The political ban on gubernatorial election campaign was lifted nationwide on Friday, December 1st and candidates officially rolled out their campaigns.
And, while many candidates were waiting in earnest for this ban to be lifted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a few of these gubernatorial candidates did not see anything wrong with flouting those basic rules. If these principalities did not move this extremely by flouting the rules, what else would have reassured them that they were the powerbrokers in the country and above the law?
In less than 24 hours after his campaign, Jimi Agbaje took to the media to report on Saturday that his campaign posters on 3rd Mainland Bridge were vandalised overnight by loyalists of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In a swift response delivered by the APC publicity secretary in Lagos, Joe Igbokwe, he quickly dismissed the allegations and counter-accused the PDP of destroying the campaign by themselves for public attention. One wonders if the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and it’s candidate, Jimi Agbaje, could be desperate enough to descend so low as to have staged such media theatrics.
But the real question which should bother anyone interested in free and fair elections is this: Will the incumbent political machinery in Lagos allow the free swing of Agabaje’s campaign this time around? The Lagos election is especially critical because, for the first time, an incumbent governor Akinwunmi Ambode, could not earn the party’s return ticket.
Now, Jide Sanwo-Olu, APC’s candidate in Lagos, would have to sell himself afresh to the electorate: backed by a poor record of Ambode’s performance in the last four years and to an extent with the cult-like godfatherism of Tinubu.
There is also the lingering reluctance of Tinubu endorsing Sanwo-Olu because it has been painted in several quarters that Lagos is being enslaved by the dominance of the Tinubu flagship. He may want Sanwo-Olu to prove that he can indeed win the elections, after all, he now has all the backing he needs.
Of course, Jimi Agbaje is no stranger to Lagos politics; he has in fact been consistent at standing up as a rebel against the hegemony and strong political machinery of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as he is contesting fully for the third time. He only lost the elections by a margin of 100,000 votes in 2015; can he manage to close that gap and have a simple majority this time around?
Most politicians in the country do not care whether lives are lost or whether there was violence and intimidation at the polls, all they want to ever do is win by any means possible. So would the Tinubu political monopoly in Lagos ever be ready to cede power from their tight control without Lagos residents themselves fighting to break free?
We are however yet to see any serious strategic document by either of those two major candidates; but whenever it is unveiled, would it be concise enough to break the jinx holding Lagos State back from greatness? Will any of the plans by these candidates be holistic enough to liberalise the lives and living of the inhabitants and set a pace for other states in the federation as the real center of excellence? Will the campaign debates, which should roll out shortly, do justice to educating the people adequately about the candidates before they thumbprint the ballot on election day?
In the end, we would come to the realisation that, no matter the good intentions of Agbaje or Sanwo-Olu’s ambition, if the residents of the Lagos city-state do not actively get involved in the activities of the election now, they may surrender their fates in the hands of the low-hanging fruits that the state has condemned them to.
Feature Image Source: ThisDay Live