James Odunmbaku, an ally of Tinubu better known as ‘Baba Eto’, said: “Each time our boss has made a recommendation or told us the direction he wants to follow, those of us who believe in him, we don’t question it; we’ve followed it, and we’ve never regretted it. This one our boss has brought [Sanwonolu], we have accepted it because we believe in our boss, because we believe in God. God is the one who chooses the leader for every season. This one that God has selected in this season, we will be successful in it."
The quest of Akinwunmi Ambode to win a second term as Governor of Lagos State now looks more daunting than ever, following the emergence of evidence than Bola Tinubu, former Governor of the state and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has endorsed Jide Sanwonolu, who served as a commissioner in the Babatunde Fashola regime and is currently the Managing Director of Lagos State Property Development Corporation (LSPDC).
Since leaving Alausa in 2007 after eight years as Lagos Governor, Tinubu has literally handpicked the state’s number-one leader. Not even Fashola, his self-appointed successor for eight years who favoured Olasupo Sasore, could stop him from installing Ambode in 2015.
Reports of a rift between Tinubu and Ambode have been rife, and it is believed that the former’s push for direct primary is targeted at the latter.
On Tuesday, SaharaReporters obtained a video of a meeting of almost all the 57 council chairmen — the most influential grassroots mobilisers under the direct primary system — showing that Sanwonolu is indeed Tinubu’s choice, and that the chairmen were prepared to do everything to make him Governor in 2019.
At that meeting, James Odunmbaku, an ally of Tinubu better known as ‘Baba Eto’, was heard saying, mainly in Yoruba: “In 2007 or 2006, we were at Council, cabinet of Lagos State. Those who indicated interest in becoming Governor were many.
“When Asiwaju gave the signal, those of us who believe in him as a visionary leader, as someone to be trusted and followed, and that he was selected by God, we accepted it. We accepted the direction that he gave us.
“Some people said no, that [Fashola, the person he brought] didn’t know the ward, the woman leader, the party leader. That day, we went to Adebola House, it almost became a fight but our boss insisted that that was the person he would use. Lagos State, did we enjoy it or we didn’t?”
Other council chairmen chorused: “We enjoyed it!”
Continuing, Odunmbaku said: “He did well in Lagos State, alright? Then in 2014/2015, the boss gave the signal, and some people protested again, saying this person [Ambode] was a civil servant, permanent Secretary and so on.
“Each time our boss has made a recommendation or told us the direction he wants to follow, those of us who believe in him, we don’t question it; we’ve followed it, and we’ve never regretted it.
“This one our boss has brought [Sanwonolu], we have accepted it because we believe in our boss, because we believe in God. God is the one who chooses the leader for every season. This one that God has selected in this season, we will be successful in it. We may be wondering, why is this so? But if we accept it for our boss, our leader, and do it to honour him, to respect him, to support him wholeheartedly… He is our man, one of us; he is our older brother, he is our younger brother, he is our child, he is our friend… that Jagaban handed over to us.
“By the grace of God and the support and the people of Lagos State, we are the ones who will assume the leadership in the State House in 2019. He is the one who will sit as the next Governor of Lagos State. And when he gets there, all of us here, God will make sure we’re not missing.
“Lagos will be better than this, Lagos will make more progress than this, due to the wisdom and understanding of the man. He has someone behind him, he has a Godfather… Our Godfather will not crumble.
“What we have started, we started in the name of God. It is God who ordains everything. It is God who knows tomorrow, but we don’t. Nobody single-handedly has power or authority; our boss, it is God who gave him.”
On Monday, Ambode formally declared his intention to seek re-election, telling supporters: “In the last three and a half years, I have fulfilled my promises to you to make Lagos work for all. With your support, we have made Lagos a better place and changed the face of our State. I did not do it alone; we did it together, because you believed.
“Our State has remained steadily prosperous because of your positive outlook. I urge you to always stay positive in your personal and communal lives and continue to aspire to great things… So, I humbly call on you again to give me your support as I seek to continue with your mandate to steer the affairs of our State. I ask you to believe again and together, let’s achieve more.”