiwurcha, Prof Doknan Sheni, Mela A. Nunge, SAN, Gen Ishaya Bauka Rtd, Prof Ibrahim Haruna and Mrs Leah Olusiyi.

Recall that the Chairman of the group and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, had said the group has endorsed the Labour Party presidential candidate, Obi and his running mate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed.

According to him, Obi was endorsed, after painstakingly reviewing and analysing the alternative candidates.

But, Dogara and other members of the group have distanced themselves from the endorsement, saying they are yet to conclude consultations and that their position will be made public.

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He said, “We want to draw the attention of the general public to the recent position canvassed by our Chairman, Engr B D Lawal as the position of our Group. We wish to state that necessary consultations have been concluded, and based on manifestly unassailable empirical data, the group is poised to adopt a position that will be made known to the public at an interfaith event to be held very soon.

“Suffices to say that no one in the group including the Chairman has been mandated to speak to the public about our position at this material time. Based on our modus Operandi, our position was meant to be presented to the general public at the event above referred to. That has not changed.

“Consequently, the decision to endorse a particular candidate and the statement credited to the chairman are solely the decision and views of the Chairman which he is absolutely entitled to but not that of the group. We hope this statement clears all the queries most of us have been inundated with on this all-important subject matter,” he added.

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