Agbaje, Yoruba support and Lagos elections
IN a recent media interview, a factional leader of the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), Gani Adams, said that only a few Yoruba are supporting the APC and that the major Yoruba groups are solidly behind PDP and the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 elections.
In Lagos State in particular, he said the candidature of Jimi Agbaje as governorship candidate of the PDP in the state has vastly improved the chances of the PDP. The reason for this he said was the inaccessibility of the leader of the APC in the state, Bola Tinubu and the manner of selection of candidates for political office in the APC which he said had been selective rather than being competitive as expected in a democracy. Gani Adams went on to mention political groups and associations that had been rebuffed and cut off by the arrogance of the Tinubu political machinery for the past 16 years in the state. He mentioned Afenifere, his former boss in the OPC Dr. Francis Fasheun, now leader of the revived UPN, Pentecostal Churches like the Redeemed Church amongst others. What is interesting here is that grassroots organisations like the OPC of either the Gani Adams or Dr. Fasheun faction drive political mobilisation and participation in any environment and it is unbelievable that both factios in Lagos State are behind the Jimi Agbaje candidature for governorship of the state as opposed to that of the APC candidate Akin Ambode. Again this provides food for thought on the way the administration of the state has been handled by the present ruling party, the APC which has provided the last two governors in the state and is seeking continuity in governance through the candidature of Akin Ambode.
The OPC as presently constituted is a mass followership organisation in the Southwest and is well organised having survived its factionalisation . Indeed it has metamorphosed into a two in one socio -political security organisation that has come to command some respect even amongst the Yoruba socio -political elite which arrogantly ignored its rise and birth but which now accepts its relevance and importance especially in the promotion of security of the Southwest geopolitical environment which is the OPC sphere of influence and political catchment area.
The membership of the OPC is derived from the masses and grassroots of the Southwest and any party claiming control of the area especially in Lagos must reckon with the organization or be digging its political grave in broad daylight.
The membership of the OPC includes vulcanisers, battery chargers, mechanics, drivers, artisans, traders and many menial workers who double as security operators at night to eke a living from the patronage of an organization to which they are fiercely loyal and whose word is law to them in the way and manner they conduct their lives and business and ipso facto their politics. It is in this context, therefore, that one should look at the statement credited to Gani Adams that the leadership of the ruling APC in Lagos State has not been accessible hence the attraction of the candidature of Jimi Agbaje of the PDP for the OPC in the Lagos governorship elections. This is an open endorsement of the PDP governorship candidate that gives a great boost to his chances of winning a free and fair election in the state based on one man one vote at any time.
The OPC’s endorsement also provides opportunity to search why a political party like the ruling APC in Lagos State can afford to fritter away the support of a mass organisation like the OPC. One reason that sticks out like a sore thumb was the readiness of the APC for the February 28 elections in the state when INEC had not made available PVCs to two-thirds of registered voters in Lagos State. That showed that the APC was not relying on the masses of registered voters in the state for the election or it would have asked that the election be postponed so that two-thirds of registered voters in the state should not be disenfranchised in the February 28 elections. This fact alone shows why the ruling APC in the state can afford to ignore a mass movement like the OPC in its mobilisation of voters to vote for it in Lagos State. However, it is also the death knell of the APC as a party in power in the state for the last 16 years.
Such dubious APC’s disregard and contempt for a mass movement like the OPC has made Jimi Agbaje of the PDP the sweet bride of the OPC in the governorship election of April 11 in Lagos State.
To the OPC leader Gani Adams and millions of OPC members and Lagosians, the governorship election in the state provides a grand opportunity which must not be missed to throw continuity in governance in the dustbin and turn a new page in governance in the state by voting in Jimi Agbaje of the PDP on April 11 as the new governor of Lagos State.
• Ajetunmobi, a public commentator, writes from Lagos.