Thursday, 28 December 2017

Police Smash 4 Armed Gang Dressed In Police Uniforms, Recover Arms

Few weeks after dumping the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and moving back to his original base, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, former Minister of state (Defence), Nigerian Ambassador to Ghana, and former governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos State is already oiling his political machinery to represent Lagos state in the Senate come 2019. Findings show that ‘Koro’ as he is popularly called by his supporters and political associates is warming up to slug it out with other gladiators for Lagos West Senatorial ticket of the APC.

Though Obanikoro represented Lagos Central Senatorial district between 2003 to 2007 before joining the PDP, this time, he knows it will be an herculean task to get the ticket for the senatorial zone which is currently being represented by Oluremi Tinubu, wife of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, national leader of the party. While it is not certain if Senator Oluremi, who is currently serving a second term will want to run again, INDEPENDENT gathered that leaders of Lagos Central Senatorial district led by Prince Tajudeen Oluyole Olusi have already ‘reserved’ the ticket for her and have vowed to persuade her to run again.

According to a chieftain of the party from the senatorial zone who spoke on condition of anonymity, “Even if Senator Oluremi decides not to run again, she will likely be given the privilege to nominate somebody that will represent the district and I can bet with my life that that person will not be Obanikoro”.

Having realised this, Obanikoro has since shifted his political base to Lagos West. The incumbent senator representing the district, Olamilekan Adeola (Yayi) is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to succeed Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state in 2019 and it is widely believed that APC leaders led by Tinubu are backing his aspiration. If that happens, the senatorial seat will be vacant leaving Obanikoro and others to battle for the ticket.

Now, the question on the lips of many political observers is ‘ Given what transpired in the past, can Tinubu and the Lagos APC trust Obanikoro again to give him the ticket to represent Lagos in the Senate in 2019? ‘If he succeeds and becomes a senator, will Obanikoro remain in APC even if PDP becomes the ruling party in 2019?’.

Obanikoro dumped the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) under whose platform he became a senator for the then ruling PDP in December 17 2004. Speaking on how Obanikoro’s inordinate ambition made him derail from the progressive track, a chieftain of APC, who spoke with INDEPENDENT on condition of anonymity, said, “Despite several criticisms and protests against his appointment as a commissioner in 1999, Tinubu as Lagos State governor stuck his neck out for Obanikoro.

“Given his frosty relationship with the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo, who had earlier seized local government funds belonging to Lagos State, following the creation of 37 local councils by the state government, Tinubu wanted a loyalist who will be his ears in Abuja, especially at the Senate and House of Representatives in 2003.

“You know, he had nobody in Obasanjo’s cabinet since they were in different political parties. Then, Tinubu was not even bothered about who succeeded him as governor because even he himself was yet to secure a second term and, you know, he fought the battle of his life to triumph over the late Funsho Williams, the then PDP candidate.

“That was how Obanikoro got his endorsement to represent Lagos Central at the Senate, despite the fact that there were other senior members of the party interested in the seat.”

Tinubu, however, got the shock of his life after rumours became rife that Obanikoro, one of his trusted foot soldiers, was pursuing a different cause in Abuja.

“Tinubu was said to have summoned him and confronted him with facts which he denied. Obanikoro was even reported to have sworn to Tinubu in Kabba, Mecca that he would never join the PDP, but he announced his defection upon returning to Nigeria.

“I think he allowed the PDP under Obasanjo to deceive him that they could use force and their rigging power to make him the governor of Lagos which never happened”.

“Tinubu had so much confidence in Obanikoro but he betrayed that trust and I doubt if something important can be entrusted in his hands again as long as Lagos politics is concerned. They may have forgiven him, but they will never forget,” our source said.

Speaking on why he left the party, Obanikoro in a recent interview said “One of the reasons I left AD is when my eyes were opened and I saw the character that was leading us that time. With the benefit of hindsight, I did the right thing by pulling out of AD. There’s no internal democracy among the so-called ‘progressives’.

“What they usually did is to anoint a candidate. Their leader would stand up and say, ‘this is the party’s candidate’ and his word was final. It still happens till today and that is why they worship the so-called leader”.

“I decided on my own to quit AD when I saw some of these shortcomings of the undisputed leader of the party. I saw Unclad abuse of opportunity as an insider and I felt that some of these things could not be defended anywhere”.

“You saw firsthand what happened when my son won the chairmanship election of Ikoyi-Obalende LCDA as a PDP candidate. The ACN, under the guise of the Lagos State government, went to the Appeal Court to impound the victory of that young man. That shows the type of people we are dealing with. That level of impunity shouldn’t exist in any society; such recklessness should not exist in any civilised society”.

“Somebody won an election that was free and fair and a judge sat somewhere and on technicality, said the person should not be sworn-in. To me, that’s the height of which all well-meaning individuals in the state ought to have risen up and spoken because that was another June 12 that took place in Lagos — the annulment of the mandate of the people of Ikoyi-Obalende LCDA by the powers that be in the state”.

“How can I be a party to that kind of association? The same thing happened in Badagry and Epe. In a system where a single person determines who becomes the councilor, the council chairman, members of the National and State Assemblies, including the governor, then you should know that the alleged peace in their party is that of the graveyard” he said.

Speaking on his ambition, a leader of the party in Lagos West said “ Obanikoro is free to contest. It is his constitutional right but I believe getting the party’s ticket is like a camel passing through the eye of a needle. The party leaders in Lagos led by Tinubu may have forgiven him, but I don’t if they have forgotten his past actions. What guarantee do they have that that same scenario will not play itself out again if he becomes a senator through APC and PDP becomes the ruling party in 2019?”.

Another APC Chieftain, Sakirudeen Alli- Balogun however said Obanikoro may have bargained with the APC leaders before joining the APC. “Maybe they were the ones that promised to give him the ticket if he returns home” he said

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