2015 Lagos Governorship Election And The PDPs Bride By Tony Oyeyiola
Politics is everywhere, but it is further defined by the peculiarity of a particular socio-political space in addition to ‘who gets what, where and how’ of Harold Lasswell. This expression makes Nigeria politics to be unique in its own way, albeit laced with a lot of worrying political cleavages and political actors that can be described as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Lagos State is a very crucial entity in the political make up of Nigeria which has been blessed with Governors that walked their talks while in government. From Alhaji Lateef Jakande through Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and now the bright Babatunde Raji Fashola. With Fashola coasting to his final lap on the 29th May, 2015 the stage is set for the gladiators to show their strengths on the turf and jostle for the coveted governorship seat of the state of aquatic splendour which Fashola has raised the bar.
When I had about Jimi Agbaje aspiration to throw his hat in the political ring for the 2015 governorship election in Lagos some months back, I was elated. I was so impressed with the news and immediately the political man in me started working. I said to myself, Lagos APC now has a veritable opposition and Lagosians, this time again, will have a taste of Jimi Agbaje though on another platform as against that of 2007 where he vied under Democratic People Alliance, DPA and against a green-horn, Babatunde Raji Fashola. Jimi Agbaje was a total green-horn in politics then, though compared to Fashola, he had a name he could bank on. However, Jimi came a dismal third in the governorship election in 2007 behind Fashola and Musiliu Obanikoro.
No doubt, Jimi Agbaje changed the political landscape of Lagos in 2007. His campaign jingles were top notch…he appealed to neutrals and the corporate sector with his intellectual debates. He brought sparks and vigour into the system and was the darling of many party neutrals with his issue based approach to politics. His popularity almost dwarfed the popular Musiliu Obanikoro (who has been around for some time) and his “Koro Ibo”. Though the slogan of “Eko Oni Ba Je” of Fashola (remember Jeun Soke of Tinubu in 2003) on the platform of ACN gave Jimi Agbaje no breather. It almost swallowed him if not for his vivacity.
Though he lost the election to the eventual governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), he gave a fight. It was evident that Governor Fashola would not have won the election without the structure of erstwhile governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu who became a cult hero in the grass-root political landscape. Thus, it is safe to say Jimi Agabje lost because he teamed with the wrong camp and had no political structure to work with.
However, now that he has decided to join the plethora of candidates jostling to become the next governor of Lagos State under the PDP Umbrella I hope things will work out for him. Personally I am not a PDP fan in all ramifications but the candidature of Agbaje is a bit tempting for me. I have never voted any other party in Lagos apart from DPN, AD and ACN. However, it might not be a smooth sail for him, even in Lagos PDP except the party leadership proactively work to assuage those who might feel disgruntled if Jimi Agbaje should win the Primary election. This is premised on the fact that Jimi Agbaje is a new bride been courted by the party’s top hierarchy but he has a battle to fight with the old brigades with structure in the Lagos PDP who are also interested in the same election.
Some of the interested aspirants are Musiliu Obanikoro, Ade Dosunmu, Deji Doherty, Wale Salis et all. It remains how the PDP will settle its camp before the election. Since the birth of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, Lagos PDP has been infested with disunity. There are too many factions and disgruntled elements who always truncate their chances at the election. And a house divided against itself cannot stand. The involvement of Chief Bode George, who is more or less the cult figure in Lagos PDP has not helped matter in anyway. It is left to see if they are mature enough this time around with Musiliu Obanikoro seemingly posing for a fight if Chief Bode George once again follow his path of imposing candidates in Lagos PDP as he almost did in 2007 with Hilda Funsho Williams (Late Funsho Williams wife) and Ade Dosumu in 2011 from his prison mansion.
Whatever the case may be, it will be difficult for any candidate of PDP confronting the APC in Lagos State which has been a progressive state since 1999. The whirlwind that swept the southwest during President Obasanjo regime found Lagos too hot to handle. I am then not sure of now though it is a strong possibility. One of the variables likely to work, if triggered, is promising the electorates to right the wrongs of APC in some specific areas such as; the return of okadas to Lagos roads and making all the toll gates free or at a knock-down cost. Also, they can also work on relaxing some tax elements and take away the tax administration of Lagos State from the jugular of Jagabam through his Alpha Beta Consulting firm who is ‘perceived’ to be milking the state at an alarming rate.
It is imperative to point out that the aforementioned will only work to sway some elements that are not too happy about these. The campaign has to be vigorous and percolate to the grass root. It is also interesting and safe to say APC is very strong in Lagos.
However, it will not all be a smooth sail for the APC too who by all indications are planning to field Akinwunmi Ambode (with perceived endorsement of Jagabam) as the next governor of the state as against a more popular Senator Ganiyu Olawale Solomon (G.O.S) who has also declared his intention; Dr Leke Pitan (Former Commissioner of Lagos); Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji (Speaker, Lagos House of Assembly) and Dr. Obafemi Hamzat (Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure). Interestingly, all these contestants are Tinubu “loyalist”, except Obafemi Hamzat who is perceived to have the backing of Governor Fashola. It is left to be seen if this will not go the way of 2007 where most of his loyalist showed interest in the governorship and ended up decamping to other political parties. Though one of them, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi returned shortly before the election, the rest they say is history, the structure remains solid.
If what happened in Ekiti is anything to go by then APC has enough worries for Lagos. Governor Fashola has done so much for Lagos infrastructure wise and tried to change peoples’mentality to doing things the very right way. Lagos PDP will powerfully bank on the Federal might once again to its advantage despite several failed attempts in the past especially during Chief Obasanjo tenure where he used the might to annexed 5 out of the 6 South-West States with Lagos the only one that survived the onslaught.
For Jimi Agabje however, the problem might spring up again, the choice of Party. PDP might be popular in Lagos for the wrong reasons. The party is not loved. The propaganda of Tinubu and his cohorts over the years against the party at the center has gained a lot of grounds with unfettered political structure. It will be difficult to see how this will pan out for PDP at the election. Perhaps if the election is held on a different date apart from the general election, may be we will see semblance of what happened in Ekiti and almost in ‘Osun’ with overwhelming interest of the PDP at the center and consequent militarization of the state and clamp down of opposition members by the security personnel.
Some other factors that may also play out, if vigorously used, is that of religion. Lagos has not produced a Christian governor in a while after late Sir Michael Otedola. This position is been clamoured by some sect in the state. Going by this clamour, Jimi Agbaje fit this bill with Akin Ambode, Leke Pitan and Adeyemi Ikuforiji from the APC. The Muslim ticket “might” be a baggage for any political party in 2015. Contrastingly, I doubt if this will be a major factor because I am not sure Lagosians really reckons with this thinking. The second factor is the Zoning propaganda. Through AD/ACN, Lagos West (Tinubu) and Central (Fashola) have governed with Lagos East left out. This will favour Ambode and Ikuforiji but again they have Jimi Agbaje to contend with from the same zone representing the PDP. I reiterate, Lagos may not tow this line. Having seen the accomplishment of Tinubu and Fashola, the clamour will be for the best man to win the job.
Lagos is the seat of APC and any political party must work hard to wrestle the state from the APC. There is no doubt the party (through different transformation) have performed tremendously well in the state since 1999 but there are different school of thoughts that believes these were achieved at an unbelievable, alarming, ludicrous and eye-pumping costs.
In 2015, a lot will go into the game. Other candidates for other elective posts will also help sway votes. For example, the Senate, House of Reps and House of Assembly and the deputy governorship aspirants will play some parts as was used by ACN in 2011 to sway the votes of the populous Alimosho axis with the choice of Mrs Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire (incumbent deputy governor). The respective flagbeares will be known within the next two months then the real game will begin. Once again, I reiterate the choice of Jimi Agbaje as the next governor is tempting for me. I am still calculating. But again, Jagabam is behind the corner with a solid political structure and network in the state. Let us see how he will manage the gulf between the Legacy parties that formed the APC and also the existing Mandate and Justice Groups within his political belt. Untill then, with Jagabam around, we are watching!
Tony Giggs Oyeyiola
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