It’s About Our Lagos State, Stupid! By J K Adebola
I chose to title this piece in line with the famous phrase, “it’s about the economy, stupid” due to the prevalent situation in the Country and the shock of APC losing Lagos State to the Labour Party at the Presidential election with the existential threat to the chances of Sanwo-olu’s second term bid as the Governor of Lagos State.
It was James Carville who uttered the famously statement “It’s the economy, stupid!” Carville was an elections strategist for then-Governor Bill Clinton of USA and he helped Clinton beat President George H.W. Bush in 1992 in the midst of a recession that left many Americans out of work and in debt.
The Presidential election result of Lagos State as announce by INEC leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of many lovers of Lagos State including yours truly who is not even a Lagosian but have special affinity to the state since Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu governed the state and stood toe to toe, eyeball to eyeball with the tyrannical leadership of OBJ who in his usual obstinate manner chose to defy a Supreme Court ruling by denying Lagos State its LG monthly allocation for many years.
Perhaps being a firm believer in the school of thought that the quality of our life and living is predicated upon the choices we make, Jagaban made a choice at the time to rise above the circumstance he found himself in which was a result of his conviction of getting governance closer to the people by creating more local authorities consequent upon which the feudal lord at the center decided to “punish” him for his audacity. This prompted Asiwaju to put on his thinking cap and began to think outside the box in a typical fashion synonymous with true manager of resources.
Necessity they say is a master of invention, this, I believe also led Jagaban to assemble a group of seasoned think tankers to create The Lagos State Development Plan which is built around 4 strategic pillars: Thriving Economy, Human-Centric City, Modern Infrastructure and Effective Governance – and focuses on 20 strategic areas that will drive his vision. He also ensured that he diligently monitored its implementation through successive Governors for which he has been labelled the godfather of Lagos politics. The rest as they say is history.
Asiwaju is famous for mentoring many Nigerians from both sides of the Niger irrespective of their religion and ethnicity which makes the result of the last Presidential elections which centred on the hatred for the man because of the so-called Muslim/Muslim ticket and the roles played by certain prominent personalities in that regard grossly misplaced. The man is married to a Christian whom instead of converting to Islam like others did, he supported to become a Pentecostal Pastor. His children are all Christians and his Son is married to an Igbo lady. He also confessed publicly that on Sundays, he is often left alone at home when everyone in his household went to church. How more liberal do you want the man to be to believe that he is neither a religious bigot nor an ethnic biased leader? That says a lot and belies the falsehoods sold to you about Jagaban being a religious bigot and an ethnic biased leader.
Fast forward to today and take a deep look at Lagos of present time and the efforts and contributions of Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu to that development plan especially against the backdrop of the fact that his predecessor was ousted after just one term, and the reasons for it.
In the last 4 years of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-olu’s tenure he has successfully keyed into the development Master plan and brought further development to the state in critical areas in infrastructural development like the Blue and Red lines rail system, the health sector by providing more health centres to the grassroots as well as free health policy for children and adults below 18 and above 65 years of age respectively. There are other transformational infrastructural projects like the Lekki-Epe-Ibeju Road expansion; the Lekki-Oniru Traffic circulation; the commissioning of BRT lane in Oshodi-Abule Egba and the rehabilitation of inner-city roads in 57 local council development areas amongst many others too numerous to mention.
Lagos State is today adjudged the fifth largest economy in Africa – some argue it is the fourth, but in between the two lays the true picture. Either way, the fact remains that Lagos is unarguably the most valuable state in Nigeria. This is all down to Sanwo-olu’s conscious efforts in continuing with the Master plan of the state.
Another prevalent reality of the Lagos story is the fact that many of the policies that emanated from Lagos State are today being replicated in other states and even at the federal level. The Single Treasury Account is one of them, so also is the introduction of digital technology to the business of government. Lagos is also the first port of call for foreign direct investors. There are many more achievements too numerous to mention. Lagos is simply a pace setter bar none.
All these laudable achievements are now at risk given the concerted efforts of the opposition parties, especially the Labour Party buoyed by its performance in last Saturday’s Presidential election which I suspect was made possible due perhaps to voters apathy or complacency on the part of the usual Lagos electorates.
Report has it that Lagos State has about 7 million registered voters but a paltry 1.5 million came out to vote in the Presidential election. Where are the remaining 7.5 million voters?
The social media is awash with various videos with series of accusations and allusions real and/or imagined being bandied by some Lagosians as the reason(s) behind the shock result as recorded last Saturday. This makes if evident that the stakeholders in Lagos took their eyes off the ball. Now is not the time to ask of the whys and how, it is a matter for another day. What is of paramount importance for now is winning the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections on 11th March 2023.
It’ll be a monumental disaster if (God forbid) Lagos falls into the hands of the opposition at a time when the man who started the development of Lagos is now the President elect. It will mean that Lagos State will be in the opposition to the government at the centre. This is not an appealing scenario for Lagos State and its citizens.
Right now, Governor Sanwo-olu’s second term chances and most especially Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s legacy in Lagos State are at stake and in danger of being eroded with the unpalatable attendant possible demolition of all the gains made in the last 22 years when Asiwaju became the governor of Lagos State and set it on the road to progress and prosperity. Me thinks the leaders of thought and the stakeholders in Lagos State must as a matter of urgency go back to the drawing board and map out a plan, a strategy, whatever, to remedy the situation to ensure victory at the gubernatorial and state house of assembly elections coming up on 11th March 2023.
The stark choice before Lagosians at the next gubernatorial election is simply to make an objective assessment of the successive developmental strides achieved by Lagos since 1999 to date which is borne out of The Lagos State Development Plan that brought the state out of near bankruptcy to being the fifth largest economy in Africa and still growing – which is a certainty as against voting for an uncertain future under the governorship of an inexperienced and untested candidate of the opposition.
All the Traditional Rulers in Lagos State must do the needful in galvanising the real Lagos electorates to come out en-masse and return Babajide Olusola Sanwo-olu and Femi Hamzat as Governor and Deputy Governor Respectively as well as all members of the house of assembly to vote and return Babajide Olusola Sanwo-olu and Femi Hamzat as Governor and Deputy Governor respectively as well as all members of the house of assembly to continue the prosperous trajectory of the State. Lagos State is too precious to be allowed to fall into the hands of the opposition. Certainly not now that the man who engineered the prosperity is now the President elect and the attendant benefits it would bring to Lagos State is Governor Sanwo-olu is returned on 11th March 2023.
The traditional Lagos State electorates MUST be wooed, cajoled, lured etc. The leaders of thought and all stakeholders must do whatever it takes to get them to come out en-masse to vote for APC to ensure that Eko B’aje Ti.
To do otherwise may spell disaster for the state that holds an enviable place in Yoruba land, Nigeria and Africa.
J K Adebola MNIM; MCICN is the Chairman, APC UK Interim National Working Committee (NWC)