5 February 2013

Nigeria: Early Scramble for Babatunde Fashola's Job Begins

Intense lobbying and jostling have picked up among political actors currently serving in different capacities at the federal and state levels wanting to succeed the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), after the expiration of his tenure in 2015.

Prominent among the aspirants are Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; Senator Ganiyu Solomon, representing Lagos West Senatorial District; Senator Gbenga Ashafa, representing Lagos East Senatorial District; the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji; and ex-Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Muiz Banire.

Other aspirants interested in the job include Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives; former Governor Bola Tinubu's aide-de-camp, Mr. Gbolahan Lawal; and the immediate past Accountant-General of the state, Mr. Akin Ambode.

Another possible replacement for Fashola is the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeola Ipaye, although he is said not to be interested in the core politics of the state.

It was however gathered that the governorship position might be zoned to the Lagos East Senatorial Zone, taking into cognisance the fact that the serving governor comes from Lagos Central while his predecessor is from Lagos West.

If the governorship slot is eventually zoned to Lagos East, as is being canvassed, the move will put paid to the governorship ambitions of Hamzat (Lagos West), Gbajabiamila (Lagos Central), Lawal (Lagos Central), Banire (Lagos West), and Solomon (Lagos West) as possible contenders, leaving Ashafa, Ambode and Ikuforiji, who is currently facing graft charges, in the race.

But in response to enquiries on contenders for the race, the state's Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mr. Oladele Ajomale, said the party's leaders "are not talking about the governorship election yet," stating that the party was yet to deliberate on such issue."

The chairman, however, expressed strong opposition to the principle of zoning, noting that the principle "is a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) formula and not ACN's. We do not believe in such ideas. We believe in picking the best."

He said the next governor of the state could come from any part of the state, adding, "Our responsibility is to get the best and only the best will be good for the state.

"Wherever the candidate comes from, it does not matter. It is only those that can perform that will emerge eventually.

"It is not about zoning. Someone who cannot perform cannot govern the state. The state is too discriminatory for that. We always want the best. The only thing the state deserves is a quality candidate.

"We cannot choose someone who will drag the party backwards. The next governor of the state must be someone who will shatter the records of the incumbent governor.

"When the time comes, the right candidate will emerge. I have not seen anyone who is interested yet."

On Somolon's declaration to contest for the position, Ajomale explained that all qualified candidates "have the right to say what he or she want. But I am in the best position to tell the truth. The party is yet to decide who will

be the next governor of the state. But when the time comes, we will do that."

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