“The population of Lagos State is estimated at 20 million with 10 million being Christians. The ten million have no more control over their lives than ten million cows being driven about by nomads”. Dele Sobowale, September 26, 2013, at the Seminar organized by Christian Conscience at Alausa, Ikeja.
Pardon me for quoting myself, but that statement had not received the attention that it needs from Christians living in this state. And, the sooner we got to discussing the critical numbers the better for all of us.
For what you are about to read, I owe a great deal of debt to late Mr Udoh, our Standard Four class teacher at St Peter’s (Faji) Primary School, Ajele Street, Lagos Island. Mr Udoh was perhaps the most passionate teacher I ever had; but, he was most passionate about arithmetic which he drummed into our skulls in 1956 with cane and love in equal measures. His favourite statement was: “If you know arithmetic, nobody can cheat you”.
To our tender ears that appeared like esoteric philosophy. What has arithmetic got to do with cheating? Politicians eventually provided the answer to the puzzle when they started shouting that politics is a game of numbers. So, this struggle for equity by Christians is based on numbers that prove conclusively that there is inequity in the political system in Lagos State. Whether it has become institutionalized or was inadvertent will be determined by the outcome of the struggle for 2015.
Let me run some numbers around which we can conduct this discussion, which hopefully will not degenerate into an argument or even a quarrel. All those reading this article must bear in mind that Christians in Lagos State had from the time party politics started with Herbert Macaulay, in the 1940s, supported the progressive agenda. The election for Mayor of Lagos was won by Alhaji Olorunimbe, who won even in Popo Aguda (Catholic Section) in Lagos Island.
However, the periods which concern us the most start from the start of the Second Republic, 1979-1983. We went out and together elected a Muslim/Muslim ticket for Governor and Deputy Governor – Alhaji Jakande and Alhaji Jafojo respectively. They were elected for the two terms and would have ruled for eight years – if the military had not terminated civilian rule after four years and four months. That means fifty-two (52) months. Keep that figure in mind.
The Third Republic started on positive notes but ended in another military government. Because the leaders of the Progressive movement, in the Social Democratic Party, SDP, in Lagos, could not agree on which of two Muslims, late Professor Agbalajobi or Dapo Sarumi, should be the candidate, one faction called on us to cast our votes for the “conservative” party candidate – Sir Michael Otedola of the National Republican Congress, NRC. He lasted approximately fourteen months. But, please note, Otedola would never have made it if Sarumi had stepped down for Agbalajobi, as he was asked to do.
The Fourth Republic, which started in 1999, presented the Progressives with another opportunity to call us out, like the reliable cattle we Christians have always been. The Alliance for Democracy, AD, (remember them?), led by the remnants of people going by the badly battered title of Awoists, organized a primary and the first results indicated that, for once, Funso Williams, a Christian, won the election.
But, the fathers of the Progressive movement, which most of us had equated with equity and fair play, had other ideas. I don’t blame the eventual winner for one minute. I would have accepted the tainted mandate too since every politician is in the race to win – fair or foul. It was perhaps providential justice that all those who were responsible for that travesty were later rubbished and sent into retirement in less than four years. Eight years (96 months) of Muslim Governor followed. Please bear that second figure in mind also.
The 2007 selection was a foregone conclusion, even before the primaries started. Before that the “Progressive” party had changed its name to Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN for the 2003 elections. By then, however, it had become clear that primaries had been discarded for a selection process under which no Christian was part of the inner caucus. At any rate, the choice was made months in advance of the period INEC stipulated for primaries.
Even a fool knew it would be Fashola – another Muslim. With his first term, he added four years (48 months) to Muslim occupation of the Governor’s Mansion in Lagos State. Only a major catastrophe, hard to imagine, can prevent him from adding four more years, or another 48 months to the tally. As Mr Udoh would have asked, let us add up the figures.
Unless my arithmetic has gone as old as I am, what stares us in the face is a situation in Lagos State in which Christians constitute half of the population in which by 2015, Muslims would have spent 244 months as governors of OUR (it belongs to all of us, Christians and Muslims, as well as non-believers), and a Christian only 14. To expect us to go to the polls in 2015 and grant four/eight more years to Muslim candidates, bringing the totals to 292 or 340 months to 14 months, is the greatest sort of injustice anybody or group can ask another group to endure.
We will not accept it and we shall organize ourselves to fight this creeping institutionalization of inequity. This is not an anti-Muslim struggle; we appreciate the achievements credited to Governor Fashola. But, let nobody insult us by saying to us that we cannot find one Christian who can perform as well. What a man has done, another man can do or even better. Only God’s work cannot be surpassed.
ADVICE TO CANDIDATES FOR 2015 ELECTIONS
“The future does not belong to those who are content with today…timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and projects”, Robert Kennedy, 1968.
(VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 71).
If you plan to be a candidate for the 2015 elections, then, remember this. The 2015 is closer than you think. For a start, by the time you read this article, there will be only seventeen and a half months left to convince the electorate that you deserve their votes. For all candidate, but new ones especially, this is not a lot of time. However, you can pack a lot of work into the time available.
Increasingly, the media will play a major role in the coming elections. There are two major things you must attend to immediately. They are: write a biography (even if you wrote one more than four years ago, write another one) focus on those aspects of your life history that are relevant to the position you seek; get a good Media Adviser/Consultant to drive your media strategy and operations and talk to him/her everyday.
In everything you do or say, avoid telling absolute lies. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get away with total falsehood about ones past in the world of ICT. Information which you left on record somewhere and with an organization might resurface to haunt you.
Most importantly, start now to build your campaign team and determine your approach to the coming campaign. Incidentally, while INEC regulations forbid campaigning now, it does not preclude organizing and grassroots activities aimed at getting positive recognition by the electorate in your constituency.
I wish you luck.