Tomorrow in our polarised nation, Nigerians will troop to the polls to elect persons who will become their ambassadors in governors’ mansions and state Houses-of-Assembly. On the official list of candidates in battleground Lagos, the Independent National Electoral Commission has sitting Governor Jide Sanwo-Olu on record representing the ruling All Progressives Congress. He is in the fight of his political life against Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour; the suave MIT graduate, and candidate of the rival Labour Party whose recent performance in the process shocked the world in Lagos. Rhodes-Vivour is banking on riding on the plume of his party’s narrow victory over the ruling-party three weeks ago.
In the presidential election, Bola Tinubu was able to carry his cross on his aging shoulders, mobilised help from determined and committed foot-soldiers; and squeezed past two notable billionaires and professional politicians securing almost nine million votes out of 24 million captured on INEC’s Bimodal Voter Accredited System machines to become the president-elect.
Tomorrow, however, the open and obvious target of the opposition’s sharpened bayonet is Tinubu, the man Lagosians believe made Sanwo-Olu governor, and one who, for over two decades, has been the major deciding voice on who becomes who in the Lagos State Government political structures.
APC dropped the ball in Lagos February 25. The party thought it had a grip on Lagos. But it fell a little bit short coming second to Peter Obi’s LP. Losing Lagos was a nauseating nightmare to APC loyalists. Plenteous rumoured reasons we heard why this occurred. Many groups once sympathetic with the APC went docile while enthusiasm was grossly depleted among APC party men at various levels. Motivation to come out to vote for Tinubu was cooped up. These are all behind us now. Yesterday is a cancelled cheque, tomorrow a promissory note, but what APC and Sanwo-Olu will do today to reap tomorrow’s possible promises is the cash that must matter to them. All eyes and attention are on Sanwo-Olu and Rhodes-Vivour. In the hearts-and-minds of those who express that they are sick-and-tired of a one-man-political show in Lagos; TINUBU IS ON THE BALLOT tomorrow.
I have never met Sanwo-Olu, but I’m close to a few men around him. As governor, he doesn’t rock the boat. He quietly does his things amidst a rowdy and venomous rattle-snake-infested Lagos politics. He is calm and behaves not like typical brash and bloviating Nigerian politicians with power, authority, and misplaced priorities. Last year, I was out of town when Sanwo-Olu came with his team to my city of Milwaukee in the United States to haul back to Lagos sparkling new train coaches for two sets of 10-car Metro Trains for the Lagos Rail project. The transaction was not just a smart move to ease movements in a traffic-gridlocked city like Lagos; it was a steal. My friends in the Wisconsin Government told me. The acquisition of the 10-car intra-city Metropolitan speed trains for the 37km Lagos Red line project was widely applauded. Sanwo-Olu then completed the 380-meter-long sea crossing bridge component of the state Blue Line Rail spanning Mile 2 to Marina. Sanwo-Olu’s LAGFERRY initiative also earns him a thumbs-up.
The resuscitation of the 100-year-old sector now gets Lagosians breathing easy with the intricate traffic logjam that Lagos is known for. LAGFERRY now operates on 21 boats ferrying almost 500,000 passengers as of February, 2022. From public schools, to public housing and the widespread of social economic intervention moves by the state government even during the global COVID-19 pandemic and #EndSARS imbroglio; I believe history will be kind to Sanwo-Olu.
In the hearts of his opponents, TINUBU IS ON THE BALLOT tomorrow. And it will be a double-edged sword that cuts good and bad depending where you stand. The president-elect is a treasured talent to many and a tormenting plague to not a few. He is an enigma sheathed in ungraspable riddles and cloistered in unravelled puzzles. Tinubu remains the most talked about human being in Nigeria this season-for better or for worse. From dusk-to-dawn until probably as long as he is breathing; he’ll be on everybody’s lips. And gruesome gossips about him will remain a trend that’ll never end. Tinubu is neither dashing in a sprint nor shuffling in a marathon in tomorrow’s election. For a long time, and as long as Nigeria’s democratic process is sustained, Tinubu will always be on the ballot in Lagos without officially being on the ballot.
Changing guards at the control tower of Lagos government is the life-dream of the APC opposition. They salivate and wait to see the day when Tinubu is disrobed, debarred, disgraced, and finally defeated. And to them, defeating Sanwo-Olu tomorrow is a prelude to that. Many years ago, as a young man who loved the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, I thought he was the most despised politician on earth. Later on, when Chief MKO Abiola came on the scene, I thought he too had to be the most hated because of harsh treatments meted out to him and his family by opposition forces. Tinubu, a man comparable in might, means, and magnitude with the aforementioned personalities, is now the whipping-child for all manner of dislikes. And it is all about the power he wields. His traducers believe that the power is not God-given; but a corralled, cornered, and grabbed freebie derived from sitting atop Lagos’ humongous earthly treasures.
I hear some vile chants from some mean characters that “LAGOS MUST FALL.” Lagos won’t fall. Human personalities will come and go. But I sense an army of voters trooping out tomorrow to ensure that Lagos does not fall. And the army of coordinated voters are Yoruba, Igbo, Hausas, and all who have always seen themselves as Lagosians who will become one tribe and a united voice to ensure that Lagos does not fall. I believe that the momentum is on the side of those who have vowed to defend Lagos from ever falling.
I know this to be true about MOMENTUM. Momentum is a stratospheric movement of the moment. In physics, it is real. In politics, it is a metaphor. Momentum is a swinging pendulum and a reliable friend and feisty foe. When it stands with you today, you stand tall. Momentum helps win an election. Three weeks ago, the momentum was against the APC and Sanwo-Olu who thought Lagos was an automatic victory slam-dunk. If the governorship election had held then, Sanwo-Olu would be warming up to return to church teaching Sunday school.
With my methodical study of the situation today, the momentum has shifted its drift. APC party officials have woken up. They are now on leg-walks coordinating many zones of Lagos that went sleepy during the last election. Current cabinet ministers and APC top-guns embroiled in feuds with one another are now mending fences. We have sighted them on the campaign trail for Sanwo-Olu. The enthusiasm to get out to vote is higher than it was last month when the APC and Sanwo-Olu were in a political near-death experience.
Tomorrow morning, the sun will rise on Lagos from its 94 million-miles abode. And as it sets in the evening, the picture will be less vague as to who wins the hearts of the majority of Lagosians standing with Lagos. My wife is from Lagos. My children in turn are Lagosians. And tomorrow, I am a Lagosian. Eko o gbodo baje! Tomorrow will not be another ordinary day; it will be a new and extraordinary dawn for those who want to see Lagos stand. If Sanwo-Olu can wisely ride on the momentum, this election is his to lose. What about Rhodes-Vivour? I’m sure we’ve not heard the last of the young man whatever happens tomorrow. As for Tinubu; he’s not on the Lagos ballot. He’ll be frying a bigger fish as President from May 29th.