In what many described as an unprecedented political debacle in the present democratic dispensation in the history of Lagos State since 2019, the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC prominently made headlines last week over who becomes the state’s next governor.
Palpable tension as a result of the debacle engulfed the political space in the state following disagreement between party leadership and the governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on who occupies the State House in 2019.
Until few days to the governorship primary held last week Tuesday, many did not believe that the incumbent governor would not clinch the party’s gubernatorial ticket for 2019 elections.
Prior to this time, there had been reports, which many political watchers disregarded, that the governor might not be coming back for a second term. And so indeed, Governor Ambode will not come back, as another candidate emerged to clinch the ticket.
Babajide Sanwoolu, who was the anointed of the party and godfather Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, emerged winner of the governorship primary held last Tuesday in all the 245 wards across the state.
His emergence however and Governor Ambode’s conceded defeat, which came after the National Working Committee, NWC panel from Abuja later adopted the result declared by the party, finally laid to rest the crisis.
Recall that the NWC had earlier claimed that there was no election, hence disapproving the outcome of the primary. On this premise, Governor Ambode remained deviant in his resolution not to give in to the “manipulations of the party leadership”, as stated by some analysts.
Before the primary election that appeared to have now settled the score between the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, and his godfather, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the state chapter of the party was at the verge of serious division.
This followed the decision of the party’s stakeholders and Tinubu to support Sanwoolu against Ambode, a development that demeaned the governor, and which many believed to be contrary to the status quo since the present democratic dispensation in the state.
Ambode, desperate to seek reelection on the platform of the party, challenged the position of the party’s leadership by contesting the primary despite strong indications that he would lose bid.
Sanwoolu, the anointed candidate, cruised to victory with a landslide margin of 970, 851 against Ambode’s 72, 901 votes.
But beyond the euphoria of clinching the party’s ticket, Sanwoolu may be facing a stiff contest at the poll next year, as some analysts are of the view that the APC governorship flag bearer and his party could lose the election following insinuations that Lagosians want to test a new party in the state in 2019.
A cursory look at the 2015 election saw a close contest between the Peoples Democratic Party, PDPS candidate Jimi Agbaje and the incumbent governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, where the vote margin was less than 100, 000.
This time, the luck may not shine again on the APC as Agbaje returns to the race, having won the opposition PDP governorship ticket.
Agbaje is a known brand, though has his own flaws, especially the issue of “sudden disappearance” after losing election.
The PDP candidate has contested for two times 2011 and 2014 in which he lost. His problem according to political watchers is not the loss, but he is always “nowhere to be found” immediately he lost elections. This according to watchers of political event in the state does not portray him as a good political fighter, who craves for change and continuous challenge against godfatherism. However he is still believed by many to give pull the string.
Meanwhile to those pundits who opined that Sanwoolu might not win the governorship seat so easily, their argument borders on the need for Lagosians to be liberated from the grip of one political godfather, believed to be holding the state to ransom.
According to them, Sanwoolu will be confronted with the challenge of having to “satisfy the party leaders and the godfather Tinubu beyond reasonable measure”, which apparently will be at the expense of infrastructural development in the state.
“I’m afraid there might be infrastructure deficit in Lagos because of the likely obsessive desire of Sanwoolu to satisfy the biddings of his party leaders and godfather,” a political analyst, Bayo Adelakun said.
“This no doubt will be at the detriment of Lagosians,” he added.
Ambode suffered loss for a second term bid on the premise of “not being a party man, though a good governor,” as noted by Tinubu.
The challenge before Sanwoolu hence is how to be good in office and good as party man.
But would one be a good man in office as well be a good party man with a corresponding effect on the state development? Would there be total loyalty to the biddings of the party leaders in their numbers in meeting their diverse demands, without having a negative impact on infrastructure, good governance, dividends of the democracy, economic growth, security of the people amongst other things? These and many more are the questions on the lips of many watchers of political event in the state.
From indications, Sanwoolu may turn out to be party man, who will not only be loyal to the dictates of the party, but also excessively generous to the leaders, stalwarts, members and supporters.
In his declaration on September 16 at the City Hall, Lagos Island, for the governorship ticket race, Sanwoolu declared: “I, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-olu shall be a true party man in the real definition of the word by running an inclusive government according to the ideology of the APC and the long-term benefits of the great citizens of Lagos State.
“Loyalty is the currency of politics. I shall be loyal to the people of Lagos State, the organs and the leadership of the party,” he said.
Already, his nickname in local parlance “sanwo eko”, which is interpreted to mean “one who will pay Lagos bills” is going viral as both young and old continue to chant this appellation.
By implication, according to those pundits who predicted infrastructure decline in the state, Sanwoolu may not fall short of this stance.
However with his expertise in finance, economic planning and commerce & industry, Sanwoolu may drive the state revenue higher.
Speaking at his declaration, he said: “When I look back at my experience in public sector, I realise that God has prepared me for this moment. I served Lagos State Government for the first time as a Special Adviser to the then deputy Governor, Otunba Femi Pedro.
“I believe that my contributions to the governing process made possible my appointment as the Acting Honourable Commissioner for Economic Planning &Budget and later Commissioner for Commerce & Industry in the final months of the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu administration.
“Following the inauguration of the Fashola administration, I was appointed the Honourable Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions.
“My public sector career has crowned the glorious achievement of my journey through the private sector where I had worked insenior managerial positions in financial institutions such as Lead Merchant Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), First AtlanticBank (now FCMB) and participated in major economic projects such as the privatization and commercialization of Federal Government-owned companies and parastatals,” he recalled.
His antecedent, according to pundits, could improve the state’s economic drive.
Also, respite may be coming back to the state over the spate of refuse dumps that have engulfed the mega city since the introduction of Visionscape.
With the emergence of Sanwoolu as the party’s candidate, the reintroduction of Private Sector Partnership, PSP in waste management may bring back cleanness if he wins the governorship poll next.
While the transition from Visionscape back to PSP might be seamless, approving licenses to these partners may be a daunting task that Sanwoolu may find quite challenging.
Although existing partners stand a better chance of having their license approved, but new intending partners seeking approval are likely to stretch Mr Sanwoolu above limit, says an environmentalist and political analyst, Dr Uzo Ezenwa.
Beyond this, is also the issue of projects yet to be completed by the present administration, which Sanwoolu will inherit.
Governor Ambode is adjudged by many to have achieved a great feat in infrastructural development and economic growth in the state, though several projects yet to be completed.
Sanwoolu is expected by Lagosians to leave no stone unturned in surpassing his predecessor. And whether he will do better or not if elected, come 2019, only time will tell.