By Clifford Ndujihe
LAST Saturday’s election in Lagos was unarguably the toughest governorship poll ever held in the state since the return to democratic rule and proved the sagacity and strength of the political leader of the state, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Indications that the 2015 governorship election would be tough emerged early. It became very obvious after the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections where the PDP gained a lot of electoral mileage in the state.
Though General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), the presidential candidate of the APC won in Lagos, his margin of victory was not very significant.
Indeed, the PDP picked a record five federal constituencies in the House of Representatives in that election provoking recrimination from top APC leaders against some party leaders in the region where the PDP won.
The development also provoked intense campaigns especially from leaders of the APC who were not comfortable with the PDP’s buckling up.
Their efforts were, however, almost derailed after the Oba of Lagos, HRM Oba Rilwanu Akiolu, at a meeting with some Igbo traditional rulers in his palace, admonished Igbo in Lagos over their seeming inclination towards the PDP?
The Oba’s comments provoked outrage in the polity especially from Igbo and some non-indigenes, who vowed to vote for Mr Jimi Agbaje, the PDP governorship standard bearer.
Thus, amid fear of violence, the stage was set a very tough duel.
At the end of the day, the elections lived up to the billing and the people voted for the candidates of their choice. The exercise was largely peaceful and credible.
Low voters turnout
The only drawbacks were low voters’ turnout and minor hitches in a couple of places.
Aside panning out as the keenest governorship and state legislative polls since 1999, the PDP also won seven seats in the 40-member Lagos State House of Assembly.
The opposition party also narrowed the gap with which the APC beat it in the presidential election with many voters in Amuwo-Odofin, Ojo, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Oshodi-Isolo and Surulere voting for what they chorused ‘’Lagoon straight,’’ which means Agbaje in reference to Oba Akiolu’s threat.
Prof Isaac Adewole, INEC, returning officer for Lagos State governorship election, announced Ambode as winner having polled 811,994 votes Agbaje’s 659,788 votes.
APC won in 15 local councils while PDP won in five. Ambode beat Agbaje with a margin of 152,206 votes which is lower than Buhari’s 160,133 votes triumph over Jonathan.
Past polls: The 2015 exercise is the PDP best performance ever. The 2003 election is only second. And both polls, the winning party relied on the voting strength of Alimosho Local Council to sail through.
Among the 20 local councils of Lagos State, seven have a pedigree for churning out huge number of votes during elections because they have populations of over million people each.
These councils, according to the Lagos Bureau of Statistics, are Somolu (1,025,123 people), Agege (1,0033,064), Oshodi-Isolo (1,134,548), Surulere (1,274,362), Mushin (1,321,517), Ajeromi-Ifelodun (1,435,295) and Alimosho (2,495,896)
In terms of elections and bloc votes, Mushin, Ajeromi-Ifelodun and Alimosho constitute the three electoral pillars of Lagos of which Alimosho, unarguably, is the election swinger or decider any day. It is difficult to win any election in Lagos without the three councils especially Alimosho.
In fact, considered as a microcosm of Lagos, any governorship candidate that wins in Alimosho is as good as having won the entire state.
The impact of Alimosho as an electoral warehouse was not very visible in the 1999 governorship election because Tinubu recorded a landslide victory. He polled 841,732 votes while Chief Dapo Sarumi (PDP), his nearest challenger, scored 184,900 votes and Alhaji Nosirudeen Kekere-Ekun of the All Peoples Party (APP) had 122,743 votes.
Its impact in local elections did not become very obvious until in 2003 when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who contested on the banner of the AD rode on the back of the area to get his second term as governor of Lagos.
Coming at a time that the PDP electoral tsunami swept away five of the six AD governors, Tinubu’s 2003 victory was not only unique but also consolatory.
Flash back to the open arena of the Birrel Avenue, Yaba Lagos office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Dateline: April 22, 2003.
Journalists, foreign and local observers and agents of the governorship candidates among others waited patiently as results from the 20 local councils trickled in. From the results, Tinubu and late Engr Funsho Williams of the PDP were running a very tight race. It was becoming increasingly difficult to predict where the pendulum of victory would swing. By the time results from 19 councils had come in, Tinubu had won in 14 while Williams won in five(Mainland, Badagry, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Amuwo-Odofin and Ojo).
In terms of number of votes, Tinubu (801,311 votes) was leading Williams (671,745 votes) but there was anxiety and the fear on the faces of the party agents and stakeholders was palpable.
Tinubu’s 129,566 votes marginal lead could be levelled out as about 200,000 votes were being awaited from Alimosho.
And then it happened! Alimosho electoral officers arrived with the bloc votes. Observers listened with rapt attention as the electoral umpire reeled out the figures. AD supporters erupted in wild jubilation when it was announced that Tinubu polled 110,302 votes in Alimosho, the highest in the state, to PDP’s 68,751 votes.
Tinubu won with 911,613 votes to Williams’ 740,506 votes, a margin of 171,107 votes, in what passed as Tinubu’s most hard-won victory since he bestrode the political landscape of the state in the early 1990s.
Since the 2003 election, Alimosho has remained an electoral world bank, giving bloc votes to its preferred parties and candidates.
In 2007, Alimosho gave Mr Babatunde Fashola of the Action Congress (AC) 207,112 votes (25 per cent) on his way to winning his first term with 828,400 votes. PDP’s Musiliu Obanikoro got 86,096 votes in Alimosho and 389,088 overall. The closest local council to Alimosho in 2007 was Mushin where Fashola had 61,683 votes and Obanikoro scored 21,719 votes.
In 2011, Fashola got 156,384 votes in Alimosho while Ade Dosunmu of the PDP polled 33,750 votes in the area. Once again, Mushin was the next ranking council.
Voters in Mushin gave Fashola 129,655 votes and handed Dosunmu 13,881 votes.