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Southern, Middle Belt forum, CUPP differ on Agbaje, Gbadamosi

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PHOTO: Facebook/Babatunde O. Gbadamosi

I didn’t step down, says PDP candidate
Lagos State might likely be one of the toughest battlegrounds for the gubernatorial elections scheduled to hold on Saturday as various groups have come out to endorse and adopt several candidates of their choice ahead of the exercise.

While the Lagos chapter of Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has thrown its weight behind the standard bearer of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi, as its candidate, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum said it has adopted Mr. Jimi Agbaje of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as its candidate.

The coalition said over 35 political parties, including the state’s chapter of PDP, were part of the endorsement of Gbadamosi. The coalition said the move was aimed to form a common front that is stronger and capable of defeating the right wing elements masquerading as progressives within the ruling APC in Lagos.

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But in a swift reaction, Agbaje rejected CUPP’s position, saying it was a mixture of blackmail and mischief the reports making the rounds that his party joined others to adopt a common flag bearer for Saturday’s gubernatorial election.

While addressing a media conference yesterday, Secretary General of CUPP, Mr. Oloye Gboyega Adeniji, said the last presidential election had further confirmed the fears of Nigerians for the future unity and well being of the nation under the present crops of APC leaders. He said in view of that fear, 35 political parties under the CUPP met and agreed to put resources together to ensure a break from the past 20 years in Lagos, saying, “On this ground we determined to endorse Mr. Gbadamosi of ADP as our consensus governorship candidate for Lagos for the 2019 election.”

He said peradventure Gbadamosi wins, it would make him the first indigenous Lagosian to rule the state.

But in a counter statement, Agbaje urged Lagos electorate to disregard the supposed adoption of a common flag bearer under the aegis of CUPP, saying it only existed as a figment of the imagination of its evil sponsors.

According to him, “My party PDP is a bona-fide entity in the CUPP and I can assure you that no such endorsement has taken place, and it is not even on the cards.”

Agbaje also warned members of APC against intimidating his supporters. He said their acts of intimidation included direct threats to PDP members and non-indigenes to either vote APC or not to vote at all.

According to Agbaje, “I have not stepped down. And I will not step down for anybody. Neither my party nor I have any arrangement with anybody to drop out of the race. And at this point in time, no Jupiter can even make such a suggestion to me. It is taboo. It is indecent. It will not happen. Such has not even crossed my mind.

“To step down for whom? Stepping down will be an unfortunate betrayal of the hopes and dreams of millions of Lagosians who consider me as the only alternative to the impunity and corruption they have suffered in the hands of the Pharaoh who has selfishly cornered the state and its resources these past 20 years.

“The results of the last elections, despite its being cooked and falsified to favour APC, favour APC and show that Jimi Agbaje and PDP have a formidable standing and they are the preferred team to take over the leadership of the state.

“We are the glimmer of hope. We are the light at the end of the dark tunnel. And I will never be part of anything to betray our people’s trust and hope. So help me God.”

Also dismissing CUPP’s position, Lagos chapter of PDP urges electorate in the state to ignore the sponsored rumours that it has dropped its governorship candidate for another candidate in another party.

In a statement, the Publicity Secretary, Mr. Taofik Gani said the insinuation is one of the propaganda and ploys orchestrated by the so called governorship candidates to deceive Lagosians into voting for an already unfashionable party, the APC.

The Party reiterates her commitment to free Lagos State from the shackles of oppression, mediocrity and exploitation through the candidature of Agbaje and its platform.

The party therefore enjoins the electorate to go out on Saturday to vote for Agbaje and all PDP candidates contesting for the State House of Assembly.

The party added that the person and group behind the fake news that appropriate official reports should be investigated especially by the election umpire, saying, “Reports have been on social media of the adoption of a consensus candidate in which the PDP has been mentioned as being part of the so called arrangement, which is not true.”

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, in its resolution that Nigeria must be restructured, said the forum has considered the strategic importance of Lagos to the Nigerian project and therefore endorsed Agbaje as its governorship candidate.

Spokesmen of the forum, Yinka Odumakin (Afenifere), Prof Chigozie Ogbu (Ohanaeze), Senator Bassey Henhaw (PANDEF), and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt) said considering the importance of the state, “While we cannot be indifferent to who rules the state at this critical stage of our national life, we have looked at the build-up to Saturday’s governorship election and it is clear there are two leading candidates, Sanwo-Olu of APC, but that Agbaje has, for over 20 years, been involved in the struggles to rearrange Nigeria as an Afenifere man and we have no reservations in encouraging our people to choose him as governor of Lagos in the March 9 election.”

The forum therefore urged all nationalities in Lagos to come out to exercise their franchise without fear or favour.

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