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Tunde Leye: The Battle For Lagos Part (2)

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In July this year, I wrote a piece on the governorship elections in Lagos, speaking on the chances of the APC and PDP, and what I thought they should do to make the race a memorable one in which the best candidate would emerge. You can read The Battle For Lagos Part 1 HERE http://ynaija.com/tunde-leye-can-the-pdp-defeat-apc-in-lagos/

But even a single day is a long time in politics, and a lot of developments have come out, shedding even further light on how the race would shape up. For example, when I wrote that piece, I did not even mention Supo Shasore as an APC candidate. Within the last few weeks, he has emerged the frontrunner, eclipsing the Akinwunmi Ambode.

Lagos is to APC as the Federal Government is to the PDP. It is what forms their power base, and it is interesting to see how much the actions of the PDP at the center towards 2015 mirror those of the APC in Lagos and how the Lagos PDP is acting like APC at the center. While the APC is closing ranks and beginning to consolidate behind Shasore and you can see there won’t be visible public fighting between him and Ambode even as they contest against each other, the Lagos PDP is racked by infighting and bitter acrimony between the two leading candidates. It is uncomely how the supporters of Musiliu Obanikoro and Jimi Agbaje engage each other with malice publicly.

Just last week, Mr. Agbaje committed political harakiri when he had popular activist Japhet Omojuwa moderate a session. Now, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this. Omojuwa appeals to a large online crowd, which can prove valuable to Agbaje. But the first battle Agbaje is fighting now is to win the party primaries, and none of this vast online crowd can do anything about this. The only people who can influence if he emerges as the candidate are the PDP delegates, a constituency with which Omojuwa is unpopular as a strong voice in the criticism of the many shortcomings of the PDP administration at the center. If he had to have Omojuwa moderate a session, it would have been wiser to wait until after the party primaries with his party’s ticket firmly in his hands. Considering the fact that one of the key accusations against him is that he is a “helicopter candidate” with no real loyalties to the PDP, this move simply gives more arsenal to his opponents to discredit him before the PDP delegates. Before the general elections, there is a very different delegates politics that a candidate must play which Agbaje’s strategy does not seem to cover, lending more support to the voices that portray him as depending on some godfathers to obtain the party ticket.

As it stands, barring any miracles at this point, Obanikoro will get the PDP ticket. And whilst Obanikoro is a seasoned politician, adept at playing the internal PDP politics (which is why he will get the ticket), he will be unable to win the Lagos vote for the PDP. As seen in his declaration speech, most of his energies is devoted to dislodging the “evil Bourdillon emperor”. This rhetoric reminds me of what Buhari supporters also use when speaking of dislodging PDP from the center. It is simply not enough to sway the votes. Koro needs to clearly communicate how he will run Lagos, what he will do differently, why he will do them differently and for those that are clearly yielding results how he will ensure continuity. Most people I have spoken to have said whilst they would not have voted APC, they would rather vote APC than vote Koro. This is a strong sentiment and Koro supporters must find out why and address this if they want their candidate to stand any chance

2015 represents the PDP’s best opportunity to take Lagos from the APC in a long time. However, with Agbaje’s political misstep which will pave the way for Koro’s emergence as PDP flagbearer has somewhat reduced the excitement that we were building up towards the Lagos 2015 governorship elections.

The APC has two very strong candidates as frontrunner in Ambode and Shasore. Ambode has done a yeoman’s job moving around Lagos, consulting with the people that matter in the local governments, where the delegates that will vote in the party primaries will emerge from. He has clearly been schooled well in delegate politics by his mentor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. His engagement with the delegates over the past couple of weeks might be the edge he will have over Shasore at the APC primaries. Fashola has however pulled a fast one, as the LCDAs in Lagos are without Chairmen now since the tenures of the last LCDA executive elapsed a few weeks ago. These LCDA chairmen and their exco form the base of the delegates that will vote in the party primaries and this might be the trump card that Fashola has up his sleeves to ensure that Shasore emerges as the APC flagbearer.

Whichever of the two APC candidates emerge, Lagosians are sure of the policy directions they will take and they are both men who can articulate the critical issues for the Lagos electorate well. As more and more of the dissenting voices in the party are settled, they will be able to count on the party’s formidable machinery in Lagos during the elections.

As it stands, the APC in Lagos which seemed to be in disarray as at July when I wrote my first piece has consolidated and will be in the driver seat for the governorship elections. The PDP have a titanic battle on their hands, and I am not certain they will be able to pull of the Lagos takeover with Koro. This reminds me of what happened at the center. When APC first emerged with the force and momentum they came with, it seemed they would sweep the PDP aside. But months down the line, APC at the center is bogged down and more divided than the PDP which has consolidated behind President Jonathan and is firmly in the driver’s seat for the presidential elections now. What did I say? A few days is a very, very long time in politics. And February 2015 is a lot of days away.

*As a footnote, whilst we focus on these political permutations and combinations, a war that threatens to consume us is ongoing in the North East and spreading to the other parts of the North. If all of us keep playing these our political games and don’t tackle and crush this insurgency, Mali’s fate calls to us.

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Article written by Tunde Leye

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