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Fashola says APC blindsided in Lagos by Labour Party, as he clears Tinubu of all allegations

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The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has said that the victory of the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in Lagos State during the February 25, 2023 poll surprised the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The minister also spoke about the allegations against the presidential candidate ruling party, Bola Tinubu who has been returned elected in the February general election, saying none of the accusations has been proven.

Fashola, who spoke on a Channels Television programme on Sunday said the Labour Party turned its voters on in Lagos and decimated the chances of Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

He said his party, the APC, conducted pre-election internal polls but never released them, describing polls that predicted victory for Obi and Atiku as “badly conducted.”

The former governor of Lagos, who headed the Election Planning Directorate of the Tinubu-Shettima campaign, said his party knew states where it had high chances of winning and had concentrated its energy in those states.

However, Fashola said his party was blindsided in some cases. “In some cases, you get blindsided. We were blindsided in Lagos because the opposition turned out their voters there,” he said.

“And you also saw that a party that has been competitive for 24 years, the umbrella party, suddenly disappeared. It showed that their support base has shifted.”

Asked whether LP’s victory in Lagos at the presidential poll surprised the APC, he said, Yeah, it blindsided us without a doubt. They turned out their voters, and in the subsequent gubernatorial election, we turned out our voters.”

At the February 25 poll, Obi polled 582,454 votes to trounce Tinubu, also a former Lagos State governor, who scored 572,606 votes. However, Tinubu won the majority votes in the election and was declared the winner by the electoral commission.

The minister of works and housing also said that the allegations against Tinubu, president-elect, are “unproven.”

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Fashola said the outcome of the presidential election showed that Nigerians were not bothered about the controversies trailing Tinubu.

In the build-up to the election, there were questions about the educational background, exact age, family ties, and source of wealth of the former governor of Lagos.

The forfeiture of $460,000 by Tinubu to the US government in 1993 over alleged involvement in illicit drug trafficking equally elicited questions about his personality.

Asked during the interview why Tinubu is always the subject of controversy in terms of his exact age and name, Fashola said the former Lagos governor has a history of prevailing over difficult situations to achieve success.

The minister added that the controversies trailing Tinubu might be an indication of a “positive” turnaround for the country.

Fashola said there is no “sainthood” in governance and that the focus should be on performance and efficiency.

“I think those issues have been ventilated sufficiently,” he said.

“When Nigerians have decided, those issues don’t matter. That is what they have said with these votes.

“Every time, it gets more difficult; that is his path to success. There is no easy day for him. The more difficult it gets, you can be sure it is Asiwaju.

“I think now that all of these hurdles have been surmounted. Maybe there is a divine purpose. Maybe, perhaps, this is where Nigeria begins to turn in the most positive ways forever.

“Governance is not about sainthood.” It is about efficiency, performance, and delivery.

“You must understand that we should not be looking for saints. All of the allegations that were leveled against him have been either unproven or no evidence has been offered in support of them, but they have run along for a while.”

Tinubu won in 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states and secured significant numbers in several other states to claim the highest number of votes—8,794,726—almost two million votes more than his closest rival, former Vice President Atiku, who got 6,984,520 votes, while Obi polled 6,101,533.

Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, won the polls in 11 states, including the home state of the APC candidate, Lagos. He also came out on top in the nation’s capital, Abuja. Atiku Abubakar, like Tinubu, was victorious in 12 states.

Former Kano State Governor and candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso, finished fourth, claiming victory in his state, Kano. He secured 1,496,687 votes.

Though the LP won the presidential election, the party’s candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, lost to the APC’s Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who secured reelection in the March 18 governorship poll.

Sanwo-Olu polled a total of 762,134 votes, defeating Rhodes-Vivour, who scored 312,329 votes, followed by PDP’s Abdul-Azeez Adediran, aka Jandor, with 62,449 votes.

Atiku and Obi have approached the court to challenge Tinubu’s victory ahead of his inauguration on May 29, 2023.

(omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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