The National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has vowed to ensure a level playing field in the party’s gubernatorial primary in Lagos today.
The contest is between incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and main challenger, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who enjoys the support of National Leader of APC and political godfather in Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The APC national leadership’s position was reportedly meant to help incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode clinch the ticket as he has claimed he could defeat Sanwo-Olu if a level praying field was provided during the direct primaries scheduled to be held in the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas in the state.
According to reports, the APC NWC decided to support Ambode to brighten President Muhammadu Buhari’s chances of winning the state in 2019.
The presidency is said to be uncomfortable with a new candidate emerging in a key state such as Lagos while a sitting governor is still available for second term.
Acting on orders from the presidency, the APC national leadership was said to have met with party leaders in Lagos to impress on them the need to ensure Ambode emerges to avoid rocking the boat for President Buhari.
The national leadership at various meetings with the state leaders also urged them to put the interest of the party first before any other considerations.
The National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, is said to be alarmed that Ambode, if schemed out of the primaries, could team up with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2019 polls.
To ensure victory for Ambode, the national leadership was said to have given the panel set up to conduct the governorship primaries strict orders to ensure a level playing field.
The panel, made up of former Cross River governor, Mr. Clement Ebri (chairman), Alhaji Ahmed Mahmud Gumel (Secretary); Hon. Chidi Duru; Chief Clever Egbeji; Senator Clever Ikisikpo and Ambassador Jerry Ugokwe met Ambode in Lagos on Monday.
Daily Sun quoted an unnamed panel member as saying that they would adhere strictly to the national leadership’s directive on providing a level playing field and ensure each party member votes according to their conscience.
This is “bearing in mind that the ultimate is for the party to not only retain the governorship seat but, also, that president Buhari wins the state in the presidential election,” the source was quoted as saying.