Lagos All Progressives Congress (APC) members got a challenge yesterday —to target three million votes in next year’s elections.
Party stalwart Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said this is to reinforce its relevance in the Centre of Excellence.
“We have six million votes in Lagos. Your target should be half; three million or the entire six million. We must deliver over three million votes in Lagos,” he said.
However, to succeed in the exercise, the former governor urged members to renew their faith in reconciliation, embrace peace, work for unity and embark on the aggressive mobilisation of the electorate.
Tinubu spoke at the APC stakeholders’ meeting, which was held at the party’s secretariat on Acme Road, Ogba, Ikeja. The meeting was attended by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, his deputy, Dr. Idiat Adebule, the governorship candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, his running mate, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, House of Assembly Speaker Mudashiru Obasa, members of the APC Gubernatorial Advisory Council (GAC), party officers, and flag bearers for parliamentary elections.
In a show of magnanimity, Ambode, who said the party is supreme, reiterated his endorsement of the Sanwo-Olu/Hamzat ticket by raising up the hands of the candidate and his running mate, urging other aggrieved aspirants to emulate his example.
He called for what he described as a platform for continuous reconciliation and compensation for aggrieved aspirants, who should be assured of “promissory notes”.
Dr. Adebule, who predicted failure for the PDP, alerted party members to the danger of voided votes, advising them to thumbprint the ballot paper with their index finger.
Sanwo-Olu promised a government of continuity, if elected, urging Lagosians to vote for a party of progress.
Frowning at Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Jimi Agbaje’s remark that Lagos State was in bondage, Hamzat said the state was liberated from bankruptcy 19 years ago when former Governor Tinubu worked assiduously to increase its internally generated revenue from N600 million to N31 billion.
At the meeting were party chairman Tunde Balogun, his deputy, Prince Sunny Ajose, vice chairmen Ashipa Kaoli Olusanya (Lagos East) and Chief Funso Ologunde (Lagos West); Secretary Dr. Wale Ahmed, Southwest APC Women Leader Mrs. Kemi Nelson, State Women Leader Jumoke Okoya-Thomas, Publicity Secretary Joe Igbokwe, his deputy, Abiola Salami, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, Chief Rabiu Oluwa, Prof. Tunde Samuel, former House of Assembly Speaker Joko Pelumi, Senator Ganiyu Solomon, House of Assembly members Rotimi Abiru and Gbolahan Yishawu, Ademorin Kuye, Cardinal James Odunmbaku, Yemi Alli, Hakeem Bamgbola, Shamusideen Olaleye, Mrs. Toun Adediran and State Legal Officer Demola Sodiq.
Tinubu, who thanked the party leaders, particularly Ambode, for respecting the wish of the party, prayed that the governor will live long. He also expressed gratitude to party elders for their reconciliatory moves.
Thanking the party faithful for their love, loyalty, support and commitment, he said: “Party supremacy and party discipline have been demonstrated. We came out of the GAC meeting where we decided on direct primary and you endorsed it.”
The former governor explained the delay in launching the official campaign, saying that the chapter was waiting for the release of the list of candidates by the electoral commission.
Reiterating the importance of the polls, Tinubu said: “Where we are going is more important. Here in Lagos, we must maintain a strong outing for APC, a party of progress, development and economy. We must differentiate between a developmental economy and a container economy. We will not accept to get Nigeria corrupt again.
“We suffered 16 years of their failure and fake promises. We have made progress in Lagos We have become the fifth largest economy in Africa. We have six million votes in Lagos. Your target should be half; three million or the entire six million. We must vote en masse for President Muhammdu Buhari and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, our governorship candidate, senators, House of Representatives and Assembly candidates, and later, our chairmen and councillors.”
The party leader said the task before members is to gird their loins and use their votes to resist the PDP’s plot to capture Lagos, instead of regressing to intra-party quarrels and bickering.
He said: “Don’t fight. Some are going to Accord. Go and call them back. Anybody who betrays will be destroyed by that act of betrayal. Some people have gone to other parties, but they cannot beat us. It is important for you leaders to hold meetings. Local council chairmen and councillors and other leaders at the grassroots should hold meetings with those who are aggrieved.
“What is important are not rallies; we hold rallies in the rain and under the sun. But, the mobilisation at the wards are very important. The people should know where they are to vote. If they are annoyed, beg them. If they have complaints, report to us who are leaders. Councillors and chairmen have a lot to do. We must deliver over three million votes in Lagos. Party members will attend rallies. Others in the neighbourhood may not come. You need to mobilise them.”
Tinubu reflected on the plight of the APC in Osun State during the recent governorship election, lamenting that out of 49,000 votes voided by polling officers, 42,000 were cast for the party.
To avert the danger of vote voiding, he urged members to use their index fingers for thumb-printing on the small space on ballot papers on election day.
Tinubu lauded Sanwo-Olu for his bold reconciliatory moves, noting that he has been meeting with aggrieved aspirants who lost out during the primaries with his message of hope.
Tinubu, who called on volunteers to embrace party work, advised Lagosians not to sell their votes because the election is about their future.
He also warned against the danger of expecting transient political gains, stressing that the concrete gains of politics consist in spreading dividends of democracy, including good roads, schools, hospitals and other people-oriented welfare programmes.
Tinubu warned against subversion, saying that “anybody who has gone to the court to sue our party is not a committed member”.
Chiding the PDP flag bearer, Agbaje, for making unguarded statements about the liberation of Lagos, Tinubu said: “Those who said they wanted freedom should go and learn tailoring and vulcanising and we will do freedom for them later. They do not have the people. He was in the contest for the first and second times. He is in the contest for the third time. He will fail again.”
Ambode urged aggrieved aspirants and members to spare a thought for the party’s future, stressing that the party is supreme. He had requested that his deputy, Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat should speak before him so that “I will cap everything with my blessing”.
He said: “We need a greater party, a greater reunion and a greater country for us. Our leaders and candidates have shown that they are ready for the campaigns. We appeal to our aggrieved members to find a place in their hearts, to do the way I have accepted the greatness of our party. The party is supreme.”
The governor called for continuous reconciliation and compensation for aggrieved aspirants, who he said should be assured by the promise made to them by the party leadership.
He said: “We are one party and one family. if we are one party and one family, we should proceed to make APC the reigning party at the cente and in Lagos. I seek the cooperation, solidarity and support for all our candidates-President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on February 16 and for the Sanwo-Olu/Hamzat ticket in March. They will take over from me in good health.”
Mrs. Adebule, who stressed the need for vote training, particularly the use of the index finger for thumb-printing, predicted success for the APC at the poll.
He urged women to brace for the challenge of mobilisation, campaigns and voting, which they have always done to the credit of the party.
In her view, “Agbaje is a familiar rival who is very easy to defeat because of his weak platform and lack of popular support”.
The deputy governor said: “Women of Lagos State, we are committed to the cause. Yes. The cause of delivering the state to APC. The women will lead this campaign and deliver in 2019. Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat have shown that they are committed and competent to lead our party to victory.
“We should go from house to house, street to street to campaign and mobilise. The ballot paper is smaller now. We should use the index finger, the second finger, to thumb-print, to avoid voiding of votes.”
Sanwo-Olu believes Lagosians are ready to vote for APC candidates because of their belief in the party and what it stands for.
Urging party members to prepare for the days of decision-making, he said: “The work is just starting. We should go out there to deliver all our candidates. We should hold our hands in unity. It will be a government of continuity.”
The flag bearer berated Agbaje for what he described as a shortfall in historical perception, saying that his promise to free Lagos from bondage underscored his lack of understanding of the progress made in the last 19 years.
Sanwo-Olu said: “Are we in the 18th century? Are we in the 19th century? How can they say we are under bondage? Lagos is the fifth largest economy in Africa. Lagos contributes over 50 percent of the VAT to the Federal Government. We are not people of the past, but people of the future. We have seen them before. We will defeat them again.
“Let us prepare for the elections. We are not a party that has corrupted the country. We are a progressive party. We have come out of recession. For us in Lagos, we will always work for progress, development, infrastructural development. We will resolve the power challenge and traffic snarl.
“From N600 million, we now generate N31 billion. We are not in bondage.”
The flag bearer admonished party members to put the primary behind them, adding that the challenge of the election is more than the shadow poll.”
Hamzat said: “The election is easy to win. You know why? For 16 years, PDP Federal Government did not construct a road. The Port-Harcourt-Enugu Road, the Second Niger Bridge, Aba-Onitsha Road were completed by the APC Federal Government. They are thieves.
“What is their role in the development of Lagos; only to be coming out to seek for votes. When we sought approval for federal assistance, what role did George and Agbaje play? In 1999, Lagos was a bankrupt state with n600 million IGR monthly. The salary was N1 billion.
“Lagos has been liberated. We have freedom in Lagos. That is why they are able to contest. The PDP government spent N1.7 trillion on power. They ordered containers and hid them for 10 years until we opened the gate. Their umbrella has torn. It is leaking.”