Editor's note: Olugbenga Akinbode, a Lagos-based political analyst and academic, writes on the dangers of the All Progressives Congress (APC), refusing to give its governorship ticket in Lagos to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, and the likely effects it will have on the average voter in the state.
Tom and Jerry, the American animated series of short films, focuses on an age-old rivalry between its two main characters: Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse. While it produces a comic effect, it also underscores winning by wits and schemes. In most cases, Jerry wins. In some cases, Tom wins. The battle never ends.
In the last few days, Nigeria’s latest political drama is being produced in Osun state, where the battle for who emerges the next governor of the state is currently being fought. Last Sunday, when the results were collated, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Ademola Adeleke, led his closest rival, Alh. Gboyega Oyetola, with 353 votes. INEC announced this result as inconclusive for reasons that are documented in the electoral act. Today, the rerun is ongoing in seven polling units where the elections were cancelled.
Prior to the Osun gubernatorial elections, there had been a face off in the Lagos APC as the sitting governor, Akinwumi Ambode began to face stiff opposition to his bid to run for a second term in office. Because APC - a party that metamorphosed from AD - has held Lagos since 1999, it has become quite difficult for other parties to take over. PDP has scored higher in their attempts to take over. Ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan did their best to influence a takeover of Lagos state by PDP. Still APC held sway. With the strong hold on Lagos, APC seeped into, and maintained good grounds in other South-west states. So when the intra-party feud in Lagos APC began to spiral shamelessly into the public in a manner that had never been witnessed before, the chess players in other political parties immediately began to think of how to jettison their ‘red’ and ‘amber’ positions to make a kill for the ‘green’ position.
Meanwhile, majority of observers on the streets are wondering why Governor Ambode should not be allowed to return for a second term. He has made remarkable achievements in his three and half years in office. Some of them are developments that the people can quickly relate with. Some of the notable projects are the completion or near-completion of more than 300 local government road projects since 2015; construction of flyover bridges for Ajah and Abule-Egba areas; multiple lay-by constructions to ease traffic congestion along the Third Mainland-Iyana-Oworo-Alapere Road; establishment of relief resettlement camps in Agbowa and Igando to cater for IDPs across the state and lots more.
From a security view point, he enabled the acquisition of equipment worth more than N5billion for the state police command and Rapid Response Squad. Equipment donated include 4-door salon cars, Ford Ranger pick-ups, Toyota land cruiser pick-ups, BMW power bikes, power bikes, Isuzu trucks, helicopters, two gun boats, power generating sets, armored personnel carriers, revolving lights, siren and public address system, vehicular radio communicators, security gadgets including bullet proof vests, helmets, handcuffs, uniforms, kits and improved insurance and death benefit schemes for officers. People on the streets can easily touch base with these developments. Beyond all these, Lagos State has grown tremendously in economy and the prospects of increased FDI is super high.
Enter Osun state. Some days before the gubernatorial elections, during Oyetola final campaign rallies, some APC stakeholders had tried to bridge the gaps between Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC’s national leader and Governor Ambode. Segun Osoba, Bisi Akande, both of them former governors, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi state governor, and President Mohammadu Buhari were in the peace meeting. While the mediations were going on, Governor Rauf Aregbesola allegedly pointed out some of Ambode’s ‘sins’ from the position of the Lagos Mandate group, which he is involved with. The peace deal was said to have not ended very well.
From the outer political radar, the feeling was that Aregbesola’s strong influence in APC and his two-term runs in office will yield Osun pretty easily to APC. But the results from the Saturday elections proved otherwise. PDP ended up leading with a slim margin. The chase was reduced to a mere episode of Tom and Jerry, where the winning arrow can swing into any given direction. The rerun will see either parties winning. Either way, Aregbesola’s influence has been shaken. The Tom and Jerry episode is now showing on Lagos big screens as observers are watching to see what becomes of Lagos APC, their eventual choice of gubernatorial candidate, and the obvious reinforcements of other parties particularly the PDP, in the game of wits and schemes for 2019.
APC can no longer write off PDP’s desire to take over Lagos. If PDP wins Osun, the party will surely bring everything it has down to Lagos for 2019. If they eventually lose Osun, they will be testing their rising influence in Lagos come 2019. Beyond politics, there are several other reasons why any political party will be interested in taking over Lagos. The economic significance of Lagos in Nigeria and Africa is enough to create a deep desire to rule the state. APC has been running on a development template that it designed. From Asiwaju Tinubu to ex-governor Babatunde Fashola, Lagos state has moved in a progressive direction. With Ambode’s visible achievements, observers have come to accept that Lagos has her game plan firmly secured and gradually being implemented. The recent intra-party face off therefore, has sent a wrong signal.
Everywhere in the world, voters’ behavior can be erratic, incoherent and unpredictable. APC does not want to create the long-awaited opportunity that other parties have been looking for. Sallust, a Roman historian and politician, said: “Harmony makes small things grow, lack of it makes great things decay.” At this 11th hour, APC would be better off harmonizing with its own self-developed system, rather than creating a gap that other parties are waiting to fill. Between continuing with Ambode and getting a new APC governor, the former appears more plausible, under the circumstances.
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