On Good Friday, and exactly eight days to the April 11th gubernatorial election, candidates of 10 political parties in Lagos State announced they had stepped down for one of the leading contenders, Akinwunmi Ambode of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
In announcing their endorsement of the APC candidate, the aspirants stated that it was important for the state to be in the same party with the federal government.
The candidates and their parties included: Adeshina Buruji (Accord); Obadia Akinola, Independent Democrats, ID; Ishola Aregbesola, Action Alliance, AA; and Babatunde Sarumi, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN.
Others are Abiodun Oyegunle, African People’s Alliance, APA; Victor Adeniji, KOWA Party; Adeshina Olayokun, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA; Sesan Olatunde, New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP; Sylvester Eze, Citizens Popular Party, CPP; and Pauline Ojochide, Progressives Peoples’ Alliance, PPA.
Mr. Ambode and the APC are expected to go head to head with Jimi Agbaje of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
In the 2011 gubernatorial election, the PDP finished a distant second behind the APC.
According to Mr. Akinola, who spoke on behalf of the other aspirants, the decision to step down was taken in the interest of the people of Lagos.
“By this, we enjoin all our teeming supporters across the state to take this declaration and sound it loud and clear that Ambode is the only candidate to take Lagos to the next level,” said Mr. Akinola.
“We will be knocking our heads against a brick wall, if we fight against an obvious winning team.”
The fact is, the 10 political parties, either individually or collectively, do not have “teeming supporters” and, therefore, would be unable to swing votes to a particular party.
On paper, 10 political parties out 17 contenders endorsing a particular candidate is a massive boost for the ruling party in the state.
However, in reality, all the 10 political parties do not exist.
Of the 10 that turned up for the press conference at the Lagos Airport Hotel, only seven are registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to participate in the governorship election.
The trio of Messrs Buruji (Accord); Oyegunle (APA) and Eze (CPP) do not exist on the INEC database as gubernatorial contenders in the April 11 election.
Out of the remaining seven, four candidates and/or parties took part in the 2011 gubernatorial election.
They collected a cumulative 9,702 votes, an abysmal 0.05 percent of total votes cast.
To put that into perspective, Babatunde Fashola and the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, the eventual winner amassed 1,509,113 votes.
Mr. Fashola was trailed by Ade Dosunmu of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, with 300,450 votes.
The 10 parties endorsing Mr. Ambode notwithstanding, the 2015 gubernatorial election is still a close fight between the APC and the PDP.
Let’s take a closer look at the 10 candidates, their parties, and how they fared in the last gubernatorial election:
1. Adeshina Buruji (Accord) – Mr. Buruji and his Accord Party are not among the 17 political parties listed by INEC to take part in the gubernatorial election in Lagos State.
2. Obadia Akinola (ID) – In 2011, Mr. Akinola, 44, contested for the governorship election under the CPN. He finished in the 10th position, polling 1,903 votes.
3. Ishola Aregbesola (Action Alliance) – Both candidate and party did not participate in the 2011 election.
4. Babatunde Sarumi (Allied Congress Party of Nigeria) – Both candidate and party did not participate in the 2011 election.
5. Abiodun Oyegunle (African People’s Alliance) – Both candidate and party did not participate in the 2011 election.
6. Victor Adeniji (KOWA Party) – In 2011, Mr. Adeniji, 58, contested under the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP. He finished second to the last position with 1,295 votes.
7. Adeshina Olayokun (All Progressives Grand Alliance) – The APGA fielded a different candidate in 2011 – Michael Adegbola. They finished sixth with 5,696 votes.
8. Sesan Olatunde (New Nigeria Peoples Party) – Mikahil Soyemi was the NNPP’s candidate in the last governorship election where they polled 808 votes to finish 15th out 15 candidates.
9. Sylvester Eze (Citizens Popular Party) – Both candidate and party did not participate in the 2011 election.
10. Pauline Ojochide (Progressives People’s Alliance) – Both candidate and party did not participate in the 2011 election.