Nigeria: Atiku, Saraki and Lagos4Lagos as instrument of revenge against Tinubu
On Saturday, December 4, 2021 when Lagos4Lagos Movement, one of the aggrieved groups in the Lagos State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), led by Dr. AbdulAzeez Adediran, defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the presence of former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and three seating senators from Kogi and Kwara states.
Many political observers saw the development orchestrated by the group’s convener popularly known as Jandor, as a threat to Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s political empire.
Beyond being seen as a threat to the political fortunes of the national leader of the APC, those that are familiar with Lagos politics since 2003, consider the group’s defection to the PDP as just one of the usual “political brouhaha,” which the Tinubu political empire has mastered how to overcome over the years.
They also maintain that as far as Lagos politics is concerned, “the defection of Lagos4Lagos Movement is a script that the Lagos APC has projected to push Adediran and his sponsors out of its fold.”
Going down the memory lane, some members of the ruling party, who preferred anonymity described the movement as a group comprising of those who do not want to accept the dictatorial tendencies of Tinubu, as long as Lagos APC is concerned.
Citing similar examples, the sources said: “In the countdown to the 2003 general elections, the likes of former Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe (who represented Lagos West), Senator Musiliu Obanikiro, who represented Lagos Central on the platform of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD), and other strong members of the party, when Tinubu was governor moved to the PDP, the party looked as if it would lose Lagos to another party, especially PDP, but in the end Tinubu survived.
“Obanikoro, Ogunlewe and their cohorts lost out and Tinubu did not only have his second term, he was also the last man standing among the six AD governors in Southwest.”
Even though Tinubu singlehandedly pushed out of the party, all founding fathers of the AD, who were also leaders and followers of the late Premier of Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, he also went ahead to change the party’s name to Action Congress (AC).”
It would also be recalled that recalled that a similar scenario played out in 2007, after Tinubu finished his second term and was shopping for a successor. Not less than 11 commissioners, including his then Deputy, Mr. Femi Pedro, were jostling to succeed him, but he preferred Babatunde Fashola.
The storm was so severe that many aggrieved party defected to other platforms to realise their ambitions. As a matter of fact, the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, allegedly funded Musiliu Obanikiro on the PDP platform in its avowed determination to take over Lagos. But in the end the national leader survived, and went ahead to install his Fashola, the incumbent minister of Works and Housing.
In 2007, the likes of Jimi Agbaje, a very close ally of Tinubu, also fell out with him and subsequently moved elsewhere with some of his supporters. His mission was unsuccessful.
In 2015 when several members of the APC in Lagos rejected Tinubu’s anointed candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode, some of them left the party like Lagos4Lagos Movement did recently. Tinubu went ahead to successfully install Ambode as governor, and was also instrumental in denying him a second term when both parties fell apart. The national leader went ahead to install Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Observers therefore concluded that Adediran and his sponsors might be in for an impossible task as long as the Lagos governorship politics is concerned.
Reasons For The Movement To PDP
Explaining the rationale behind the defection to PDP, Jandor expressed displeasure about how the Governor Mai Mala-Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) is handling the issues of the parallel ward, local government and state congresses in Lagos APC and the lack of fair play without giving other tendencies the free, fair and transparent opportunity to participate.
He said its decision to join forces with PDP, in the presence of Saraki, was after exhausting all options to make the CECPC address the anomalies in the aftermath of the congresses.
Although there had been insinuations that Lagos4Lagos Movement has the sponsorship of Fashola and other aggrieved members of the Lagos APC family, especially those that lost out in the political scheming that led to the denial of Ambode a second term ticket in 2019, the Minister of Works and Housing has not make any statement to deny or corroborate the allegation. In the same vein, Jandor himself has never denied having close relationship with Fashola nor did he at anytime confirmed whether the former governor is his sponsor.
Interestingly, apart from the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Seye Oladejo, who has been tackling Jandor and his movement, most members of the party have chosen to be silent or be prudent in their choice of words and comments.
One of them, who was also a victim of power play under the administration of Ambode but has also found his way to reconcile with the Tinubu political family, disclosed to The Guardian that it would be politically naïve for any politician to underrate Jandor with the way things are.
According to him, “The game on ground is far much more complicated and deadly politically. Jandor will definitely get massive financial support from many governors and if possible some elements within the federal government would put some logistics behind him.
“For the Lagos PDP ticket, it will take God to stop Jandor from getting it so long as key PDP governors, who are now in charge of the party at the national level are with him.”
The APC source also said Jandor may also take advantage of the possibility of any dislocation in the Lagos APC, especially if there is any attempt to give Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, the kind of treatment that was given to Ambode in 2018.”
The Guardian also learnt that Jandor could as well leverage on the support of some aggrieved members of Lagos APC members, especially those that defected from PDP to APC in the past but are yet to realise their desire just as he is also hoping to fraternise with the massive population of Igbo in Lagos.
As a matter of fact, Jandor’s strategy since onset was that the Igbo deserves more participation and fair treatment in Lagos politics.
Atiku Saraki, Makinde And Other Factors
Credible sources disclosed to The Guardian that before Jandor was approached by PDP stakeholders, including Saraki and representatives of former Vice President Abubakar Atiku, which was led by Chief Raymond Dokpesi few weeks ago, series of consultations had taken place among some APC and PDP stakeholders, particularly those that have business interests in Lagos on how the state could be taken while Tinubu is busy pursuing his presidential ambition at the centre.
It was in one of those meetings that the Lagos4Lagos Movement platform was dissected, analysed and considered to be the most viable for the project to take over Lagos.
It was also in one of the meetings they resolved that the only way for Jandor to appear on the ballot box in 2023 is to move to PDP.
Unlike the previous attempts to unlock Tinubu’s grip over Lagos that failed, Jandor is not just coming into the PDP to take advantage of the party’s platform, he also has a value to add to PDP, including the fact that he will have sponsors among PDP, APC governors and PDP, APC stakeholders, who would settle for anything whatsoever to take Lagos from the national leader since 1999.
It is also not clear if some elements in the APC national level and some Southwest APC leaders are not working underground in support of Jandor.
Saraki and Atiku are said to be on a vengeance mission to pay back Tinubu for disgracefully pushing them out of APC in the build up to the 2019 elections.
Atiku, particularly, is yet to forgive Tinubu for working against his presidential ambition on the platform of APC during the party’s national convention and presidential primaries that was held in Lagos in 2014.
The former vice president is said to believe that Tinubu masterminded his defeat in the 2014 APC presidential primaries and eventually pushed him out of the party ahead of when Buhari would finish his second term in 2023. This is seen most likely as a payback time.
For Saraki, the 2019 O’to gee movement in Kwara State, which saw the former Senate president lose his senatorial district election and failed to return to the Senate is a sin Tinubu must pay for. To Saraki, the hidden fact is not really about Jandor but a personal issue with Tinubu.
Governor Seyi Makinde is perceived to be emerging as the strongman of Southwest PDP and he is working towards establishing a footprint in Lagos if Jandor emerges as governor of Lagos State in 2023. He is alleged to have had several meetings with Jandor, with concrete assurance to the Lagos4Lagos Movement that the Lagos PDP’s governorship ticket would be made available if he (Jandor) defected.
The former Deputy National Chairman of PDP, Chief Olabode George is also allegedly keyed into the Jandor/PDP project through Makinde to unsit Tinubu in Lagos.
It has since been the desire of George that Lagos should be removed under the grip of the APC national leader but it is not certain if George will want to work along with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State on the Lagos project considering how Wike insulted Southwest leaders of PDP during the 2017 Port Harcourt national convention.
A source in the PDP told The Guardian that Makinde has since resolved that grouse between the duo. However, the former Military administrator of Ondo State could not be reached on phone to confirm the development while one of the aides of Oyo State governor said Makinde has more than enough burden to carry in his state than meddle in Lagos politics.
While addressing Lagos4Lagos, Saraki had said: “ I have many reasons to be committed to the freedom of Lagos from the grip of an individual, which is why I am joining forces with Lagos4Lagos ahead of 2023.
“My businesses are here and my better half is also from Lagos. This journey did not start yesterday, but it is catching more fire. I have been part of this journey for over a year…”
He said the movement is opening a new chapter, not only for today but also tomorrow and the future generations.
The former Senate President said he has told Lagos PDP members that if they actually meant to take over Lagos, they must be ready to open their doors to new members and be ready to accept those with the capacity to deliver the state for them.
Tinubu’s Hegemony Still Intact
In spite of the noise that surrounded Jandor’s defection to PDP, political analysts believe that Tinubu’s political structure remains strong and intact.
They still consider the Lagos PDP structure as being too weak and fragile to support Jandor’s ambition in 2023. It is also said that Tinubu has a lot of grip and influence in the Lagos PDP and if it comes to dispensing money to fund Lagos politics and election, it would be near impossible for the likes of Atiku, Saraki and others to outspend APC in Lagos.
A member of the ruling party in Lagos said, “The national leader will push as many members of the PDP as from now like he did before ahead of the 2023 elections just to sustain his grip on the state.”
Dr. Pearse while speaking with The Guardian expressed concern about the pedigree of Jandor and whether the business community in the state would see him as a serious person to relate with.
Other sentiments raised against Jandor bothers on his capacity to confront the political machinery of the national leader. Now that he has crossed to the opposition, there is the likelihood that the party will deal with him squarely like opposition as from now.
Whatever the case, the chances of Jandor and his movement in Lagos would be determined by how the national headquarters of APC addresses the crises it had across the country on or before 2023.