By Dave Abah
The die is cast.
In a few hours we Lagosians shall return to the polls to define the future of what promises to be Africa’s largest Megacity. Unfortunately that future has to be steered by politicians. The sad part of politics is that it often doesn’t thrive on common sense but on sentiments.
The last few days have seen an untold intensity in horse trading and electioneering at its African best and worst. The main contenders have made their case. But it now seems that the election itself will be won or lost by auxiliaries, The Oba of Lagos for example.
The APC campaign machinery has been quick to turn the heat spuriously against the opposition candidate, who simply did what the other candidate did; canvass the various voting blocks. They accuse him of divisiveness and am wondering what black magic is at work here? Wasn’t it the Oba that threatened the Igbos with a watery grave in the Lagoon? How does election promise to a voting block translate to sacrilege?
And suddenly fliers purported to be from Agbaje’s camp with spurious promises started flying everywhere. Where were these fliers before our Oba’s outbursts? And to think that before the audio and video evidence surfaced, APC had “authoritatively” confirmed it was PDP propaganda at work, to blackmail the throne and create division among the people.
I understand the apprehension seeing that Lagos is no longer a guaranteed vote. Every foothold must be contested for.
In all of these, two fine gentlemen come across as grave, calm and reassuringly brilliant. They are Babatunde Raji Fashola and Olujimi Agbaje. And in these two men I see everything Lagos could become. Babatunde has shown fierce leadership in the face to opposition even from within his party in his glory days. His masterful management of systems and resources in Lagos state is the genius behind the modern face of Lagos. His accomplishment is a testament that beyond party lines what truly matters in the prosperity of nations is the depth and quality of leadership. And far above all the sentimentalism of electioneering, it is this quality that we must now seek in the next leader irrespective of the party platform.
Some argue that party platforms matter. In our nascent democracy party platforms are just that – platforms. In the last couple of days there has been massive exodus of PDP old-guards into the APC and judging by the speed with which they quickly settled in and “felt” at home, one cannot help but wonder how different these parties are.
Others are concerned about the need to align Lagos to the centre. That concern by itself surreptitiously cast a vote of no confidence on the incoming Buhari government. It presupposes that his government would not have the character to behave better than previous administration and might ‘abandon’ Lagos.
First of all the federal government has a constitutional responsibility to provide those infrastructure in Lagos, the failure of a previous regime to do so is the reason we sacked them.
Secondly I have no reason to believe a Buhari’s administration would fail to deliver on those responsibilities.
Moreover, in other climes, it matters little whether a state is in alignment with a federal government or not. California leadership is Republican in a Democrat led federal government in America yet California is the fifth largest economy in the world.
Dear Lagosians, what will tilt this election for us is the body language of Governor Babatubde Raji Fashola himself. We must take an introspection and wonder why in the early days of the process, Fashola having worked with Ambode extensively still vehemently opposed his aspiration at the APC primaries. He preferred an Hamzat, but because of the religious balance question he had to opt for Sashore. Were the playing field level, Ambode couldn’t have come ahead of those two.
As a party man, Fashola is stuck with Ambode and his lacklustre campaign outings which leaves much to the imagination. We should give Fashola a replacement that truly befits him.
The man Jimi Agbaje runs on a PDP platform and yet continues to say “Iam not one of them”. I do not presume to know what he means by that. But from my knowledge of the man I could safely say he is everything PDP is not. No one would argue that his personal brand value has been the difference in this campaign. This is why the APC Lagos campaign strategy is decidedly to attack his party because they find very little material against the man.
Dear Lagosians, Jimi Agbaje didn’t run against Fashola in his second term because the good governor was on track. They share similar visions for the state. He runs now because in the truest sense of continuity and consolidation, only like minds can perpetuate and deepen the gains of the last 8 years. Judging by the intelligentsia around him now helping to flesh out the details of his programmes for Lagos, am confident of not only a truly technocratic cabinet but also a guaranteed future for the megacity project.
My friends and Family, let’s put aside the sentimentalism and the grim tactics of politicians who want to seize power by any means necessary and let’s vote for the future of Lagos.
– Follow this writer on Twitter: @clubnaija