As Obi Humbles Tinubu in Lagos

Amid the struggle for the presidency of Nigeria, a political upset was recently recorded in Lagos when political godfather of the Centre of Excellence, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was demystified by a lesser fancied Peter Obi of the Labour Party. Segun James looks at the factors behind the upset which will have a great effect on the political dynamics of the state.

ith the declaration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress as Nigeria’s president-elect by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, celebration will surely be on going in different parts of the country with the popping of champagnes heralding the coming of a new government in the nation effective May 29, 2023.

However, in Lagos, the economic capital of the nation, the consequence of the sudden sack of the political godfather of the state, AsiwajuBola  Tinubu would continue to reverberate for some time to come. It was an action never contemplated by anyone.

To many, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the APC had lost his political grip on Lagos to a less fancied candidate of the LP,  Peter Obi, it set a shockwave across the nation leaving many to wonder: could this be true?

The days of the big gambles are back and this time, the audacity of one man has proven to be the change many have been hoping for.

It is said that the margin of victory in life can sometimes be measured in inches.

This is what Obi symbolized when against all odds, he wrestled power from the jaws of the so-called Lion of Bourdillon, leaving many very concerned.

In politics, fame appears in different forms including through social media and the newsstands, on the playing field, by dint of hard work and ability or by reputation.

For Obi, it was his daring to do that made the difference. Ordinarily, very ambitious politician tells tales of what they will do and how they will transform their country into an Eldorado in four years.

But Obi, who came across to the youth as an agent of change never made such promises. He just clicked with the people, especially the youth.

This was the situation when Obi became the internet and social media sensation of the country. He had left the behemoth Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in frustration to pitch his tent with the little-known Labour Party.

Not surprisingly, he was not taken seriously, but as time goes on, he was dubbed the social media president as he was loved by the youth and later, he was accused of not having political structures to sustain his growing popularity.

But when the wave behind his sails became overwhelming, he was called a one-man show who had no financial muscle to sustain his popularity. He countered it by saying he will give no “shishi” to anyone as he soldiers on. And today, Obi has become an issue in the polity and a sensation that cannot be overlooked.

His greatest achievement? He teamed up with the youth to bring down the political dynasty of Tinubu in Lagos which up to the time of the election was considered unassailable.

But how did he do it? A cursory look at the factors behind his movement suggested that the people may have grown tired of the overbearing influence of the godfather of Lagos politics as they yearn for change.

Here are some of the factors that influence and caused the loss of Lagos political influence by Tinubu.

The Youth and Social Media Factor

When Tinubu became the Governor of Lagos state in 1999, most of the youth of today who make up over 70% of the voting bloc in Lagos were either children or not born. They grew up in the age and the advent of social media and internet communication.

For them, Bola Tinubu has always been the only leader in the richest state in the country they knew. He has influenced every governor that came after him, and worse still, he’s alleged to be super rich.

But when in 2020, there was an uprising against police brutality across the country during the #End SARS movement, Tinubu was accused of being the mastermind behind the alleged massacre of some youth at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos. They never forgave him for that. This was the beginning of the anti-Tinubu movement in the state. He was not able to effectively overcome this narrative before he became the Presidential candidate of the APC.

Another factor is the fact that most of the youth were at home to register to vote following a prolonged eight months strike action by university lecturers. Unlike before when they registered to vote while at school but were forced to go home during elections, they were able to vote massively this time around.

The Need for Change

Tinubu has been the political leader in Lagos for so long and the people yearn for a change. The greatest factor against him was his age. Most of the youth say the nation needs a young person after a string of old men had ruled the country since the coming of the fourth republic adding that the nation cannot afford another old man who clocked 70 years last year.

To the said youth, Tinubu must be retired politically in the interest of the nation, hence the decision to vote against him.

Religious Factor

Soon after he emerged as the flag bearer of the APC, Tinubu surprisingly jettisoned the unspoken agreement that the president and his vice must not only come from the same region but also must not belong to the same religion.

But this balance was breached by Tinubu, a Yoruba and Muslim from the Southwest when he picked a fellow Muslim from the Northeastern state of Bornu as his deputy.

This decision infuriated some people and it created an uproar, especially from the Christian community in the north and south who accused him of an attempt to Islamise the country. Every effort to explain the political reasoning for the action fell on deaf ears as Christian leaders campaigned against his candidacy and urged their members not to vote for him.

The Igbo Factor

While they make up almost 25% per cent of the population of Lagos, the Igbo had isdyes against Tinubu.  They believe that their contribution to the development of Lagos has not been effectively acknowledged.

They insisted that they are a political force in the state who must show their muscle.

While most of the Igbo voted for Obi, he was seen as a vehicle to take over Lagos. That is why most Igbo based in Lagos transferred their voting unit from the east to Lagos.

Today, Obi may have won Lagos against all odds thanks to these factors, Tinubu has also eventually emerged as President having  performed surprisingly well in the Igbo heartland of Imo and Ebonyi states.

That a crack has opened up in the political dynasty of Tinubu is not in doubt, but the truth remains that the coming of Obi has shifted the political dynamics of the nation.

A new leadership system is now born.

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