2023 Gov Poll: The battle For Lagos, By Tunde Abatan
Saturday March 111, 2023, is a defining day for Lagos state, the former federal capital and Africa’s fifth largest economy.
The day is also significant for the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-olu as he will face the biggest task of retaining his seat for a second term in office.
It is a big task because, he is facing voters who in spite of his sterling performance executing numerous iconic infrastructural projects both conceived by his predecessors, some of it abandoned by his immediate predecessor, Akinwunmi Ambode, and for which he determined upon assuming office he will revived he did and we’re commissioned .one of it is the twelve years old Blue Line light rail project conceived to reduce traffic bottleneck in Lagos.
Sanwo-olu also completed the Lekki Deep Seaport, several flyovers and bridges, roads and waterways built with modern ferries.
However, his fate is in one way intertwined with that of President-elect Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who though defeated other seven contestants to get the coveted Presidential trophy in a keenly contested election defeating his closest rival Atiku Abubakar with a margin of 1.8million votes, he was defeated on votes count in his Lagos state base by a little over 10,000 votes.
The consolation though is that he won the three senatorial seats and twelve out if fourteen houses of representatives seats.
This ‘defeat’ has never happened by inference to Tinubu, Jaganban of Borgu since he joined politics in the late eighties and became a godfather of sort in the state.
Saturday’s election is crucial for Sanwo-olu on account of the biggest threat faced by the Yoruba founders of Lagos whose ownership is being seriously threatened by the immigrant Igbo population who are in good numbers under the platform of Labour party, LP.
LP is recognizably a party that sprang from the leading opposition, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP and determined to capitalize on ethno- religious options to seize control of Lagos state and to more or less fulfil age-long claim of Lagos being a ‘No Man’s Land’.
Hence, Sanwo-olu’s nay Tinubu’s biggest electoral test is the determination of both the Igbo population, it’s adopted party and by extension Tinubu’s enemies who are determined to wrest control of Lagos from him 24 years after he mounted saddle of power and control.
By scoring 582,000 votes to All Progressives Congress,APC,572,000, LP, received a morale booster from even Yoruba youths and population who harbor resentment for Tinubu and party on account of the 2021 EndSars protest which recorded casualties on the side of restive youths who were initially protesting against police brutality but turned into an ethnic tool to destroy Lagos crucial infrastructures.
Saturdays election is also a challenge to the Sanwoolu and by extension the ruling party which due to many factors failed to mobilise the six million voters it registered to the polling booth at a period when the cash swap currency redesign project succeeded in ‘confisticating’ hard earned money from Lagosian’s most of who would have voted for APC on account of the sterling performance in the last decades of its present and past governments.
How will Sanwo-olu ride on the back of Tinubu’s success at the national level and mobilise the sit-at-home electorate some of who must have been angered by the pains and anguish the thoughtless President Muhammadu Buhari’s I’ll advised policy conceived by Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Governor.
In apparent contempt of the ethno religious boasts and grandstanding of the now main opposition party the LP, indigenous Yoruba population which felt that perhaps last week’s victory of LP in votes count is an attempt by Igbo migrant population to hijack leadership of the state by LP to fulfill similar feat recorded by the late Dr Nnamdi Azikwe, who rallied Igbo politicians from the Eastern region and few of his Yoruba politicians to hijack the then National Congress of Nigeria Citizens, NCNC, founded by late Herbert Macaulay to seize power in Lagos and by extension the then Western region.
But for the titanic struggle of that defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, AG led by the late Premier of the Western Region, Obafemi Awolowo which rescued Lagos from it’s migrant politicians, Lagos would have lost its indigenous identity .
This in a way is not helped by the ‘Stand alone’Gegede Leko Wa’ attitude of some cosmopolitan political elite who erroneously believe Lagos should be separated from Western region political control though it is an indigenous Yoruba city.
The latest threat by migrant settlers to upstage Yoruba control of Lagos through the APC by the LP using Chinedu Gbadebo Rhodes -Vivour, a young politician of Igbo maternal background is the biggest threat to both Yoruba and Tinubu’s control of Africa’s fourth largest trading post.
His latest strategic though faulty political move to import his Igbo name, Chinedu into his names could trigger more ethnic dissension from the indigene’s contrary to the emphathy expected from the voting population.
What is more, that Rhodes -Vivour, who could hardly utter a sentence in Yoruba language and supported by decamped, marginalized politicians and naive Yoruba youths who are pressed more by economic challenges than political agitation, posed another herculean task for Sanwo-olu to return to power and sustain his achievements.
However, if the anger, feelings and apparent signs of possible domination of their territory by Igbos by indigenous Yoruba in business, thousands of civil servants -the non-indigenes are many there, no thanks to accommodating and liberal cum cosmopolitan attitude of Yoruba elite and Tinubu, who appointed them into civil service top cadre, in the past week is anything to go by, then turn out Saturday March 11 may create an upset.
That aggrieved and slighted residents and indigenes appears determined to stop the tide represented by lady week’s defeat may be an unprecedented electoral fight to reset and preserve ownership of Lagos.
If determination and threats by churches, religious faiths, local indigenous communities, interest groups who felt slighted by boasts of conquering Lagos and control its sea, trade and political leadership by non-indigenes is translated into concrete action is anything to go by, then turn out of voters may be unprecedented.
But if all the contesting power groups couldn’t mobilise and utilize the six million voters’ card, it may not be due to lack of trial but militating factors like the crazy currency Confiscation, problems of mobility by thousands of voters who had change location and residency to nearby Ogun state.
That they did without transferring their cards but still commute to work daily in Lagos and enjoying it’s infrastructures but eventually denying it civic obligations is disservice to Lagos.
Saturdays election will be the biggest power struggle by the indigenous population and especially Igbo migrants who felt they have contributed more to build Lagos and hence deserve to rule it, though such generosity is a taboo in it’s home state in the eastern part of Nigeria .
By far, the biggest challenge is in the hands of Sanwo-olu, the state APC- which appears to have gone to sleep on account of it’s assumed ownership of Lagos, and it’s indigenous population who face imminent threat of being displaced in its own territory.
Saturday March 11,2023 is the D Day for Lagos whichever way it goes.