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Lagos 2015: Tight Race To Alausa


AGBAJE AMBODEBASED on political and electoral experience, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, may have slight edge over his main rival from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.

   Agbaje has presented himself for the same position previously. When he ran against the incumbent, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, in 2007, under the platform of the defunct Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA), Agbaje was able to engrave his name in the minds of many voters with his highly organsised and constructive campaign, supported by an equally good manifesto. 

  For Lagos State, however, electoral fortunes may not be limited to the candidates’ personality, even though Agbaje and Ambode parade compelling records. One huge advantage Agbaje could bring forward, as against when he ran in 2007, is the PDP platform, which is more formidable than the DPA of 2007. 

   However, the platform may also prove to be Agbaje’s political undoing, as his emergence did not come smoothly. In fact, it took the intervention of the presidency to persuade Senator Musiliu Obanikoro (Agbaje’s main rival during the governorship primary) to sheath his sword. Despite the reconciliation, some damage may have been done. 

  But between the PDP and the APC, contest for Lagos will be a tough battle.

   Ambode’s chief supporter, former state governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is a time tested politician with good experience.

   Both Ambode and Agbaje have no serious political structures of their own. They both may have to rely on their sponsors’ structure for electoral victory. A semblance of structure, which Agbaje could have nurtured and built upon in 2007, under the DPA, was ultimately squandered when he literally pulled the carpet off the feet of the then DPA’s Publicity Secretary, Mr. Felix Oboagwina, who was believed to be doing a good job playing the opposition party in Lagos and keeping Agbaje in the minds of Lagos electorates.  Incidentally, Oboagwina is Agbaje’s current publicity manager. He is however, doing well to re-enact the abandoned publicity drive. 

   It would be recalled that Agbaje, after losing out in 2007, did not contest in the 2011 election, giving the impression that the Fashola-led government was doing creditably well. 

  No doubt, the APC’s political structure is firmly footed in Lagos for Ambode. Succinctly put, the battle for Lagos is the battle of godfathers. Capacity is one major ingredient godfathers bring to the political table. This can include rich contact, political territorial influence or respect, deep pocket, political structure, strategy and tact, followership and even goodwill. 

   When it comes to experience in public administration, Ambode may also have slight edge over Agbaje. Apart from being an accountant, an administrator and a public finance management expert, Ambode was formerly the Accountant-General of Lagos State, and held many sensitive financial positions in the Lagos State government in a 27-year career in the State Civil Service. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and a Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management. It has been touted in some quarters that Ambode was responsible for the compact financial shape of Lagos when the PDP-led Federal Government ceased funds meant for the local governments in the state for several months.

   Agbaje, on the other hand, is a respected pharmacist and Managing Director of JAYKAY Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company Limited until 2005 when he decided to venture into politics. 

   When Tinubu emerged governor in 1999, he came straight from the private sector and it took him a little time to understand and adjust to the system. His successor, Fashola, could hit the ground running because he had been Chief of Staff and member of the State Executive Council within the system. 

  The support of the working class (labour) is one other factor that gives Ambode the edge over Agbaje. Ambode has more civil servant support having served as one for so many years.

   The performance of the incumbent governor may be another factor that could determine the electoral fortunes of the two candidates. While, there are pockets of dissatisfaction with the efforts of Fashola-led administration, chiefly around housing, health, roads and infrastructures, as well as, the controversial tuition fees of the Lagos State University (LASU), majority opinion appears to be in favour of the administration. There are have been significant improvement in service delivery, cutting across many sectors. 

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