It is expected that INEC would announce the date for a fresh election to fill the vacant seat in the Senate owing to the shocking death of Senator Bayo Osinowo. The election will involve every registered political party willing to field a candidate for the election. This election will be the first test of Babajide Sanwolu’s popularity as governor in Lagos and more so a test of the party’s unity giving the current tension within the party.
Predictably, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have made clear their intention to snatch the vacant senatorial seat from the APC. This may explain why Babatunde Gbadamosi seems the most likely candidate to fly the party’s flag in the coming elections. And as many political analysts have observed, the candidacy of Mr Gbadamosi on the platform of the PDP will most certainly give the APC a run for its money. Hence, the need for the APC to put its house in order and make the right decisions if it intends to retain the seat.
First, the APC must resist the temptation to run with a candidate who has a scandalous case of corruption with the EFCC. Drawing from several reports in the media, one can deduce the intention of the former speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon Adeyemi Ikuforiji, to run in the coming by-election. This may greatly diminish the chances of the APC as the opposition can easily paint him as being corrupt and not trustworthy. The ideal thing will be for the former speaker to clear his name in court first before attempting to run.
More importantly, the APC will need the active participation of all its top-guns in the Lagos East if it intends to win the election. Even though the likes of Senator Ashafa and former governor Akinwumi Ambode have no interest in running in the by-election, according to several statements released by them, the party will still have to rely on their influence to win the election. Ambode remains very popular in Epe where he hails from and Ashafa has maintained a strong support base in Ikorodu, Ibeju-Lekki and Shomolu.
Without their active participation and support, the APC will need to work a lot harder to retain that seat. It is worth noting that the late Bayo Osinowo coasted to victory against the PDP on the back of several electoral successes over the last 16 years. He was a serial winner and had built a formidable grassroots following. Very few politicians have that track record of electoral success and so the APC will need its top-guns to coast home to victory.
Finally, the APC in Lagos will need to rally around a candidate who not only has strong character and competence but one with the clout and sagacity to advance the cause of Lagos state at the centre. Even more imperative is the Leader’s (Asiwaju Bola Ahmed) need, for a loyal, competent and savvy politician at the centre, who can protect his interest and build bridges to support his ambition.
* Hakeem Durosola Olajumo is a public affairs analyst