Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant Dr. Obafemi Hamzat on Saturday stepped down from the race, urging his supporters to vote for a contender, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in Sunday’s direct primary.
He described Sanwo-Olu, a former Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions, as a man of integrity, great humility and extraordinary intelligence, recalling that both of them had worked closely with former Governor Bola Tinubu, his successor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN).
Hamzat visited Sanwo-Olu at his Ikoyi, Lagos residence where he endorsed him by raising up his hand, saying that he will be a credible and worthy successor to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. He was received by Sanwo-Olu, his wife, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, his campaign manager, Mr. Tayo Ayinde and Otunba Lekan Osifeso.
Hamzat said: “After due consultations with my numerous supporters and in deference to the wise counsel of those I consider my political mentors, I have resolved to step down from the governorship race in Lagos on the platform of our party and, instead, poll resources together with my brother and friend, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
“So, my supporters are hereby directed to vote for Sanwo-Olu to emerge the candidate of the APC in the primary scheduled for tomorrow (today) across the state.”
Thanking Hamzat for endorsing him, Sanwo-Olu reflected on their involvement in Lagos governance under Tinubu and Fashola, saying that he is a good friend, compatriot and comrade in progress.
Following Hamzat’s withdrawal, the battle for the ticket may be between Sanwo-Olu and Governor Akinwunmi Ambode at Sunday’s direct primary.
Hamzat, who recalled that he had obtained the party’s nomination form, said he was happy to be part of the historic direct primary, which had given party members the opportunity of choosing the flag bearer.
Hailing the democratic shadow poll, he said the process has truly restored the ownership of the party to its members, irrespective of class, creed and gender.
Hamzat justified his earlier intention to run for governor, stressing that he intended to reawaken collective consciousness about the need to infuse fresh ideas to advance Lagos State and sustain its tradition of service, excellence and inclusiveness, which characterised Tinubu and Fashola administrations.
He said: “In seeking APC’s ticket then, we were acutely aware of the enormous historic burden power imposes in a unique environment like Lagos. We were conscious of the fact that real progress is defined only by balancing growth and development. While we must innovate, we do not have to discard systems or processes that are working.
“To keep team spirit alive, we are aware that we must always seek to mobilise the generality of our party members behind a common purpose, to deliver the APC manifesto.”
Hamzat said the greatest asset of the PDP is not only the legitimate power given to the political family by Lagosians since 1999, but the close-knit brotherhood toughened by past adversity of weathering the storm of opposition, the collective endurance of federal persecution and the passion and dedication of members to always ensure victory on election day.
The former aspirant, who lost the ticket to Ambode in 2015, emphasised that “the loyalty of our party members should never ever be taken for granted.”
Reflecting on the direct primary, which has heralded the inevitability of a clash of interests and perspectives, Hamzat said the way forward was for like-minds to close ranks and poll resources together, forge a formidable front and advance the ideas that can serve the larger interest of party members.
He added: “If great milestones were recorded under the Fashola administration, I believe it was because there was a fidelity to the path already charted by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. It consists of a clear road-map that ensured that from the sorry status of almost a failed state in 1999, the Lagos Asiwaju Tinubu bequeathed in 2007 was a very healthy state with vastly improved social infrastructure. It was a worthy legacy Fashola defended and took to greater height for eight years he was governor of Lagos.
“Having been part and parcel of the formulation and execution of various policies and programmes that transformed Lagos right from Asiwaju Tinubu and Fashola administrations, and having been a loyal party member all through thick and thin, I strongly believe Sanwo-Olu is equally rooted to fly our party’s flag in the 2019 election and I have no doubt that he is well placed and equipped to take Lagos to greater height. In view of this, I hereby step down for him.”