By BENJAMIN OMOIKE
If the All Progressives Congress (APC), presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, must record an overwhelming victory in the February 25 presidential elections, Lagos State must play a leading role in the candidate’s electoral success at the polls, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said on Thursday.
Sanwo-Olu said the five million votes pledged by the APC supporters in Lagos to deliver the State to Tinubu were not impossible, given the strength and structure of the campaign employed by the party in Lagos. The Governor said it was time for the party’s canvassers to embark on mass voter enlightenment in order to minimise void votes for the party.
The Governor spoke at the formal launching of “Eko O Ni Baje” 10,000 Foot Soldiers for Tinubu-Shettima/Sanwo-Olu-Hamzat, a project initiated by the Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN.
The event, attended by a large number of APC’s grassroots canvassers, was held at The Haven, GRA, Ikeja.
Sanwo-Olu boasted that the party’s presidential ticket remained unbeatable, noting that Tinubu’s academic background, political acumen and administrative capacity stood him out as the most qualified contender with better credentials.
The Governor said election of Tinubu as president would usher in a new era of hope for the masses, adding that the APC presidential manifesto was designed to stimulate socio-economic growth and take the country to its pride place as a major force on the continent.
He said: “We gather today to add yet another layer to the structures already put in place with other existing platforms that are working for the victory of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I thank our Honourable Minister and the team working with him for bringing about this stakeholders’ engagement. This is an engagement where we want to hit the ground running and our aim is to reach out to the electorate in every nook and cranny of Lagos.
“When we work together, we can achieve a lot together. With the emergence of this structure, the 5 million votes we pledged to deliver for our presidential candidate in Lagos will be delivered. We know that Tinubu is the best choice for our country at this moment in our history. This is a team that is unbeatable and one that possesses the best credentials, given the political and education backgrounds of Tinubu and Sen. Kashim Shettima.
“We have seen the reality of political and economic breakthroughs in Lagos. Given Tinubu’s skills, experience and capacity, we believe Nigeria would be better served under his leadership. We have seen how other States are working together for Asiwaju. We who are his people in Lagos cannot but keep our rightful position to deliver the larger number of votes to Tinubu-Shettima ticket. That is why we must put our political strength to work at the next presidential election.”
Sanwo-Olu said the APC candidate was already positioned to win the election, but said the party’s canvassers must work to ensure a wide margin of victory against Tinubu’s opponents.
The Governor said the task before APC foot soldiers was to adopt a method of vote management, stressing that the method involved proper education of the electorate on how to cast their ballots in line with methods prescribed by the electoral umpire.
Fashola, who is also the APC Presidential Campaign Council’s Director for Election Planning and Monitoring, said part of the charges to the recruited foot soldiers was to fight misinformation already spread by opposition parties against the ruling party.
The Minister, who was a two-term Governor of Lagos, took a swipe at the gubernatorial candidate of the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Lagos, describing him as “inexperienced cameraman” who lacked knowledge about governance.
Fashola said: “Someone who worked as a backup cameraman during my time as Governor has been going all out to discredit our party. He thought he had acquired the knowledge to govern a State as big as Lagos because he operated a camera for eight years. I went through tutelage and I was trained to do the job…
“To be a Governor in Lagos, you need experience. I did the job for eight years and part of what helped me was being a Chief of Staff to a Governor. Even then, that was not enough. So, just following a Governor as a cameraman, watching me for eight years and you think you have enough capacity to be a Governor? You are not ready.”
The Minister listed reasons why Lagosians must keep their faith with APC, noting that all the inter-state highways connecting Lagos and neighbouring States were left in worse condition by the PDP-led government in 16 years. He said the APC government was on the verge of commissioning Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and delivering Lagos-Badagry Highway.
Fashola added that the metropolitan fibre network being laid across Lagos by the Sanwo-Olu administration was being developed to position the State for technological advancement, saying Lagos would be the smartest city in this sub region when the project is completed.
He said: “This election is not about whether we will beat them or not; it is about by what margin we will win. Our tool is about PVC, while our path to victory is our votes.”
Speaking at the event, Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamzat, said the presidential election would not be about sentiment but empirical facts on the track records of the contenders.
He urged the foot soldiers to percolate all communities in Lagos and spread the message of APC.
“We must educate young voters about the situation the country was in before APC took over and the progress we have recorded,” Hamzat said.