Lagos: Opposition jinx grips APC, favours PDP | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Lagos: Opposition jinx grips APC, favours PDP

Posted: Apr 10, 2015 at 8:18 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Dele Omojuyigbe / Special Correspondent, Abeokuta


Tomorrow’s gubernatorial election in Lagos State may eventually present itself as the most keenly contested election in the state since its creation in 1967. Issues of the election have ceaselessly generated profound interests among Nigerians, especially Lagosians, who now wait with bated breath for the eventual outcome of the approaching election. All along, the state has been governed by opposition elements as against the Federal government. Now, the opposition party has won the presidential election, will Lagos State kowtow or remain in opposition? As preparations for the poll hot up, Nigerians will likely have a swell time witnessing a stiff contest between two contestants, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode, and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Jimi Agbaje. Ambode parades the fully-fledged patronage of the state government and ten candidates from other political parties who recently withdrew their candidature to support him, while Agbaje of the opposition party extraction, strangely, enjoys a great deal of goodwill from many Lagosians.

Right now, anxiety pervades the air as the stakes are high, and it would require the ingenuity of an Octopus to predict the final direction of the pendulum in the election today. This explains why neither candidates nor their political parties are taking anything for granted as their vigorous campaigns persist. What appears to have informed the present frenzy was the turn of events in the March 28, 2015 presidential election in the state where PDP put up a surprise showing. Contrary to all expectations, PDP polled 632,327 votes as against APC’s 792,460 votes. The score undoubtedly confounded all soothsayers and APC stalwarts who had earlier dismissed PDP as non-existent in Lagos State.

Indeed, the presidential election result in Lagos State seems reassuring to PDP. It has bolstered the party’s confidence that it could spring a surprise at tomorrow’s governorship election. It also instructs the ruling party in the state to brace up, for the crown does not automatically go to Ambode just for the asking. The general anxiety now is discernible from the manner in which some party supporters are deploying their entire arsenal of campaign strategies for effect, even to the reprehensible point of desperation. Last Sunday, Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos threatened Ndigbo in the state to vote for Ambode of APC or perish in the lagoon if they dare do otherwise. The Oba’s countenance was unapologetic and his pronouncements unambiguous.

Many political observers have argued that Oba Akiolu did that for the fear of losing Lagos State to an opposition party when his party, the APC, will control the central government as from May 29, 2015. APC’s slim victory over PDP at the presidential election could be surmised as a major reason for the Oba’s outbursts against the Ndigbo whose interest in Agbaje’s candidacy is unequivocal. But the Oba’s statement becomes more bizarre when examined from the background of the two candidates who are both Lagosians and see the Oba as their father. Incidentally, Ndigbo are not the only people campaigning for Agbaje; many Yorubas are equally vehement in their call for a total change, especially at the state level, since the change has already occurred at the federal level. Some of them have even raised the status of their clamour for change to a swan-song, arguing that Lagos State has never belonged to the party at the centre and yet it has consistently made a steady progress. They opine that bringing the state to the party at the centre could promote complacency indirectly and retard the continued progress it makes as a result of its determination to excel despite being in opposition.

Lagos State, no doubt, faces the possibility of losing its traditional status of a progressive state in tomorrow’s election, going by the slight margin with which the APC defeated the PDP at the presidential election. Feelings across the state suggest that prospective voters are determined to de-emphasise names of political parties but accentuate the qualities of the individual candidates without sentiments or tribal inclinations. Some potential voters argue that they have watched closely both candidates and concluded that Agbaje is better. This is without prejudice to those who also believe that Ambode is better, especially for the sake of continuity.

It is noted that the only time in history that Lagos was governed by a non-progressive party was 1992 when Sir Michael Agbolade Otedola of the National Republican Convention (NRC) secured bloc protest and sympathy votes from Lagosians owing to the irreconcilable differences between Professor Femi Agbalajobi and Chief Dapo Sarumi, both of the Social democratic Party (SDP). The differences between the two SDP contestants festered and they both lost. Outside that incident, it has been progressives all the way in Lagos. But the tide could change now.

Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) was governor of the state from Oct 1, 1979 to December 31, 1983 when Alhaji Shehu Shagari of National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was the President. Even when Sir Michael Agbolade Otedola of National Republican Convention (NRC) was governor from January 1992 to November 17, 1993, Chief Moshood Olawale Abiola of Social Democratic Party (SDP) was believed to have won the annulled presidential election of June 12, 1993, and therefore, Lagos State would still have remained in opposition. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was governor under Alliance for Democracy (AD) from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007 when Chief Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo of PDP was the president. Also, Mr Babatunde Raji Fasola (SAN) of APC has been governor from May 29, 2007 to date under Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar ‘Adua and Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, both of the PDP, as President.

If Ambode eventually wins the race, it may not stir much interest since the apparatus of government is being deployed in his favour. In addition, he seems to be basking in the bandwagon following of his party which won at the centre. But if Agbaje wins, one expects an attendant ecstasy because of the peculiar odds against him, especially from his own Oba, who denounced him publicly. But who knows, the denunciation may serve as a catalyst for his victory as some people have resolved to give him their sympathy votes.