IT is no longer news that Mr. Olujimi Agbaje, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Lagos State in the Saturday, April 11, 2015 governorship election lost to Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode of All Progressives Congress (APC).
Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode of APC polled 811,994 votes while Mr. Olujimi Agbaje of PDP polled 659,788 votes.
ENCOMIUM Weekly examines why Jimi Agbaje lost the election.
PDP has no strong grassroots structure in the state despite contesting elections in the state since 1999. This explains why Jimi Agbaje himself could not hold political rallies in most of the local government areas in the state. Throughout the electioneering campaign, Mr. Agbaje did not stage more than two political rallies in the state. These were the mega rally of President Goodluck Jonathan at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) and the one at Nigeria Airways field, Ikeja GRA.
On the other hand, APC candidate did mega rallies in all the 20 local government areas of the state.
The intra party squabbles within the party which has been on for years before Jimi Agbaje joined the party had not really abated before the election. In fact, Agbaje’s emergence as the governorship candidate further exacerbated the feud because many long standing members of the party saw him as an interloper who came to reap from where he did not sow.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had it on good authority that it took Senator Musiliu Obanikoro quite a long time to release his political structure for the use of Jimi Agbaje.
It is no secret that there is no love lost between Chief Olabode George and Senator Musiliu Obanikoro. In fact, it is a common knowledge that there is mutual mistrust among the three people – Bode George, Oluseye Ogunlewe and Musiliu Obanikoro – that constitute the leadership of the party. What united the three is their blind hatred for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the desperation to get rid of his grip on Lagos politics.
The leadership of the party did not do much to build the party from the grassroots. This explains why all of them except Obanikoro lost in their polling units. Obanikoro, who won in his polling unit by just seven votes did not win in his ward. How can people who could not win their own polling units or wards win election for their governorship candidate?
In addition to this, the party itself (PDP) does not command popularity among a lot of people. This is because of its non-performance and profligacy at the federal level and in many other states of the federation. That was why you hear the comment by some people that, “Jimi is a nice person but he belongs to the wrong party.”
The ethnic card played by the party (PDP) and Jimi Agbaje himself boomeranged during the election. Of course, it got him (Jimi) the votes of mostly the non-Yoruba, but it also made him to lose the votes of many Yoruba too.
The unholy alliance of Jimi Agbaje and his party with okada operators and NURTW members certainly painted him as someone desperate for power at all costs. Not many Lagosians could tolerate the menace these people constitute on our roads. And for a governorship candidate to openly embrace and promise them continuation of their unruly behaviours on Lagos roads was something many Lagosians could not understand.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s ubiquitous presence in Lagos politics since 2003 that he started building his own political structure in the state contributed in no small measure to Jimi Agbaje’s loss at the poll. Asiwaju Tinubu had through the years emerged a political colossus and Lagos State is his forte and anybody or party that wants to take Lagos from him must be ready to match him strategy for strategy and money for money. He must also have a cult figure like him.
We certainly cannot remove the good work Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) has done in the state in the electoral misfortune of Mr. Jimi Agbaje and his party in the election.
Many believe the good performance of Governor Fashola in the state may have not taken Lagosians to Eldorado but it has certainly taken them out of the despair they were some years back.
They, therefore, believe there must be continuity in such infrastructure renewal and the best man for the job is none other person than Akinwunmi Ambode, who has been part of the work for years before he resigned in 2010. A Jimi Agbaje, who has never been in public life before, will have to start afresh learning the rope.
Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode’s intimidating academic and cognate experience also stood him out and made many to prefer him to Jimi Agbaje. He was already a university graduate at 21, a chartered accountant at 24 and a fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN) at 36. All these impressed many electorates who felt he was more qualified than Jimi Agbaje.
The Buhari factor could also be said to have rubbed off on Akinwunmi Ambode. Change, the slogan of APC which has become a sort of mantra to many people could also be said to have made many of the electorates to vote for Ambode than Agbaje.
Attempt by Jimi Agbaje to capitalize on the disaffection among the rank and file of civil servants and teachers in the state were countered by the state government and the party (APC). Aside the fact that something was added to March (2015) salaries of all the workers in the state, meetings were also held between the workers, Ambode and the state government to calm frayed nerves.
This also contributed in no small measure to the victory of Ambode at the polls.