Governor Akinwunmi Ambode obtained the nomination form on Monday and announced his interest in a new term of four years.
Two former commissioners – Jide Sanwo-Olu and Obafemi Hamzat – have joined the race in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Their action increased yesterday the anxiety among party members who have been waiting for directives on the coming primary that was thought by many to be a one-man race.
The candidate will be picked by direct primary — the system in which all members of the party will vote to choose the candidate.
After obtaining his form, Sanwo-Olu was received by chieftains of the Mandate Group, a formidable arm of the APC.
With him were: former Lagos APC Vice Chairman (West) James Omolaja Odunmbaku, former Agriculture & Cooperatives Commissioner Kaoli Olusanya and former Special Duties Commissioner Dr. Tola Kasali. Olusanya also echoed Odunbaku on the group’s endorsement of Sanwoolu as Lagos’s next governor.
Speaking at meeting of the Mandate Group, Odunmbaku spoke of a plan to open Sanwo-Olu’s campaign office within the Ikeja GRA.
He described the aspirant as the in-coming governor of the state.
Businessman Femi Otedola is said to have been offered the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket.
There is also Owolabi Salis who is running in the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
Sanwo-Olu is a former Commissioner for Establishment & Training. Hamzat is a former Commissioner for Works & Infrastructure.
Ambode thanked Lagosians for supporting and believing him in the last three and a half years.
He urged them to sustain the support “in the journey ahead”, adding that “together, let’s achieve more”.
The governor also thanked the APC leadership, especially, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who he referred to as “our National Leader” for giving him the platform to contribute his quota to “the further growth and development of our state.”
The expression of interest in the Lagos governorship by the duo of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat shocked many political observers, who hitherto felt the incumbent would not have any challenger.
But, a source within the APC said last night that “there is no cause for alarm”.
“The more the merrier”, the source told The Nation, adding that the development would afford party members a rare opportunity to pick the best among the contenders.
“It will deepen democracy. Party members will have the opportunity of choosing the best among the aspirants,” the source said.
The popular belief in political circles is that the new entrants signaled a crisis in the party. “There is no crisis,” the party source said, pleading not to be named.
There was no direct confirmation from Otedola on the PDP’s offer.
A source close to him quoted him as saying: “I am on vacation.”
Otedola is holidaying in Paris, France.
Many saw Otedola’s endorsement as strange.
Besides being a political greenhorn, the Chairman of Forte Oil Plc, had in May said he was not running for office. He is the son of former Governor Michael Otedola.