Sanwo-olu’s Victory: Of Facts, Fiction And Emotion, By Tunde Abatan

Tunde Abatan

Sanwo-olu’s Victory: Of Facts, Fiction And Emotion, By Tunde Abatan


The Lagos state governorship election, easily the hottest among other 27 states of the country on Saturday has been won and lost.

But the gains and loss by the different contending forces for control of the fourth largest economy in Africa was easily the keenest both for the political and economic high stakes and the emotions which borders on ownership and control.

The last two issues affected the nature and mode of the result.

Though incumbent Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu eventually got a wide margin victory, yet the hurdles he scaled are as gargantuan as the obstacles out before his ‘godfather’ now President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu .

Tinubu is on record as the only politician who has not lost any election since he joined partisan politics in Lagos in 1991 but whose base was badly shaken by the new comer Labour Party, LP Presidential candidate, Peter Obi who scored 582,664 to Tinubu’s 572,666.

Though it was a small gap, yet deep enough to challenge Tinubu’s invincibility in Lagos.

However, since then if there is anything Tinubu’s defeat has done it has revealed four things lacking in Sanwo-olu’s government and APC as a political party.

Ordinarily, by the depth of his work on infrastructure, education, health and others, Sanwo-olu shouldn’t have been worried and scared stuff this last three weeks.

The defeat of Tinubu taught politicians and others a lesson neither to hide their work under the table nor create a disconnect with them until election time.

According to the late Moshood Abiola, “if you fail to beat your drum nobody will do it for you”.

Sanwo-olu failed to beat his drum of achievements and inadvertently injured the ego of Tinubu who lost his home base but won the other 12 states in Nigeria.

Secondly, Tinubu’s failure shows the lack of cohesion in Lagos APC, it appears it has taken the people for granted and assumptions that Lagos belongs to it for the take.

Indeed, the last three weeks have been hellish for Sanwo-olu who have had to come out from his shell to reel out several projects he has executed which remains unknown to the generality of the people.

This is either his failings or that of his lieutenants.

The voting pattern brought Sanwo-olu back to the people he has worked for this past four years but either through naivety and utter negligent created a disconnect between him and the people who elected him.

It also has to be noted that Sanwo-olu’s hard- earned victory is also a function of the lack lustre performance of the honourable Cornelius Ojelabi’s APC state executive which obviously took the populace for granted.

Like Sanwo-olu, the party was fixated on following the campaign train of Asiwaju Tinubu and leaving it’s home flank open to both the new Labour Party, LP and main opposition, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP which has been pushed to the third position by the ‘rampaging’ army of youths and No Man’s Land crusade of the LP.

However, it is quite evident that the campaign slogan of the LP which earned it the upper hand during the Presidential election later became its undoing during the state governorship election.

It is evident by the comments of the indigenous Yoruba people in Lagos and elsewhere that their claim to ownership of the nation’s most populous and economic power house is seriously under threat.

It also has to be noted that more than anything else, the No Man’s slogan woke the lethargy in the hitherto cosmopolitan Yoruba elite who came out to vote contrary to what obtains during the Presidential election .

By polling 762,134 votes during the Governorship election, the APC was able to get additional votes more than half of those who voted for it during the presidential election to come out and vote.

Conversely, for the LP, the slogan reduced its vote to two third of the 582,664 votes it secured during the presidential election.

The LP campaign also portrays that the strength of the party lies  more on the social media and youths who probably abandon it after the Presidential election.

Ironically, the social media which Sanwo-olu and his party, the APC, neglected in the past years became the medium used by the LP to galvanise the youths who came out to demonstrate their support for the it during the presidential election.

This is rather strange because the social media was the instrument the APC used in 2015 to mobilise against the Goodluck Jonathan’s government.

The APC was totally absent in the social media where the youths are and this explains the strength of the LP in the presidential election.

The success of Sanwo-olu was also helped by the ethnic renaissance of the Yoruba both in Lagos and other parts of the South West and beyond who regard LP as a  strange party determined to make  incursion and conquer it’s inherited .

Emotions were evoked by the No Man’s Land slogan which was demonstrated in the attitude and grandstanding of the Igbo ethnic group who dominated the high ranking leadership of LP and also seen as a  Zionist movement acting in cooperation with the Independence People’s of Biafra, IPOB.

The  IPOB is seen as the vehicle adopted by the LP to evoke ethnic sympathy.

However, the inability of the LP to record only half of what it gained during the presidential election could also be attributed to division and low morale among the youths who felt disappointed by the loss of  the presidential candidate, Obi in the presidential election.

Yet, it is also not impossible that many of the Igbo business elite who had long been established in Lagos may have withdrawn their support for the LP because of their business interests which they feared may suffer if the state slide into anarchy occasioned by the ethnic emotions generated by the victory Tinubu’s loss has evoked among the Yoruba populace.

However, the fact remains that the increase in the figure recorded by the APC is also attributable to wake up move by the hitherto Yoruba elite who are apolitical but has seen the clear danger in allowing the political control of Lagos to slip away from their grip

Also of note is the fact that with a vote of 62, 449, the hitherto opposition party, the PDP, has portrayed loss of followership and grip in the state due to its internal contradictions.

.The activity of elders of the PDP like Chief Olabode George and his declaration of open support for the LP candidate has further caused a major gulf within the party.

This may have resulted in most of its supporters preferring to support Sanwo-olu for pure ethnic reasons especially since Jide Adediran,(aka Jandor) it’s governorship candidate has openly disagreed on merger talks or support for LP candidate as canvassed by Chief George.

In other words, internal contradictions in the state PDP which also manifested at the national level between Abubakar Atiku and Obi resulting in the decision of the later to join LP also reared its head at the state level .

In other words, had there been no crack in the PDP,  it could have won the Presidential and state elections.

In essence, the rift in the PDP in 2014 which was repeated in the handling of the PDP presidential primary last year and berth of the G5 governors, has continued to affect the stability of the party from which the APC with its own internal contradictions has continued to profit from.

This year’s election is unique both in its form and influence in shaping the citizens attitude and power struggle among and between the political class.