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Friday, 12 September 2014

Revealed! The 7 Political Gladiators Jostling For Lagos Oval Seat


Femi Amzat

Kuforiji

Ambode

Ashafa

GOS

Leke Pitan

Dabiri
Gradually another electioneering year is creeping in. 2015 might just be a number, but for politicians in the country it is a year to assert influence, power and seek for public office. The race for the 2015 general election is already heating up the nation's polity. Although, the election is less than six months away, some contenders have expressed their desires to contest for various positions in the coming election.

The case of Lagos State gubernatorial election is particularly interesting. This is because, the state has the most vast economic potentials and the strongest visibility in national politics. Lagos is the only state in Nigeria, where Lagosians alone cannot determine who becomes the governor. Everybody in Nigeria has a stake in Lagos. Invariably, the Governor of Lagos State is like the president of a mini-Nigeria.
Except one wants to be sentimental, religion or indigenes ship are not basic requirements of a leader. Only in the church, mosque or shrine can a leader be chosen on the basis of religiosity.
In the recent time, agitation of who would be the next governor in Lagos has been on. The agitation is not to clamour for a competent hand, but rather, it has been “where was he born?” “What is his/her religion?” and the rest

For some time now, religious leaders, especially of the Christian faith have been drumming it on political leaders the need to have “their own” at the saddle of affairs in Lagos. Beyond the clamour for Christian candidate, indigenes ship is another issue that some people are harping upon. To this set of people, the preferred candidate should be a Lagosian. But the pertinent question that most political watchers have been asking on the issue of indigene is who are actually Lagosians? In the collective estimation of this group of people, it is high time we put away sentiment and do what is right. And Lagos is known for its cosmopolitan nature, while residents/indigenes are unmindful of where one comes from as long as their needs are being met.

By February next year, 2015, the incumbent governor of Lagos, Barrister Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) would have concluded his second term in office leaving a big vacuum for the Lagos oval seat. No doubt, the political atmosphere in the State known to be the commercial nerve centre of the nation has been tensed as party big weights have begun strategizing and networking to curry the favour of the APC Lord, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu a.k.a Jagaban. As for now, there have been insinuations on who the Jagaban is anointing and this has brought about bickering as some party loyalists have vowed to throw caution to the wind should selfish opinion carries the day in the next primaries.  We take a look at the political gladiators who have openly or covertly declared their gubernatorial aspirations Under the platform of the ruling party in the state, the All Progressives Congress, APC. Notable among them are; Ganiyu Solomon, Gbenga Ashafa, Akinwunmi Ambode, Obafemi Hamzat, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Leke Pitan, Abike Dabiri and some others.
Below is a list of the top seven contenders, jostling for the gubernatorial seat on the APC platform.

1. KADRI OBAFEMI HAMZAT

Lagos State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Kadri Obafemi Hamzat is a front-runner in the race for the next Governor of Lagos State. He stands a high chance of carrying the flag of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the 2015 governorship election. Hamzat is highly favoured and on top of a list of five aspirants warming up to become the 14th Governor of the state when Fashola's tenure expires in May 2015.
It is gathered that the APC leadership is intent on producing a world class material as a governor in 2015. This candidate is expected to improve on the legacy, which has been set by the Fashola's administration, a foundation which was laid by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It is a well-known fact that Fashola has raised the bar, in terms of service and through his style of governance. Lagos, after Fashola needs a governor who is very dynamic and who will think outside the box. Obafemi Hamzat is immensely rated as one of the most suitable successors to Fashola's seat. He is armed with a very impressive professional and educational competence. An outstanding intellectual and technocrat, Hamzat is a professional engineer, thorough-bred systems integrator, seasoned administrator and consummate manager of men and materials. He has had over two decades of work experience in diverse areas of engineering practice including project management, computer networking, enterprise system assessment, engineering system design and implementation. During this period, he held enviable positions in different world-class international organizations.

Hamzat is a favourite to step into Fashola’s shoes and that he implicitly has the nods of prominent Lagosians. Also, he is highly favoured by both Fashola and the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.  Most political pundits are of the view that Hamzat is one of the best, if not the best material, the Lagos APC can produce in the coming election. This is because he has worked with Fashola in the last six years and he knows the terrain very well. Hamzat’s chances are buoyed by the fact that, like Fashola, he is not much of a politician, and he does not engage in group alliance of any sort that could be a distraction.

Hamzat was former Commissioner for Science and Technology during the tenure of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Governor for four years and retained the position during the first term of Fashola’s tenure. His loyalty to the party and the leaders earned him a higher calling as Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure at the commencement of the second term of Fashola in May 2011, a position he still retains till now.

In recognition of his versatility and global experience in engineering practice and ICT development and deployment, Hamzat was appointed the Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Science & Technology, Lagos State in August 2005, a position he held with distinction till June 2011. Thereafter, he was reappointed Honourable Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure by Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola Administration on the 4th of July, 2011. He is happily married and the union is blessed with children.

Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat was born September 19, 1964 in Lagos - Nigeria. The youngest among the seven contenders, Hamzat was born September 19, 1964 in Lagos - Nigeria. He graduated from the University of Ibadan in 1986 with a degree in Agricultural Engineering and subsequently furthered his studies at home and abroad, resulting in both an MSc. in Crop Processing Engineering (1988) and a Ph.D. in System Process Engineering (1992). Sequel to this, he garnered about two decades of work experience in several organisations including the City of New York, RTP Consulting Services, Columbia University, Merrill Lynch Inc, Morgan Stanley and Oando Plc.

In August 2005, Hamzat was appointed Commissioner for Science and Technology during the tenure of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He retained his position when Governor Babatunde Fashola assumed office in 2007. It was during his tenure as Commissioner for Science and Technology that Hamzat enforced the application of modern technology in the state's ministries, thus changing the face of data and record keeping in Lagos and at the same time eliminating the trend of state ghost workers. It is reported in some quarters that this single act was largely responsible for his elevation as Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure at the commencement of the second term in office of the Governor Fashola's administration.

Hamzat is also the third son of Oba Mufutau Olatunji Hamzat, Olu of Afowowa, an influential politician in Lagos State who served as a former member of the Lagos State House of Assembly and also as a former Commissioner for Transportation in the state between 1979 and 1983. Oba Hamzat, later became the Vice-Chairman, (South-West) of then Alliance for Democracy (AD). He would later go on to become the Lagos West Senatorial District leader of the Action Congress, an elder statesman in the Action Congress and a coronated king through his maternal royal lineage.

2. AKINWUNMI AMBODE

Akin­wunmi Ambode, a Christian and a former Accountant General in Lagos State, is not your typical professional politician, he can only boast of one year post-resignation political experience. However, the codes being received from the symbol of the structure, are pointing towards Akin Ambode as the anointed or the ‘special one’

Being a technocrat, Ambode is seen as a neutral choice. The choice of a politician could have triggered envy, jealousy, ripples, malice and misunderstanding among fellow politicians. During Tinubu’s adminis­tration, Ambode proved to be a very diligent, hardworking, committed, loyal and intelligent officer who never betrayed trust reposed in him. Ambode is a very rugged and dogged fighter who remained focused on his ambition and never allowed himself to be distracted by the contemptuous way the politicians treated him. Even the mere mention of his name was evoking unmerited mockery.

Akinwunmi Ambode is a public finance management expert and the chief executive officer of Brandsmiths Consulting Limited – a public finance and management-consulting firm with deep knowledge of the Nigerian public sector. He is a former Accountant General of Lagos State serving in that capacity between 2006 and 2012. He served in several other capacities including Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Auditor General for Local Government and across all cadres of Lagos state’s civil service for a total of 27 years before his voluntary retirement in 2012.
He gained recognition for outstanding excellence by the Joint Tax Board (JTB)/FIRS on successful organization of the 1st National Tax Retreat in Nigeria in 2005. Ambode is an alumnus of Wharton Business School Advance Management Programme. He has attended courses at several renowned institutions including Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield, England, the Institute of Management Development Lausanne, Switzerland, INSEAD Singapore and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Boston, USA. He holds a Masters degree in Accounting (Financial Management) and a B.Sc. degree in Accounting from the University of Lagos; a Hubert Humphrey Fellow in Accounting and Finance from Boston University, Boston, USA. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
Ambode believes in mentoring and sees it as an effective way of helping people to develop and progress in their chosen careers and making sure they maximize their potentials.
He is the founder of the La Roche Leadership Foundation, a foundation that he founded in 2012 to attend: to the well being and prosperity of Nigerian students in all facets of their educational endeavors (be it technical, formal, social or vocational). He also believes in creating and sustaining a positive, enabling and empowering educational environment for younger groups.
Ambode is described as an industrious public servant who developed the template for the re-engineering of the financial sector of Lagos. Not only did he re-engineer the finances of Lagos, he also developed the blueprint on how Lagos survived when former president Olusegun Obasanjo, unconstitutionally seized the local government funds from the federation account.

3. GANIYU OLARENWAJU SOLOMON
Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon, sure belongs to the league of politicians who are forces to be reckoned with, especially, at the Centre for Excellence, Lagos, where he has made his mark as a formidable politician. The one-time chairman of Mushin local government, who moved up the ladder to become a member of the House of Representatives, is well loved by his people and quite influential within and beyond the state as a politician.
A graduate of Political Science from the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Senator Ganiyu Olarenwaju Solomon was born on December 19, 1959 to the family of Alhaji Rafiu Ishola and Alhaja Idiat Abike Solomon (Nee Oluwa).

A quintessential chip off the old block, his father, Alhaji Rafiu Ishola Solomon, had wielded considerable influence in Lagos politics being a politician whose career spanned the pre independence era to the late 80’s. The late politician, who cut his political teeth in Ikorodu area of the state as a councilor in the 40s, later grew stronger to become one of the few shot callers in the state’s body polity.

Solomon would later take after his father, both in business and politics. He joined the family property and general merchandising business before venturing into politics. He commenced his life of service to his people when he was appointed a member of the Mushin Local Government Education Authority in the early 90’s. He also particularly prides himself on his membership of the implementation Committee on War Against Indiscipline and Corruption also in the early 90’s.

His first entry into politics was during the transition programme of late General Sani Abacha in 1997 when he contested election into the Lagos State House of Assembly to represent Mushin 2 on the platform of Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) and won in a landslide victory. Unfortunately like we all know that era was short lived.

Upon the nation’s return to democracy in 1999, Solomon aligned with the progressives who had formed Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the South-west region of the country. As a pioneer member of the party, he contested and won election as Chairman of Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State where he displayed quality delivery of good governance at the grassroots level.
By 2003, following his outstanding performance his people encouraged him to moved up the ladder and he contested election into the House of Representatives where he represented Mushin 1 Federal Constituency for Four years.

Again, by the following election year, 2007 to be precise, Solomon graduated to the Senate where he represented the largest district in Lagos State and indeed Nigeria-Lagos West (with 12 districts). He had barely settled down in the Senate, when he was handed the responsibility of overseeing the Senate Committee on Capital Market. This responsibility, though huge, had brought to fore, the ingenuity and intelligence of the lawmaker, who despite the many crises that plagued the market, came out untainted.

In the run-up to the April 2011 elections, Solomon was unopposed in his bid to seek re-election in his party, the Action Congress of Nigeria. Factors responsible for this were not far-fetched. He had upped the status of his party as well as improved his rating as an individual. He was, unsurprisingly reelected on 9 April, 2011 and is presently the Senate Minority Whip, another responsibility he has discharged creditably for the minority parties in the Senate.
His legislative agenda and interests include, Poverty alleviation, Social Security, Education, Employment Generation, Security and Providing Legislative Framework for meeting the MDG’S.

Solomon has continued to sustain the philanthropic legacies of his late father through his GOS Foundation. The Foundation has over the years provided assistance in skills acquisition, educational development, micro-credit, health care and poverty alleviation to Lagosians irrespective of political leanings.

A devout Muslim, humanitarian, and philanthropist, Solomon has received several awards, both home and abroad on account of his contributions to Nigeria and to humanity.
He stands a good chance to clinch the party’s ticket ahead of other aspirants, based on his political clout, his knowledge of the workings of governance and his role in harmonizing the party members in the state.

4. ABIKE DABIRI-EREWA
The latest entrant into the race is Honourable Abike Kafayat Oluwatoyin Dabiri-Erewa.
Although, the plot to install Abike as the next governor of Lagos State is still in its embryonic stage, the subject is already being discussed in hushed tones by many party members and notable Nigerians. Ironically though, it is gathered that Abike has no ambition to contest for the Lagos gubernatorial seat. But her backers and supporters are determined to get her to build the interest and buy into the idea. In the estimation of this group of people, Fashola never wanted to become a governor. He was actually begged to contest for the race. So, this same history is likely to repeat itself in Dabiri-Erewa's case.

Dabiri-Erewa's chances are brightened by the fact that the APC leadership is enthusiastic about proving that it is gender sensitive, and it is desirous on trying what no other party has tried before.
Moreover, the party leadership is reported to be putting the issue of gender preference into consideration. The leadership is reported to be tinkering with the idea of installing a female as a governor. Invariably, the leadership didn't have to look any further before they found a worthy candidate in Dabiri-Erewa.

Dabiri-Erewa, 51, is a third term member of the House of Representatives at the National Assembly. This confers on her, the status of the most prominent female politician in Lagos State, and one of the most prominent politicians in Nigeria today. It is not a hidden fact that Dabiri-Erewa has paid her dues, proven her worth and done Lagos proud. She is charismatic, cosmopolitan, polished and eloquent; and she is one of the few Nigerians with acceptable global presence. As the Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affair, Dabiri-Erewa is known to have the widest network of Nigerians in the diaspora.
Dabiri-Erewa fondly called "Mother Teresa of the tube" prides herself in her outstanding career as a broadcaster.
Dabiri-Erewa wormed her way into the hearts of many with her gallantry efforts of using television as an effective tool to draw attention to the millions of Nigerians suffering from the pains of poverty and injustice. Her commitment and passionate dedication to duty while working on several heart touching Newsline stories stood her out and endeared her to many. Her display of bravery while investigating the story of little Mary, the miracle baby for eight years, remains indelible in the minds of many Nigerians.
A firm believer in the importance of service to humanity, Dabiri-Erewa voluntarily retired from the services of the NTA to contest as a member of the House of Representative and swept the poll with a landslide victory in 2003. Ever since then, she has distinguished herself by working tirelessly. Dabiri-Erewa undertakes a lot of important bills, defends the interest of her party most vociferously and has a strong passion for service.
Those drumming support for Dabiri-Erewa's candidacy for the Lagos guber seat, aver that if countries like Liberia and Malawi can have women as their presidents, then no reason is strong enough to stop Lagos State from having its first female governor in 2015. This group insists that if Dabiri-Erewa is not encouraged to contest for the Lagos guber seat, then no woman will ever have a chance in Nigeria.
  However, the choice of Dabiri-Erewa is not likely to be greeted with enthusiasm. If anything, it is going to be met with resistance by some party faithfuls. Also, some eminent Lagos indigenes are reported to be spoiling for a showdown with the party leadership, should her candidacy be forced down their throats. Their collective grievances is not unconnected with the fact that a Christian should be the next governor of Lagos State. Dabiri-Erewa is a Muslim.
Meanwhile, it is also gathered that if the choice of Dabiri-Erewa is rejected, the party leadership will resort to a Plan B. The main agenda on this plan is to install her as the deputy governor of Lagos State in the forthcoming election.

5. LEKE PITAN
Dr. Leke Pitan is a versatile public administrator of note, a visionary leader, an astute change agent and a good people’s manager.
He is one of the few Nigerians and perhaps Lagos State indigenes that had the rare opportunity to attend top notch schools in Nigeria; namely, Igbobi College, where he came out with grade 1 distinction, Kings College and the prestigious University of Ibadan between 1971 and 1982.
He studied Medicine at University of Ibadan (MBBS) where he came out with distinctions in Anatomy and later had his Masters in Public Health from Lagos State University as the best graduating student.
Upon graduation, he was able to gather extensive work experiences covering the public and private sectors respectively. His public sector experience began as a medical officer at the Lagos Island Maternity Hospital, then General Hospital Lagos and State Hospital Shagamu (Ogun State) between 1982 and 1985. His meritorious services at these public institutions continue to speak for him.
His foray into private sector health sector services (1985 to 1999) later positioned him as the Medical Director of Mayowa Hospital. Like a gold fish, he was sought after even from the private sector to lend some of his valuable experiences to Healthcare Management in the Public Health domain.
While working as a health practitioner, he had equal passion and commitment for political activities. He was one of the few Nigerians that worked endlessly and tirelessly to end military rule in Nigeria. Having beeen tutored by the likes of Alhaji Lateef lakande, he has always carried the burden of how to ensure that the average Nigerian derives good benefits of governance; especially the people of Lagos State.
The government of Lagos State in its wisdom appointed Dr. Leke Pitan as the First Commissioner of Health in the new democratic dispensation, having noticed his passion to deliver people centred services in the State.
While in office as Commissioner, he created the first health service reform that enabled flexibility and good quality of healthcare services to the people of Lagos State.
Prior to his administration, it was difficult to get ambulances from government hospitals to convey very sick patients or accident victims to hospitals; he created the existing Lagos State Ambulance Services in the state and as serving commissioner, he personally went round Lagos State to identify strategic pin down points (locations) of the ambulances in order to respond quickly to emergencies, rather than having them parked at the hospital premises. The service is free to Lagos State residents.

The Lagos State Emergency Agency (LASEMA) was created by Dr. Leke Pitan for very quick response of government to various types of emergencies. This is evident today in the positive attitudes of the agency during the recent series of disasters that occurred in Lagos. 


Lagos State government remains the first in the history of Nigeria’s healthcare management to perform open heart surgeries on patients. This novel practice was the ingenious initiative of Dr. Leke Pitan.
Mass Health Mission is very prominent in Nigeria today, with the three tiers of government, NGOs, religious organizations and the private sector organizations getting involved. It is a supplementary approach to public healthcare management in the country. The idea was conceived by Dr. Leke Pitan in his early days as Commissioner of Health in Lagos State.
But Pitan, who is in his early 60's is believed to be top old to contest for the Lagos gubernatorial seat. Most political pundits posit he should leave the field for the much younger contenders.

6. GBENGA ASHAFA

Gbenga Bareehu Ashafa (born 22 July 1955) is a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from Lagos State. He represents Lagos East in the current 7th National Assembly. Senator Ashafa is the Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Lands, Housing and Urban Development. He is also a member of the following Senate committees: Environment and Ecology Committee, Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Relations, Gas Committee, and Senate Services Committee.
Ashafa is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He is currently the Treasurer of the APC Senate Caucus. He was the Secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Senate Caucus, until the fusion of the ACN into the All Progressives Congress.

Currently, Senator Ashafa represents the Lagos East Senatorial District. He is a seasoned administrator and a top contender for the Lagos State gubernatorial seat in 2015. Before he found his way into the Senate, Ashafa was the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Lands Bureau. While he was at the Lagos Lands Bureau, Ashafa wormed his way into the hearts of most civil servants. He was great administrator and he led his team to execute many laudable projects.
Although, Ashafa is yet to make public, his intention to run for the Lagos State gubernatorial seat in the coming election, most people are well aware that he is one of the most favoured, if not the most favoured candidate. However, many political stakeholders in Lagos are said not to be too disposed to Ashafa's candidacy. This is because they believe he fares better in the Senate, where he has performed credibly well.

7. ADEYEMI IKUFORIJI
Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, is also among the top contenders for the Lagos gubernatorial seat in 2015.

Ikuforiji, who is from Epe in Lagos East Senatorial District, emerged speaker for the second time in 2011 from the Ikeja State Constituency. Having consulted widely with stakeholders in the polity, including opinion leaders and his colleagues in the House of Assembly, Ikuforiji got their nods to go ahead with pursuing his political aspiration.

Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji was born in Epe, Lagos State on the 24th of August, 1958. A devout Muslim, born to the late Chief & Mrs. Murtala Atanda Ikuforiji.

Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji attended the Local Authority Central School, Epe, Lagos where he had his primary education. Following on, he attended Epe Grammar School where he broke a four-year record in the school by becoming the only candidate who obtained Division 1 out of 105 students that sat for the West African Secondary School Certificate examination in 1975.

His outstanding performance earned him a scholarship to further his studies abroad. He was offered a place to study in Romania at Babes-Bolayai University and Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies where he obtained a Master’s of Science degree in Economic Planning and Cybernetics in September 1981. During his time at university, he was elected as the President of the National Union of Nigerian Students also the President for the Association of Nigerian Students.

On returning to Nigeria, in relation to his education, Ikuforiji went on to study at the University of Lagos Business School where he attained a Masters in Business Administration in 1986. Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji also holds a number of certificates from Harvard University the Kennedy School of Government. His continued passion for change in the Nigerian government system also led him to recently attend the Global Change Programme: Leading with Commitment, Creativity and Courage at Harvard University - Kennedy School of Government in May, 2012.

On his scorecard as the speaker in the last eight years, Ikuforiji has succeeded in establishing a virile legislature and promised to build a state where people would be happy if elected.
However, Ikuforiji, who has always been in the picture of succeeding Fashola, might have been played out with the ongoing case of money laundering leveled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Ikuforiji is not new to the governorship race, the party leaders trust him and he is a Tinubu loyalist to the core, but the money laundering allegation does not do his chances any good. It is a smear on his political aspiration and the party is not willing to cope with these cases hanging on his neck. It would be a tough one convincing Lagosians otherwise.

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