Political gladiators in Ifako-Ijaiye Federal Constituency of Lagos State have commenced jostling for the vacant seat of their representative in the House of Representatives.
Members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and their rivals in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are already engaging in horse-trading.
The seat became vacant following the death of Elijah Adewale, the representative who passed on in his Abuja residence recently at the age of 65.
One candidate of the PDP in the last election, Babatope Akinyele, recently began consultations with officials within the party.
At a well-attended meeting held in Oko-Oba, he enjoined members to work together in the interest of the party, saying unbridled quarrel within their ranks cost them the seat.
According to him, those invited to the meeting were officials irrespective of the caucus they belong to.
Addressing the members, Mr. Akinyele said “We really need to meet with opinion molders across the wards, units and polling booths. What we want to do is to correct the errors that we made the last time.”
While stating that the move did not in any way flout relevant sections of the Electoral Law, Akinyele said it was consultative and made to rekindle hope in members.
On his part, the chairman of the party in the local government, Yisa Adeleye, thanked Mr. Akinyele for the meeting, which he said will restore hope amongst members.
He urged members of the party to forget the past; saying if they work in harmony, the PDP would win the seat. He said the performance of the APC in government at all levels has made victory in the forthcoming election easy for PDP.
Meanwhile, the APC is also strategizing for retaining the seat as party stalwarts believe that losing it to the PDP would send wrong signal to the public.
The spokesperson of the party in Lagos State, Joe Igbokwe, at the weekend, said his party was battle ready to bury PDP in Ifako/Ijaye any time INEC calls for the poll.
“We are ready for PDP. They do not exist in Lagos. They misruled Nigeria for 16 years. Lagos will not be a testing ground for them. We shall bury them during the poll,” Mr. Igbokwe said.
Three aspirants, Demola Doherty, Yomi Ogunnusi, and Abiola Josiah, have signified interest to contest for the seat on the platform of the APC.
Also, five aspirants have signaled intention to contest for the seat on the platform of PDP, as confirmed by the state party chairman, Tunji Salvador.
Analysts expect a duel as the election will be the first major popularity contest between the APC and PDP in Lagos State since the 2015 general elections.
One commentator, Femi Olanrewaju, said on his Twitter page (@femrewa) that sensing defeat, the APC was making moves to ensure INEC did not hold the election this year so as to have time to douse the tension currently being generated by the hardship in Nigeria, which he said was caused by the inefficiency of the APC at the centre.
On his part, the convener of Stand Up Nigeria Group, Dele Popoola, has predicted victory for the APC.
In a statement in Lagos on Sunday, Popoola said with the current performance of Governor Ambode, the victory of APC is non-negotiable in Ifako/Ijaiye Federal Constituency.
“How do you expect the APC to lose an election anywhere in Lagos with the current super-meritorious performance of Governor Akinwumi Ambode? The coming election to me is going to be a walk over for the APC” he opined.