ANALYSIS: Who takes Government House in Lagos: Ambode or Agbaje?

The Lagos State governorship election is perhaps generating as much buzz as the presidential election. This is understandable. As the country’s melting pot, there are as much issues available for discussion in the run up to the election as in the presidential election.

While the presidential election campaigns are characterised by attacks on personalities, mudslinging, bullying and threats, the campaigns for who becomes the next governor of Nigeria’s Centre of Excellence, has been largely issue-based so far.

In fact, the incumbent, Babatunde Fashola, was widely criticised and ridiculed for bringing up the issue of the age of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Jimi Agbaje, during an All Progressives Congress, APC, campaign rally. This is an indication that Lagosians would not take kindly to mudsling and name-calling, the type that has unfortunately been on full display in the presidential campaigns.

There are 17 parties vying for the governorship seat in the February 28 poll but it’s realistically a straight fight between the two dominant parties – the PDP and the APC. Make no mistake about it, Mr. Fashola has raised the bar of governance in the state and it is generally agreed that the state has too much at stake and cannot afford to elect an incompetent governor who would likely to take the state back into the Dark Ages of governance.

Lagos is the commercial capital of the country and with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $90 billion; it contributes about 20 per cent of the country’s GDP or 60 per cent, assuming the oil revenue is removed. In fact Lagos’s GDP is greater than that of Kenya ($66 billion), Ghana ($62 billion) and Tanzania ($58.4 billion). As home to most Nigerians, an awful government in Lagos would have catastrophic impacts on the economy and other sectors.

To its chagrin and frustration, Lagosians have spurned the PDP like a bad-mannered wife since 1999. All efforts by the party to wrest the state from opposition parties such as the Alliance for Democracy, AD, and the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, both of which had formed its administration, came to naught. In 2011, despite winning 66 per cent of the votes during the presidential election, the PDP still managed to lose the governorship election. However, due to a series of anti-populist policies embarked by the incumbent administration and the acceptability of its candidate, this election is perhaps the PDP’s best chance of winning the election.

The chief talking points in election would be the dichotomy of government interest between the highly populated and largely ghetto Mainland and the affluent Island; The influence of the acclaimed godfather of Lagos politics, Bola Tinubu, and the deportation of non-indigenes especially from the South-East.

The Fashola’s administration set fire on the electoral credit it accrued for clearing the hitherto chaotic Oshodi of miscreants and unruly street traders when it announced the widespread restriction of commercial motorcyclist known as Okada from major roads in the state. The subsequent high-handed enforcement of the law by the police and members of the state owned traffic management agency, LASTMA, turned many low-class Lagosians, who viewed the Fashola-led APC government as anti-poor, towards the PDP for succour. In fact, during a PDP organised political meeting, a member of the Okada union said his organisation was so irked by the decision to restrict their area of operation that have raised N750 million in support of the PDP’s campaign to win the election.

Though the government has vehemently denied this, the impression that it is driven by elitist ethos still persist in the minds of many Lagosians. And this worry is not exactly baseless. The government increased tuition in the state-owned university, LASU, from N25, 000.00 to between N180, 000.00 and N350, 000.00. It took weeks of protests by students and prolong strike by the university’s academic union for the governor to revert to the original fees. Some said the government reverted to the original fees to avoid the kind of defeat suffered by Kayode Fayemi, the immediate past APC governor of Ekiti state, who was believed to have been voted out for running a government considered elitist.

Although it is arguable that the Fashola administration has completely ignored the Mainland, it’s increasingly hard to convince Mainlanders who see the level of infrastructural developments on the Island that they are not being merely tolerated like a polygamist’s aging first wife.

Despite the governor’s apology, the deportation of non-indigene destitute from the state would definitely cost the APC some votes in the election. Many Igbos, the largest non-indigenous group in the state, have still not completely forgiven the government. It is believed that the government did not handle the issue properly. Besides, it allowed it to drag on for too long.

The matter was aggravated by a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, in his one of the controversial articles, described the Igbos as “collectively unlettered, uncouth, uncultured, unrestrained and crude in all their ways. They have no restraining factors because money and the acquisition of wealth is their sole objective and purpose in life.”

Ironically, Mr. Fani-Kayode is now the Director of Media for President Goodluck Jonathan campaign organisation. The Igbos remain some of Mr. Jonathan’s strong supporters.

The party’s governorship candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode’s campaign has been centered mostly on the need for continuity. This is not exactly a bad thing. However, Lagos is not a utopia. Some people say there are always better ways of doing things. Lagosians need to hear more of his own original ideas of solving the challenges of the state rather than preaching continuity. Mr Ambode also needs to convince the electorate living in the Mainland that he would pay more attention to that part of the state than the incumbent.

To the credit of the APC administration, however, it has effectively freed the state from the clutches of the Federal Government by increasing its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to N384.26 billion. The party has also built relatively strong institutions such as the state waste management agency, LAWMA, Its advert and signage agency, LASAA, LASTMA and many others that are working to bring the state at par to other mega cities in the world.
Lagos has also seen an unprecedented infrastructural development under the party such as the yet to be completed light rail project and the expansion of the Lagos – Badagry Express way to a 10-lane rail/motor way. All this might swing votes to the APC in the February election.

On the other hand, the PDP is wooing voters mostly in the Mainland by promising an all-inclusive development. The party is increasingly becoming the darling of traders, artisans and motorists who have been at the receiving end of some of the government’s less people- friendly policies. Also, in places like Badagry where the state government has had poor presence, voters are increasingly rooting for the PDP and Mr. Agbaje.

Unlike other states with disputed primary elections, the PDP in Lagos state handled the dispute between Mr. Agbaje and former Minister of state for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, reasonably well. Both men have been reconciled with Mr. Obanikoro campaigning for the flag bearer. This is very important. Perhaps, the only person that can claim something close to the kind of grassroots mobilisation prowess as Mr. Tinubu, the APC leader, is Mr. Obanikoro.
Koro, as his supporters fondly call him, has all the potential of becoming a kingmaker in the state. However, he is too neck deep into the campaign to seek votes for President Jonathan to be wholly dedicated to Mr. Agbaje’s campaign. But there might be a more involved push from Mr. Obanikoro towards the election of Mr. Agbaje after the February 14 presidential poll.

Again, this time around the PDP happens to have found a way around the management of campaign fund, which had been its biggest problem in previous elections. If there are any misunderstandings over the disbursement of fund within the party this time around, they are yet to manifest.

If debates win election then it’s a done deal for Mr. Agbaje who was miles ahead of other debaters in the recent gubernatorial debate organised by the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) of Lagos West Diocese. The debate showed that Mr. Agbaje is smart, eloquent and with practical plans of how to govern the state. By promising an all-inclusive government, he has also endeared many non-indigenes to his message.

Lagosians are sophisticated people and this would certainly reflect in their choice of who governs them. Whoever emerges victorious between two leading candidates would probably win by the thinnest margin in the history of elections in the state.


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  • Eze1

    I won’t be surprised if APC wins.

  • Leslie

    Your jaundiced analysis is deceptive to say the least. But you know that APC has the machinery, the incumbency, the fund, the people and the record to retain Lagos state overwhelmingly. You guys make too much noise about the ‘immigrant’ population in Lagos. For your education, the population of people of Eastern Nigerian extraction in Lagos is not up to the population of Badagry and Ojo put together. And we are talking of 20 LGAs. Some Nigerian journalists write to collect brown envelopes and that is why the press is in the hand of mercenary reporters like you.

    • Ajayi Ifayemi

      He is even wrong on who the Igbos in Lagos will vote for. The Igbos in Lagos are true Lagosians like any other folk in Lagos. Just wait and watch!

  • dave jacob

    Ibekwe, you do not know Lagos voters. The real voting force does not listen to debates. APC’s Ambode will floor Agbaje largely not thinly.

  • Ajayi Ifayemi

    This Ibekwe man is doing a hatchet job. Remember, he is the same guy who scored the debate and gave Agbaje 9, while he gave Ambode 7. I am sure he has been adequately compensated for this hatchet job. Unfortunately for Mr. Ibekwe, Lagosians do not follow hatchet jobs. Just wait and see.

  • Lekan

    This article is a build up to pdp rigging plans in Lagos, it will not work! What is Agbaje pedigree? In fact what does he do? Governance is not about speaking fluent English and rhetorism, ” the best footballers are at the viewing centers”. The last time I checked he runs a pockets of dingy chemist in Lagos. Is Okada cosmopolitan or mega city feature? Is internet hotspots what is required in Lagos now? Please let Agbaje collects his due from Jonah and sit down. They shouldn’t bring pdp incompetence to Lagos.

    • kudirat

      When will all you senseless APC e-rats stop all this pointless statement, I thought your so call sponsors through Fashola said Lagos can’t be ruled by a 60 old Agbaje, so how come it is Nigeria that can be ruled by a 72 years old pensioner. Well all your hidden agenda for Nigeria and lagos state will not come to pass by you Association of Past Criminals, amen.

      • Biyi

        Who is this idiotic, moronic, uncouth and uncultured Kudirat? Why not just comment intelligently rather than insulting people?

        • kudirat

          Thesame way the lunatic and husband killer biyi can correct me without insulting me. We are so quick to judge when we are at the receiving end but tend to forget when it is us issuing the pains on others. We are Nigerians and shouldn’t allow our personal interest superced the interest of the nation. Get your brain examined cos if you can be truthful to know I only reply people that are insultive to me by their own coin. Buhari e-rat am so sorry if ever using any insultive words on you, but honestly you sound like someone that really needs medical help.

        • adex Bell

          She’s saying de truth u people are fund making noise nd having forgotten dat de end must surely justify de means

      • Ayo

        Kudirat . Can you tell us exactly what work or business Mr agbaje does? I still hv found no one to tell me so maybe you can. If the man so much loves Lagos like he says, what independent projects for lagosians can u say he has done in the last 8 years since he last contested? People seem to like the Idea of a good looking eloquent speaker, but let us be careful. Let us unveil the man and know exactly what he does because I don’t know why it’s hard to know a man’s line of business asides a chemist shop that has refused to grow despite many years unlike the likes of health plus and medplus. I also wonder why Mr agbaje has refused to condemn the acts of the Opc on ikorodu road. I’m not sure any company Will employ a man who’s cv does not explain what his experience or expertise is. We better open our eyes and not take uncalcuted chances with the governorship of Lagos state.

  • Biodun

    Nick is a good journalist but he has not being able to hide his bias for Mr. Agbaje in his numerous interventions as it affects the Lagos guber race.
    This is fine by me, however he should state his bias upfront so we know not to expect an objective analysis on this subject from him.

  • SBA

    Mr Ambode will win convincingly. Mr Agbaje is in a wrong party and only wasting his time.

    • kudirat

      Says who? Do your research and you will see that Nigerians and Lagosians are tired of APC led government with their chief sponsor Tinubu.

    • Shuaibu Bola Victor

      Day dreamer. Agbaje is the man to beat.

  • Preco01

    Who votes for a man (Agbaje) who thinks bro Jonathan represents change? who? Lagos state leads the way and others follow, Lagos will never go backwards.. forces of retrogression as represented by Agbaje WILL NEVER WIN / RULE LAGOS. AMEN

    • kudirat

      Your own opinion, some people will never agree with you just like me. I don’t think APC should stand a chance, they should be delivered from the bondage of Tinubu and his boys. If fashola is providing this things without tasking the people of lagos of their hard earn money, it would have been a different thing. So Tinubu is not satisfy with half of lagos he owns, he wants to buy over lagos access. God will deliver his people from their slave masters; APC and Tinubu boys, Amen.

    • SamPsalm

      Actually, if Ambode wins, it would simply be a postponement pf the evil day to 2019 – especially if APC wins the Center. A large number of thinking Lagosians are no longer on the Ambo train. Ambo has himself to blame totally for that. He came on the scene as a Tinubu stooge – and Lagosians were waiting to see if he had a measure of some character core that could see him assert his independence, at least to the point of being seen to govern. And what are they seeing from his campaign pictures alone? Smarmy toothbrush smiley face contours. Campaign messaging which includes such silliness as the ‘New Star’. Portraits which show in flashy pricey clothes, doing owambe poses, Jegede Shokoyo antics and Zebrudaya melodramatics. The man does not seem to know or care about the Tinubu garbage he is carrying – and how much Lagosians want to break from the association with Tinubu if they have a reasonable alternative. Even more importantly, he doesn’t seem to understand how to respond to the paradox represented by Lagosians’ disdain for Tinubu and their distrust of the PDP platform – which has helped the Tinubu camp over the past 15 years. Together with his Deputy, the candidature is the quintessence of very satisfied overfed pair embarking on a leisurely post-retirement trip. Just finding the temporary humility to come off his confidence-high-horse that the Tinubu structure would deliver the votes – so as to do the hardwork of showing he is ready to govern Lagos is all that it would have taken to make Lagosians put with another Tinubu stooge, at leas, for the next 4 years. Right now, it seems Agbaje is the one showing just that capacity to govern Lagos independent of his own diabolical sponsor: Bode George. And APC had better do something in the next one week or they would lose Lagos – especially if Buhari wins. These people enjoy sticking it to the Federal Government

      • Ayelala

        You seem not to understand the workings of power and governance. I do not know the state from which you originate ,but if all states had the same power structure as lagos , Nigeria would have been like Indonesia or Malaysia and not like Afghanistan.
        With the current and stable power structure, you can easily make a goat the governor of lagos and the state will continue to function.
        Tinubu and fashola have put in as much
        effort in building institutions as they have put on roads. Google ” fashola vs apkabio nairaland. ” .
        If you want to know how to vote, just move the candidates aside , and look at those lining up behind them .

        • adex Bell

          Where is de current power supply? Hahaha omg it is well

  • Gerald Okoduwa

    Mr Ibekwe, where in the world have you seen a mega city or a city trying to become one where Okada riders hold sway in trunk ‘A’ roads? Governance should be about development in both infrastructure and social orderliness. Trying to whip up negative sentiments from Okada riders just to win their votes is an open negation of decency which Mr Agbaje is otherwise preaching in his campaigns. What you have described as ‘anti-people policies’ in Lagos is not a fair assessment of the situation. I live in the mainland of Lagos where Governor Fashola has constructed many major roads, housing estates, schools and decent hospitals and it is not only elites that use these facilities. Please advise Mr Agbaje to avoid propaganda and face issues. That style has already cost the PDP a lot of support at the national level.

  • Obafemi

    What kinda biased analysis? Agbaje wants to return “Okada riders” to trunk A roads in Lagos? That must be a joke. He said that to placate them and receive their votes. There has been ban on “Okada riders” in Abuja; Abia, Rivers, Imo states et al, and the heavens did not fall. So why the hues in Lagos? Secondly, the so called immigrant traders who find it difficult to comply with the government’s policies regulating their activities are free to exit Lagos! If they could not trade on Niger Bridge at Onitsha, why would they want to turn Lagos into a mess all in the name of doing business? Agbaje’s dependance on non-indigene votes to coast to Government House is a mirage. Thirdly, being an eloquent speaker in a debate does guarantee electoral victory. If it were so, professors would be better off. Finally, lofty ideas on governance are not enough without the political structure for actualization. In this aspect, the APC has 75% advantage over PDP! Verify their campaign activities in all the LGA. The little strength of PDP is within Lagos Central Senatorial District, still APC holds the ace. Facts do not lie!