Some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), including an aspirant in the forthcoming House of Representatives by-election in Surulere Federal Constituency 1 have protested against what they termed an imposition of a candidate by the party leader and Chief of Staff, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
So far, five aspirants have indicated interests to partake in the by-election to replace Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who represented Surulere Federal Constituency 1 until his appointment as the Chief of Staff to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The aspirants are a two-term lawmaker at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Kabir Lawal, former chairman of Surulere Local Government, Hon. Agboola Dabiri, Surulere LGA chairman, Hon. Fuad Laguda, Hon. (Mrs) Muazu and Hon. Mukadasi.
A chieftain of the party who craved anonymity revealed that there is no contest in the emergence of the party’s candidate for the by-election, noting that the issue has been settled by the Chief of Staff.
He said, “Yes, there were five aspirants jostling to replace Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila at the House but it is no longer news that the case has been settled.
“Hon Fuad Laguda has been anointed by the Chief of Staff. He has handpicked Laguda and since the leader has spoken, we believe that’s the best for the constituency.
“You can see his posters all around Surulere. Laguda is the LGA chairman. His candidacy is opposed by many of the aspirants and those among party members that felt that the act is a disservice to them as members of the party.
“They felt every contestant should be allowed to try his or her strength at the primaries. Apart from being the party LGA chairman in Surulere, Laguda has never held any appointment or elective position, so they felt he is an imposition on the general will of the people of the constituency.”
One of the aggrieved aspirants, Hon Kabir Lawal expressed displeasure at the choice of Laguda over him.
He alleged that he was being punished for running against Hon. Gbajabiamila in the 2019 House of Representatives primary election.
Lawal made the allegation in a voice note which he addressed and sent to the Chief of Staff to the erstwhile Speaker of the House of Representatives, Wasiu Smart on Friday 15, 2023.
He said, “Today, 15th September, 2023, I heard some things that were heartrending. I deliberately didn’t want to openly respond to them to avoid being misquoted or misrepresented so I decided to respond to you directly and share my response with others if need be.
“I held that what informed the decision of the Chief of Staff not to support my aspiration to the House of Representatives was because I ran against him in the 2018 primary election.
“There were insinuations that this created a stumbling block to my emergence as the candidate of the party for the House of Representatives race.
“It would have been good if you had held to the general belief that the Chief of Staff deliberately didn’t want to empower me because of the fear of the unknown.
“I worked diligently for his return to the House when he contested for the fifth and sixth terms. I also held a rally in support of his aspiration and mobilised votes on the day of the election in 2019.
“Again in 2023, I was instrumental to the success we recorded at the poll. It therefore came to me as a surprise when he declared he won’t support my aspiration on the grounds that some Obas are against it. Out of respect for him as the leader, I accepted without knowing that he would be appointed as the Chief of Staff. I never knew they had other agenda against me.”
Meanwhile, Spokesman of Lagos APC, Hon Seye Oladejo, described the alleged endorsement of a candidate as a rumour, adding that the party’s process for the emergence of candidates for elections is explicit.
He said, “Please don’t believe any rumour. The party’s process for the emergence of candidates for elections is very explicit. The by-election will not be an exemption. There will certainly be due process. there will be primaries where aspirants will test their popularity and acceptance before the party members.”
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