by Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo
As 2015 inches nearer, the tension in the air is so thick one can almost slice through it and this is only the beginning. Permutations and combinations are rife as friends and foes reassess their stand and make new alliances.
Lagos, commercial nerve centre of the nation has always been a touchy region and both the People’s Democratic Party and the All Progressives’ Congress will struggle once again for control of the state. In 1999 and 2003, the Alliance for Democracy (AD), forerunner of the APC won convincingly. In 2007 and 2011, its’ successor, the Action Congress of Nigeria again kept the ruling party out of government in Lagos. This year, things just might break from the norm and here’s why.
- Imposition: The APC under the old Lagos ACN has a funny track record of imposing candidates upon the party faithful. Unsually, no primaries are held. Candidates are simply decided at the Alausa mansion of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu but indications and insinuations that party faithful will reject the imposition of Ambode on them remains and as long as it is not effectively dealt with, it could affect the party’s chances
- Good Infrastructural Development But People Are Hungry: It is obviously undeniable the good structures that have been put in place by the Lagos APC government. Bridges are been constructed, Roads are been dualised and the rail project is ongoing. However, the people have largely remained the same. Hunger remains an ever present companion of the people. The masses go to bed hungry, that’s even if they have a bed. As learnt from the Ekiti experience, government must built structures but should also work on the everyday survival of the people. The problem is further exercabated by the mass influx of people into Lagos on a daily basis.
- Taxes And Tolls: The cost of development al structures been constructed is been bore by the people. Taxes and tolls are on the increase and although, taxes and tolls are not new to Lagos, people are gradually becoming disefranchised and asking like Israelites asked Solomon’s son for a man who will reduce and lighten their burdens. If the APC continues in government, that is unlikely to happen.
- LASU Fees Hike: Education is expensive but the CAN had always loved fraternizing with the name of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. How they could idolize Baba Awo and still make education unavailavle to the masses is baffling. The Fashola government hiked LASU schools fees and the results was massive unending protests by students and their parents alike. Eventually, the fees were cut down but the damage had been done. It was obvious to Lagosians that the APC government is attempting to build all too soon, an egalitarian society in a state where 75 people struggle to eat three square meals per day.
- Jimi Agbaje’s defection: Many don’t see this as a big deal but it really is, Jimi Agbaje is one of Lagos most likeable politicians and his defection to the APC will definitely have some impact. He may not emerge as the PDP aspirant but he sure has boosted the chances of the opposition party. He left majorly because of reason number one above. APC wouldn’t allow a level playing ground for its members and it is getting at these loyal party faithful who have watched without much complaint for about 16 years now. Now the grumblings are getting louder.
- The Rich are Getting Richer; the poor are getting poorer: Does this need an explanation? The chasm between the people keeps widening every day. Posh cars, immaculate mansions, luxurious living, these are things the average person in Lagos sees everyday and while there is no way a society will achieve total equilibrium distribution of wealth, it should at least make the divide not to wide. But in Lagos, that seems to be the opposite. People know there is money in Lagos yet it keeps eluding them and frustration is setting in as it is won’t to do in such circumstances.
- Tinubu’s daughter imposition as Iyaloja: Many have not forgotten how Tinubu’s daughter was forcefully installed as the Iyaloja of Lagos despite the cries of the market men and women. Imposition has become so regular to the APC government that they wouldn’t even allow internal democracy in a masses related selection process like the installation of the Iyaloja. If she was not Tinubu’s daughter, maybe the imposition would have been over looked but it is Tinubu’s daughter.
- Still On Tinubu: Lagosians’ears are heavy with the sound of Tinubu, they see Tinubu every where they turn. The Asiwaju seem larger than life and nothing gets done without his blessings. Godfatherism is been frowned at and Tinubu is the target as a remains the Godfather of all Godfathers in Lagos. The ‘Tinubu factor’ is tiring the masses.
- The need for change: It is ironic that the APC talks about change at the centre and forgets that it has been in government in Lagos since the return of democratic rule in 1999. You cannot eat your cake and have it; you say there is the need for change at Aso Rock without saying the fact that the change is also needed at Alausa.
- Lagos Debt Profile: Lagos remains one of the most indebted states in Nigeria. And despite Fashola’s latest explanation and call for understanding, the economists are worried, the masses may not understand but even the elites of Lagos are worried. He has outline the repayment plan emphasizing the state’s ability to repay them but the fact that the next Lagos Government will inherit such a huge debt is not the least encouraging.
- Igbos Deportation: The APC government may not be forgiven by Igbos in Lagos who constitutes an amazing population of the Lagos business districts and hold a huge vote in determining Lagos economy. Fashola irked them by ‘deporting’ many of their kinsmen. The Igbos felt this was an indictment on them and may hold it against the party in 2015. In fact, the Igbos in Lagos have told the PDP to pick one of them as Deputy Governorship Aspirant and they will help mobilize Igbos to kick out the APC.
- The Ekiti Elections: Believe it or not but this is shaping up to be one of the factors that will swing the 2015 elections in favour of the opposition. Firstly, opposition parties now understand that if they talk about providing for the basic needs, they have a chance. Secondly, a lot of the masses felt insulted by the way and manner the post election utterances in Ekiti were handled. That the APC could accuse the voting masses of ‘Stomach infrastructure’ did not go down well with a lot of people and this is not lost on the average Lagosians.
- Okada Bans: In a bid to create the urban Lagos, commercial motorcycle riders popularly called okada have been one of the major casualties. In many places in Lagos, okadas have been banned thus taking away their means of livelihood and making transportation even more difficult for the people.
- Federal might: It has been rumoured that Minister of State for Defence, Musuliu Obanikoro is gunning for the gubernatorial seat and is accordingly spending heavy. President Goodluck Jonathan and the party hierarchy at the national level must be so tempted to throw their weight behind Koro and do anything to wrest Alausa away from Tinubu & Co. And as the Ekiti elections proved, never rule out the power of the incumbency.
- Fashola and Tinubu Rift: This fall out between Governor Fashola and his godfather may play well into the hands of the opposition. While they bicker over Obafemi Hamzat and Akinwumi Ambode, the opposition is gradually weaving their ways into the hearts of Lagosians. If Fashola remains resolute as he has often shown himself to be, he may not agree to have Ambode replace him as Governor of the State. At the same time, Tinubu is not a man to easily concede defeat. Whether or not they will arrive at a compromise will play a vital role in the build up to the elections.
In a free and fair election, the APC might just lose in its’ backyard. The 2015 polls will definitely be one to watch.