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Emmanuel: Lagos campaigns and intimidation

By Bode Emmanuel
19 February 2015   |   11:00 pm
THE report in a national newspaper of February 12, 2015 on the campaign visit of the ruling party  in  Lagos State, the APC, led by Governor Babatunde  Raji Fashola to  the famous motor spare parts market  at  Ladipo, makes very interesting reading on the attitude  of  Lagos voters to the party in the coming April 11 governorship election…

THE report in a national newspaper of February 12, 2015 on the campaign visit of the ruling party  in  Lagos State, the APC, led by Governor Babatunde  Raji Fashola to  the famous motor spare parts market  at  Ladipo, makes very interesting reading on the attitude  of  Lagos voters to the party in the coming April 11 governorship election in  the state. According to the newspaper, the representatives of the traders  in the market declared that the traders in the market would vote  for  the APC during the ceremony and visit,  that introduced Akinwunmi Ambode  as  the candidate of the APC to make continuity  the  expected result  of the election in Lagos in favour  of the APC. But  no sooner  the Lagos State governor  and  the Ambode  caravan left  Ladipo than shouts of ‘ PDP  Power ’ rent   the air  and  the traders started  to dance  that  Jimi  Agbaje   of  the PDP   is their   choice  in  the governorship  election  in the state; and  not  the APC candidate   Akinwunmi  Ambode who was  earlier introduced by  the state  governor, Babatunde Raji  Fashola, SAN.

     When interviewed, many of the traders who

claimed anonymity said their  leaders who spoke  in support of Ambode  in the state governor’s  presence,  had no choice  but to do so, so that the market  can  continue to function  and  they can earn their

livelihood   since  anything different will lead to the

government sealing  the  market  as they  had done several  times  in recent  times . According  to  these  traders, they  have  made  up their mind  to  vote  for  Agbaje  and  PDP  because of the  many multiple and duplicated  taxes as well as the personal yearly opening and  closing  taxes  on individuals  rather  than shops

collected by the state and  local  government  officials from   Ladipo  traders.

     In addition  they  claim  they  enjoy  no conducive   or beneficial working and  enabling environment  from

the state  or  local government as a result of the incessant and unpredictable taxes and tolls they  pay  to the government and the Area boys who exploit  them while  the government  does  nothing to protect  them. Most painful to  them  are the roads  leading in and within  the market, which are in a dangerous  and

dilapidated  state  of  disrepair  in spite  of  the huge taxes  they pay  to  government.  Yet in spite of  all these,   they  dare not  show  their  resentment to  the  governor  or  the APC Ambode Campaign  team  as they fear swift  retaliation by  government  if

they dare do so. That way, he said they could only celebrate and  show  how  they  would  vote  for Jimi Agbaje  of  the PDP after  the  governor  left  Ladipo  spare  parts  market.

    Curiously enough,  this  account  tallied  with  the observation  of Jimi  Agbaje  the PDP  governorship candidate at  his  answer  to  a question  at  the prestigious  Island  Club  where  he  had  a chat with members  of  the  club  where  his father  the former AGM Public  Relations of  Standard  Bank  now  First Bank, was Club Treasurer  for 10 years. Agbaje  had been asked how  he would cope with the nagging and prevailing  impression  in  some quarters in Lagos State that the PDP  can  never win the governor’s election in the state. Agbaje countered that the situation  has changed  drastically  in favour of the PDP  in the state but people are afraid  because  of the fear of the state government power apparatus which  is  in  the hand  of the APC and  which  is quite vicious  in using  the  power  to allegedly intimidate  voters to vote for it. He said that taxi  drivers,  market women, vulcanisers,

mechanics  and  the common  people  of  Lagos have switched massively  to PDP  and would say so privately and  confidentially.

    They dare not, however, like the Ladipo traders, say  so publicly or boldly. That would make market women lose their  stalls and vulcanisers lose their road space  to work and  earn  their  living. Put simply then, Lagos State voters perhaps allegedly intimidated to

silence now by the Fashola Lagos APC government, cannot wait to have  their  say  at the  next governorship elections in the state  and  speak  thunderously  and loudly  with  their  votes  to say no  to taxes  of intimidation  and  give their  mandate massively to Jimi Agbaje  the PDP  governorship  candidate  in the state  in the April  11  elections  in the state. That really will

be the just  price of intimidation  for the APC  in  the state it has ruled  for the past 16 years .

• Emmanuel, a political analyst, writes from Lagos.