Jide Sanwo-Olu, an All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant in Lagos, has replied Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on charges that he has an unresolved criminal allegation and unflattering mental health records.
Mr Sanwo-Olu, now widely deemed the leading candidate for the APC governorship ticket in Lagos, expressed deep sadness in Mr Ambode’s charges against him, saying his utterances were beneath the position of a governor and should be disregarded by residents.
“If given a chance at cooler reflection of what he said, I am sure he would regret his descent into such low conduct,” Mr Sanwo-Olu said in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES Sunday night.
He categorically rebuffed claims that he has underwent a rehabilitation for mental health crisis and was once nabbed for spending counterfeit dollars in the United States, a potentially criminal allegation.
Mr Sanwo-Olu’s response came hours after Mr Ambode mounted a podium just outside his office in Alausa on Sunday afternoon, from where he launched a slew of damning attacks against his challenger.
Mr Ambode did not immediately present evidence showing Mr Sanwo-Olu previously underwent treatment for mental health challenges, directing curious residents to proceed to Gbagada General Hospital to obtain the records by themselves.
He also did not immediately provide details of Mr Sanwo-Olu’s alleged use of counterfeit U.S. national currency.
The governor said plots were being hatched by criminal elements in Lagos to spark security crises across the state starting from tomorrow.
Lagos police commissioner, Edgal Imohimi, did not immediately return PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comments late Sunday.
The unusually personal outburst from the governor comes as his chances of being able to get the party’s ticket to return for a second four-year term were becoming increasingly dimmer.
Mr Ambode has been largely written off the contest after Mr Sanwo-Olu bagged the endorsement of almost all the critical political action groups in Lagos.
Amongst those who have endorsed Mr Sanwo-Olu were the forum of all the 57 local council chairpersons in Lagos State, 36 out of 40 state lawmakers and all federal lawmakers from the state.
Read Mr Sanwo-Olu’s full response to Mr Ambode below:
TIME TO RESPECT THE PEOPLE OF LAGOS STATE AND THE OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
Let it be heard by all that I hold the people of Lagos state with great respect and affection. Their welfare is my utmost concern and it is what drives my pursuit for the governorship nomination of the APC. As such, I also hold the office of governor of our state in high esteem. I shall never consciously do anything that will undermine the dignity of the office nor will I engage in personal attacks against the holder of that office. My pursuit of office will continue to be based upon issues that matter to Lagosians and not on attacks against someone’s character, even when he attack mine. For anyone to engage in unwarranted character attacks against me, reveals more about that person’s character than it says about mine.
Thus, I felt sad for Lagos as I watched press conference by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. Many things he said were beneath the dignity of our people and the exalted office he now holds. Perhaps the tension and anxiety of the moment got the better of him. If given a chance at cooler reflection of what he said, I am sure he would regret his descent into such low conduct. In this vein, I forgive him and hope he regains his balance and proper comportment no matter the outcome of tomorrow’s contest. After all, we are both here to improve Lagos not to wrestle in its streets.
However, I must clear up some inaccuracies in the Governor’s statement.
His allegation of that I was arrested for spending fake dollars at a night club in the United States was untrue. In fact, the governor knows I travelled to the United States just last month. I would not have been allowed to travel or even get a visa if I had been involved in what the Governor falsely alleged.
That the Governor claimed 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. This is not the stuff of high office. People should question whether it is ethically right for the gGovernor to turn what should be confidential medical information about a citizen into a weapon of political warfare? But for avoidance of doubt, let it be stated that I never received any treatment whatsoever at the Gbagada General Hospital.
Today, instead of making a convincing defense of his performance, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode sought to sow fear into the hearts of Lagosians.
But Lagosians are an intelligent and brave people. They can see through the smoke and the fog. I am here not to tear my opponent down but to help build Lagos up. With me, you will hear about progress on education, health, sanitation, proper tax levels, economic development, infrastructure, jobs, public services and other things that enhance the lives of people.
I am a serious person and this primary is a serious matter. I have not the time or inclination to attack character when there are so many real issues to address.
We will continue to focus on the issues that matter in the lives of the people of Lagos. Lagosians want an answer to the sanitation crisis and loss of jobs caused by Mr. Ambode’s Visionscape misadventure.
Our people will want to know why Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has not been able to build a single General Hospital in the State when his immediate predecessor Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) built 11 General Hospitals. Lagosians are waiting to hear what our solutions are. They want to know why hundreds of competent civil servants got summarily dismissed and how this has undermined public services.
As a candidate for the party’s nomination and hopefully as your next governor, my approach will not be to sling insults but to propose solutions to the problems of the day.