“As a Muslim with a religious rebuff for pigs and its products, former Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State would have been so pained to equate the corruption allegations against him as tantamount to a duel with a pig.
“When you wrestle with a pig, the pig gets happy and you get dirty,” the former governor said in a statement issued last Thursday in his response to the allegations against him. Remarkably, he did not mention who the pig is or the quarter from where the allegations against him are coming from.
However, his assertion has rekindled the repeated claims of the internal political chasm between him and his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC and the camp of the political leader of the state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
It is thus instructive that upon the sensitivity of the issues involved, that supporters of the two immediate former governors of Lagos State have pledged to remain quiet and speak off the records on the issue. The swirling allegations of corruption, moral ineptitude and political grandstanding have come at a particularly sensitive time for political stakeholders in Lagos State.
As the former governor alleged in his rebuttal, he is not in search of a job, a claim that inevitably leads to insinuations that the allegations were being made to deny him what many consider as his deserved place in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Remarkably, Fashola’s enemies it is believed, are especially found among his political household, the platform upon which he progressed through two terms of Nigeria’s most cosmopolitan state.
Sources in the Fashola camp lay the charge at those within his political fold who attempted to stop his bid for a second term. At that time, his “brothers” came through the True Face of Lagos, a shadowy movement that sought to damage his political standing through allegations of corruption.
Party officials who like senior officials in the Tinubu and the Fashola camps understandably chose to speak off the records deny a party role in the unfolding crisis which they cite as an ego war within the party.
One associate of Fashola who spoke yesterday completely denied the involvement of the party in the crisis, which he however, traced to the same forces he claimed were responsible for trying to deny their patron a second term.
“It is the same people and you know they wanted to deny him a second term, but they could not, and this time, they will not succeed.”
He noted that the Tinubu camp had recruited the incumbent governor, Akinwunmi Ambode to push the battle against their man noting that the release of the information on the website contract could only have been divulged from within.
It is no secret among political partisans that Fashola was not supportive of Ambode before the primary and he was believed to be inclined to Supo Shashore, who served as a commissioner in the first term.
Fashola, however, made up and took prime position after the primary and campaigned vigorously for Ambode. However, the bad blood that was set before the primary it is said has not healed.
Remarkably, an associate of former Governor Tinubu also denied the role of the party and his political patron in the unfolding crisis which he told Vanguard yesterday was essentially an anti-corruption campaign being waged by a concerned civil society organisation.
In a comment laced with deeper warning of possible things to come, the source said yesterday:
“You have not heard anything, this is not our battle because you have not heard the story of the burial of one million vests meant for the campaign of a former governorship aspirant, you have not heard the story of contract inflations, you have not heard many things,” the source said as he gave warning of the camp’s ownership of a dossier on the immediate former governor.
On the prospect of President Buhari damning the consequences and picking Fashola as a minister to represent Lagos, a source in the Tinubu camp said:
“The person to be chosen must be acceptable by the people of Lagos and the ruling party. So if he (Fashola) is to be picked is it because he is acceptable to the party, or is it because he is a saint or what? The president can only pick him at his own peril,” he said noting that the former governor is only a political disadvantage saying that Fashola lost his ward and local government during the last local government election.
Fashola’s seeming political naivety is now the chorus of his political enemies who are alleging that Governor Ahmed Tinubu handed over to him a political structure that was in full control of the state. According to them, the political family at the time of the Tinubu-Fashola transition was in full control of the complement of elected officials in the National Assembly and the State House of Assembly.
Fashola they claim, however, handed over to his successor a divided political heritage given the ascendancy of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which won six House of Representatives positions and – seats in the House of Assembly.
The accusations against Fashola are, however, seriously vitiated by what critics claim as a heritage of performance in government, security.”
Article written by Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor with The Vanguard