The Peoples Democratic Party on Tuesday asked Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola to suspend Akiolu forthwith. However, the President-elect described Lagos as home for all, adding that the time had come for Nigerians to look past ethnicity in the general interest of peace and unity.He said, “I admire what your governor has done in terms of mobilizing revenue to sustain Lagos development. I have a lot of respect for Governor Fashola for his hard work, commitment to the state and the country. There is no doubt that Lagos is a mini-Nigeria. We are all here and it has been mentioned by previous speakers that everybody (tribe) is adequately represented in Lagos. So, I assure you. If you vote for the continuity of APC in Lagos, you stand to gain more. It is in your interest that you vote for the APC.
“Please when you go home tell your neighbors, relatives and even the opposition to please bury the hatchet. Let them fall in line and vote the APC. When we were coming in our bus, Fashola told me how Lagos State had been spending to maintain the federal infrastructure here such as buildings, roads and other institutions. I had promised before that if I won the election and became the President, I would make Lagos my priority. Governor Fashola is already holding to me to that promise so I would like the incoming governor to listen carefully and make sure he makes me honor my undertaking.”
The National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said Lagos was responsible for building the opposition and ensuring that it finally took control of the centre. He said it would be a great injustice for Lagos to become an opposition state after working so hard to build a bright future.Also speaking, a former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, said Akiolu was not a member of the APC and could not speak on behalf of the party. Tinubu, who noted that he was the first Yoruba governor to ever appoint an Igbo commissioner, said the Peoples Democratic Party, having failed to win last week’s presidential elections, had been desperately trying to pull the APC into the Akiolu controversy.
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He said the coordinator of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, Ifeanyi Ubah, and the PDP leader, Bode George, were only making baseless accusations against the APC. Tinubu said, “The Oba is not a politician. His job is to accommodate all political parties whether PDP, APC or SDP. So, what did he (Ubah) go and do at the palace? Is the Oba a politician? “To you Igbo, don’t we pay your children’s school fees like others? Or is it the palace that pays for it? When we conducted an exam and a spelling competition, an Igbo boy, Ebuka, from Anambra, came first and he became the governor for one day.
“Those that won the competition three times in a row were Igbo. Ebuka was sent to Switzerland computer school and then Obafemi Awolowo University. We did not say he was an Igbo boy and he would not enjoy. He became an executive in Oando and he is now in Canada. Another boy, Felix, won and went to Switzerland and OAU. We paid his scholarship; we did not deny him because he is Igbo.”
However, in a statement issued yesterday by the Lagos state PDP Publicity Secretary, Mr Taofik Gani, the party said it had also alerted the security agencies to hold the monarch responsible for any attack on non-indigenes or PDP members in Lagos. The PDP even reiterated the need said for the Lagos monarch to be on suspension till after Saturday’s governorship and state House of Assembly elections in order to guarantee free, fair and credible elections in the state.
The statement read in part, “The governor is thus a conspirator in this threat to life and must also be held accountable for any violence in these elections. We have at this point been vindicated about the desperation of the APC to retain Lagos State at all cost, including the All Progressives Congress’ plan not to concede the imminent defeat on April 11. The positions of the PDP are coming on the heels of the now viral threat issued by the Oba of Lagos to Ndigbo that they must vote for the APC governorship candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode, or be drowned in Lagos water.”
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Despite the alleged threat to their lives, PDP urged Lagos non-indigenes and others to be part of Saturday’s voting exercise.
Meanwhile, the Publicity Secretary of the APC in Lagos State, Joe Igbokwe, said in a separate statement yesterday that the monarch spoke out of anger.Igbokwe urged his kinsmen not to take out their anger on the APC governorship candidate, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who knew nothing about the incident. The statement read, “Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos is not a card-carrying member of APC. He is not a leader in the APC. He does not speak for the APC. He did not speak for Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State. He did not speak for our national leader, Bola Tinubu. He did not speak for the incoming governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode. His Royal Highness is at liberty to speak for him and he spoke for himself only.
“Lagos APC appeals to Ndigbo not to take the statement as the position of the party in Lagos. We passionately appeal to Ndigbo not to carry the statement credited to Oba Akiolu too far so as not to put a knife on things that have held us together for more than 50 years now. If out of annoyance you throw your cap away, a mad man will take it and use it forever.”