In previous elections, the Lagos guber race was majorly between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
The two parties had struggled to claim the seat of the governor of the state. But in the last two dispensations, the APC had defeated its PDP counterpart in the race.
In 2015, some analysts believed that the narrow APC victory was due to the influence of the big wigs in the party.
PDP candidate, Jimi Agbaje said though he strived to win Lagosians’ votes in 2015, he was not declared winner just as he was also denied the mandate in 2011.
Since the race began for the 2019 governorship election, many parties have shown interest but it is unarguably among three contenders whose antes are higher with significant supporters – Babatunde Olalere Gbadamosi of Action Democratic Party (ADP); Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Olujimi Kolawole Agbaje of People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Agbaje is contesting on Saturday, March 9, 2019 for the third time in the governorship election of Lagos state having lost to APC, first to former governor of Lagos state, Babatunde Raji Fashola in 2011 and to the incumbent governor, Akinwumi Ambode.
Sanwo-Olu is contesting for the first time to succeed his predecessor, the incumbent governor, while Gbadamosi is also contesting to rule the state for the first time.
To claim the victory at the poll on Saturday, each candidate and their parties have been strategizing, deploying various mechanism to outsmart their challengers.
For the APC, the result of the last Presidential/National Assembly elections, which showed that the non-Yorubas in Lagos especially the Igbos are not in support APC, has put the party on its toes. The party leaders have summoned series of meetings with the N’digbos, wooing them to support the party during the guber elections.
In one of the meetings, the Osolo of Isolo, Oslo of Isolo, Oba Kabiru Agbabiaka, had solicited Igbos support for APC during the Saturday’s governorship election.
He stressed that there is always a great need for the Igbos to protect the interests of their host especially at the corners of politics in appreciation of the unparalleled level of love that has been enjoyed from the host in all imaginable spheres.
He noted that aside from dominating the community’s economy, Igbos are the members representing the Constituency at the federal house of representatives and the state house of assembly while Okota and Ajao Estate wards are represented by Igbo at the legislative arm in the council.
He added that appointments at the local level as well as chieftaincy titles were also conferred on some of the easterners’ prominent leaders, an act Osolo described as a privilege being enjoyed by the easterners out of the magnanimous hearts of the host, saying there is a great need for gestures of such to be reciprocated by respecting the interest of the host.
Osolo who doubles as the Secretary to the council of Obas in the state stressed that the Igbos have as well enjoyed great level of protection of lives and properties from their host even during the hot days of OPC in the area.
In his words: “Ndigbo, sometimes, it’s good to show some signs of appreciation. Majority of you know me especially those at Ago. Either you have your properties through us, government or whatever means, all you should know is that you’re within Isolo. There’s nothing that I do that I don’t carry you along and that’s what brought the idea of conferring some of you with chieftaincy titles. I’ve been warning that anytime you have a problem or grudge with anybody please if you cannot come to me call the police, you cannot take laws into your hands, you cannot give judgement by yourselves. I saw what is happening in Anambra, Akwa-Ibom, we don’t want such situation here in Lagos State.
“Though, Isolo is a cosmopolitan area, if we need your help please assist us. I’ve always assisted you when you have problems with your lands. When some of you bought lands from unknown people and Lagos State Government challenged your ownerships, I called on the landlord association at Greenfield and other estates in the area here to my palace and I issued receipts to majority of you, freely without taking money.”
He continued: “Some people will say monarchs don’t practice politics, that’s untrue, haven’t you been listening to what Emir of Kano has been saying same as Emir of Sokoto likewise Ohaneze Ndigbo, they told the politicians what they need in their domains and this is what I need, if there’s any contrary, I’ll tell you why it should be. We love Isolo, being a cosmopolitan area, it’s very peaceful. Whenever I learnt of any social disorder in the neighboring communities, I made sure it never gets here, please tell your people to make peace. Another election is, I’m not saying you should not vote for the party of your choice but remember that you need to carry me along because I’m here for you and one day you too will need my assistance and I’m assuring you nothing will happen to you.”
Despite their pledge for the party, some observers said the Igbos might not dance to the tune of the party at the poll on Saturday. They believed the Igbos would do their will or refuse to vote.
It was reported that a cross-section of traders at the popular Lagos market, Alaba International, who are mainly Igbos, said that following the attack on some of their members during the February 23 Presidential/National Assembly elections, they were not likely to participate in Saturday’s elections.
Mr. Chima Achike, the spokesman in the market, said though majority of them were eligible voters, they would not, however, want to risk their lives for any election.
He was quoted as saying: “Our people were attacked in the last election for expressing their rights to vote for a candidate of their choice by political thugs who perceived that they were voting against their own choice candidates and party.
“Instead of going out to vote on Saturday, our members that I spoke with have expressed indifference about it, citing the Feb. 23 incident as reason,’’ he said.
The traders’ spokesman, who condemned election violence and voter apathy, however, said that there was no general circular from the market leaders and associations for people to stay away, but response and opinion of traders were tending towards political apathy.
Apart from this, the bullion vans driven into the house of the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu prior to the presidential election were seen by observers as another way of buying the interests of the voters for the APC not only at the federal level but also for the victory of his godson at the state level.
Tinubu equally recently told all the local government chairmen and party leaders to make sure they deliver their various constituencies to the APC, warning that failure to do so would attract sanction.
With all these, the chance of winning the election by the APC guber candidate is unclear as the party itself is not totally at rest.
With the support of the Igbos during the last Presidential/National Assembly elections in Lagos state for the PDP, the party is rest assured that the governorship election would be in its favour.
The party also believes that the O to ge mantra which ousted the leadership of Saraki in Kwara state would work for it, it equally tried to launch the same campaign against APC and Tinubu’s godfatherism in Lagos state. Their campaign and launching of O to ge office was truncated by the police, which was believed to be orchestrated by the APC. This has also attracted sympathy from voters in the state for the PDP.
The oratory and expertise of the ADP candidate, especially in the economy displayed during his campaigns have endeared Gbadamosi to Lagosians who believe that he would be the right governor to change the structure of the state in favour of the poor.
The real estate expert and Chair of popular AMEN Estate in Lagos first commanded people’s support during a guber debate on Channels TV.
Since his first appearance when he tried to convince Lagosians of his ability through his manifestoes, many Lagosians have declared their support for him.
Some few hours to the guber elections, it was reported that about 37 other political parties have adopted Gbadamosi as their sole candidate.
Analysts believe that APC may eventually win the election, it would be a tough one among the three parties especially as it is difficult to judge whose interest the Lagosians really have in mind particularly the Igbos who have larger population in Lagos state.