Lagos, Oyo gov poll: Examining Sanwo-Olu, Makinde’s victory and Adediran, Folarin’s defeat
Following the shocking defeat of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State and the embarrassing performance of the Oyo State chapter of ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the February 25 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) and Governor Seyi Makinde (Oyo), were given less opportunities of getting re-elected in the gubernatorial contest held on March 18.
Both Sanwo-Olu and Makinde, were seeking re-election for second term in office but the presidential and National Assembly polls held three weeks before the March 18 2023 gubernatorial polls, left many political observers in doubt whether the two incumbent governors would survive the onslaught of the oppositions.
In Lagos State, where APC has consistently dominated the political space since 1999, the Labour Party (LP), surprisingly defeated the ruling APC in the presidential polls in which the President Elect, Bola Tinubu polled 572,606 votes behind Peter Obi, of LP, who polled 582, 454 votes.
The outcome of the Lagos presidential election results has since been described as the most shocking result of the 2023 general elections. This was due to the fact that despite Tinubu’s well oiled political machinery, it lost to Peter Obi, right under the watch of Sanwo-Olu, a sitting governor of APC.
Although APC won the three senatorial seats, majority House of Representatives seats and 11 local governments, it was hard for political analysis and observers to believe the ruling party would be dusted by LP.
IN similar vein, the ruling PDP under the leadership of Governor Makinde lost woefully in the presidential and National Assembly polls to APC. While Tinubu of APC polled 449, 884, presidential candidate of PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, polled 182, 977. The outcome of elections became more embarrassing for Makinde when the ruling party also lost the three senatorial seats and eight House of Representatives seats to APC. The PDP won four seats while two remain in the contest.
Following what played out in the presidential and National Assembly polls in Lagos and Oyo, the governorship candidates of the opposition parties , Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (LP) in Lagos and Teslim Folarin of APC (Oyo), became more popular and aggressive in their campaigns relying on the performances of their parties in the February 25 2023 elections.
Both governors were forced to return to the trenches to work out more strategies. While in Lagos, the politics became tainted in ethnic and religious colouration with some pockets of orchestrated violence where non-indigenes concentrated, the Ibo were fingered as trying to use Rhodes-Vivour to take over reigns of power in Lagos. A n alignment and re-alignment of forces in Oyo thereafter commenced.
There were endorsement and re-endorsements of candidates especially Makinde and Folarin by other political parties and stakeholders in Oyo.
Intrigues That Pave Way For Sanwo-Olu
IF the bandwagon effects of the February 25 2023 election had played out, Sanwo-Olu, who eventually won the election with the total of 762,134 votes to Rhodes-Vivour who scored 312,329 and PDP, which polled 62,449, would have been ousted by now.
The traditional stakeholders in the state did not take the development with levity. They came out in full force insisting that none indigenes of the state cannot use the LP gubernatorial candidate to take over the state. Rhodes-Vivour himself was tagged as an Ibo indigene and an adherent of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a group that has been agitating to secede from Nigeria.
Religious sentiment was also played up when particularly faithful of APC alleged that some Christian leaders, who were miffed with the Tinubu-Shettima Muslim-Muslims tickets, deliberately encouraged their members to support Obi and LP. The aftermath of the October 2020 EndSARS protests was also used against Sanwo-Olu in the build up to the gubernatorial election.
Many youths, who felt that Governor Sanwo-Olu was culpable in the alleged military attack against the EndSARS protesters, leading to the death of those who gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate, made up their minds not to re-elect APC.
Some non indigenes, especially the Ibo allegedly took their politics to the extreme by re-emphasising the slogan “Lagos is no man’s land’, which was somehow a wake up call to some Yoruba people who were initially unconcerned about the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly polls.
Although the issue of performance was played up, the sentiment could fly because there are not many arguments or facts to support the campaign that the incumbent governor didn’t perform.
A chieftain of APC, Jamiu Ekungba, in his view said Sanwo-Olu deserved the victory not because of the sentiments that were played up but because he performed.
In another reaction, a Diaspora member of APC, Dr. Femi Oshoniyi told The Guardian there was no way the ruling party could have lost the governorship election. He said people with a thinking cap quickly realised the implications of Lagos going into opposition when Tinubu will rule at the centre.
Sanwo-Olu himself didn’t leave any stone unturned. He met with the Christian religious leaders as well as other necessary stakeholders to seek their support, which eventually worked out for him.
The ruling party also benefited from the infighting within the Lagos (PDP), wherein some faction of the party defected to APC on the ground that their governorship candidate, Abdul Azeez Adediran aka Jandor, had destroyed the party whereas others believed that Rhodes-Vivour is a deliberate agenda of the Ibo in Lagos to take over power.
The Lagos APC did not fail to look inwards and amend its mistakes. Spokesman of the party, Seye Oladejo, said, “The party also had to embark on a serious door-to-door campaign and mobilisation of its members before the elections.”
He said, “There was no way we could have lost the election because APC has more than two million members in Lagos.”A former member of House of Representatives for Epe Federal Constituency, Lanre Odubote, said beyond all the intrigues that played out, Sanwo-Olu’s performance and the ‘Omoluabi’ ethos in him worked for him. The governor has always displayed good character and willingness to serve the people. Many non-indigenes could also attest to the fact they benefited under his administration.”
Why Jandor, PDP Came Third In Lagos
SINCE 1999 when Nigeria returned to democratic governance, Lagos chapter of PDP had always came second in the gubernatorial elections, as at 2015, the major opposition party stood a very good chance of defeating the ruling APC but lost the election, which many analysts believed was PDP’s opportunity to win Lagos.
It managed to win a considerable number of seats in the House of Representatives just as it won some seats in the State Assembly. In 2019, the party could not build much on its achievements of 2019 but still managed to show some strength and relevance in the polls.
But as The Guardian wrote on Sunday, July 17, 2022 that the 2023 governorship election in Lagos State might be the worst, in terms of performance, for the major opposition PDP, the prediction came true, as PDP came a distance third in the March 18 2023 gubernatorial poll.
One of the major setbacks for the party in the last governorship poll was the candidate and the running mate it presented for the contest.Before the election, The Guardian, reliably gathered that many of the party’s faithful decided to adopt a sit-down-look approach to the elections, while others pulled out of the party to support APC and Labour Party.
The likes of Chief Olabode George, a former deputy national chairman of the party clearly stated that the party stood no chance to oust APC. He and his supporters openly supported the Labour Party candidate.
Others like former Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Sde Dosunmu and others joined APC while some who didn’t leave the party just stood akimbo watching. A major bitterness within the party rank is that its candidate, Adediran and his running mate, Funke Akindele, a nollywood actress, hijacked the party’s and forced some key stakeholders to leave the party.
Until the governorship election was held, stakeholders of Lagos PDP held that Adediran aka Jandor and Akindele are both alien to the party and are alleged to be carrying on their activities with impunity without giving any modicum of respect to original members. George, who was accused of being a major force that imposed Jandor, was himself ostracised by the candidate over the nomination of running mate.
The former deputy national chairman had preferred Rhodes-Vivour as Jandor’s running mate but the candidate initially played along with George while he kept the script of the Nollywood actress to his chest.
When Jandor finally announced his running mate, George out of annoyance distanced himself to the party and secretly but to public knowledge endorsed and worked for a Labour Party candidate.
With that alone, the party lost a considerable support base belonging to George to LP, which later affected it greatly in the poll. Akindele’s nomination created a lot of setbacks for PDP as aggrieved members said there are better and more serious personalities in the party than Akindele.
Dr. Pearse said he lost interest and trust in Jandor the day he discovered that Jandor singlehandedly wrote the list of three Ad-hoc delegates for the party primaries instead of conducting an open democratic election.
Before the poll, most members of PDP did not trust Jandor and couldn’t care less what he does since even the delegates, who elected him as governorship candidate were essentially his own Lagos4Lagos supporters and not PDP delegates.
Another major issue was the phobia within the PDP was the belief that even if by some miracle Jandor wins the poll, it would have been a victory for him (Jandor) and his Lagos4Lagos and not a victory for PDP. The development alone pissed off many canvasses of the party and everyone made his or her choice.
The few votes the party garnered were basically those delivered by members of the Lagos4Lagos Movement and mainly the Aworis. The Ibo votes that used to lift PDP were delivered to Rhodes-Vivour in the contest.
In summary, the PDP lost again due to the internal crisis, which has always been its challenge since 1999. Another factor that cost its disgraceful outing could be traced to the G-5 governors fight with the presidential candidate , Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
The crisis at the national body reflected down to the states as major stakeholders pitched their tents with different platforms. This also affected Jandor badly in the contest.
PDP stakeholders like former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Governors Nyesom Wike, Seyi Makinde among others who had earlier promised to fund Jandor backed out for many reasons.
While it was alleged that Makinde, who actually spearheaded Jandor’s nomination at a point cut off relationship with the Lagos PDP candidate, Wike came to Lagos to openly campaign for Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Even at a point the National leader of the party was said to lose confidence in the Lagos chapter and Jandor. The outspoken former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, went public to describe Jandor and Akindele as comedians, who cannot win Lagos.
Why Makinde Won Oyo Effortlessly
The governorship election in Oyo State was more or less a walkover for the incumbent, who dusted his opponents with a landslide margin. The incumbent beat the imagination of pundits who had initially felt that the result of the presidential and National Assembly polls would rob off Makinde.
The governor polled 563,756 while Folarin polled 256,685 and Adelabu who is in third position polled 38,357. Aside from the fact that the incumbent is the second governor in Oyo to break the second term jinx, all the opposition’s have also congratulated him and there is no report yet of anyone challenging his victory.
Why Folarin Came Distant Second To Makinde
WHILE the gubernatorial pre-election indices did not favour Jandor and Lagos PDP, it was expected that the achievements of Oyo APC and in the Presidential and National Assembly elections three weeks earlier would work to Folarin’s advantage in the contest. But like the internal bickering that killed Lagos PDP, the chairman Senate Committee on Local Content was unable to also survive the internal animosity in Oyo APC.
The dust raised by the October 2021 wards, local governments and state congresses of the Oyo APC and the anger that greeted the emergence of Folarin, as the governorship candidate of the party, eventually played out seriously against his chance.
Many aggrieved leaders and aspirants angrily defected to other parties as a result of the outcome of the congresses and never reconciled until March 18 2023. Those who stayed back in the party never did not hide their determination not to work for Folarin. One of the setbacks was the allegation that Folarin and his loyalists did not carry other party stakeholders along in the campaign.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and APC chieftain, Chief Adeniyi Akintola, never minced words about his displeasure abou Folarin’s candidature. Similarly the wife of former Governor Abiola Ajimobi, who is also a force to reckon with in the party was said to also have her displeasure with the candidate.
Akintola said clearly before the poll that only Makinde has what it takes to win the Oyo State governorship contest, just as he predicted that Tinubu would also be victorious at the election. He disclosed that core progressives in APC, worked for Makinde.
But the major factor that worked against Folarin is Makinde’s popularity and acceptability among the Oyo electorate. Although, there might have been a kind of pact between the incumbent governor and Tinubu before the election, there is no clear fact to justify such a claim other than the governor insisted that it was the turn of the South to produce the president. Tinubu himself praised Makinde to have performed well when he visited Oyo State for the party’s governorship rally February 16 2023.