By Olawale Wellington (News House)
It is not surprising that the gubernatorial flag off ceremony of the ruling party in Lagos State: the All Progressives Congress, (APC), was disrupted midway by in fighting among the members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, (NURTW), in attendance at the Skypower Open Ground venue in Ikeja, the state capital.
Leaders and members of the union have become the official enforcement unit of the ruling party in Lagos; hence sit at the table of power in the state to provide political lifeline for party.
During the council primaries in 2017, their services were procured by the Governor’s Advisory Council, GAC, to whip erring members in line, as they rammed their selected 57 council chairmen down the throats of members, without the benefit of aspirants testing their popularity among members via the ballot.
The ward, council and state congresses, as well as the appeals that arose therefrom in 2018, had NURTW members redefining their terms of engagement by the party chiefs, especially council chairmen who exist to deliver for the party cabal at all costs as failure is not an option brooked by the Lagos APC GAC.
In Alimosho federal constituency each of the six council chairmen paid N3,000,000 to NURTW bosses in their respective domains to mobilise and enforce their will on party members who called for elective congresses to usher in party executives then.
These payments were paid out at each stage of these congresses and the appeals thereafter.
Alhaji Taju Ejigbadero whose influence looms large in the Egbeda Akowonjo circuit demanded and got a new Toyota Hummer bus from Senator Olamilekan Solomon aka Yayi, he got three executive membership positions in the council and ward party executive committees, he also demanded got market ticket administration for two days in the week and got the recommendation to be made the coronet chief (Baale) in his domain.
Saheed Ipadeola “Big Daddy” though not a member of NURTW in 2018, but now is, reigned viciously large in Mosan Okunola LCDA circuit was paid by Hon Olabisi Doris Adebajo aka Abisco the Mosan Okunola LCDA chairman to enforce the directives of the GAC serially.
Another NURTW chief “Istijabar” holds sway in Agbado Oke Odo LCDA circuit and he is in contention for the NURTW state leadership. He just procured 100 tricycles (Keke Marwa), branded these with Babajide Sanwoolu campaign colours.
“Istijabar” and his boys delivered Sanwoolu in the gubernatorial primary of the party.
The Conference 57 members had no choice than to procure the services of the NURTW bosses and their enforcement teams to effect the orders given them to deliver the candidates of the Lagos APC GAC cabal in their respective domains.
During the primaries wherein standard bearers emerged for this year’s general election, stories of how these NURTW bosses in all the 57 council circuits in Lagos were detailed by the GAC to serve as the enforcement arm for the emergence of their preferred candidates at all levels abound.
Musiliu Akinsanya aka MC Oluomo who was stabbed in the Skypower fracas took over as the APC party boss in Oshodi Isolo LGA, reeling out the names of party aspirants he claimed the Bola Ahmed Tinubu led GAC ask him to return at all costs. He boasted that if anyone brought guns to force their wish, they will bring bombs to enforce the directive of Tinubu lead GAC.
In the Osun State gubernatorial election MC Oluomo was outsourced to the state: he went with over 250 well armed NURTW enforcers from Lagos on the orders of the Tinubu.
Report of their exploits in the state of the Living Spring remained a scar in the minds of the residents of Oshogbo the state capital and her environs.
After the Osun exploits he publicly boasted that he and his team were on their way to Kwara State, for the Federal House of Representatives bye election. He mocked and vowed to cow the muscle arm of the Senate President Bukola Saraki to ensure APC victory in the scheduled election.
MC Oluomo on several occasions consorts and had photographs with leaders of the party in the state, publicly boasting of his retainership with Tinubu.
With the current political order in Lagos State APC, NURTW members and their bosses are the power pillars of APC as a party ; as increasing numbers of party members are disenchanted with the administration of the party in recent times, and are being whip into line by them.
The in fighting among the top echelon of the motor transport union members at the flag off event is a fallout on the perennial supremacy, turf marking and leadership battles that characterised the activities of union in the state.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is not popular among these characters, his refusal to handover BRT routes to Lagos State NURTW chapter is a major fall out between them. The transport master plan to cosign Yellow buses to the inner city road and flush out Bedford buses (Molue) did not sit well with them.
The NURTW members are park administrators, they are different from bus drivers, bus conductors and bus owners; though some of them own buses.
They earn a percentage on revenues collected in motor parks and bus stops on behalf of council administrations in the state. Their leads live large and have their children schooling abroad. MC Oluomo has nine children resident and schooling in USA.
The Tajudeen Agbede led executive will wind up shortly and succession battle has commenced to usher in a new lead for the N82bn public transport management industry.
The disrupted flag off had virtually all the leads of Lagos NURTW in attendance: “Kunle Poly”, “Mustapha Siego”, Tajudeen Agbede, “Istijabar”, “Big Daddy”, “MC Oluomo” the list was endless.
They came not only as the party enforcement unit, but as power pillars of the Babajide Sanwoolu campaign project. The quest to take over from Agbede as well as become Sanwoolu’s right hand thug in the event of his emergence at the poll is a motivation for the embarrassing show of force, that led to deaths and hospitalisation of their members and leaders.
Reacting to the accusation that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode alongside the Lagos State Commissioner Imohimi Edgal were the masterminds of the Skypower fracas.
Mr Segun Aderemi explained that “For anyone to lay accusation that Governor Ambode will procure the services of a faction of the NURTW members in the state to disrupt the APC campaign flag off is indeed a novice and a liar.
“When he had the security report that his opponents were arming thugs for the gubernatorial primary and he was advised to do the same. He refused saying it took him years to experience the joy of fatherhood, he will not and cannot put the children of other people in harm’s way because of power.”
Going further Aderemi said. “Governor Ambode is a man of his words once he has given it, you can go to bed, but I can only pity those who see their own abilities in others”.
Will the political lifeline of Lagos APC GAC cabal not become their political albatross and waterloo only time will tell.