Abatan: Ethical Issues In Lagos Governorship Elections
SO much has been said about the emergence and leadership qualities of Akin Ambode, the APC governorship candidate in Lagos State and Jimi Agbaje the PDP flagbearer in the state’s elections scheduled for later this month. The clear thing is that both emerged on the scene as dark horses in the run off to the primaries that brought them to public attention. One horse is, however, darker than the other in this race; and the ethical issues arising from their emergence as candidates and how that will affect their electoral lot and victory is our concern here.
Undoubtedly in terms of experience in politics and politicking Jimi Agbaje has an edge over Ambode because he contested the governorship elections before in 2007 when he fell out with the then APC machinery of selection that saw the anointment of the present governor of Lagos State as the preferred choice of the godfather of the APC. Ambode, on the other hand, like his predecessor as anointed candidate, has always been a civil servant and has never contested for political office to date. That situation has again successfully repeated itself in the emergence of Ambode and the frustration of the many capable other candidates that dared and defied their generous but ever vigilant and unsleeping godfather who secured the APC governorship candidacy for Ambode. Now what are the moral implications of such imposition of a green horn in politics on the governorship of a mega city like Lagos? They are monumental and raise serious moral issues on eligibility, fairness, merit, transparency and democracy. This is because in any political system called a democracy, these values must be acknowledged as part if not the main working tools of governance and leadership.
It does not matter really if the losers in the APC primaries have been placated with the crumbs from the party’s table and have been told to play ball or face the consequence. What we are concerned with here is the quality of leadership that emerges from such lopsided and handpicking arrangement in a democratic dispensation like the APC – run Lagos State government. We say that it is an arrangement that makes change impossible in Lagos State and puts the coffers of the state in the deep pocket of the Godfather of the APC. It is a very opaque way of electing a governor supposedly by mass participation of the members of the APC but manipulated deftly as has been done in the last 16 years. It also does not matter that the outgoing Lagos State governor who has now been drafted into campaigning for Ambode had no choice than to hold the microphone hard and firm at Ambode campaign rallies. What again is important is that this sort of selection stifles transparency, promotes nepotism, creates political dynasties and makes accountability and honesty the hallmarks of progressive democracy and society impossible in Lagos State, which has the largest electorate in Nigeria in these coming elections. Certainly that leaves the Lagos electorate no choice than to call the bluff of the APC and its crude power seeking and grabbing electoral machinery that has successfully made a mockery of democracy in the state in the last 16 years. We say it is immoral and undemocratic for a party to be allowing one individual to choose who will govern the state at any time and in all places, in an enlightened and cosmopolitan city like Lagos where leadership talents exist in their thousands if not millions. This mask in political leadership must be torn and rent asunder at this coming elections. This is the way Lagosians should show that they are not spineless people who are unthinking and malleable all the time in the way they participate in selecting those who are to govern them. Their liberation time is here and now and they should just troop out on the governorship election date and vote for Jimi Agbaje, the PDP candidate; and nail the coffin to 16 years of political monopoly, and stop the undemocratic selection before it can ever start to lead and govern the state.
Abatan, a public commentator, writes from Lagos
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