Last Saturday, Lagosians decided that they feel safer under the administration of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and unanimously gave the party and its candidate, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, the mandate to run the affairs of the state for another four years till 2023. OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU examines the factors responsible for the APC victory and the defeat of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the sixth consecutive time.
TRACKING>>Last Saturday, Lagosians, like Nigerians in about 29 other state went to the polls to elect either a brand new state chief executives or renew the mandate of incumbents who still qualify for a second term and in Lagos State, also known as the Centre of Excellence, the All Progressives Congress, APC, coasted home to victory in a landslide.
The party and its candidate, former Special Adviser and three-time commissioner, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, were declared the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, having polled 739,445 votes, to hand down the most crushing defeat yet to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, a three-time gubernatorial candidate, Jimi Agbaje, who polled 206,141, out of a total 998,715 votes cast.
Unlike in 2015, when Agbaje squared up against the incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, and won a few local governments, this time around, he was roundly defeated in all the 20 constitutionally recognized local government areas of the state.
Although the turn out in the election was abysmally low, in a state of over six million registered voters, the margin of defeat was perhaps the highest in the history of the state, a whopping 533,304 votes.
The candidate of the Action Democratic Party, ADP, a perennial gubernatorial aspirant, before finally clinching ADP ticket, Babatunde Gbadamosi, came a distant 3rd with a total vote tally of 4,780.
In a spirit of sportsmanship, Agbaje, quickly threw in the towel and called Sanwo-Olu at about 7:07pm last Sunday to congratulate him and wish him well as he takes Lagos to the next level. The PDP, in a statement signed and released by its Publicity Secretary, Taofeek Gani, also congratulated the governor-elect, but with a caveat that it will not hesitate to challenge the victory in the court if it discovers any irregularity in the conduct of the election.
Although, the APC victory is expected, it was also expected to be a tough battle, with the margin of defeat expected to be lower than the gap between the APC and the PDP in the presidential election, but the reverse turned out to be the case.
Prior to the election, the PDP had introduced what it borrowed from Kwara State, the ‘O To Gee’ (Enough is Enough) mantra, with which the people of Kwara killed and buried the hegemony of the Saraki dynasty, which had spanned over 40 years in Kwara State.
It was using that to say ‘enough is enough’ of one man, former governor of the state and national Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, bestriding the political terrain of Lagos State like a colossus. It was also saying ‘enough is enough’ of one party holding on to the reins of power in Lagos State since the advent of this present democratic dispensation.
However, the ploy backfired, as Lagosians roundly berated the PDP and Agbaje as being devoid of original ideas and fired back that in fact, they want more of the developmental strides that had bestrode the landscape in the last 20 years.
Factors Responsible For PDP’s Defeat
‘O To Gee’ (Enough Is Enough)
The people of Kwara State used this slogan/mantra to put an end to the Saraki family’s political dynasty, which had been in total control of the state since the days of late Olusola Saraki, a former Senate Leader.
While almost everyone in Kwara keyed into the mantra, it was a reverse in Lagos as the APC responded with ‘O Tun Ya’ (Let Us Continue) and Lagosians prefer to continue rather than having enough.
Ethnicising The Election
Following the alleged attacks on Igbos in the aftermath of the presidential election, the PDP went to town to play the ethnic card, berating Tinubu of being behind the attack on Igbos.
While not responding to the allegations, Tinibu and the APC in Lagos went to work and held series of meeting with Igbo leaders in Lagos to appeal to their sense of responsibilities.
Perhaps, what the PDP and Agbaje did not fathom into the equation was that Igbos voted for the PDP in the presidential election because their son, Peter Obi was in the ticket and not because they actually loved the PDP that much.
In the governorship election, they voted the APC for two major reasons. One, the PDP presidential dream was shortlived as the party was defeated in the presidential poll by the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari. Therefore, they felt it was in their interest to continue to flog a dead horse.
Secondly, realizing that their business and economic interest sn paramount and also realizing that they have the bulk of their investment in Lagos, they felt it was in their best interest to vote the APC to avoid any backlash that could come up later, peradventure they vote for PDP and APC eventually emerge winner.
Also, series of stakeholder meeting held with the Igbo community in Lagos by Sanwo-Olu and APC leaders yielded the desired result.
An Igbo businessman, who had his shop in ASPAMDA, but pleaded anonymity told LEADERSHIP, “It would economically suicidal for us to continue to support the PDP after the defeat of the party at the presidential election. And don’t forget that Igbos don’t joke with their business and would do everything possible to ensure that nothing negative affects his business interest.
“Besides, we have been enjoying the policies of the APC =led state government in Lagos since the days of Tinubu. We have always had at last a commissioner in the government until recently and I guess it was because of the voting pattern of the 2015 election that we were not able to secure a commissioner slot in the present administration.
“So, it is better to back the winning horse and that was what the few of us who ventured out to vote last Saturday did.”
An APC chieftain, Mr Peter Ajayi, told LEADERSHIP that contrary to what the PDP wanted people to believe that Igbos were coerced to vote APC, Igbos have identified with the APC candidate from the very first day, adding that they were part of the various campaign groups that sprung up to campaign for Sanwo-Olu.
He said, “Igbos have identified with Sanwo-Olu from day one. Recall that they even gave him a chieftaincy title at the National Stadium in the run-up to the election. So, I can tell you that there was no way they would have preferred an Agbaje to a Sanwo-Olu.
“We saw the victory coming. We worked for it. If you saw the manner Lagosians embraced the project, you would know that vicory was sure, even if the PDP had won the Presidential election, Lagosians would still have voted APC.”
Meanwhile, some analysts have said that the reason for the PDP defeat in last Saturday’s governorship poll was basically based on the lack of unity and cohesion in the party.
Some analysts even said that the PDP attempted the election with ‘no candidate’, arguing that Agbaje’s opponent for the PDP ticket, Adedji Doherty, would have performed better. Perhaps they were right. LEADERSHIP observed that the party was in disarray immediately after the primary election late last year, as major stakeholders were not carried along by the candidate. A chieftain of tha perty, when asked what role he was playing in the campaign told LEADERSHIP in Yoruba, “Omo ti o ba si’pa l’a n gbe.” (You only carry a child willing to be carried).
He said, “At my age and level, I know my worth. I can only contribute where my contribution is asked for and needed. And since he feels he can do it alone, so be it. I wish him the best.”
Some party stakeholders also believed that the party made the biggest mistake the day it handed over the ticket to Agbaje, reminding that Agbaje’s pharmaceutical company, JK Pharmacy, is alleged to be a supplier of drugs to Lagos State owned hospitals, even since the days of Tinubu as governor of Lagos State.
One of them who pleaded anonymity said, “I even suspect that Agbaje is a mole for the ruling party in our party. Look at the speed with which he conceded defeat and congratulated the winners in 2015 and now, without even consulting the party leadership or allowing for a review of the conduct of the elections.
Meanwhile, Sanwo-Olu has called on all and sundry to join him to take Lagos to next level. In his acceptance speech shortly after INEC declared him winner of the election, Sanwo-Olu said, “This election signaled more than a vote for me or any other candidate. It was a vote, a referendum, on how a state and its people would define themselves.
“Let us be completely frank and honest so that we may quickly clear the air of those things that might pollute and soil our politics if we allow them to linger.
“There were things said during this campaign that should not have been said. And tactics employed that were shortsighted and potentially disruptive to the social accord and harmony of purpose we have enjoyed in Lagos.
“Those who tried to use ethnicity to bring discord in hopes that such tactics might bring them victory have been sorely disappointed. The election is over. I ask them to cease and desist from this unwise conduct.
“To all those who competed in the election and even those who tried to sow discord, let me say that this day began as an exercise in democracy as the people voted. As the day has matured it has also evolved into a moment for reconciliation because the people have clearly made their decision.”
He also promised not to disappoint Lagosians who reposed so much confidence in him and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, by giving them the mandate to pilot the affairs of Lagos State.
He also used the opportunity to give an insight to his administration thrusts.
He said his administration would “advance and build on the tradition of constructing the modern infrastructure needed to improve living conditions and encourage greater business and investment by lowering the costs and increasing productivity,” adding that his government would also “strive to enhance social services to make sure the basic needs of the modest and poor are met and that no Lagosian shall be deprived of humane care and human dignity.” And also develop specific and concrete plans “to establish the types of businesses and investment in Lagos that will provide sustainable growth and job opportunities for the 21st century.”
So far, the battle has been fought, won and lost. Perhaps, the PDP would begin in earnest to prepare for 2023.