Between Divine Right And People’s Choice
IT was widely reported in the newspapers recently that the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu again reiterated that he is supporting Akin Ambode, the APC governorship candidate as the next governor of Lagos State. This was no longer news since the influential Oba and former Assistant General of Police had said that very distinctly. Even before the primaries that saw Ambode emerge as the candidate of his party the APC at the primaries in Lagos. What baffled Lagosians to no end, however, was the statement credited to the royal father to the effect that he acted in God’s wisdom in supporting Ambode and by the Grace of God; he will be the next governor of Lagos State.
While one concedes to the Oba his right of political choice, his high office in society dictates that he should not prefer one son to the other or one candidate to the other or even one party to the other, since he is father of all. In picking Akin Ambode, he has relegated Jimi Agbaje of the PDP to the background in the Lagos governorship campaigns and politics for the 2015 elections. In doing this, however, the Oba has directly created disaffection in his domain amongst his subjects as he has shown that the Lagos PDP Campaign team cannot even come to his palace at Iga Idunganran for his blessing. That again is not fair on the part of the royal father of Lagos.
But then, all is well that ends well and the royal father’s preference has served to highlight the high sense of finesse and upbringing of the PDP candidate, Jimi Agbaje who has not raised a word of complaint on the royal father’s outspoken support for his opponent Some have suggested that the Lagos monarch’s support for Ambode flowed naturally from his close relationship with the former governor of Lagos State and the political godfather of APC, Bola Tinubu. They say that the Ambode royal support flowed automatically from the way the Oba was swiftly crowned during the former governor’s tenure and the Oba is just playing ball on continuity, the slogan of the APC to win this 2015 election. The Oba should, however, be aware of the risk he faces on the security and tenure of his reign if things don’t work out the way he has shown his hand and Jimi Agbaje is elected as the next governor of Lagos State, as seems most likely for several reasons stemming from the royal father’s unexpected partisanship on the Lagos state governorship elections
The Oba’s support is, therefore, seen as the last straw to break the camel’s back for the vast, educated and highly democratic Lagos electorate and they can’t wait to show their Oba on April 11 that they will vote massively for Jimi Agbaje to become governor of Lagos State
The first is that the Oba’s snub of Agbaje and his party has created a groundswell of sympathy typical of that reserved for the underdog against an establishment candidate. The second is that the people of Lagos know that their Oba has only one vote like anyone else in Lagos and that their sympathy for Agbaje will translate into votes for him to be elected as governor if only to show the monarch that in a modern democracy like Lagos State, it is one man, one vote. Thirdly by supporting the APC candidate, the Oba has shown that he is not on the ground and does not know how fed up the people of Lagos are with the APC and its reign of 16 years characterised by the pauperisation of the people of the state with its multiple taxation, poor road and infrastructure network that make life difficult for the Lagos electorate, which has voted them into power for the last 16 years. The Oba’s support is, therefore, seen as the last straw to break the camel’s back for the vast, educated and highly democratic Lagos electorate and they can’t wait to show their Oba on April 11 that they will vote massively for Jimi Agbaje to become governor of Lagos State. Then, Insha Allah, his first port of call as Governor of Lagos State will be the Iga Idunganran if only to show that the voting rights of the masses in a democracy can be the same as the choice of the Almighty, and not that of one royal father alone in this Lagos state.
• Ajetunmobi, a public commentator, writes from Lagos.