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Babajide Sanwo-Olu: the cool, calm, dynamic technocrat who wants to unseat Ambode

Before picking the nomination form of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on Monday, to run for Governor of Lagos, not so much noise has been heard about Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu. He seems not to be a man of so much noise, but his works and records make the noise for him.

His declaration to run has, no doubt, set the stage for a very high-profile APC primary challenge against incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who is seeking a re-election.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Sanwo-Olu, who presently sits atop as the Managing Director/CEO of the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC), may have never run for public office before his bold step on Monday to pick the APC governorship nomination form, but he is definitely not a political neophyte, neither is he a novice in governance and the public sector.

Since his transition from the private sector to the public sector in 2003, with his appointment as Special Adviser on Corporate Matters to Lagos Deputy Governor, Femi Pedro and subsequently as Special Adviser (Corporate Matters) to former Governor Bola Tinubu before becoming a full Commissioner for Establishment in 2007, Sanwo-Olu has surely laid the solid groundwork for this moment.

The University of Lagos alumnus, who later became Lagos Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Commissioner for Budget and Planning and Commissioner for Establishments and Training, at different times, also has an enviable background in the private sector as a distinguished board room guru and close to ten years of exemplary banking experience.

Sanwo-Olu’s Chances at the APC Primary

No election can be said to be totally rosy, there must be hurdles and obstacles to be crossed.

Sanwo-Olu’s candidacy has already rattled what would otherwise have been a walkover Lagos APC governorship primary for the incumbent Governor, with opposition parties almost scared to field a candidate against the governor. Sanwo-Olu’s bold step has sent a strong signal that incumbency is not synonymous to invincibility, anybody could be challenged.

Conversations have begun in so many quarters about what Babajide has to campaign against the incumbent to clinch the APC ticket and subsequently win the general elections. Political pundits have argued he has a good campaign blow against the incumbent at the primary by appealing to the emotions of the core grass-roots politicians within the rank of the APC, who still have so many cardinal sins against the incumbent, laying credence to the popular saying that all politics is local. The delegates will end up deciding who clinches the party’s ticket.

Also, the incumbent Governor is being speculated to have what appears to be a shaky support and frosty relationship with his political leader and benefactor, Asiwaju Tinubu, a big disadvantage for his re-election bid if such speculations were true.

But Sanwo-Olu’s pictures on the internet where he picked the APC nomination form has sent strong signals across the state and jittery into the camp of the incumbent and other aspirants eyeing the plum job, in the picture were political heavyweights in Lagos posing with excitement with Babajide as he picks the APC nomination form for Lagos governorship race.

Prominent among them was Cardinal James Odunmbaku (Baba Eto) a strong ally of former governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and a known forerunner of Asiwaju’s plans and agenda. Many have argued that Baba Eto is to Asiwaju, what John the Baptist was to Jesus.

According to an APC chieftain in Lagos “whenever Asiwaju wants to hatch a new political plan, he sends Baba Eto ahead to prepare the ground work, while other followers read the body language and align with the plan. If you remember that was the same way they brought Ambode into limelight, Baba Eto was the one who started the Ambode consultation and endorsement, before Asiwaju finally announced him as the preferred choice.”

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Babajide is throwing his hat into the ring at a time the nation is experiencing economic downturn which seem to be a good moment for him.

At a time the nation is looking onto Lagos as the state that could drive the economy to drag the nation out of the present economic quagmire, Babajide’s full grasp of the economy and trajectory as an accomplished investor, banker, public private partnership expert and a major player in the state’s economic success, are anticipated to drive big turnout of votes for him.

Sanwo-Olu has been a longtime backbone of the Lagos economic success, he prepared and published the Lagos State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (LASEEDS), and he has been described by many as a silent achiever with noisy success stories.

His major task for now would be to pace himself through the primary campaign and hope the favourable political winds blowing in his direction is sustained for him as the primaries are nigh.

Political pundits have however opined that as it stands presently, Sanwo-Olu is in command in the race to become the APC governorship candidate in Lagos in the 2019 general elections, because he enjoys the confidence of majority of stakeholders within the party.

By Femi Salako


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