Lagos PDP Chairman,Tunji-Shelle
Less than two years to the next general election, Jaiyeola Andrews writes that the two major political parties in Lagos State, the Action Congress of Nigeria and the Peoples Democratic Party are back in the trenches making subtle moves in the a bid to outdo each other
The politics of Lagos State is as intriguing as its history. The political history of the state has largely favoured the self-acclaimed progressives, especially since the return to democratic governance. Beginning from the Alliance for Democracy (AD) which later metamorphosed into Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the progressives have continued to hold sway in the state known as the economic hub of the nation.
Interestingly, if there is any state that the opposition desires to have in its kitty but has been unable to penetrate, it is Lagos. But by 2015 when another governorship election is due as the incumbent, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) will not seek re-election, the stakes appear high as in the light of the level playing field that Fashola’s non-return has availed the interested parties.
The ACN Structure
By dominating the political terrain for almost 14 years, the ACN has become an institution in the politics of Lagos. Backed by the political stratagem of its national leader and former governor of the state, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the state has been effectively fenced off from the encroachment of the opposition party for an upward of 14 years. Consequently, Tinubu’s image looms large in the political firmament of the state. Not only does he have the war chest to flaunt in any electoral process, he is also a major factor in deciding the direction of the politics of the state. Yet, 2015 provides him another opportunity to demonstrate his political sagacity.
However, complimenting the political advantage of the state is the performance of the current administration under the leadership of Fashola. It has become almost trite that the Lagos Governor has performed to the awe of many in the state and beyond through articulate policy initiation and execution. Thus, with Fashola’s impressionable infrastructural development in the state, analysts believe the ACN is still admired in Lagos.
Another Coming of the PDP
After several failed attempt at the governorship of the state, the PDP is giving yet another shot by 2015. This much was confirmed by the sacked former Vice National Chairman of the party in South-west and former governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Segun Oni. Oni, during one of his visits the state, told party faithful that the PDP was done with being in opposition in Lagos and therefore hinted that the party would launch an offensive in 2015, both in the legislative and governorship elections.
But to achieve this, he acknowledge that there was the need for genuine reconciliation of aggrieved members of his party as in doing so would provide the leeway for unity for purpose of purpose to wrest power from the ACN in the state in the next election.
But Oni’s position may not have conformed to popular thinking. This is largely because the search for unity in the party remains as elusive- an indication that the many efforts by leaders of the party to reconcile aggrieved members are not yielding result.
An observer, Ade Kajo, told THISDAY that the intra-party crisis in the PDP in Lagos State and the inability of its leadership to talk it over is the reason it would continue to lose elections in the state while the ACN would continue to dominate the turf.
For instance, the animosity between the two PDP leaders, Chief Olabode George and former Works Minister, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe has remained a clog in the wheel of the electoral fortunes of the party. Today, George who is leader of a factional group called the Establishment Group is pitted against another, Union Group, led by Ogunlewe. The two factions had since struggled for control of the party.
Against this backdrop, pundits are of the view that PDP’s desire to upstage the ACN especially when it has failed to put its house together might be difficult, in addition to the performance perception of the ACN government.
But the chairman of PDP in Lagos, Captain Tunji Shelle, said the party has since embarked on the reconciliation of aggrieved members. Assuring their supporters that the party has become one united family poised to unseat ACN in 2015, he said the PDP would leave no stone unturned to shoring up its electoral fortunes in the state.
“Our strategies shall remain top secret. Notwithstanding, we are trying to put all issues of distraction behind us, the issue of internal rift among members of the party, we believe is totally over and we want to move the party forward to build our own ideas on issues; everything we want to be doing now will be issue-based.
“Talking about what the ACN government is doing in the state and how we can do it better in the area of transportation, education and health. We want to tackle the ills associated with them and correct them, maybe provide alternative if the need be.
“The only challenge that we faced was the issue of distraction by disloyal members and with the last congress, a lot of these issues had been addressed and everybody is ready to work for the party and ensure that we record victory at the poll from time to time,” he said.
ACN Exhumes Confidence
The PDP strong desire notwithstanding, the ACN does not appear moved. Some members of the party who spoke to THISDAY dismissed the PDP ambition as unrealistic. They argued that Lagos is solely an ACN terrain and because its government has transformed the state, the party would remain in power beyond 2015.
Oluwadare Lambe, another observer of Lagos politics said if what ACN is doing in Lagos State is anything to go by, it will be practically impossible for PDP to wrest power from it more so that the PDP is factionalised and has been unable to tidy its home to give the ACN a run for its money in elections.
But Oni has also dismissed the claims that ACN is doing well in Lagos. He said ACN government is a 10 per cent government in the sense that in all the sectors of the state’s economy, only 10 per cent of the state’s population are being catered for while the other 90 per cent lives below poverty level.
These recriminations aside, 2015 is still some two years away. But the outcome of that election, certainly, will either uphold the superiority of the ACN or confirms its vulnerability in the light of perceived audience fatigue on the one hand or re-establish the PDP as a completely non-issue in the state’s body polity. Either of these postulations, however, is dependent on time.