Agbaje And The Race For Lagos Guber Seat
SINCE the return of democratic governance in the country in 1999, the country’s former capital and commercial nerve centre Lagos had been under the control of the opposition party till date. After eight years of Governor Bola Tinubu’s administration between 1999-2007 on the platform of Alliance For Democracy (AD) many had thought that would be the end of the opposition’s control of Lagos. But that did not come to pass due to the protracted crisis in the state chapter of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the omission of the Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA) governorship candidate, Mr. Jimi Agbaje and his party logo on the ballot paper during 2007 governorship poll in the state.
There was no doubt then that Agbaje was a potential winner of the election alongside Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola of the now defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). But with what many described as official conspiracy by the electoral body, Agbaje’s party logo was conspicuously missing on the ballot paper on Election Day. His teeming supporters who trooped out en masse to vote for him went home disappointed. It was a missed opportunity to effect true change in the leadership in the centre of excellence.
With Agbaje’s technical disqualification by the electoral body, Fashola was eventually declared the winner of the election. Agbaje who had the best economic blueprint for the development of Lagos went back to his private business and at the same time engage in partisan politics especially at the grassroots level.
Every effort by the Fashola’s government to lure him into his government or party proved abortive. Being a man of contentment, Agbaje which is not common among Nigerian politicians, he stayed away from the Lagos state government and its Greek gifts.
Understanding what is required of a true leader of which he represents in all ramifications, Agbaje and his supporters went back to the drawing board to interface and consult with the teeming Lagos residents on the way forward. That was why during the 2011 general elections Agbaje was not in contention for the governorship seat in Lagos or any other elective position, despite that he has joined the ruling PDP as a member.
With Agbaje in the PDP, many Lagosians believed the coast was clear to liberate Lagos from the stronghold of a notorious godfather that has held the state down for sixteen years. Agbaje’s decision to join the governorship race on the PDP platform was well received by PDP members and non-members within and outside the state, who saw him as a shinning light at the end of the tunnel. That was the reason his emergence as the party’s governorship candidate in the state did not come to many as big surprise. The initial opposition to the outcome of the party’s governorship primaries by one of the aspirants, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro was quickly resolved by the party leadership and the Presidency to avoid a repeat of the past mistakes that had always cost the party victory in Lagos since 1999. The unprecedented and amicable resolution of the issue has made the party more united and grassroots-oriented in Lagos.
Today, for the first time in the state chapter of the party, all members of the party are on the same page working hard for victory in the forthcoming elections. The development has also attracted massive followership for the party across the state as people now see the party and its candidate, Agbaje as the best alternative to the APC’s elitist government in the state.
With a unique personality like Agbaje as the PDP candidate in the state, the APC government appears to be extremely worried and afraid ahead of the March 28 and April 11 elections. This is because today from Mushin to Alimosho, among indigenes and non-indigenes, the language and clamour is for a change in Lagos and the man that represents the true and desired change is no other person than Agbaje. That is why Agbaje and the PDP are gaining teeming supporters in Lagos today like never before. Obviously the residents seem to be tired of papa and pikin government that had continued to impoverish them with anti-people policies and programme in the last sixteen years. The people of the state appeared prepared and determined to use their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) to determine who will govern them, and not who will be imposed on them by the notorious godfather who had always see the state as his private empire.
Obviously the ongoing cheap blackmail and campaign of calumny against Agbaje and his party by the state government is not unconnected with the growing popularity and acceptance of Agbaje by the majority of the people. A situation which seems to be causing the APC members, the state government, and the notorious godfather sleepless night as the election draws nearer.
The desire for a true change in Lagos after sixteen years of political bondage, looting spree and oppression can be deduced from the eagerness and desire of the people to collect their PVCs before the election. During the past governorship elections in the state, such eagerness and enthusiasm to participate in the election was never as high as it is today.
During such periods, the people had always believed that the opposition has not gotten the right candidate to challenge the incumbent in the state, but with Agbaje as the PDP candidate in the forthcoming election, the people believe that this is the right time to effect the change in the status quo of political leadership in Lagos.
•Amusa, a maritime consultant, wrote from Ikeja, Lagos
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