Dilemma Before Lagos Voters
Also, it will be a proxy war between APC National Leader and former governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is pushing forward Akinwunmi Ambode for APC, and a former military governor of Ogun State, Chief Olabode George, who is backing PDP’s Jimi Agbaje. Since the return of democracy in Nigeria 16 years ago, Tinubu’s Alliance for Democracy (AD), Action Congress (AC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and now APC have been at the helm of affairs in Nigeria’s economic centre.
Tinubu had ruled the state from 1999 to 2007 under AD, which later merged with Justice Party, the Advance Congress of Democrats and several other minor political parties to form AC in 2006.
AC later mobilised heavily and featured former Chief of Staff to Tinubu, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, to emerge as governor in 2007.
With appealing performance indicators, it was an easy ride for Fashola to beat leading contestants in 2011 election. AC, which soon metamorphosed into ACN, later merged with Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to form APC in 2013.
Having served out his two terms, Fashola wanted to bequeath power to one of his cronies during the party’s primaries but was defeated by the Tinubu group, which produced Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the immediate past Accountant General of Lagos State. Akinwunmi Ambode Ambode started his career at the Lagos State Waste Disposal Board as Accountant Grade II.
He was appointed Assistant Treasurer, Badagry Local Government and later posted to Shomolu Local Government as Auditor.
In 1998, Ambode was awarded the United States (US) Fulbright Scholarship for the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship programme in Boston University, Massachusetts.
He spent his fellowship year studying Public Leadership, with emphasis on finance and accounting. He did his professional internship at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the Cabinet Office of Administration and Finance (Governor’s Office), City of Boston Treasury Office, as well as with the World Bank and IMF during the fellowship.
By February 2006, he became Accountant General, a position he held until he voluntarily retired. Jimi Agbaje In today’s election, Ambode will square it out with the PDP’s Agbaje.
Agbaje, a pharmacist, is the founder and former managing director of Jaykay Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company Limited. In 2005, he resigned to venture into partisan politics under AC, his first political party.
In 2007, Agbaje, who had initially aspired to contest for the governorship on the platform of the then AC, left to join the Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA).
The pharmacist was among the 11 aspirants who turned their backs on the AC when it was alleged that Tinubu had already anointed someone else (Fashola) to succeed him even before the party’s primary.
Widely believed to have conducted the best campaign in 2007, Agbaje contested the governorship election on the DPA’s ticket, but eventually, alongside other major contenders, including Musiliu Obanikoro of PDP and Femi Pedro of Labour Party, lost to Fashola in 2007. He left DPA in 2011 and went on to join PDP, following the de-registration of DPA by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
While the various contestants are praying for victory in today’s election, one great determinant of where the pendulum will swing is the non-indigene electorate.
Like the outcome of last two weeks’ presidential elections, APC and PDP have great followers. While some voters are pushing for Agbaje because of his perceived credibility, there are those who believe that there is the need to free Lagos of Tinubu’s hold, alleging that he has been in control of Lagos politics in the past 16 years.
They believe allowing Ambode to win today would not only give opportunity to APC to control the state, but would boost the political dynasty of Tinubu, especially as his party has won the presidential election.
Added to this are those who felt “humiliated” by the Fashola administration, including commercial motorcyclists (okada riders), market women, traders and tax payers, who feel that the level of multiple taxation in Lagos under him is becoming unbearable.
The alleged threat by the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu (which he had tried to clarify) against any Ibo who does not vote for Ambode might work in favour of Agbaje.
Although the monarch has denied the statement, widespread and global condemnation of the statement is indicative of how incensed people were regarding the alleged threat and intimidation of voter.
But those rooting for Ambode believe a vote for him would align the state with the centre for the sake of development.
According to them, since Lagos State has been in the opposition for the past 16 years, it would be unwise to keep the state in the hands of the PDP for the continuation of the state’s opposition status.
They also argue that it is only logical that Lagos chooses a candidate who would “continue the good works of Fashola by voting Ambode,” who they refer to as the “consolidator.”
To them, “there should be change in Abuja, but continuity in Lagos,” with a vote for APC. Today’s voting pattern would determine how these arguments and counter-arguments have swayed the voters.