Lagos politics and the shortage of candidates for governor


Internal democracy will be put to the test this month, as political parties prepare to hold their primary elections to select candidates for the 2023 general election. In Lagos state, the gubernatorial contest will, as usual, be a battle between the ruling Congress of All Progressives (APC) and the opposition Popular Democratic Party (PDP), despite the flickering of other parties that still seek relevance in the state.

Since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999, APC has won the gubernatorial elections in the state, while the PDP remains in second place. But PPD leaders in the state said the 2023 elections would be different as they are working day and night to resolve the internal crisis and the lack of cohesion makes the party attractive to Lagosians.

Observers are keeping an eye on how the proposed alternative mega-platform will evolve, if less popular parties make good on their promises to join forces to change the political calculus in the state and pull off surprises.

But there is growing concern about the dearth of gubernatorial candidates in both the APC and PDP, raising questions about the freedom of members of both parties to run for any post of their choosing.

APC’s cult stance on applicants

WITH Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s recent backing for re-election by the Lagos APC’s top body, the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC), critics said the decision may have excluded other interested challengers within the party. ruling to compete for the number one job in the state.

Endorsement, as some APC members have described it, is the antithesis of internal democracy and a closed window for party members, who might have preferred to challenge Sanwo-Olu for the nomination.

But those who have been following the state’s political trajectory are not surprised by the APC’s cultish disposition in choosing its standard-bearers. Political observers in the state see the party’s former governor and presidential hopeful, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as the “Capone.”

The efforts of the Convenor of the Lagos4Lagos Movement, Dr. Abdul Azeez Adediran and his followers to infiltrate the GAC and give an opinion at that level of the party were not only rebuffed but led him to defect to the PDP.

Critics said that the GAC, which has arrogated to itself the power to clear the party’s gubernatorial candidate instead of the Exco State, is not recognized by the party’s Constitution, but is instead a creation of Tinubu to maintain its hegemony and control of the match.

The implication, according to critics, is that the allegiance of whoever emerges as the party’s candidate under this arrangement is to the GAC and not to party members or the electorate.

But given the nature of the endorsements Sanwo-Olu has garnered of late, as well as considering Tinubu’s interest in the 2023 APC presidential ticket, party members fear that any move to remove the governor in exercise could spell doom for the game. .

A party source said, “Already, Tinubu’s attention is mainly focused on how to win the party’s presidential bid and he will need a stable and loyal national governor to manage his base in 2023.

“It will not be easy for Tinubu to replace Sanwo-Olu with someone else because the circumstances at stake now are different than they were in 2019. Sanwo-Olu cannot be easily changed like Ambode without backlash.”

That is probably one of the main reasons why other interested party members, who had expressed an interest in the governorship, have buried the aspiration, at least for now.

Until the GAC endorsement of Sawo-Olu, party sources had mentioned a former state Internal Affairs Commissioner, who recently returned to the party after opting out some years ago, Abdulhakeem Abdullateef; the Senator representing the Lagos East senatorial district in the national assembly, who was also the Finance Commissioner in the state between 2011 and 2013 Tokunbo Abiru as party bosses seeking the post of Governor

Current Governor Sanwo-Olu Chief of Staff Tayo Ayinde and incumbent Deputy Governor and former Science and Technology Commissioner Femi Hamzat were also rumored to be under consideration for the nomination, but appear to have bowed to the dictates of the GAC.

Likewise, the Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, dropped his name as a possible candidate. But with the primaries barely three weeks away, none of these people mentioned have purchased nomination forms to formally join the race.

But the case of former state governor Akinwunmi Ambode may be different. Party sources said the former governor is already consulting with relevant stakeholders in and out of the state on his next move. It transpired that while some are pressuring him to throw his hat into the ring, some have advised him to join his supporters in sponsoring other party members to contest the party primaries against Sanwo-Olu.

A party source told Newslodge that, “I can tell you that Ambode’s group will not sit idly by and watch, the former governor himself may come out or support one of his supporters to run against Sanwo-Olu. Many Lagosians still believe that Ambode outperformed the incumbent Governor, whose interest is to satisfy a few party members rather than Lagosians and we believe that any of our group has a better chance.

“In the next few days the Lagosians will see what is going to happen and they will be happy with the wild card that we are launching.”

However, some party members said Lagos APC is already looking beyond the primaries and is already working on Sanwo-Olu’s re-election. According to the source, “I can tell you with authority that Tinubu has instructed the incumbent to go ahead with the campaigns. The national leader may not have the nerve this time to act against the wishes of some of his friends in the north, who have backed Sanwo-Olu.

“For example, any attempt to embarrass the governor may now turn Tinubu against current Senate President Ahmad Lawan, who recently spoke glowingly about the governor at a function in Lagos where he (Lawan) also endorsed him for a second mandate.

“The lesson of Ambode’s removal must have taught the national leader some lessons, moreover, Tinubu is also counting on the North to get the party’s presidential ticket next month.”

A member of the GAC, Otunba Olorunfunmi Bashorun, said that with several works that Sanwo-Olu has done and the great support of several, the Lagos APC clearinghouse has no choice but to listen to the voice of the people. He said, “One of Sanwo-Olu’s merits is that the humble young man never deviated from the party’s manifesto, nor did he abandon any projects of his predecessors, including Ambode’s. But Ambode abandoned many, if not all, of the projects he knew about. The former governor canceled many and re-awarded several projects, which was a huge mistake.

For his part, the immediate former president of Lagos APC, Chief Tunde Balogun, said: “No one can compare the incumbent and his previous immediate predecessor. Sanwo-Olu is different, I must be honest. There may be one or two challenges, but you never see any form of bitterness against the governor among party members, unlike during the immediate past governor era.

“I know you won’t agree, but even in terms of effectiveness, Sanwo-Olu is better and he strictly adhered to the match manifesto. I can assure you that in the coming months you will begin to see massive projects being brought to light by this administration. What you least expected to see in 21st Century Lagos will come to the surface.”

A former Lagos State House of Assembly member and outdoor advertising giant, Mr. Ipoola Omisore, said: “You can agree or disagree, the leadership position is about conflict management. Sanwo-Olu has been able to manage conflict very well for nearly three years. He has no problems with the party leadership unlike Ambode, who at one point had altercations with his former boss, Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works”.

PDP probabilities of producing an acceptable candidate

UNLIKE ruling APC, where their primaries may not be a tough contest, the PDP’s way of choosing their standard-bearer promises to be an open contest where delegates will decide the fate of their gubernatorial hopefuls.

The party’s southwestern leadership has already invited former NIMASA CEO Shamsideen Ade Dosumu, AbdulAzeez Adediran (Jandor), David Kolawole, Adedeji Doherty and Rhodes Gbadebo for the screening.

One of the hopefuls, Wale Gomez, who was not invited to the screening, told Newslodge that he gave up the race to run for the Lagos Central senatorial district.

Some members of the party have called for a transparent, free and fair direct primary and ruled out the consensus option to choose the gubernatorial candidate if the Lagos PDP wishes to win the election.

They blamed the party’s earlier failed attempts to win Lagos state on fielding unpopular candidates and infighting among members. The primary election is believed to be a direct contest between Dosunmu and Jandor, who recently joined the party from APC.

Dosunmu is not a newcomer to the Lagos PDP; he was the party’s gubernatorial candidate in 2011 and ran against former governor Babatunde Fashola, who defeated him by a wide margin.

Doherty was said to have made several attempts to win the party’s gubernatorial nomination more than three times, but was unsuccessful. By all accounts, Jandor appears to be a contender to beat. The physical presence of some ten PDP governors and prominent national party leaders, including Senator Iyorchia Ayu on the occasion of her defection to the PDP recently, has been cited as an indication of her acceptability in the PDP family.

Former PDP State Chairman, Navy Captain Tunji Shelle; Jimi Agbaje; Pearse and former deputy national chairman, Chief Olabode George, have spoken enthusiastically about the party’s chances next year with someone like Jandor on the ticket.

They called on the members and citizens of Lagos to encourage Jandor’s boldness and determination to win Lagos for the PDP this time.

Pearse said: “Jandor really represents what the citizens and the PPD need to rescue Lagos from the clutches of APC since 1999. It is obvious that the ruling party has nothing more to offer. And his handlers are now like Goliath, terrorizing the state.

“This young man comes with a lot of courage, like David, whom we should all support. Shelle, for her part, said that Jandor has been a symbol of unity since he joined the PDP. She pleaded with all PDP members to join forces with the new entrant to win Lagos.

Agbaje said: “This is another great opportunity for PDP, to win Lagos. I hope to see a stronger PDP, well positioned to take over Lagos State in 2023.”
George said there is hope for the future of the state as “all that matters is Lagos and its people”.

The party’s former publicity secretary, lawyer Taofik Gani, expressed optimism that the PDP is currently well positioned to take over Lagos, especially as all stakeholders inside and outside the party have now realized that the rule of 23 years of APC in Lagos has not benefited the State in terms of progress and development.

MEANWHILE, it is unclear if time will allow alternative mega-platform planners to field a candidate jointly, but in the absence of that, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC) are waiting in the wings to reap unhappy. APC and PDP hopefuls to make an impressive start in 2023.

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