If performance in office is anything to go by, Lagos State governor , Babajide Sanwo-Olu would be preparing for his second term inauguration speech by now. But this is Nigeria where other factors like religion and ethnicity trumps performance in deciding its leaders.
No doubt, the shock performance of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi in Lagos will reverberate in the gubernatorial election in the state. President-elect Bola Tinubu is regarded as the strong man of Lagos politics and may not take his defeat in his base lightly and will be strategising on how to bounce back at the gubernatorial election.
The governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in Lagos State, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour has been energised since the victory of Obi in Lagos. He has stepped up his TV appearances and campaigns. He has also been trending on social media platforms.
Prior to the presidential election, many political analysts predicted a two horse race between the incumbent governor and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party( PDP), Dr Abdul-Azeez Adediran.
With the performance of the Labour Party in Lagos, the dynamics has changed. Rhodes-Vivour is now seen as the person who may unseat Sanwo-Olu.
The LP flag bearer has shared his plans for curbing insecurity, citing youth unemployment as a menace and the major driver of political violence in the state.
He promised to ensure that young people get employability skills that will be domiciled in the local government areas, adding that his government will put an end to police harassment.
There have also been calls for the LP and PDP to work together to unseat the governor but that has not yet worked out.
Sadly, a dangerous trend of tribal politics is gaining traction in the state which has been condemned by political leaders across the country. Tribalism should not have a place in a cosmopolitan city like Lagos.
However, defeating Sanwo-Olu will not be an easy task. The APC has a strong hold on Lagos State, having won all governorship elections since 1999. Sanwo-Olu himself is also a formidable candidate, with a track record of public service and a loyal support base.
The victory of Tinubu at the centre will also change the dynamics of the gubernatorial election in Lagos.
Pointedly, a call has gone out to Lagosians to see that the democratic gains recorded under Governor Sanwo-Olu in the last four years are sustained as they all go out to vote in the governorship election on Saturday.
This call was made by some stakeholders from different works of life at a forum in the state capital during the weekend.
They also commended the governor for the role he played during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 by leading from the front as the incident commander.
The stakeholders include artisans, professionals, business owners and political activities.
According to them, since his assumption of office in May 2019, Sanwo-Olu has sustained the progressive development in the state through his administration’s THEMES agenda.
THEMES, the agenda for Greater Lagos, represents the six-pillar development plan of the Sanwo-Olu administration. It stands for Traffic Management and Transportation; Health and Environment; Education and Technology; Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy; Entertainment and Tourism; and Security and Governance.
They admonished the electorate not to be irrational when making a choice in the governorship election as the Blue line rail project, which was commissioned recently by President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Red line rail project, which is almost completed, are part of the signature projects executed by the Governor.
The spokesman of the Association of Kwara Traders in Lagos, Alhaji Saliu Orilowo said that his members have enjoyed the facilities provided by the Sanwo-Olu administration and are in support the governor for a second term in office. He said that Lagos State is too important in Nigeria’s development for it to be ruled by an inexperienced person.
An educationist at the forum, Mr Festus Oyalowo said that he scored the Sanwo-Olu administration high in education development. “Governor Sanwo-Olu has built and remodeled over 1,000 primary and secondary schools in the last four years. Who else can beat this record”. Oyalowo asked.
Indeed, Sanwo-Olu’s administration achieved this feat through the inauguration of a special committee on rehabilitation of public schools, while it has consistently increased the sector’s budget to over 10 percent.
The CEO of Cornerstone Properties Limited, Mr Okoye Anyaso, who also attended the forum, said that Sanwo-Olu has created a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere for businesses to thrive and for the different tribes to feel at home.
“Lagos remains the greatest city in Nigeria and one of the largest economies in West Africa. Despite sitting on only one percent of Nigeria’s landmass—a third of that being water—it houses 10 percent of Nigeria’s population,” Anyaso said, adding: “We should all remember that we are Nigerians, as well as Lagosians. We must continue to come together and keep the peace”.
Meanwhile, the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose has also endorsed Sanwo-Olu for a second term in office. A resident of Lagos, who only recently said he was quitting politics after being in the opposition party for years, Fayose said that he believes strongly that Sanwo-Olu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the March 11 gubernatorial election, should be re-elected to continue the good works of his administration.
“Lagos business is a serious business. There are lots of challenges in Lagos. So, I enjoin everybody in Lagos to return Sanwo-Olu”.
Similarly some have argued that among the three leading candidates, Sanwo- Olu is the only person who possesses the character, competence and maturity to handle a complex city like Lagos and that should not be sacrificed on the altar of sentiments.
The question is, will Sanwo- Olu be consumed by the LP tsunami or will he ride over the storm and win his reelection? Only time will tell.