• Alebiosu, Basorun confirm GAC’s support for Abiru
Except there are last-minute changes or some intervention, former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Polaris Bank, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru, will be ratified as the sole and consensus candidate for the forthcoming Lagos East Senatorial bye-election on the platform of Lagos State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC). The party’s primary election is scheduled for Thursday, September 3, 2020, at the party’s secretariat on Acme Road, Ogba.
Contrary to conflicting information from the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Seye Oladejo and his assistant, Mr. Abiodun Salami over the authenticity of Abiru’s candidacy for the bye-election, The Guardian reliably gathered from senatorial leaders of Lagos East, who are also members of the party’s Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) that the former Polaris Bank CEO is set to clinch the ticket as a consensus candidate “and surely going to win the senatorial bye-election come Saturday October 31, 2020,” one of the leaders from the zone boasted.
In separate reports over the weekend, the electorate, especially APC faithful, was thrown into confusion when Oladejo said the party was yet to select any candidate until it conducted its primary. Oladejo’s position is different from what Salami had earlier confirmed to some medium (not The Guardian) that Abiru had been selected as the consensus candidate.
Salami was quoted to have said that party elders, including APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had agreed on the choice of Abiru, who recently resigned as CEO of Polaris Bank to contest the senatorial bye-election. Salami also said Abiru had been successfully screened at the party secretariat and that other aspirants voluntarily stepped down in agreement with the party. He was quoted to have boasted that Abiru is the consensus candidate of the party.
But in a swift reaction, Oladejo distanced the party from Salami’s comment, saying, “The party has not picked any candidate for the forthcoming bye-election. It is not until the primary has been conducted that the candidates for Lagos East Senatorial District and Kosofe 2 Constituency will be determined.”
Oladejo, therefore, urged citizens of Lagos East to disregard any speculation or rumour making the rounds that the party has already picked Abiru as its consensus candidate for the senatorial election.
When contacted for further clarification, the state’s chairman of the party, Chief Tunde Balogun, confirmed that Abiru is the only aspirant that obtained nomination form for the senatorial bye-election, but that he was not yet a candidate until the party conducts its primary election “where he would be ratified as our consensus candidate.”
When he was further probed to clarify the position held by his spokesmen, Balogun said, “You are hearing from me. Abiru is the only one that obtained the party’s nomination form, but until after the primary is conducted, he remains an aspirant. This is what the law says.”
In a telephone conversation yesterday, a member of GAC and leader of Lagos East APC senatorial district, Otunba Bushira Alebiosu categorically confirmed that Abiru is the consensus candidate “we all agreed to present him for the bye-election. We would go for his ratification on Thursday.”
Alebiosu’s position also put a lie to the insinuation that GAC did not endorse Abiru. However, another leader from Lagos East zone and member of GAC, an octogenarian, Chief Reuben Olorunfunmi Basorun also confirmed that the council’s endorsement of Abiru was an internal arrangement, which does not stop the party from conducting the primary in accordance with the party’s constitution.”
The report that a former Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Asipa Kaoli Olusanya, who had initially expressed interest to contest the bye-election, was intimated and ordered to leave the race by Tinubu, Bashorun said there was no truth in it.
“He came to me that he would like to contest and I gave him my blessings. He later came back to say he is withdrawing. In his letter of withdrawal, he wrote that he is withdrawing in deference to the party and the national leader. Nobody forced anybody to quit the race.”
Another source also dismissed the sentiment concerning Olusanya, saying, “Kaoli Olusanya served as a commissioner under Tinubu; he is also Vice Chairman, Lagos East of the party and one of his children is currently serving in Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s cabinet. There is no injustice done to anybody.”
Another stakeholder and former lawmaker, who represented Epe Federal Constituency from the zone, Mr. Lanre Odubote, said Abiru is sure of getting the ticket, adding, “even if the law forbids anybody from referring to him as a candidate until Thursday. There is no confusion or conflict of information from the party. The officers were only saying the same thing in different ways.”
While reacting to the development, Salami denied any conflict of interest between himself and Oladejo, saying, “The reporter whom he spoke with, in the first instance, did not frame his words appropriately, which was the cause of the reaction. He missed out where I said that the party will still hold a primary.”