Three Horse Race for Lagos House

Segun James reports that Saturday’s battle for Lagos gubernatorial seat is a three horse race between candidates of the All Progressives Congress, Labour Party and Peoples Democratic Party.

Will there be an upset in the political firmament of Lagos? This is the question as Segun James looks at the political dynamics in Saturday’s three horse race to  Lagos House, Ikeja

The race for the governorship election in Lagos state has reached a crescendo. The main combatants are the incumbent governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Olajide Adediran aka Jandor of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Mr. Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party (LP).

Ahead of this Saturday’s poll, there has been some realignment of forces and manoeuvrings as contenders struggle for the soul of the richest state in the country. The battle has been keen and intriguing.

Unlike in the past, when most candidates fielded by one party in Lagos are almost guaranteed to win, the situation has changed with the recent unexpected performance of the Labour Party which came as a third force in the political dynamics of the country, a situation which has upturned the power calculations in Lagos state. This has forced the ruling APC to take a second look at its continued hold on power in the Centre of Excellence.

A Different Turf

Until recently, it would have been safe to conclude that the race for the Lagos House in Ikeja is between the APC and APC; and that the APC will win. Not anymore.

The performance of the LP presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi in the February 25 poll was a surprise to many political pundits. Not only did he demystify the unassailable aura of the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in Lagos, he also beat him to second place in the race. An unthinkable feat.

The unexpected win is now the fuel that is propelling not only the LP and its candidate but also the PDP.    

In the past, politics in Lagos state was centred around an individual, Tinubu, who solely determines everything in the polity in the state and who gets what from the system. This system has gone on for so long that it is now taken for granted.

The governorship campaigns would end on Thursday yet, the road towards the election has been strewn with blackmail and intrigues such that it has assumed an ethnic dimension.

The Issue

Lagos is an unusual state. It is the smallest state in the federation with almost 30 percent of its land mass occupied by water. Yet it houses over 25 million people, a situation which makes it the most populated city in Africa and the fifth largest economy in Africa. Its infrastructures are busting at the seams as thousands of people continue to stream to the state everyday with no intention to leave.

Today, with the APC losing its firm grip on the polity in the state as the unassailable colossus in the political firmament, Saturday’s election will determine not only who controls the rich financial purse of the state but also the political soul of the state.

Before now, every ambitious politician in the state belongs to the APC. Today, APC is still in power in Lagos but the loss to the Labour Party in the presidential election may have robbed the party of its dominance and influence, a situation which saw many tilting towards another party. The governorship election will determine the fate of the party in the state.

But what do those jostling for the job have to offer to the richest state in the federation? What are their antecedents? Would a neophyte be able to do the job?

The Gladiators

Babajide Sanwo-Olu

In politics, fame appears in myriad forms. Over the airwaves and the newsstands, on the political playing field, by ability or by reputation or by a dint of hard work. Qualities that are rare to achieve. For Sanwo-Olu all these and more may have him in good standing.

Since he came to government as a special assistant to the former Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Femi Pedro, Sanwo-Olu had moved up the political ladder to becoming a special adviser to the Governor, a commissioner in the state Executive council and finally, a managing director of a government-owned parastatal before becoming the state Governor in 2019.

Very ambitious politicians tell tales of what they will do and how they will transform their states into an Eldorado in four years.

But for Sanwo-Olu, these are qualities that are inherent and proven in the last four years as Governor of Lagos state, the most cosmopolitan city in the country.

He is the incumbent, and to his supporters, he should be allowed to continue naturally as the governor since he has proved his competence. Sanwo-Olu has a lot of things going for him. Paramount is the power of incumbency and its accompanying advantages.

In a state like Lagos where money helps to swing the political pendulum very easily, Sanwo-Olu is in good stead.

The Governor has built several infrastructural projects which many in the state can point to. These are legacies that stood him out among the comity of governors. He is a performer and his colleagues including Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and even President Muhammadu Buhari, have attested to this.

Olajide Azeez Adediran

It is said that in life, the margin of victory can sometimes be measured in inches, this is what  Olajide Adediran aka Jandor symbolizes when he decided to take on the powers that be in the APC by signifying his intention to contest the governorship with the incumbent, Sanwo-Olu in defiance of the party’s leadership. He was audacious!

He confronted the leadership of the party headlong, calling out Tinubu and the party leadership in the state until he was forced out.

He found solace in the Peoples Democratic Party, the main opposition party in the state which at the time of his entry, was a party in search of a soul. It was moribund and comatose.

The entrance of Jandor brought the party back to life and established itself as the opposition.

He was warmly welcomed by the party leadership at the national level. The PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was on hand to receive him. Even the leader of the PDP reconciliation committee, Dr. Bukola Saraki, also flew !in to Lagos to welcome him to PDP and practically handed over the party machinery to him. He soon took over the party structures in the state.

Today, Jandor is the party’s governorship candidate. But can he deliver Lagos to the PDP? That is the question. But the woeful performance of the PDP in the presidential election in Lagos, coming a distant third in the presidential race, has become an albatross on his neck.

Jandor is confident that he can still beat Sanwo-Olu and Labour Party’s Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour in Saturday’s election. But until he came to vie for the governorship seat, all the political experience that Jandor has was that he once contested for the primaries of the chairmanship of Mushin Local Government Area under the APC and lost.

A journalist, Jandor was a reporter in Government House while Mr. Babatunde Fashola was the governor. Jandor upon leaving the state government employment set up Core Tv, a cable television channel which specializes in political communication reporting and management.   

Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour

The days of the big gambles are back; and this time, it is in the Labour Party as the race for Lagos gubernatorial poll peaks this weekend.

This saying may eloquently sum up the position of Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour who has come out as a serious contender for the governorship of the state. He may base his bet on the momentum that followed the strong showing of Peter Obi in the last election in the state, certainly not on his acceptance among the people.

Rhodes-Vivour is a scion of a highly respected and elitist family in Lagos. An intellectual and professional, although he has been a member of the opposition PDP before defecting to clinch the LP governorship ticket, Rhodes-Vivour has no government experience. He was considered an outsider in a two-party race between the APC and the PDP until the surprise showing of Obi and the LP.

As the race for the Lagos House at Alausa, Ikeja hots up, only the tough can get going; and with the way things look today, the answer is dicey.

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