GAC and illegal usurpation of functions of APC executives in Lagos

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Uba Group

Uba Group

BY MAYOWA SAMUEL

The Governor’s Advisory Council comes across as a unique, influential and powerful body that enforces the direction of politics and governance in Lagos State.

Many stakeholders extol the GAC, describing it as an important body that dictates direction, keeps elected individuals in check from being carried away by the intoxicating powers of office and ensures that the party’s programmes are executed for the good of the people.

Described as a unique creation of the ruling elite in Lagos State, the GAC is the highest decision-making body of the ruling All Progressives Congress in Lagos.

Interestingly, there is no such nomenclature in the party’s Constitution. And for the record, Lagos is the only state being governed by APC that has such a body.

When in mid-April it endorsed Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of the state for a second term in office, it was celebrated with so much glee and applause. The celebration has the tenor of an individual who has already won the 2023 election in the state.

The body is said to be founded and headed by the former governor and now presidential aspirant, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. It is made up of party stalwarts and key stakeholders in the state. They seem to have the final say about who emerges as a candidate of the party in elections as well as other positions in the state, and the mode of primaries to be adopted in an election.

However, many aggrieved members of the party who haven’t been favoured by the GAC have defected to opposition parties, created or joined a parallel faction within the party. Notable among them are former factional chairman of the party in the state, Fouad Oki. There is also the leader of the Lagos4Lagos Movement, Olajide Adediran (Jandor), who led the members of his faction in defecting to the main opposition, the PDP.

While many see the actions of the council as a form of illegal usurpation of the functions of the party’s executive in the state and a needless body that imposes their cronies on the people, others are of the view that their activities are needed to guide the party’s decision making in the state.

Sharing his thoughts, former Minister of Works and an APC stalwart, Adeseye Ogunlewe, held that the GAC plays important roles, especially for the party to retain power in the state. He compared its activities to those of the elders’ council of Yoruba kingdoms, which was just advisory in nature.

“The problem with the GAC is that it is perceived from people’s experience over the years, in their relationship with the former governor, I mean Tinubu and I think quite rightly, it is the sole property of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. With that, the council will have a problem, as it is having now, being challenged by different factions in the party

However, while acknowledging the important sacrifices the members of the GAC have made in the state over the years, he warned that failure of the GAC to stick to their advisory role, the party risks losing the seat of power in the state to the main opposition, the People’s Democratic Party, come 2023.

“In any Yoruba structure of government, there is the elders’ council. It’s just to provide guidance and assistance to the government to run properly. They are very important to the structure of the party in Lagos State, they are elderly people. There is hardly anything they want in life that they’ve not gotten. They have sacrificed all their lives to develop themselves and develop Lagos State.

“They don’t have executive powers, they are only advisory. So, they will never ask any other person not to contest. That is not their authority, anybody can contest, and anybody can collect forms. GAC is not dictating anything but members are just moderating. They are not the party, it’s only the party that can exclude people, and they’re just advisory.

“At the national level now, we have a national advisory council which is only advisory, as the Elders Council. The GAC will not set the standard of the primary, they will not issue guidelines for the primary, they will not conduct the primary, and they are not even at the party secretariat.

“Anything the GAC says will never prevent any other person from collecting forms, they don’t issue forms, they don’t control the party, they don’t even talk to the party, they are just advisers to the government. So, when they say that they have endorsed Sanwo-Olu, that doesn’t mean they have excluded any other contestant. Anybody can go and collect forms, they don’t issue forms, and they don’t administer the party.

“They have to advise the APC not to lose the election, they will guide the APC to win. They are not going to sit down and allow the PDP to defeat APC.

“What are they guiding? What are they advising? They will use their experience. All these people have participated actively in the politics of Lagos State for the past 50 years, so they know what to do, they are very competent people. They have a job to protect APC and to make APC win elections

“CBN"

“We should ask the PDP to have their own GAC and plan their own victory. These people are planning for APC. Imagine a party that does not exist in Lagos State winning in Lagos. How? PDP is exhausted, they are very lean on the ground, they don’t have the structure anymore and they know. Let them exhibit their leadership,” Ogunlewe stated.

Echoing the thoughts of the former minister, former Lagos governorship candidate under the platform of the Social Democratic Party and now Lagos Central Senatorial aspirant under the platform of the PDP, Tokunbo Pearce stated that although the GAC is widely perceived to be owned by Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the activities of the GAC were in order, so long they are not serving personal interests.

“The Council doesn’t have to be constitutionally recognised. If the council was formed and acted in good faith for the interest of the members of the party, people would recognise it, as well as respect its activities and decisions. The problem with the GAC is that it is perceived from people’s experience over the years, in their relationship with the former governor, I mean Tinubu and I think quite rightly, it is the sole property of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. With that, the council will have a problem, as it is having now, being challenged by different factions in the party.

“The challenge facing the GAC is in line with the proper practice of democracy. So, I don’t see anything wrong with it. They will continue to argue and dialogue. Eventually, it seems that it will lead to open and democratic primaries for the party, which is good. If they do not do that, it will kill the APC more. The fact of the matter is, everything that you do, look at the interest of the people, APC or PDP, it doesn’t matter, only the interest of Lagosians matter. Democracy is the only thing that can save us,” Pearce advised.

He further charged the GAC to “open itself to free and fair election in Lagos State, otherwise, APC will lose everything in this coming election. They are likely to lose a lot but not everything, but if it goes on and tries to impose itself on the electorate, they will lose everything.

“The GAC is something that the APC fabricated, it doesn’t exist in the federal constitution. It doesn’t exist in the state constitution, it doesn’t exist in the party constitution. The GAC members are members of the APC, they can’t argue that at all, it’s a Lagos APC creation and it will live or die with the Lagos APC. They themselves are challenging it now, even if they don’t challenge it, and other party wins the governorship, that’s the end of that particular institution,” he added.

Lagos APC Publicity Secretary, Seye Oladejo, had said in February that the GAC is a warehouse of knowledge and wisdom while attributing the development of Lagos to the group which other states are now trying to emulate.

“It is a council of advisers, a warehouse of knowledge and wisdom that people in government and the party can tap from. All of them in that council are mentors in their own right. If people are still wondering why Lagos is the shining light of the progressives, the answer cannot be too far from their activities. Some states are adopting the same process by bringing their experienced hands in terms of politics and governance,”Oladejo stated.

A stakeholder of the party who doesn’t want his name mentioned said there is nothing other than to call it a group of elders. Without the elders, a community or organisation will be in turmoil. The elders exist to set things right.

“You know at the national level, the party has a BOT (Board of Trustees). So, in Lagos APC, this is like our board of trustees. If you go to other states, there is a name they call it. Apart from the provisions of the constitution, we usually deliberate on matters of importance and use dialogue and wisdom to resolve issues.

“The body ensures that the constitution of the party is followed in all activities. When members are fighting, the GAC is in a position to be an arbiter. You know at the national level, the party has a BOT (Board of Trustees). So, in Lagos APC, this is like our board of trustees.”

The influence and reach of the GAC are far and crucial. It has a way of getting things done in all the 377 wards in the state.

Yet another insider, who also craved anonymity, pointedly told this paper that the GAC revolves around the former governor, Asiwaju Tinubu. He described it as an illegal creation that is unknown to the party’s constitution.

“GAC is another name for Asiwaju. The body is alien to the APC Constitution. There is nothing like GAC there. And you see it only in Lagos that you have it. So it is when he wants to do some of those things that are very important to him that he would use those elders. He would just call them, Mr. Lagbaja, there will be a meeting in the afternoon, that is all. Unfortunately, the thing is turning against him now because if you go to the street and hear what people are saying, you will marvel. The body is a large one. They are about 15 to 20. GAC doesn’t exist anywhere other than in Lagos.

“It is a body designed to run things in Lagos. Sometimes you hear ‘Governor Emeritus’. Ambode was too assertive and independent-minded that was why he was pushed away. Ambode did very well in terms of performance. But he wasn’t a ‘good party man’.

The relevance of the GAC will continue in Lagos as long as the APC is in power. The day it is defeated, the GAC will be consigned to the dustbin of history. When that will happen, however, is the big question.