Why Sanwo-Olu Will Win Lagos


Temitope Ajayi

The outcome of the February 23, 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections in Lagos has led some people to making various conjectures, building numerous scenarios suggesting the possibility of APC losing the gubernatorial election on March 9, while the conspiracy theorists wing of the political commentariat is swirling.

Exemplifying this is the view expressed by a certain Ibitoye Olukosi on Qwenu, an online political blog, giving reasons why APC may lose Lagos State to the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). His reason for saying the APC may lose are what he considered:  the stranglehold of same political structure on Lagos since 1999, readiness of Lagosians to re-enact in Lagos, the O To Ge movement that is raging in Kwara like harmattan fire, and the revolt of Governor Akinwumi Ambode’s supporters against the party for denying him a second term ticket.

Fair enough.  Because an outline of these reasons shows followership of recent political developments in Lagos State, just that the ensuing deductions are blemished by inability to intelligently situate the developments in the appropriate sociological contexts. Therefore, points that should have been deployed to illustrate other valid points are rendered feeble, stuffed in the wrong box, and awaiting disposal. Notwithstanding the drawbacks in the canvassed argument, there in an undeniable twinkle of brilliance in the reason-identification process. And that’s why some of the reasons will be fittingly deployed in my pending article titled “Transformational Leadership and the Public good agenda”. 

Back to the current subject, it is very disingenuous to use the Kwara O To Ge metaphor as the basis for political punditry and in x-raying the emerging reality of next gubernatorial election in Lagos. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who has become the object of insidious attacks and malice by Jimi Agbaje and his crowd, does not have 40 years retrogressive and pre-bendalist hold on the political economy of Lagos like the Saraki Dynasty in Kwara State. The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, whose political empire and fortune had been blown away by the O To Ge whirlwind, has never espoused any positive ideal of governance for development.

He is an inheritor of a primitive political machine his father had nurtured for over 3 decades before installing him as the governor in 2003. The Saraki political machine is a behemoth that had subjugated the people of Kwara for almost 5 decades. Between father and son, the Sarakis and their hangers on, have superintended the patrimony of the people for 50 years, without any benefit of their suppressive reign to the people, other than abject poverty and squalour.

The same cannot be said to be the experience of Lagosions in the last 19 years under the Asiwaju Tinubu-led progressive camp. It is worth restating that Asiwaju Tinubu met a dysfunctional state in 1999. A Lagos that was on the throes of death.  It was a state that in disarray, and the one struggling to pay workers salary with paltry N600million monthly Internally Generated Revenue. Tinubu re-engineered the state finance, revitalized the public service to be the driver of development and embarked on massive infrastructural renewal. Tinubu’s giant strides in education, health, roads, housing, urban renewal and state capacity to generate revenue are still visible, even for the blind to see. It is pure sophistry and poor capacity to apply critical thinking for anyone to compare Saraki’s parasitic dynasty in Kwara with Asiwaju Tinubu’s visionary leadership in Lagos. We all know that Tinubu is leading the most talented and imaginative progressive politics not only in Lagos but also across the country, even in the greenness of envy and chosen blindness to his contributions to the Nigerian politics by his haters. It is understandable.

That Tinubu is an adroit and great leader of men and women manifests in the quality of people in various leadership positions across Nigeria he groomed for success. We see them in Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), who is the Vice President of Nigeria, we see in many governors, Ministers, Commissioners, heads of MDAs he nurtured across ethnic divides and religious persuasions. Who has Sarakis made that they allowed to blossom like Asiwaju Tinubu does?  Every Governor installed in Kwara by Sarakis- both Late Dr. Olusola Saraki and his son Bukola were never allowed to work for the people of Kwara.

Those parroting O To Ge and Freedom in Lagos cannot say the same of Tinubu. In actual fact, Tinubu is a leader with maniacal developmental ideology. He set the standard in Lagos as the governor for 8years and his successor governors- Babatunde Fashola, SAN and Akinwumi Ambode, FCA have sustained same tradition of excellent service.

There is no honest analyst who will say Lagos of today is not far better than Lagos of 1999 in all areas of development. While there is need to change course in Kwara to allow for new initiatives and developmental ideology in a blighted state such as Kwara, what Lagos requires is a team of Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Obafemi Hamzat to continue on the path of visible progress the state is taking. Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat are committed to working for a greater Lagos.  

The temperament and intellectual acuity needed to run Lagos are not in short supply for Sanwo-Olu and his running mate. Apart from their sterling credentials amassed from combined senior level positions in both the private and public sectors, which are well known, the two men were part of the foundational work that reinvented public service performance in Lagos State as Commissioners in the administrations of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Governor Fashola, who still remains a governor of example in Nigeria.

The ill-fated Jimi Agbaje’s ticket is no match to that of the two men, who are the torchbearers for APC. Seriously speaking, a man whose every 4-year ritual of seeking public office, is anchored on stoking ethnic hatred and fanning ember of disharmony between Igbos and Yorubas, is not good for a cosmopolitan city-state like Lagos. It is bad politics that must be rejected by the good people of Lagos. Setting up Igbos and against Yorubas every election cycle should not be the organizing principle of Jimi Agbaje’s quest to govern the state. It is distasteful and very unbecoming of anyone who is genuinely motivated by public service. This is a major reason Lagosians will reject the PDP candidate in the coming election.

Speaking on the reason APC will win the next governorship election in Lagos, Mr. Sanwo-Olu in an interview published in The Nation Newspaper on Friday, March 1st, 2019 made a very strong pitch. He noted Lagos must not disconnect from the central government at a time the State is greatly benefiting from being in same political party with the Federal Government.

He said, “You need the Federal Government to do a lot things. Many things we need to quickly get out of the way. We need to work with the FG in certain areas like right of ways for Rail, Waterways, Power, abandoned properties etc.  For example when our government wanted to start a rail project during Governor Fashola’s administration, the PDP- led Federal government refused us right of way on the Red Line, which would have enabled us lay rail track from the Iddo to Alagbado axis of the state for mass transit. And because they refused, we had to do the Blue Line, which is a lot more expensive. If the PDP-led Federal government had allowed us, we would have completed the rail project a long time ago and transportation challenges would have been better for commuters in the State. Also, we’ve had problems securing approvals to build Jetties. The PDP-led FG refused to give us permit to build jetties for our people. Thankfully, the APC-led government of President Buhari has given us approval for the Red Line and we hope to work better with them in some other areas like housing.

The Federal Government is also intervening in major road projects in the state already, like Sagamu-Ikorodu road that have been abandoned for 40 years, the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonsoki-Alausa toll gate road, which has been awarded to AG Dangote, the Agbara to Seme Border end of the Badagry-Seme Border Expressway has also been awarded by the Federal Government. For many years too, Lagos had wanted to fix the International Airport road up to Oshodi for redevelopment and the PDP Federal Government refused to give approval. Again it is now being done by the state government though following approval by the FG.  The Federal Government has also given the State House in Marina to Lagos State. Already, the State is enjoying the benefits of being in same party with the government at the centre.  Imagine the Federal Government issuing certificate of occupancy and granting planning approvals on our land from Abuja, without any recourse to us? These are some of the areas of collaboration that we need to explore with the Federal government. I believe working together; we will do a lot better for the benefit of every Lagosian, because at the end of the day, it is the people that matter.”

Without any doubt, Lagos State has made tremendous progress since 1999. What is needed is for the vision that is propelling the development in the state to be sustained for expanded opportunities and benefits to Lagosians. Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat will sure do a great job.