Since the return to democratic rule in 1999, Lagos, arguably the most important state in Nigeria has been the bastion of progressive politics. The first election in 1999 was won by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). Tinubu won re-election in 2003, using another political vehicle, Action Congress (AC).
The 2003 electoral victory was particularly outstanding because of the antics of then President Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who in his determination to show political weight and relevance at home, having lost woefully in the South West in 1999, foisted on the zone, the worst riggings in the history of partisan politics in the country.
But, despite the massive alleged riggings, Tinubu put his political dexterity at work, secured Lagos and became the only man standing as a progressive governor.
Subsequent elections in the state have been won by Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and presently the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The PDP has been the main opposition party in the state and a serial loser, although, Jimi Agbaje of the then Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) made quite a showing during the 2007 election with his intimidating campaign, which did not, however, result in electoral success.
It was only in 2015 that the PDP made a strong showing at the poll, winning eight legislative seats in the state House of Assembly and six House of Representatives seats.
The party, however, failed to leverage on this performance in 2019 as it lost most of the seats won during the previous election.
With the 2023 general elections gathering momentum, all eyes are on the ‘Centre of Excellence’. This is because, its most illustrious political figure, Asiwaju Tinubu is in the running for the Presidency, while Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is gunning for second term. And there is the permutation that the focus of Tinubu may not be on what is happening in Lagos as he has his own battle at hand.
The opposition PDP is hoping to use Tinubu’s engagement elsewhere to try and snatch Lagos from the APC. The party is presenting as its governorship candidate, Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran, popularly known as Jandor. Adediran was a defector from the APC when he realized that his ambition to get to Alausa Government House cannot be realized on the platform of the ruling party.
Adediran is a grassroots politician, unlike other past candidates of the PDP with structures across the state. While in APC, he launched his Lagos4Lagos Movement with which he moved to join forces with the PDP. The perceived formidability of his movement, paved the way for him to clinch the PDP ticket against other established aspirants in the party.
Although, he was believed to have the support of the party’s leader in the state, Chief Bode George and other governorship aspirants, but as it is for now, George has not openly shown the expected support. In fact, the party leader had even accused some national officers of imposing Adediran on the state, while also disclosing that, even the deputy governorship candidate, Funke Akindele is never a card carrying member of the PDP.
Lagos4Lagos Movement started as Jandor Foundation. It later became Ipinle Eko Forum before it metamorphosed into what it is today.
The PDP candidate with his structure spread across the 245 political wards in the state, has been engaging directly with voters and re-orientating them on why they should vote out APC. The candidate has reportedly visited 97 wards in the state with the message of dislodging godfatherism from the state.
PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar is also leveraging on the support base of Adediran to market himself to Lagosians since his strained relationship with Chief Bode George. It is expected that Adediran may benefit from Atiku, with his financial war-chest to fund his governorship ambition.
Political watchers believe that what may also work for Adediran and the PDP is that he had been able to mobilise some core indigenes of Lagos, most especially the Aworis and those not comfortable with Tinubu. Being an indigene, some sizeable number of the indigenes are said to be strongly behind him and are rooting for him to win at the poll.
Many also hold the view that his choice of Ms Akindele, being a female and entertainment entrepreneur may also help in galvanising women and youths’ voters for him.
Among the major political parties in the state, it is only the PDP that picks a female as running mate. Since her emergence as running mate, Akindele has been visiting and interacting with market women with the message of the need for a change in 2023.
The introduction of electronic transmission of results, perhaps, could play a key role in the outcome of the poll. Pundits say Adediran has the upper hand to arm-twist voters with his campaign message of re-engineering the state in terms of human resources and fiscal policies for the benefit of the masses.
Also, the Igbo-speaking community that has emotionally adopted the PDP in Lagos as their party would also go his way at the poll. He would definitely enjoy the blessings of the Igbo residing in the state as they have always vote for PDP candidates.
However, there are increasing concerns among the people that perhaps, the perennial crisis which often surfaces during major elections, which often contributes to the PDP’s failure at the polls, could resurface ahead of the 2023 general election.
Already, Chief Bode George, as the leader of the party in the state and former deputy governor of the state, Kofoworola Bucknor, among others are obviously not in support of Adediran over his choice of Ms Akindele as running mate. It was gathered that he single-handedly picked his running mate without proper consultation with the leaders and elders of the party.
Apart from that, the party is already embroiled in internal crisis, if not settled, may affect him as the power brokers that are at war with each other.
His inability to mobilise enough fund to oil his campaign may weaken his chances as huge funds is needed to win the governorship of a state like Lagos.
Adediran also has the liability of not being tested before in any elective or appointive post. He is, in the real sense of it, a political greenhorn. It may be disastrous for anybody to want to learn on the job as the governor of Lagos State.
His Lagos4Lagos Movement may also be seen in some circles as too restrictive and parochial. Lagos is a cosmopolitan state. Its huge population is as a result of migration of people, not only from other parts of Nigeria, but across West Africa and other regions. For anyone claiming Lagos for Lagos indigenes only may be a recipe for political failure.