AS controversy rages over the hate-speech of Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its national leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, on Tuesday, apologised to Igbo.
Tinubu, seen as an ally of the traditional ruler, said he was not a member of APC and could not speak for the party and his governorship candidate in Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode.
The former Lagos State governor spoke at a rally in Iganmu, Lagos, while reacting to the Akiolu’s debate.
At the same event, the president-elect, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, promised to give Lagos State priority when he takes office.
Tinubu said he was the first Yoruba governor to appoint an Igbo commissioner.
He accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), of trying to profit from the crisis generated by Akiolu’s comment, having failed to win penultimate weekend’s presidential elections.
He said the coordinator of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, Ifeanyi Ubah and the PDP leader, Bode George, were only making baseless accusations against the APC.
According to him, “the oba is not a politician. His job is to accommodate all political parties, whether PDP, APC or SDP. So, what did he (Ubah) go and do at the palace?
“To you Igbos, don’t we pay your children’s school fees like others? Or is it the palace that pays for it? When we conducted an examination and a spelling competition, an Igbo boy, Ebuka, from Anambra, came first and he became the governor for one day.
“Those who won the competition three times in a row were Igbo. Ebuka was sent to Switzerland computer school and then Obafemi Awolowo University. We did not say he was an Igbo boy and he would not enjoy. He became an executive in Oando and he is now in Canada.
“Another boy, Felix, won and went to Switzerland and OAU. We paid his scholarship; we did not deny him because he is Igbo.”
In a statement, the Lagos State APC publicity secretary, Joe Igbokwe, said the traditional ruler spoke out of anger.
He begged his own not to take out their anger on Akinwumi Ambode, who knew nothing about the incident.
The statement read: “Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos is not a card-carrying member of APC. He is not a leader in the APC. He does not speak for the APC. He did not speak for Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos state.
“He did not speak for our national leader, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He did not speak for the incoming governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode. His Royal Highness is at liberty to speak for himself and he spoke for himself only.
“Lagos APC appeals to Ndigbo not to take the statement as the position of the party in Lagos. We passionately appeal to Ndigbo not to carry the statement credited to Oba Akiolu too far, so as not to put a knife on things that have held us together for more than 50 years now.
“If out of annoyance, you throw your cap away, a mad man will take it and use it forever.”
Meanwhile, the president-elect, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, at the APC rally, in Orile area of the state, urged Lagos residents to vote en masse for the party’s governorship candidate in Lagos State, Mr Ambode, on Saturday.
He begged Lagosians to cast their votes for APC candidates on Saturday, for the state to benefit immensely from the government at the centre when he takes over.
Buhari said Lagos was too important for APC to lose after what the ruling party, Nigeria and the people had invested in the state that made it a distinguished state in the country.
According to him, “I was here to appreciate your love for me and APC. I urge you to vote for APC from bottom to up this Saturday. People should not deny Lagos the opportunities at the centre, particularly now that we are at the centre.”
While addressing the crowd, the president-elect recalled that while he was in Lagos during his campaign tour, he rode in an open bus with Governor Babatunde Fashola, who informed him that the state government had spent so much money on maintenance of federal roads in the state and that the PDP-led Federal Government failed to reimburse the state.
“When Governor Fashola informed me about this, I told him that if I become the president of the country, I will give Lagos priority, because without doubt, Lagos is a mini-Nigeria. I now urge Lagosians to vote APC candidates from bottom to up for continuity of purposeful government that you have been used to under Governor Fashola.
“It is in your interest to vote APC this Saturday. Tell your neighbours, family members and friends that APC is the party that can bring desired development. Let’s PDP bury their hatchet, fall in line and vote APC,” he said.
Buhari later introduced Akinwunmi Ambode to the crowd as the candidate to be elected on Saturday.
Earlier, the chairman of APC, Chief Odigie Oyegun, was full of praise for Lagosians. He said some weeks ago, when APC visited the people and sought their support for Major-General Buhari and his running mate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the people came out and identified with the party at the polls.
He commended the people for their time and energy spent on the election day, requesting that the act should be repeated this Saturday for Ambode and other APC candidates.
“We are proud of Buhari. No matter what people say, APC will continue to make the country progress,” he said, adding that Lagosians should vote massively for APC on Saturday.
According to Oyegun, “For 16 years, Lagos has been working and developing under hostile Federal Government. Lagosians should vote APC for continuity. We are now at the centre, Lagosians will prosper accordingly under APC.”
In his speech at the rally, Governor Babatunde Fashola reminded Lagosians that the state had remained in opposition in the last 16 years. He asked the people to come out and vote for all APC candidates this Saturday, so that the state would have direct access to the Federal Government.
The governor stated that there were lots of opportunities awaiting Lagos State if APC won this weekend’s governorship and House of Assembly elections, adding that the outstanding N51 billion spent by the state government on maintenance of federal roads, which the outgoing government refused to pay back, would be accessed without stress from the APC government.