The governorship election in Lagos State is already a gathering storm as the candidates have gone into high-wire campaigns to sway the votes in their favour on March 18.
Interestingly, the outcome of the February 25 presidential election has sent shivers through the spine of political heavyweights in the state.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress, APC; Dr Olajide Adediran of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; and Mr. Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party, LP, are considered frontline candidates in the contest.
The March 18 election has been dubbed a three horse-race and may end up being a two horse-race if alliances are formed before the poll.
The candidates have embarked on moves aimed at boosting their chances by getting endorsements from various ethnic and religious groups.
While the state chapter of the APC is sulking over the February 25 loss, it has gone back to its drawing board.
There are, however, allegations that the refusal of some APC leaders to ‘spread’ the largesse to party faithful contributed to the party’s loss.
Following APC’s loss during the presidential election, there were perceived moves by the LP and PDP to align and dislodge the APC.
Unfortunately, the proposed alliance failed to take off as the two parties could not decide on which of the candidates should step down for the other.
Debunking claims of an alliance with LP ahead of the governorship and House of Assembly elections, initially scheduled for March 11 but now postponed to March 18, the PDP’s Publicity Secretary, Hakeem Amode, said the report that its candidate, Adediran, was planning to step down is false.
Despite the APC’s loss on February 25, Governor Sanwo-Olu is making moves to get endorsements from religious bodies.
Recently, leaders of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, in Lagos State threw their weight behind the governor for a second term, saying he had done well in the last four years.
Leaders of the fellowship, who spoke after a meeting in Ikeja, urged all Christians to vote for Sanwo-Olu.
Those present at the emergency meeting were the Chairman, Secretary and other PFN leaders, including Apostle Enyinnaya Okwuonu, Pastor Mahmood Akindejoye and Bishop Theophilus Ajose.
Ajose, who said it was the Church that requested a Christian governor, noted that the PFN is solidly behind Sanwo-Olu.
He said: “The church in Lagos State asked for a Christian Governor and Governor Sanwo-Olu has done very well in the last four years. This gubernatorial election is not about any political party but about the candidate.
“Mr Sanwo-Olu has made Christians very proud and has governed the state without any religious bias. He is one of us and the Church is speaking with one voice that Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu deserves our support again.”
Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in Lagos State endorsed Sanwo-Olu for a second term in office.
Speaking during a press conference at the Chapel of Christ The Light in Ikeja, the chairman of the association, Rev. Stephen Adegbite said that Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, have performed excellently well in the state.
He said: “We would like to inform the residents of Lagos State that the Christian Association of Nigeria in Lagos and the Christian community in the state are throwing our weight solidly behind the candidacy of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat for a second term in office.
Let me say that this endorsement is based primarily on one thing, performance, and nothing else.”
How far the endorsements will go in boosting the governor’s chances on Saturday will be determined by the outcome of the election.
LP’s re-energised campaign
For Mr. Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party, his election campaign was energised following the presidential election result that saw his presidential candidate, Peter Obi, defeat APC candidate, Bola Tinubu, in his home state.
Despite threats and a campaign of calumny thrown at him, the 40-year-old governorship hopeful has urged Lagosians, especially the youths, to come out en masse and vote out the APC next Saturday.
Faulting the ethnic cards being thrown at him, the LP candidate has got endorsements from some Lagosians.
Though there have been pressures from various quarters, on him to drop his ambition, GRV, as he’s fondly called is bent on leading his party to victory.
There were allegations that he was given an offer of N20 billion to drop his ambition, and the LP candidate turned down the offer.
Recently, members of Omo Eko Pataki consisting of Chief Olabode George, former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Senator Kofoworaola Bucknor-Akerele and Mrs Onikepo Oshodi, endorsed Rhodes-Vivour, saying it is time for renewal and rebirth in Lagos State.
The group, consisting of PDP leaders, subtly endorsed the LP governorship candidate and urged Lagos residents to be wary of voting for the APC during the governorship election.
George, who spoke on behalf of the group, said: “We call on Nigerians to be wary of taking yet another wrong step to vote for the ruling APC government in the impending governorship election.
“Without any equivocation, we say under the watch of the APC government, our country has been bestriding in widening uncertainties. There are no certitudes anywhere as lawlessness defines the national landscape.
“We cannot continue with the old ways. The system is now devoid of stabilizing balance. We must rework it. We must push towards renewal and rebirth. This is the time for us to have a change of vision through an electoral overhaul.
“We equally urge the electorate in Lagos to go out in their numbers on Saturday, to vote against the plundering that has bedevilled our prosperous state for over two decades as adequate security is assured to everyone out to exercise their civic responsibility.”
Since the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999, the PDP has remained a formidable force as far as Lagos politics is concerned.
It has always given the ruling party a run for its money. Unfortunately, the entry of Peter Obi reduced the party’s voting strength, especially in Lagos.
The February 25 presidential poll could be considered its worst outing in recent times.
But its governorship candidate, fondly called Jandor, is not bogged down by the party’s abysmal performance during the election.
His campaign recently got a boost as the Council of Eze Ndigbo in Lagos State endorsed him as their preferred candidate in the forthcoming governorship and State House of Assembly elections.
The leadership of the Igbo communities in the state pledged their support at an event tagged ‘The Igbo Communities in Lagos official endorsement of Dr Abdul-Azeez Adediran (aka Jandor), the Ozoigbondu of Lagos state.’
Speaking at the occasion, the Eze NdIgbo, Ikorodu North, David Nwosu, who spoke on behalf of the council at the event in the Oshodi-Isolo area of the state, affirmed the council’s support for Adediran
Nwosu, alongside other Ezes in attendance, raised Adediran’s hands to the cheering crowd of Igbo supporters, saying, “Eze Ndigbo and Igbo communities in Lagos state endorse Jandor.”
In his remarks, Adediran said he was not bothered about the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly elections, which he described as inconsequential.
Adediran said: “By this time next week, all of us will be out of that government that will not let us breathe on the road and at marketplaces.
“That government that releases hoodlums to be attacking its citizens without condemning it for one day, their days are numbered. Next week, we will put an end to their existence in Lagos.
“Please, make no mistake; put out the votes, I am ready to protect it. They have been threatening; Jandor is ready to deploy security both conventional and unconventional for next Saturday’s elections,
“Whatever has happened at the centre is inconsequential, this is Lagos and we are taking our Lagos back. From May 29, 2023, in Jandor you now have a governor that will understand that your coming to Lagos is to add to our prosperity.
“If anybody says to us that Lagos is a rich state today, it is because of your contribution to Alaba, Ladipo, and Trade Fair, among other places.”
As the candidates slug it out March 18, it is expected to see how the outcome of the three-horse race pans out.