By Kazeem Ugbodaga
A former Commissioner for Finance, Tokunbo Abiru will on Thursday officially become Lagos East Senatorial candidate for the All Progressives Congress, APC, as all aspirants have stepped down for him.
Abiru, who just resigned his appointment as the Group Managing Director, Polaris Bank Limited, is gunning to replace late Senator Bayo Osinnowo who died of Coronavirus some times ago.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had fixed October 31, 2020 for by-election in Lagos and other places.
The aspirants that withdrew from the senatorial contest included the Vice Chairman, Lagos APC, Chief Kaoli Olusanya; a former Lagos State Head of Service, Mr. Segun Ogunlewe; a former Commissioner for Physical Planning & Urban Development, Mr. Rotimi Ogunleye.
Others are a former General Manager/Permanent Secretary, Lagos Television, Mr. Lekan Ogunbanwo; a former member of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Olanrewaju Odesanya and Chairman, Ikorodu-Oga Development Association, Chief Olusegun Abiru.
The aspirants withdrew from their aspirations ahead of the direct primary election scheduled to hold on Thursday across Lagos East in compliance with the requirements of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In their separate accounts on Wednesday, the aspirants agreed to support Abiru’s senatorial aspiration due to what they ascribed to the need for the APC to conduct a direct primary election free of acrimony and ensure harmony among all the aspirants that indicated interest in the senatorial seat.
One of the aspirants, who stepped down, Kaoli Olusanya said he decided to withdraw from the race in the overall interest of Lagos APC and to allow a candidate emerge from the primary election without internal conflict.
According to him, ”I have to step back and allow someone else to take on the task of representing our senatorial district at this time, for some reasons that seriously have to do with the larger interest of our dear state and our great party.”
Also, Abiru is also being backed by the Governance Advisory Council (GAC), the party’s most powerful structure in the state, ahead of the direct primary election.
The Council comprises the APC National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu; the state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Chairman, Lagos APC, Alhaji Babatunde Balogun; his Deputy, Chief Sunny Ajose, all previous governors of the state, all serving vice chairmen of the party.
Also, on Tuesday, members of the Lagos State House of Assembly pledged their support for Abiru.
The Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa assured Abiru of their support to make him emerge victorious.
According to the Speaker, “I want to assure you that you have our support already. It is the responsibility of all of us in this House and not those from Lagos East alone to support you.
“It is not your election. It is our election because whatever the outcome, it has implications on all of us, our party in Lagos, and what will happen in the next election of 2023.”
Describing Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the commander of the APC, Speaker Obasa said he and other members of the party listen to the National Leader and rely on him for direction.
“Whenever he declares this is the way, we follow him. And whatever he says, we ensure it is followed to its logical conclusion. This is not going to be an exemption,” Obasa said.
The Speaker further said he could attest to the integrity of Abiru because he had worked closely with him when he was the Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State while he (Obasa) was serving as Chairman of the House Committee on Economic Planning and Budget.
“It is people like you that we need in the political terrain now. Somebody that will change the perspective of people about an average politician,” Obasa added.
The Speaker said Abiru is already on the path of victory through his action of bringing everybody together.
In his opening remark, Abiru said he had lived all his life in Lagos and that this includes having his education in the state.