With Less than three days to All Progressives Congress (APC), Lagos Chapter chairmanship primary elections, battles among leaders on who becomes the preferred candidate that will represent the party across 20 Local government and 37 Local Council (LCDAs) have continue growing tension in these areas with no exception to Surulere where APC leaders have openly demonstrated their interest for the Youth Organising Secretary, Idris Aregbe’s candidacy from lists of aspirants jostling for same seat.
Aregbe’s candidacy in Surulere was in contradiction to House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, choice but the leaders have become unanimous in their agreement after the party’s national leader, Bola Tinubu, concluded over the weekend that all aspirants were entitled to elections and that no leader should hide under his name in denying aspirants their eligible rights.
These battles among leaders had intensified and from indications, it is not likely to subside within APC caucus in Lagos even after the primaries become concluded.
Through sources, The Guild gathered that from the Lagos State Governor’s office and body language of APC leaders, even at Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC), level, the party’s highest decision-making body in the state, as well as party faithfuls have begun to root for the Youth Organising Secretary to emerge as the APC candidate for Surulere chairmanship election.
They said that Aregbe’s preference against other aspirants and even that of Gbajabiamila’s choice candidate, Sulaimon Yusuff, the incumbent vice-chairman, was concluded on the Youth Organising Secretary’s contributions to the development of the state both at grassroots and state level.
According to sources, Aregbe developmental contribution in areas of culture, entertainment, and human capacity building through various empowerment programmes were reasons for the leaders’ settlement for his candidacy.
As gathered, Aregbe’s declaration to contest for the Office of Chairman, Surulere local government was said to have been considered as best thing happening to Lagos and that younger generation would benefit more should the youth organising secretary emerge as chairman for Surulere local government.
One of the leaders that spoke to The Guild exclusively from Surulere stated that since Tinubu has dissociated himself from imposition, often witnessed during past elections, party faithfuls and electorates would be able to better use their powers in electing their preferred candidates during the primaries scheduled for Saturday, May 29th, 2021.
The leader added that for party members in Surulere, Tinubu’s decision was a relief for him and other leaders after Gbajabiamila began to direct that aspirants collapse their campaign for Yusuff, his anointed candidate, a decision that did not go down well with many that had been clamouring for change, particularly for younger generations to pilot the council affairs.
According to him, for us, Aregbe represents that youth with the zeal and ideology that can change the face of Surulere and make the council the pride of Lagos through policies and programmes that would engage youth as well as make them contribute their quota to development within the council.
A stakeholder from Ward G2, Jamila Mu’azu-Olukosi, who spoke to The Guild on ongoing development in the area ahead of APC council chairman and councillor primaries, disclosed that leaders across Surulere awards have resolved to support Aregbe candidacy and that messages on their choice of candidate were also been communicated to entire party members within the local government.
Mu’azu-Olukosi added that the APC leaders’ choice was reached after Aregbe declared his intention to run for the seat of Surulere council chairman considering his contributions to developments of the area over the years.
She indicated that the Youth Organising Secretary aspiration was timely and was coming at a time when the council needed a promising and competent younger generation that can turn around and add new face value to Surulere.
The stakeholder stated that leaders would not compromise on Aregbe’s choice particularly after Gbajabiamila decided not to honour any stakeholders’ within Surulere as he was ready to use his office to ensure his anointed candidates emerge as council chairman, Vice-chairman, and councillors across wards.
She hinted that other aspirants have agreed to collapse their campaign structure and support Aregbe in achieving his dream of becoming APC flagbearer for the forthcoming council polls irrespective of Gbajabiamila’s plans to influence outcome of the primaries.
According to her, with supports of the leaders across six wards with Surulere, victory is certain for Aregbe during primary elections and after Saturday, the council APC will have an energetic and visionary young man as a candidate for chairman
“We know that Gbajabiamila is trying to frustrate processes in other to have his way for his candidate but leaders across the six wards within Surulere will not allow such to happen.
“Aregbe is representing all leaders in Surulere APC and we are ready to give him needed support from ward-to-ward to come out victories during the primaries since Gbajabiamila has refused to recognise other stakeholders of the party in Surulere.
“Gbajabiamila has told us to our face that from Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Councillors, supervisory-councilors will come from his caucus and that it is time for him to deal with anyone that refused to support him. When Idris Aregbe declared his intention to run for the seat of Surulere chairman, we all leaders were happy that this young man is truly God sent, and coupled with his contributions, his aspiration was willingly welcome and accepted by formidable leaders by APC within Surulere.
“We know that Gbajabiamila had been putting pressure on the young man to step down for his candidate, and several meetings were also held to intimidate both Aregbe and other aspirants but leaders remained firm to their choice, come rain, come sunshine.
“We call on our national leader, Tinubu, the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and GAC leaders to call Mr. Speaker to order so as not to make Surulere become violent during the primaries.
“We have been hearing of Gbajabiamila recruiting thugs and cultists to cause unrest during the primaries in Surulere, but I and other leaders including, the outgoing council chairman, Tajudeen Ajide, have all decided that nothing will affect the exercise on Saturday”, Mu’azu-Olukosi added.
Also, at Office of the incumbent council chairman, Tajudeen Ajide, The Guild learnt that wish of the outgoing chairman and his supporters was that Aregbe succeeds him and not his vice-chairman which he believed does not have the pedigree to take Surulere beyond its present status.
The source added that many of the staff have joined Aregbe’s campaign movement, though through proxies, considering the civil servant status that forbade them from political activities, appealing to party faithful not to vote for Gbajabiamila’s candidate.
Closely monitoring activities across the councils, Office of Lagos State Governor, a source told The Guild authoritatively that belief the incumbent administration was that if Aregbe secures the party’s nod and possibly becomes the council chairman, he could further boost development across the council, restoring the old glory of Surulere.
According to him, over the years, contributions of the Youth Organising Secretary have been greatly monitored and the government believes that when he assumed a leadership role especially securing the party’s ticket on Saturday, more would be done to ensure development within the state particularly in Surulere.
The source, who did not want his name mentioned since he was not authorised to speak on the issue, added that the office would prefer to have Aregbe at the helm of affairs rather than have another person that does not share same ideology on Lagos development.
He confided in The Guild that the Governor’s office is closely monitoring events on APC primaries across the councils as they unfold especially in Surulere where it had become obvious that the Speaker aimed to use his status towards influencing who becomes APC standard-bearer ahead of the council elections.
Considering the tension that had continued to trail the party’s primaries, the APC, Lagos chapter has released names of returning officers for each councils in other to ensure free and fair polls on Saturday.
In the list made available to The Guild, the party leadership in Lagos allocated to each council returning officers that do not have a better understanding of political maneuverings that were playing out within councils particularly Surulere where Fariyudeen Arebi, an APC member from Epe Local Government, was picked for Surulere local government primaries.
On reasons for the action, a leader of the party, who was privy to drafting the list, disclosed that this was the only strategy that APC leadership in the state considered as best option to bring free and fair exercise on Saturday.
He added that the National leader, Tinubu’s stance last weekend further indicated that all efforts must be made to give every party faithful opportunity to exercise their rights within APC and that the secretariat does not have any preferred candidate during the primaries.
According to him, Aregbe is like every other aspirant aiming to secure APC ticket ahead of the council elections which Lagos Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) will be coordinating in a few weeks to come.
The Guild investigations within Aregbe’s camp further revealed that they had intensified efforts to win more APC members into their fold basically to swing the primaries in their favour considering alleged threat from Gbajabiamila and his anointed candidate to influence the exercise.