Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State, has gotten the nod of the Bola Tinubu-led Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC), the highest decision-making body of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos, to rerun for a second term in office, 9news Nigeria reports.
And the smooth talking chief executive has the big landlord (Tinubu’s) own presidential ambition to thank for his luck.
On Monday, the Lagos State Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC), endorsed the governor’s second term bid, what 9news Nigeria learnt was at the behest of Tinubu
Gboyega Akosile, Sanwo-Olu’s chief press secretary, who first broke the news of the endorsement in a tweet, said his principal was also given pass mark for staying true to the developmental agenda of Lagos.
When Sanwo-Olu emerged governor in 2019, as the ultimate beneficiary of the booting out of his predecessor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who had only managed four years in power, he was himself destined to bite the dust in four years.
Although many theories were propounded to explain Ambode’s poor luck, the most prominent of which was that he neglected key party leaders and became too arrogant in power, the true situation is that Ambode’s fate was predictable in 2015, long before he was shown the door in 2019.
Aside from the confrontations the former governor had with some top party chieftains of the APC, the Tinubu four-year factor also worked against his second term bid, according to information available to 9news Nigeria
Much like Mr. Babatunde Fashola before him, he was chosen by a godfather who had, from the outset, decided on a four-year mandate and began early enough to set him up for what would become his fate in 2019.
Many would remember how Fashola himself was almost thrown out in 2011, after just four years, but he survived the onslaught when it became obvious to the kingmaker that he was going to join the then ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which would have used federal structure to keep him in power; a scenario that could have spelled the end for the Jagaban. The political complexities of 2011 saved Fashola.
For true students of power, the reason is rather straightforward. After eight years as governor, Tinubu established himself as the undisputed godfather of Lagos politics, and has been determined to ensure that none of his chosen successors matches his record to nurse any thoughts of establishing their own foothold or striking out on their own.
Unlike Fashola, Ambode had nowhere to hide in 2019. He got carried away in the corridors of power, no thanks to his own attitude, bad advisers and to a large extent, some of his aides.
Ambode was having it good, until the ship hit the rock and the leaders of the party called for his removal.
They were championed by Cardinal James Odumbaku, popularly called “Baba Eto”, who had not hidden his disdain for the then governor. It was gathered that at a point, Asiwaju was considering pardoning Ambode but party leaders stood their ground and threatened to also move against Tinubu if he did not heed their call.
Ambode, thus became the second Nigeria’s state governor to be denied a second term in office by his party. Former Anambra State Governor, Chinwoke Mbadinuju was the first in the category.
It was a contest that arrested not only the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari, then APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, but also Nigerians in the diaspora.
The episodes started like a joke but gradually snowballed into conflagration of sort consuming Ambode at the end of the seeming show of strength.
Ambode was accused of being personally vindictive of anyone that criticized him.
Sanwo-olu was then drafted in 2019 to stop Ambode over the alleged anti-party activities and for not playing the Lagos politics well enough.
But Sanwo-Olu was also destined to govern for four years, at the end of which, either the Head of Service (HoS), Hakeem Muri-Okunola or Femi Hamzat, the deputy governor, takes over as governor. But circumstances have changed, and Sanwo-Olu can thank his stars.
The removal of Ambode, though seemed simple, had come at a heavy political cost for Tinubu who had shunned pleas by governors of the APC to allow their colleague to continue as governor. The governors, it is understood, now want their pound of flesh from Tinubu who has, in view of his presidential ambition, approached them for support, and Ambode has also emerged in the picture to help put spanner in the works.
In the interest of his presidential ambition, Tinubu needs all the support he can muster, and more importantly, a united home front, hence the decision to allow Sanwo-Olu to take another bite at the cherry.
“At this stage, Tinubu doesn’t want distraction. He has directed that all resources and energy should be directed for him clinch the APC presidential ticket and thereafter secure victory at the poll in 2023.
“He wants to avoid division in the Lagos APC where he is based. There won’t be primary election for governor. He, Sanwo-Olu, will be a consensus candidate.”
Also, the GAC’s decision was to also spite Ambode who has pitched tent with the cabal at the Presidency to frustrate Tinubu’s ambition,” noted a top party source in the state close to members of the GAC.
Time and circumstance have played in the governor’s favour, but he also managed to take lessons from Ambode’s mistakes and paid attention to the leaders of the party in the state.
“Sanwo-Olu is in the good books of the GAC, alongside top party members,” another party source said.
“He has reversed many of Ambode’s decision that affected party chieftains which made them turn against him.
“Sanwo-Olu is playing his cards for the APC chieftains well. Also, Tinubu wants all attention of the state APC to be focused on his ambition. That was why the GAC had to quickly announce Sanwo-Olu to quench the aspiration of any other aspirants.”
The 57-year-old Sanwo-Olu has been a longtime protégé of Tinubu.
He took his political baby steps as an aide of Mr Tinubu’s deputy, Femi Pedro, during Mr Tinubu’s first term as governor. He was later appointed Mr Tinubu’s special adviser on corporate matters before being named the commissioner for Commerce and Industry. He has since held down two other cabinet positions in the state – commissioner for Budget and Planning and commissioner for Establishments and Training.
But before politics, he had cut his teeth in the corporate world. Between 1994 and 1997, he worked at the defunct Lead Merchant Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa, where he was the head, Foreign Money Market and First Inland Bank, Plc (now First City Monument Bank).
He left banking and moved into the construction and property development sector where he worked with Baywatch Group Limited and First Class Group Limited.
Mr Sanwo-Olu holds degrees from the University of Lagos. The London Business School and the Lagos Business School.