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BIG STORY

REVEALED: How Ambode Fell Out With “Lagos Landlord” Bola Tinubu; His Many Sins Against The APC

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Lagos and indeed much of the entire South-West was on tenterhooks yesterday as political permutations against a second term for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode reached a crescendo with the unravelling of the governor’s political base.

Worse, the governor’s prospects of serving out the rest of his first term, it was learnt, was hanging in the balance upon claims of momentum to remove him from office if he does not drop his second term aspiration.

The governor’s support base which had been built around Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu unravelled after it emerged that a major contender for his office had emerged from one of the major political structures in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC in the state, the Mandate Group.

The Mandate Group, Vanguard gathered, is presenting Mr. Jide Sanwo-Olu, incumbent Managing Director of Lagos State Property Development Corporation, LSDPC.

Ambode’s prospects outside the APC were also not being helped with the emergence of billionaire Mr. Femi Otedola as an aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Otedola who is vacationing in Paris, it was learnt, has, however, vowed not to contest against Ambode.

SUCCESSION CRISIS

In the face of the unfolding battle, many stakeholders spoke in hushed tones yesterday on the crisis of a second term that has shadowed successive successors of the political leader of the state, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Political sources in the state yesterday said that after challenges that Tinubu got from Fashola, it was unlikely that Hamzat, one of Fashola’s options as a successor could get Tinubu’s support.

That means that the momentum was gravitating towards Sanwo-Olu who ironically served as a commissioner in the Fashola government. 57 LG/LCDA chiefs desert Ambode.

It was learnt yesterday that the chairmen of the 57 local government councils and development areas in the state had in a show of force endorsed Sanwo-Olu’s forms.
“That was meant to send a message to Ambode,” a political chieftain told Vanguard yesterday.

IMPEACHMENT RUMOURS

Ambode’s options were last night being narrowed as reports of an impeachment plot started swirling around political meetings around Lagos House and the State House of Assembly. The governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Habib Haruna, however, dismissed the reports of impeachment simply saying “it is not true.”

It was also learnt that emissaries sent by Ambode to Tinubu had been shut out, making the resolution of the Ambode crisis difficult. The situation left many political stakeholders in the lurch, with many saying that they were confused. This was mainly caused by the fact that Tinubu as at last night had not made a pronouncement.
However, the body language of the national leader was reflected by the fact that many of his trusted aides were said to have gravitated towards Sanwo-Olu.

One source said: “It is difficult to say anything right now really but it is true that some people have collected forms for Jide Sanwo-Olu and if he has collected the forms, it means he has the blessing of Asiwaju. He would not have collected the forms without Asiwaju’s blessing.”

MAKING OF THE CRISIS

It was leant that though efforts were being made for reconciliation, it was gathered that the face-off worsened seriously on Monday after Ambode went to Abuja to collect the APC governorship form.

He was said to have obtained the form without a full reconciliation with Tinubu. After collecting the form, Ambode proceeded to make a public declaration at the Old Task Force Ground, Alausa, Ikeja, without the obvious presence of chieftains and leaders of the party.

The fact that the declaration was not done at the party headquarters at Acme Road, Ogba, in Lagos sent negative signals as to the possibility of his estrangement from the Tinubu mainstream in his re-election bid, a source said.

Few of the local government chairmen who attended the declaration left midway and some even left before the ceremony started at 4.00 p.m. on Monday. Before the declaration ceremony, chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the APC, Babatunde Balogun had held a closed-door meeting with all the 57 local government chairmen at the party’s Acme Road office before they later dispersed and shunned the governor’s declaration ceremony.

A confirmed source says party members are currently confused and are awaiting the declaration from the National Leader of the party.

AMBODE WEIGHING OPTIONS

Ambode yesterday summoned a closed-door meeting of some of his top associates at Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja, in order to weigh the options for the governor.

The outcome of the meeting could not be deciphered as at press time yesterday.
Though the crux of the meeting was unknown, it was gathered that the governor was open to all options, including dumping the party for another or walking away to wait for another opportunity from the party.

The governor’s capacity to fight back within the party or outside, it emerged, had been limited by his strained relationship with the Lagos State House of Assembly.

There were reports from within the House that the governor had instigated a plot to remove the speaker of the House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, a strong Tinubu loyalist. That plot quickly unravelled.

It was also learnt yesterday that a sizeable proportion of the members of the State House of Assembly attended a meeting at the party secretariat to discuss the development.

One of the sources, who spoke under anonymity with Vanguard, said the lawmakers have resolved to commence impeachment moves against Ambode as soon as they resume from the recess.

A member of the State House of Assembly estranged from the Tinubu mainstream who spoke on the condition of anonymity said yesterday:

“It could be rumour, but the source I heard it from was an indication that it is nothing far from the truth.

“Although, it was debunked, the people I heard it from were those I believed knew what they were saying. The people I spoke with gave it a possibility that, it is real. Asked, where the impeachment move is coming from, he said, “Unfortunately, it is coming from both the Lagos State House of Assembly and all the LCDAs.
According to another source, all the chairmen of APC in 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs have signed the nomination form of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu as an alternative choice.

GENESIS OF AMBODE’S TROUBLE

Ambode’s troubles with the political establishment in Lagos had for long been reported in political circles in the state.

A South-West governor close to Tinubu was said to have been at the forefront of the agitation to stop Ambode’s second term ambition.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, and Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, it was claimed had prevailed on the APC leader to support Ambode’s re-election plan.

At the centre of the allegations against Ambode was that the governor alienated the political mainstream in the state. Some others described the governor as heady with a capacity to decapitate Tinubu and his associates should he get a second term.

The issue of the PSP operators in the disposal of refuse was said to have been very touchy for the political elite, many of whom were entrenched in the PSP scheme as a way of servicing the political base.

Ambode, however, dismantled the scheme without as much appreciation of their role.
Even worse for the governor was the fact that the alternative arrangement made to replace the PSP operators have not done a good work, leading to mounting heaps refuse in the commercial capital of the country.

Party stalwarts had also complained that traditional acts of patronage that normally came the way of government did not come from Ambode.

However, Ambode it was claimed, decided not to patronise the political leaders on the premise that he had left politicking for Tinubu while he concentrated on the act of governance.

RUDE SHOCK

The face-off between Ambode and Tinubu came to the fore recently at a stakeholders’ meeting at the party’s secretariat, at Acme Road, Ogba, Lagos where Tinubu throughout the meeting failed to raise the hands or endorse a second term for Ambode which was a rude shock to members in attendance.

It was gathered that various support groups which had been created for Ambode’s re-election campaign had for some time been put on hold, pending final clearance from Tinubu.

FAILED EFFORTS

On different occasions, recently, some APC chieftains (names withheld) have confirmed that a number of political leaders and traditional rulers had impressed it on Tinubu not “to listen to those inciting him against Ambode.”

One of the chieftains who confided in Vanguard at the weekend, simply stated, “Ambode is at a crossroads” because all his supporters have backed off as all efforts to resolve the difference met a brick wall with Tinubu who insisted on a fresh candidate (kept to his heart) for the job.

Oba Akiolu was said to have tried to convince Tinubu to change his mind, but all proved abortive.

According to the chieftain, “It is only Tinubu and Ambode that can resolve the issues, not even President Muhammed Buhari. The issue is like that of a married couple having a family grudge.

No third party can really know the source of their fight let alone resolve it. The two, Tinubu and Ambode, must have a closed-door meeting without a third party to settle this current imbroglio. This is not about loyalty, it’s fundamental.”

APC KEEPS MUM

However, it was learnt that members of the State Executive Council have been jittery over the development, not knowing where the pendulum will swing in the 2019 governorship ticket.

Those with political aspirations were said to be worst hit as they could be shown the way out at any moment. Most of them have started making moves, meeting the party leadership and stakeholders for an endorsement from Tinubu and other decision-makers.

One of the aspirants who spoke to Vanguard on the basis of anonymity said: “The decision of the party to adopt direct primaries has caused panic in the fold of the aspirants in Lagos. We are left in the dark, and that is why some aspirants have put on hold their ambition and begun moves to get Tinubu’s endorsement.”

 

Credit: Vanguard

BIG STORY

Minimum Wage: States’ll Go Bankrupt If We Pay N30,000 —– Governors

Peter Okunoren

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Governors of the 36 states of the federation under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) have said states cannot afford to pay the proposed N30,000 minimum wage.

The NGF chairman and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, told newsmen that it was impractical to implement the N30,000 minimum without states going into bankruptcy.

He said the only alternative to paying the N30,000 minimum wage was for the Federal Government to accede to the review of the national revenue allocation formula or to downsize workforce.

The governors who met, yesterday in Abuja, have therefore, resolved to put together another committee to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to work out another formula to address the issue.

The members of the committee to see President Buhari are Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna).

President Buhari last week Tuesday received the report of the Tripartite Committee on the Review of National Minimum Wage.

The committee which recommended N30,000 as the new national minimum wage also submitted a draft bill that will be sent to the National Assembly. Organised Labour has given December date as deadline for all processes leading to the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage else they will embark on another round of strike.

But speaking after an emergency meeting of the NGF, Governor Yari: “We have seen what has been presented to the president by the committee; as a member of the committee, Kebbi governor said the committee did not take our submission of N22,500 because it came late. I am surprised how you can do this without the input of the states, because the states are the key stakeholders in this business. So, a situation whereby our report is not taken or considered by the tripartite committee to present to the president, I don’t know how the committee wants us to work.

“But we still say we want to pay but the issue is the ability to pay. The N18,000 today, when the president assumed office, 27 states were not able to pay; not that they choose not to pay. So, now that you say N30,000, how many of them can pay? We will be bankrupt. As Nigerians, we should look at the issue seriously. While other people are saying that governors are flying private jets and living in affluence, that one is not luxury but compulsory.

“The issue of government overhead cost, if you put it together with personnel cost, it cannot solve this problem. Like Lagos that is paying about N7 billion as salaries, if you say it should pay N30,000, now it will be N13 billion. From our calculation, it is only Lagos State that will be able to pay N30,000. As Nigerians, there is no other country we have and we should be fair to this country.”

Asked the way forward, Yari said: “We will continue to talk with Labour, let them see reasons why governors have difficulties. Some of us have Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). For instance, the money Lagos State is using to pay is not coming from Abuja. They have a way of getting their money from IGR and that is why they can afford to pay. Lagos gets money through VAT. Apart from Lagos, even Rivers cannot afford to pay. So, we have been crying out about this since 2011 but no one will listen. One critical example is that some state ration their salaries while others put everything they earn on the table and ask labour to come and see and ask them to suggest how much should go for capital and personnel cost. Some say 70 percent for personnel cost and 30 percent for capital projects, yet the states cannot pay and they put the remaining as outstanding.

“If you are talking about oil, the price is not what it used to be. From last year to date, it is $20 less from $75 to $55. So where is the money to pay? We should not exploit this matter further. We are leaders today, tomorrow others will be there. So let us look at this matter seriously to see how we can do it properly. It is our primary responsibility to see that everybody is happy.”

When reminded that part of Labour’s grouse was that governors have refused to submit audited account, the NGF chairman said: “We have given the committee audited account of the states to guide them. But if they put the audited account for the past 10-14 years, can you get something out of it? We are going to use the report of the audited committee to make further presentation. It is the same labour that is pushing for the N30,000 that will still turn around to say that the governors did not do any infrastructure. How are we going to achieve that by paying only salaries?”

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BIG STORY

Orange Drugs CEO Builds Luxury Home, Rivals Tinubu’s Mansion On Bourdillon [PHOTOS]

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The home of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is certainly the most known on Bourdillon Road in Ikoyi, Lagos.

Now a new mansion on the road will henceforth be competing for attention with that of Asiwaju Tinubu.

The house is owned by Sir Tony Ezenna, the 61-year-old Chairman of Orange Drugs Limited, a pharmaceutical company in Lagos.

Ezenna did the housewarming at the weekend and opened the even more luxurious interior for his guests to rejoice with him.

Many politicians were there, including Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige; Senators Andy Ubah, Dino Melaye and Hope Uzodinma.

The pictures of the house have been trending in the social media ever since.

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BIG STORY

FG Serves Roadside Ladipo Market Auto Parts Dealers Eviction Notice

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The Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Adedamola Kuti, on Tuesday issued final eviction warning to auto spare parts dealers at the popular Ladipo Market in Lagos, trading on its Right of Way.

Kuti also served final notices on car dealers on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway during a RoW recovery tour by the ministry.

While inspecting the Ladipo Market, he warned spare parts dealers who displayed their wares on the road set back to desist from the act and trade only inside the market.

He also warned auto mechanics using the highway in front of the market as workshops to vacate immediately to avoid being victims of government action.

Kuti said that the traders usually used their wares to block the highway and engaged in street trading, thereby creating an obstruction and causing gridlock.

He said: “We are just recovering our RoW. We are not here to disturb anybody’s business but individual businesses should not disturb other road users.

“The road is not part of the market. The market is right inside; go inside and transact business.’’

Kuti said that the ministry had served earlier notices on the traders to vacate the RoW and was giving them a final warning before the government would move in to enforce sanctions.

He said: “We are not here to disturb anybody’s business. The road is not for trading; they should go into the market to do transactions.’’

Jude Nwankwo, President-General, Ladipo Central Executive Auto Dealers Association, promised that the association was going to ensure total compliance by its members.

He said: “We have promised to comply and there must be a free flow of traffic here.”

Nwankwo said that the association was going to shut down the market on Friday till noon to clean it in order to address sanitation concerns raised by the controller’s team.

He appealed to the Lagos State Government to construct a pedestrian bridge and car park for the market operators to save lives and reduce hardship on road users and customers to the market.

During the tour of car dealers’ shops on both carriageways of the Lagos Ibadan-Expressway, Kuti appealed to the various companies to comply with the directive and remove cars parked on road setbacks for sale.

He said: “We have warned you that you should leave the highway. We are already expanding this road and we do not want this obstruction on our highway.
“Please leave before we come and evacuate the cars.”

The controller said that “Federal Government RoW is 150ft, about 50 meters from the center of the highway’’.

Kuti said that the contract for the rehabilitation and expansion of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was ongoing and the ministry did not want obstruction to the project.

He said: “We have warned them; they have been issued letters and now, this is going to be a final warning.

“The next time we come, we are coming to enforce the law.

“They cannot continue to do business on a busy highway, it is unacceptable.’’

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Lagos State Ministry of Environment had marked all the auto shops after the Otedola Bridge on Ibadan-bound carriageway on the expressway for demolition.

NAN reports that some of the car dealers were remorseful, rendered apologies and promised to move their cars from the highway, while others insisted that they did not get previous notices served.

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