Lagos 2023: Chances of APC, PDP senatorial aspirants ahead of primaries
As the 2023 senatorial elections are fast approaching, the contest for the three senatorial seats in Lagos State is between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Other political parties will participate as usual for the sake of it. So far, they have not made significant impact in sensitising the populace regarding their intentions.
Since 1999 PDP has only produced senators from Lagos West and Central, when Senators Adeseye Ogunlewe (West) won the platform of PDP and Ambassador Musiliu Obanikoro (Central) won under the Alliance for Democracy (AD). Obanikoro had to leave for PDP when himself and former governor of the state, Bola Tinubu, disagreed before the 2003 elections.
In the 2003 elections Ogunlewe and Obanikoro lost to candidates of then Action Congress (AC) and thereafter, PDP couldn’t win any senatorial seat in Lagos.
In the 2020 Lagos East by-election, which was conducted to replace the vacuum left by the late Senator Bayo Oshinowo of APC, who died during the COVID-19 pandemic, candidate of the ruling party, Tokunbo Abiru defeated Babatunde Gbadamosi of the PDP.
The real contest this time around will take place in the party primaries, after which the elections will be decided by those who are able to convince voters, with reach and resources.
At present Lagos West and Central is where the real battle will take place since there will be no incumbency advantage. The incumbent lawmakers are not returning. Third term lawmaker, Senator Remi Tinubu of APC, wife of the national leader, Tinubu, has refused to participate.
In Lagos West, Senator Olamilekan Adeola aka Yayi, has transferred his participation to Ogun West senatorial district, where other formidable opponents are working hard to stop him. They say after benefiting in Lagos, he cannot now claim to come from Ogun, to the detriment of those who have been on ground.
Recall that Senator Adeola, in 2019 attempted to succeed former Governor Ibikunle Amosun but after strong opposition, he retraced his step and collapsed his Yayi Platform into Governor Dapo Abiodun’s structure.
In Lagos West, three senatorial aspirants, Obanikoro, former Deputy Governor of Lagos, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire and former commissioner of Transportation in Lagos, Kayode Opeifa have obtained the nomination and expression of interest form for the election.
It was said that Orelope-Adefulire didn’t submit her form and she may likely not participate in the primary.
The chances of Obanikoro getting the APC Lagos West senatorial ticket was uncertain until the news that Orelope-Adefulire didn’t submit her form. The development leaves Obanikoro and Opeifa to contest the May 30 and 31 primary.
The former Nigerian envoy to Ghana defected to APC after the 2015 general elections. He attempted to contest the Lagos West senatorial election in 2019 but he was stopped. His son, Babajide was however given the ticket to run for a seat in the House of Representatives as compensation for his father.
Initially, Obanikoro’s plan to pick the Lagos West ticket was threatened as the party was said to settle for the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Orelope-Adefulire. But now that Orelope-Adefulire allegedly did not return her form, the game might have changed.
There were strong indications that the party hierarchy in Lagos preferred Orelope-Adefulire to succeed the incumbent, Senator Adeola.
The Guardian however gathered that since Orelope-Adefulire didn’t submit her form, Tinubu had contemplated obtaining a nomination form for his sister in law, Mrs Lola Akande, through the backdoor since the time for issuance has lapsed.
The national leader is also said to be considering Mrs Idiat Adebule, former Deputy Governor to Akinwunmi Ambode, as replacement for Senator Adeola, in case Mrs Akande’s candidacy did not fly with Lagos West leaders.
Adebule was expected to leverage her closeness to the National Chairman of APC, Senator Adamu Abdullahi when they both served in the National Reconciliation Committee of APC to procure the nomination form from the backdoor.
It is not clear how the form will be obtained after the window for the purchase of forms expired, and aspirants screened by the National Secretariat of the party.
The Guardian learnt that forces in the party are working to ensure that Obanikoro gets the ticket and. To achieve this there might be a deal for Babajide Obanikoro to drop his ambition of returning to the House of Representatives. Both father and son cannot get tickets under the current circumstances. The party leaders must have thought it expedient to support a female candidate for the West this time since Senator Tinubu has backed down from the race.
For Opeifa, some party leaders thinks he is too independent minded. He is also considered as politically weak to confront someone like Adewale of PDP, who is tipped to win the opposition party’s ticket.
Since 2011, Senator Tinubu has represented Lagos Central, while Lagos East was represented by Gbenga Ashafa 2011 to 2019, Bayo Oshinowo served between 2019 to 2020 and Tokunbo Abiru from 2020 till date. Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon represented Lagos West from 2011 to 2015 and Senator Adeola 2015 till date.
The factor of gender balancing may have triggered the desperation of Tinubu to want to replace Orelope-Adefulire with either Akande or Adugbule.
PDP has two major aspirants for Lagos West, who are Adewale and Prince Yommy Ogungbe from Badagry axis.
The party may have some issues representing Adewale. A chieftain of the party confided in The Guardian that it might be difficult at this time to present him because of the clamour for an indigene to represent the zone.
According to him, “Although Adewale is assumed to be the strongest among the aspirants with the capacity to withstand whoever emerges as candidate of APC, it may be difficult to market him because he has once made an attempt to contest the governorship election in Ekiti State. The electorate in Lagos West may not want another non-indigene to represent them.”
Ogungbe may also have some issues since he is from the Badagry axis of the zone. As it were, the strongest among the governorship aspirants in PDP is considered to be Abdul Azeez Adediran aka Jandor, Convener Lagos4Lagos Movement.
Jandor is also from the Badagry axis. It may be impossible for two members of Badagry to get the senatorial and governorship ticket same time.
It is said that Lagos West has remained the strongest base of PDP.
Abiru to face PDP candidate in Lagos East
SENATOR Abiru has already been given a clearance to seek re-election in Lagos East. At present there is no strong contender for the APC senatorial ticket in the zone except the incumbent Senator.
However there are two major aspirants jostling for PDP’s East senatorial ticket. They are former Zonal Ex-Officio of the party, Yeye Agnes Shobajo and Mrs Sadia Odofin-Fafowora. They both contested for the ticket in 2020 by-election and lost to Mr Babatunde Gbadamosi.
It is not certain who among the two women will win the primary but Lagos East has always been the weakest axis of PDP in most elections since democracy returned to the country in 1999.
IN Lagos Central, there are three major aspirants jostling for the ticket under the ruling APC, who are former Nigerian envoy to Spain, Chief Adelola Seriki, former Lagos Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Alhaji Oyinlomo Danmole and Deputy Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni.
The three aspirants have what it takes to get the party’s ticket. It was insinuated that the party’s leadership might have preferred Eshinlokun-Sanni with the aim to push him out of the Assembly.
The incumbent Speaker of the Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, who was initially planning to go to the Senate in Lagos West was allegedly asked to step down his ambition by Tinubu. But to maintain peace in the Assembly, Eshinlokun-Sanni, who is also said to be eyeing the seat of Speaker, needed to be given an alternative.
In another narrative, it was assumed that Mrs Tinubu is also supporting the aspiration of the deputy Speaker against Seriki and Danmole but The Guardian reliably gathered that the incumbent Senator has sounded a strong note of warning that nobody should drop either the name of her husband or hers. She was quoted to have said that the three aspirants should go and test their popularity in the primary.
Seriki is not also a pushover in the game but the fact that he once left APC and returned years back like Obanikoro, may work against him. Some party members said he still stands a good chance to win the ticket because of his closeness to the national leader.
Danmlole is also a factor to reckon with but like Seriki, they are both considered to have more administrative experience than Eshinlokun-Sanni in terms of the capacity in which they have served in the past.
In the PDP, there are also three aspirants contesting the Central ticket. A University don, Dr Adetokunbo Pearse and a Chieftain of the party, Chief Wale Gomez, had initially indicated interest to contest for the governorship ticket. They both backed out, allegedly for Jandor, who is considered as the best material PDP can use to displace the ruling party.
Also in the contest is Chief Sunbo Onitiri. He was the senatorial candidate of the PDP in 2019, which featured 14 contestants. Oluremi Tinubu defeated him and 12 candidates of other parties. Tinubu received 58.03% of the votes, while Onitiri received 39.25%.
A party chieftain Onitiri is tipped as likely winner. A source said both Pearse and Gomez are not likely to be as strong as expected to tackle whoever APC will present.
But Gomez said he has traversed all the wards in the state while trying to contest for the governorship ticket before he dropped the ambition. “From what I learnt on the field I am convinced that I have what it takes to win the ticket and also go ahead to defeat APC,” he told The Guardian.
Pundits still uphold the view that APC has what it takes to retain the three senatorial districts election in 2023.
One of the reasons is that the major opposition party is still battling internal issues based on the outcome of its last state congress. The former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode Geroge is still very angry over the congress and he has not ceased from urging the national headquarters of he party to correct the anomalies.