By Remi Adelowo
The resounding victory of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in the March 18 governorship election was an anti-climax of sorts. For all it’s worth, the victory was richly deserved.
Majority of Lagosians and discerning political observers consider Sanwo-Olu one of the best performing governors in the last four years in Nigeria. In all sectors of the state economy, Sanwo-Olu’s imprints are indelible, making his re-election a fait accompli, all factors considered.
However, events leading to the election were quite tense, raising anxiety amongst residents and others outside the state to a crescendo.
First, was the unexpected victory of Mr. Peter Obi, the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the February 25 presidential election in Lagos State. Expectedly, this development bolstered the spirit of LP supporters in the state that an encore could happen in the governorship election.
The LP governorship candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour began to see himself as a “governor-in-waiting”. For someone whose campaign prior to the presidential election has been lacklustre at best, he revved up his political outings, in addition to making appearances at the opposition’s favourite broadcast channel, Arise Television to sell his candidacy, mostly premised on parroting the nation’s fault lines.
Like his principal, Rhodes-Vivour’s campaign stomps and messages were divisive. He concentrated his campaign outings in Igbo-dominated areas and commercial centres. He was brazen and intentional about it. His mother was also conscripted in the shenanigans. She held meetings with different Igbo groups and associations, making outlandish claims and allegations against the state government and the Yoruba.
For a state that has been a home for all tribes over ages, that was a recipe for crisis and tension. But rather than resort to same divisive rhetoric, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu acted statesman-like. He campaigned vigorously all over the state, presenting his verifiable records of achievements in the last four years and making promises of a more prosperous future for all residents of Lagos.
Of all the governorship candidates of the major political parties, none campaigned as hard as the governor. His re-election was further buoyed by the defection of key political leaders of the LP and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) about two days to the election. Put simply, Rhodes-Vivour and his PDP counterpart, Olajide Adediran (Jandor) stood no chance against Governor Sanwo-Olu.
So, what is the hoopla that it was “violence perpetrated by APC thugs and suppression of voters” that ensured the governor’s victory all about? For all intents and purposes, this allegation is a futile attempt by the LP and PDP to delegitimise Sanwo-Olu’s next administration.
Assuming without conceding that there was “violence” in certain polling units in parts of the state, how widespread are such incidences as to have significantly affected the outcome of the election?
It must be put on record that “violence” reportedly took place in 84 polling units across the state. In a state with 13,324 polling units, what percentage is 84 units to have warranted the hullabaloo of a flawed election? Less than one percent!
Not surprisingly, those who were rejected by the overwhelming Lagos’ discerning voters are making an issue out of the viral video where the Chairman of the Lagos State Parks and Garages Management Committee, Musiliu Akinsanya (popularly known as MC Oluomo), was captured “threatening” the Igbo not to come out to vote in the governorship election.
While such act is condemnable, it is also imperative that the Police authorities, which investigated the incident, exonerated Akinsanya of any wrongdoing. The Force spokesman, Muyiwa Adejobi, a Chief Superintendent of Police, disclosed that the transport unionist was only joking with a known customer of his, who is an Igbo. Akinsanya also defended himself, wondering why his “joke” was taken out of context by mischief makers.
For emphasis, it must be stated that there was no polling unit in the state where voters did not exercise their franchise, notwithstanding the delays and logistical challenges that characterised the exercise in some parts of the state. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), warts and all, deserves kudos for a job well done.
Without any iota of doubt, the victory of Governor Sanwo-Olu was an affirmation of the trust Lagosians repose in him to continue his good work.
For those still fanning the embers of hate and division, now is the time to apply the brakes. Lagos, in spite of its monumental challenges, has been a peaceful state for over two decades of progressive governance. It is a state where hardworking people have thrived without hinderance. It is a state that would continue to serve as a shinning example of peaceful co-existence for all, irrespective of tribe, religion and political differences.
With his renewed mandate, it is certain that Governor Sanwo-Olu is turbo-charged to do more for the good people of the state, whose appetite for excellence in governance has remained as constant as a northern star.
° Adelowo is a senior journalist