By UCHE NNADOZIE
FORGET that he could not pronounce Eko e dide! Loosely transplanted to mean: Lagos get up. This summarises the incongruence in the philosophy underpinning his political sojourn. It is axiomatic to say: Lagos no dey sleep. Sorry, it’s not an axiom, it’s a fact. Lagos does not sleep both metaphorically and factually. Here, everyone is on their toes.
Working day and night to get by. It is the same for those who run the city. Whether as government or companies – this city does not go to bed. Workers rise by 4.00 a.m. to catch a bus so as to be at the grill on time. Nobody wants to be cut off the daily hustle and bustle. No one in this city wants to be left behind. We are always on the move.
You can then imagine the effrontery for any one to raise a battle cry of Lagos stand up! If Lagos was asleep or crawling, he won’t even have the nerves to ask it to stand. This state is the wealthiest, safest, most cosmopolitan, not reliant on petrodollars in the country. It is not by sleeping that it became the fifth largest economy in Africa, generating at least 10 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP. And houses the most valuable piece of real estate on the continent – Eko Atlantic. The city is a typical example of moving from waste to wealth or from destruction to development.
Today Lagos is the tech hub or capital of Africa. Today Lagos is home to five of Africa’s seven unicorns. This doesn’t feel like a city slouching around. Whether it is Sanwo-Olu or those before him, a continuous effort to innovate, grow and engender best practices is the new Lagos we see. It came out of hard work. It’s not everyday you see a sub-national constructing two railways with all the infrastructure to boot. Or the laying of a 6,000km fibre optics cable to improve internet connection for our young people.
Sanwo-Olu, in spite of COVID-19, two recessions and EndSARS disruption, has been an excellent administrator and a pathfinder in innovating new ways of doing things. The state derives its progress and development from its people who work hard every day to make the best impact.
What’s more, with a leader who’s kind, mobile, and people-person, everything jelled like fine wine. In Lagos, all we want is for someone to pat us on the back and that’s what Governor Sanwo-Olu has been up to. Not this political neophyte who out of his own inexperience and arrogance looked the hardworking people of Lagos in the face and kicked them to get up! The rudeness is shocking. This is not the much-touted Omoluabi ethos of a true-born Yoruba. I can’t fathom where this haughtiness comes from. Is it the Sierra Leone ancestry or the Twitter anonymity which makes ants feel like elephants? Ironically, that’s where he practices his own activism.
Sad to learn that in trying to justify his own inexperience, Mr. Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, governorship candidate of the Labour Party, alluded to the legendary former governor of the Lagos State, Lateef Jakande. The man who likes to tout his Lagos-ness is using Jakande as a mirror image. But Jakande himself, though born in Lagos Island, had both of his parents migrating from Omu-Aran in Kwara State. He claimed that Jakande did not have experience but performed; thus paving the way for him to replicate Baba Kekere’s well regarded stewardship. He believes, though inexperienced, but flaunts the late former governor and minister as his own standard in feeling good about his lack of real time exposure. Rhodes-Vivour has not done anything substantial since he left school. The itinerant politician has run for office twice before 2023 and lost. First as LGA chairman in Ikeja under the YPP and next as the PDP senatorial candidate.
He ran unsuccessfully as gubernatorial candidate of the PDP for 2023 which made him part ways with that party. The Labour Party took him in although his candidature is under question by a purported holder of the ticket – Ifagbemi Awamaridi. This was before Peter Obi happened. And because of the defeat of the ruling party in Lagos during the presidential election where Obi won by about 8,000 votes, it is apparent that Rhodes-Vivour feels like a rockstar, a governor-in-waiting.
He also participated in EndSARS riots. What else? He served water and is on Twitter sharing controversial views, including his allegiance to the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB. Unlike him, Jakande was at his prime when he ventured to contest for governor. He had been a senior and powerful member of the Action Group in the First Republic. He went to prison alongside his leader, Pa Obafemi Awolowo. He worked through the ranks to emerge as UPN candidate for Lagos governorship. UPN was the successor to AG. Jakande was motivated by ideology and service. Gbadebo on the other hand is motivated by Chineduism and anarchy.
That’s why he’s jumped around pretty quickly. Migrating at every election cycle and searching for any available ticket without building any real political base or ideas. Jakande was the founding president of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, NPAN. That’s the highest you can get in the media circle in Nigeria. Jakande was editor of editors.
He had met the low and mighty. He had built allegiances. He founded the Nigerian Institute of Journalism. He also founded a popular and successful publishing firm. Jakande was not an activist for anarchy, he was an activist with receipts of what has been done. A progressive of the best hue. Therefore, comparing his activism-cum inexperience with Baba Jakande is an insult, his MIT degree notwithstanding.
Selling Chinedu as the sure route to governorship victory is opportunistic at best. When the chips are down, Igbos who live in Lagos know that Sanwo-Olu has invested more in improving their lives and livelihoods than a greenhorn “political climber”.
The road, rail and hospital being constructed along the Lagos-Badagry expressway are perhaps the biggest infrastructural investment in the last 20 years. That axis is dominated by people of South-Eastern origin. Simply put: being a Chinedu is not enough. Sanwo-Olu has shown grit in piloting the state, all factors considered. Lagosians cannot, out of emotionalism, hand the state to just anyone. We need a tested and steady hand and Sanwo-Olu is the man.
Nnadozie, a political analyst, wrote from Lagos
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