When Mr. Akinwumi Ambode set out to address a world press conference, he was not predictable.
Like his multi-coloured short-sleeved shirt, he was not identified with a single colour of mood.
But it did not take long before it became clear Ambode would not be chummy with his political family. He was a different person.
He felt that his political life was being snuffed out of him. He had to fight for his survival.
At 2:00 p.m. yesterday, the Lagos State governor lashed out at his opponent, Jide Sanwo-Olu .
Sanw-Olu is contending against Ambode for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The winner will emerge after the party’s governorship primary today.
Many have said that Ambode deserves a second term. But the godfather of Lagos politics and APC National Leader Bola Tinubu thinks otherwise.
Facing an army of cameramen and supporters, the governor in an APC-branded shirt and a pair of jeans trousers, took position behind the podium.
Bolstered by cheers and claps from supporters, he opened the bunker and pressed the button of no return: “We have never responded to the campaign of calumny on social media. We have one family in APC.
The aspirant being put up to compete against us is not a fit and proper person to take this job.
“I have done everything in the last three and half years to serve people selflessly and to serve the poor.
Most of the projects we are doing are about alleviating the sufferings of the poor.
And the only way out for us is to continue to do that in the next four years.
“This particular aspirant is someone who has been arrested for spending fake dollars in a nightclub in America, and he was detained for months.
He doesn’t have the competence to do what he is being propelled to do.
This is somebody that has gone for rehabilitation before. The records are there at the Gbagada General Hospital.
We don’t want to go too far. Our leadership should have a rethink.”
Sanwo-Olu however was collected in his immediate response. “I will not join issues with anybody.
When some people are playing low, we will continue to play high and maintain focus to take Lagos State to a higher level,” he said.
His advisers might have pulled him to a corner and whispered, “You had better done something to counter Ambode’s stinging statement before irreparable damage is done.” Hours later, he released a more potent statement.
“For anyone to engage in unwarranted character attacks against me, reveals more about that person’s character than it says about mine,” he said.
He “felt sad” the governor said “things beneath the dignity of our people and the exalted office he holds.”
He was also sure that with “cooler reflection”, Ambode would “regret his descent into such low conduct.”
Sanwo-Olu graciously forgave the incumbent but not until he had “cleared up some inaccuracies.”
He admitted he travelled to the United States last month, stressing he would not have been allowed or even given a visa if he had been “involved in what the governor falsely alleged.”
He said: “That I underwent some unidentified type of ‘rehabilitation’ at the Gbagada General Hospital was also shameless and untrue.
Promulgation of salacious rumour should not be part of the job description of a governor.
People should question whether it is ethically right for the governor to turn what should be confidential medical information about a citizen into a weapon of political warfare?
But for the avoidance of doubt, let it be stated that I never received any treatment whatsoever at the Gbagada General Hospital.”
Sanwo-Olu accused Ambode of sowing fear in the hearts of Lagos residents rather than making a “convincing defence of his performance.”
He promised voters there would be no tearing of his opponent down but rather a focusing on issues.
Also, buoyed by the result of the Osun State electoral battle where the APC showed the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) its skills for winning tricky elections, Tinubu jumped in the fray.
He had subtly backed Sanwo-Olu. But in a statement yesterday, he came out fully.
“With people like him at the helm, the state will write the proper history for itself.
When the final word is given, let it be said that we want all Lagosians to look to the future with the hope and optimism that our best days remain before us and not behind us.
“We walk into this primary strong and confidently believing in the right course we are to take.
We shall emerge from this primary even stronger and more confidant that we have taken that course by returning Lagos and our party to their finest path,” he said.
At his press conference, Ambode lamented that all he had was a membership slip and not a card, fearing he and millions of Lagos residents in a similar dilemma could be disenfranchised.
He also raised the alarm that some unscrupulous persons could breach the peace today, vowing the long arm of the law would spare no offender.
Adding to the drama, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who has been seen in a recent picture with Sanwo-Olu, denied the photograph was his endorsement of the candidate.
In the same breath, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) refuted reports it had backed the contender.
But a caucus of Lagos State APC federal lawmakers, led by Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, trumpeted the achievements of the aspirant.