Obanikoro confirmation,and implication for Lagos Gubernatorial election
Even before the former minister of state for defence Senator Musiliu Obanikoro appeared before the Senate for confirmation as a ministerial nominee,there had been rumblings and threats from the opposition All Progressive Congress to make sure his nomination does not sail through,this was not just in the party's interest but for the APC national leader Asiwaju Tinubu's interest to cover his flank firmly, and at the same time severely weaken a potent threat to his Political machinations in Lagos,so it was a no brainer that Obanikoro had to be stopped.
To be fair to the APC especially in Lagos state,allowing him safe passage to an eventual ministerial appointment,will be akin to inadvertently gifting the opposition a political bulwark and allowing the streghtening of a power bloc that will come back to haunt them in subsequent election challenges.So when he appeared before the senate and his nomination was deffered,it came as little suprise to Political watchers.The dilemna however as things stood is that President Jonathan's hands were tied as Obanikoro's nomination was central to PDP's chance in Lagos regarding Gubernitorial election,and a strong showing for the incumbent President on March 28,so there was no chance of even replacing his name or offering him any other position which would have been a demotion anyway.
Even though the All Progressive Congress had their game plan mapped out, and were determined to firmly block Obanikoro's nomination reminiscent of the joker they sprung on the PDP when they hedged out Honourable Mulikat, to install then Honourable Tambuwal as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.However what they did not count on was the Political enigma called Senator David Mark,at the second screening where Obanikoro's nomination finally suceeded,all through the drama,feud and machinations that went on David Mark once again showed a sample of how he had managed to firmly secure his seat as Senate leader for so long,and also maintain a harmonious Senate for years something that was virtually unheard of before he came along.Love or hate David mark,and there is certainly a lot of negatives attached to him and his antecedents,he is firmly in control often resorting to his uncommon Political astuteness .
Now that Obanikoro has been confirmed,whatever ministerial portfolio he is given does not really matter as regards his Political importance to PDP in Lagos,what matters is the federal might that comes with being a Minister and most importantly having direct acess and the ears of the President.As the Lagos Gubanitorial elections stand, the winning of Lagos for the APC is not only central to Asiwaju Tinubu's political empire, considering this is the jewel in his crown,in addittion Lagos is central to the chances of the APC presidential candidate Gen Buhari's chances having a good showing in the South west.The region seen as the battleground,and determinant of who eventually wins this year's Presidential election.
For the People's Democratic Party this has been without question the best chance they have ever had at grabbing this highly coveted Governorship seat from the the APC,their Candidate Jimi Agbaje who contested against outgoing Governor Fashola lost mainly due to infighting within his party mainly between Obanikoro and the duo of Olabode George and Senator Ogunlewe,in addittion to a much stronger and unified Lagos APC in addittion to funding amongst several other convoluted reasons,this time around the Presidency has managed situations effectively,although not eradicated the biggest problem which is,arranging a temporary cessation of hostilities and the feud between Obanikoro and Olabode george and Ogunlewe respectively, especially after the dust raised when he lost the primaries amidst allegations of rigging.
Solving this feud was a master stroke which injected new momentum into the PDP chances,with an injection of funding into the Jimi Agbaje campaign by Presidency and Obanikoro publicly identifying and endorsing his candidature,Agbaje emerged from being a marginal challenge to the APC now the only barrier to APC's Ambode emerging victorious.
Obanikoro a force to be reckoned with in Lagos Politics by virtue of his long standing Grassroots appeal,has always been a problem for Asiwaju's Political dynasty in Lagos even if a muted one at times,now coupled with his first stint as a minister of state for defence he managed a resurgence to Political relevance due to his good performance and using the ministerial appointment to shore up his Political network.His controversial role in Ekiti Gubanitorial elections also points to a politically pragmatic and adept Politician who can do great damage with federal power in his kitty.Now add that to his recent nomination confirmation as a minister and the kind of political leverage he will bring to bear on the Lagos Gubanitorial elections.In addittion having been a long term associate of Asiwaju Tinubu,he can predict and second guess the political moves of the oracle himself which of course will be disconcerting to the chances of APC candidate Ambode.
The stakes are high in Lagos for all concerned,apart from a few states including Kano there are only a handful with the potential harvest of votes for a Presidential aspirant,so all the participants will be going all out financially and in the use of whatever power or leverage they have.It must however be noted that with the APC the fall out of the Guber Primaries are still reverbrating,many of the aspirants who are grumbling that they were robbed are still nursing their wounds in silence out of spite can they act as spoilers? bearing in mind the anger was not silent or muted but vociferous with many of them challenging Asiwaju's authority in public,this is in addittion to some areas of Lagos who have a grouse with APC over outgoing Governor Fashola's failure to develop or give them dividends of democracy they were promised,prominent amongst these are the voters in Alimosho and the misery they endure with bad road,flooding each rainy season,the Ibeju lekki people as well in addittion to the sore point of the toll.The recent documentary shown on AIT regarding Tinubu will hurt Lagosian's perception of APC which might rub off on Ambode.
On the side of the PDP it must be reiterated that the feud between Obanikoro and the duo of OlabodeGeorge/Ogunlewe is still far from resolved.This still has the potential to hurt Agbaje's chances at the polls,in addittion APC have a firm hand on key Political power blocs which Agbaje does not.As the Tinubu documentary has the potential to hurt Ambode,so does perceived Federal Government failings have the potential to hurt Agbaje.Everything having said and done Obanikoro as a minister, with federal mandate firmly clutched in his hand and a chance to prove his political mettle and relevance in Lagos state is a thought that has started giving Lagos APC sleepless nights since he was confirmed yesterday.
However Asiwaju is no stranger to sticky and challenging situations,the memory of his fight with former President Obasanjo is still fresh and how he overcame his second term election, even in the face of federal Government power.Whoever emerges winner after the Presidential election especially results in Lagos state and most importantly as the next Governor of Lagos state,one sure fact is that things will become more interesting and intriguing in ensuing days as we count down to both elections.
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