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LAGOS GUBERNATORIAL POLL: Ohanaeze Ndigbo Dumps Jimi Agbaje, Adopts Sanwo-Olu.

Jimi & Jide.

The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State, Jimi Agbaje, has lambasted his All Progressives Congress counterpart, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for giving rice gifts to civil servants on the premises of the government secretariat ahead of next Saturday’s governorship election.

A stampede occurred during the struggle for rice at the government secretariat on Thursday shortly after Sanwo-Olu and other APC leaders met with civil servants.

In a statement by his Director, Media and Publicity, Felix Oboagwina, the PDP candidate said Sanwo-Olu’s gesture was appalling.

Agbaje described Sanwo-Olu’s meeting with civil servants at the government secretariat as an abuse of privilege and an attempt to manipulate the civil service which ought to be apolitical.

He said, “We find the invitation and the rice gift appalling, opportunistic and illegal. In a political contest of the nature in which Sanwo-Olu and the rest of us are involved, he has been offered an undue advantage. An uneven playing field has been created. And this is condemnable and contemptible.

“The gesture goes against Nigeria’s bureaucratic statutes that forbid civil servants from romancing politics. For crying out loud, there are still regulations preventing civil servants from involvement in politics. That invitation and the rice gifts are a violation of those extant rules.”

Agbaje said the APC designed Sanwo-Olu’s rice gift to bury 20 years in which Lagos officials had been treated like trash and subjected to sordid conditions like nepotism, over-taxation, denial of promotion, delayed promotions and deprivation of leave and end-of-year bonuses.

He alleged that civil servants who maintained a neutrality and refused to show up for the meeting stood the grave danger of being marked down for discrimination and intimidation.

According to him, it was to maintain neutrality and decorum that soldiers and Police were similarly barred from involvement in politics, and politicians prevented from campaigning in uniformed personnel’s barracks and formations.

“It is a shame to see civil servants struggling and hurting themselves just to get a small bag of Sanwo-Olu rice, but it is even more shameful to subject the crop of Nigeria’s middle-class to such an indignity,” Agbaje said.

The PDP candidate also berated the APC for sending police and thugs to bar a “Free Lagos” Press Conference slated for the Lagos Airport Hotel in Ikeja.

“It is the mother of all ironies that, on the same day that APC organised an illegal meeting for its candidate, it was sending a combined team of cops and hoodlums to dislodge an event organised by bona fide Nigerian citizens,” Agbaje noted.

On Police and thugs aborting the event organised by the Orange Movement for a Free Lagos State, Agbaje said the cancellation violated the fundamental rights of the citizens to associate and hold opinions, as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.

The event ran under the theme, Setting Lagos Free from Bourdillon Bondage, #OtogeLagos.

The statement read in part, “It is an assault on freedom of speech. And every day, we witness the frontiers of Nigerians’ freedom being eroded by a privileged minority that takes special delight in subjecting citizens to impunity and corruption.

“The APC further assaulted our collective freedom by Thursday’s order to Police to bar an event where Nigerians wanted to legitimately express themselves.

“We roundly condemn the APC for this. And we call upon all Nigerians and the international community to condemn this high-handed and draconian clampdown.”

Pan Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos chapter has dumped the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and adopted the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the March 9 governorship election in the state.

It said the outcome of February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections makes it necessary for the Igbo in Lagos to realign their position before the governorship polls.

Ohanaeze said both the APC and PDP candidates are Lagosians, adding that the Igbo have no reason to fight over, but look out for the candidate that will protect their interest.

Ohanaeze made these declarations at a town hall meeting of stakeholders at the Muson Centre, Lagos.

President of Ohanaeze Lagos, Chief Solomon Ogbonna, said Igbo in Lagos decided to vote the APC candidate because “he is a leader that will be there for us and he is a man we can trust.

“Babajide Sanwo-Olu is the best thing that can happen to the Igbo in Lagos; he is a God sent to the Igbo. We must not waste this opportunity. That is why we must come out en mass on Saturday, March 9 and vote for Babajide Sanwo-Olu.”

Ogbonna while regretting the harassment of Igbo traders in parts of Lagos after the presidential election, urged them to be more united and show love and concern to the plights of one another as it is only through love and unity they can be protected.

Ohanaeze demanded “assurances and guarantees” from Sanwo-Olu that there would not be a repeat attack on Igbo businesses after the governorship election.

Speaking, the Publicity Secretary of APC in Lagos, Joe Igbokwe, said a lot is at stake in Lagos and that the Igbo will not play with what they have.

“We don’t have a quarter of the investments we have in Lagos back at home, so we must protect it. Come Saturday we must come out and vote Sanwo-Olu, and his running mate, Obafemi Hamzat; they have what it takes,” Igbokwe said.

Sanwo-Olu, who was accompanied by the APC deputy governorship candidate, Obafemi Hamzat, said the governorship election is about the future of Lagos State and those sowing seeds of ethnicity to divide the people.

“The election is not about us, it is about the future and the people that want to use ethnicity to divide us. We must not allow events of one day to determine our future.”

Sanwo-Olu also promised to run an all-inclusive government that will cater for all.

“From day one, we said it that our government will be all-inclusive. We are about development. The assurance I give you is that this election is about the future. The election will come and go but our lives will continue. My government will not be looking at what part of the world you are from, it will be about the greatest happiness of the greatest number,” he said.

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