BY SOLA EBISENI
TO start with, I belong to the OBIDATTI Movement with undying conviction that a new Nigeria is possible and that the combination of Peter Gregory Obi and Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed is the best for its realisation. My conviction is also anchored on the fact that it is the turn of Southern Nigeria and specifically the South-East to produce the next President of Nigeria after the eight years of President Buhari from the North as a guarantee for equity and the imperative peace of the federation. Nigerian youths, in spite of the INEC shenanigans, remain the heroes of the on-going electioneering processes. From the outset, they were unpretentious about their interests. They resolved to break away from the evil that has befallen Nigerians, particularly in the last eight years in all aspects of life and more worrisome, the issue of insecurity which places our country in the category of failed states.
They were taken for granted and denigrated as lazy and unserious lots who had no voter cards to ventilate their resolve through the ballot. The results available to us from credible sources, as the Afenifere said in our communique at the end of our recent General Meeting, showed quite clearly that the preferred candidate of the youths, Peter Obi of the Labour Party, had majority of the lawful votes and met the requirements of the 25 per cent in at least two thirds of each of the states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
Obi and the Labour Party did the unprecedented by overwhelmingly winning the two most important territories of Lagos and the FCT with none of the other parties scoring the mandatory 25 per cent of the votes at the FCT seat of power and being the potpourri of Nigerian’s presence from every nationality, nooks and crannies of the federation.
This then is the crux of the matter. Those who seek to reckon the FCT as just one of the states in their wishful thinking of avoiding the mandatory constitutional requirement of 25 per cent of the votes therein have the additional headache of inevitable loss of the gubernatorial seat of Lagos State come next Saturday. In their desperation to keep Lagos, nothing is too sacred to spare.
Most importantly, the youths of Lagos are their target. They must divide the informed youths by all means, including playing cheap and petty ethnic cards. They believe that they were only caught unawares during the Presidential and National Assembly elections and, therefore, are now up in arms for the forthcoming gubernatorial elections. There is widespread view that the one week postponement of the governorship election is not just for the advertised BVAS reconfiguration but essentially to buy time in their forlorn dream of reclaiming Lagos.
Otherwise, it is logically contended, why it was impossible to shift the presidential election abinitio in the face of alleged malfunctioning of the electronic devices which the INEC by words and conduct swore to as the credibility guarantor of its electoral processes. I am and write as a Lagosian, not only because my Ilaje-Yoruba ancestors are among the aboriginal tribes of Lagos, not just because I am an Ajegunle boy where my youthful days are rooted, not even because I have a place of abode therein.
Lagos actually shapens my being. As young school leavers, the vastly reclaimed land in Olodi Apapa when the Tin-Can Island Port was being built in 1976/77 served as our football fields where the careers of several Nigerian youths across the federation who subsequently became national and international giant footballers were birthed.
Of course, across the Olodi-Apapa Canal is the Apapa GRA where we had free access to the residence of the sage, Obafemi Awolowo, at Park Lane in the heydays of the Second Republic and where watching and serving political leaders, my innate political spirit was kindled. It must also be mentioned that my interactions with my Igbo brethren in Olodi Apapa influenced my choice of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, as my first experience of university education in 1980 before my later sojourn at Ife.
It was during this era that legendary Lateef Jakande, the real builder of modern Lagos, not only introduced free education but within one year put an end to the tortuous system where primary and secondary pupils hitherto attended schools on morning and afternoon shifts system on account of scarcity of infrastructures, instructional materials and teachers.
Jakande built the Lagos/Epe Express Road which opened up the present Lekki-Ajah-Epe axis. He established the Lagos State University, Ojo and the College of Education (Adeniran Ogunsanya) Ijanikin along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway which was earlier constructed by the Military Government. The Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo was also established by Jakande, with all tuition free and bursaries for the students like in all states controlled by the Unity Party of Nigeria under the leadership of Obafemi Awolowo.
It is a sad commentary that while other states in the South-West, including Edo and Delta with by far lesser population and of course little revenue, have established other higher educational institutions those who now falsely arrogate to themselves the making of modern Lagos have added nothing new to those established by Jakande.
While Jakande managed scrupulously the revenue of Lagos to achieve the wonders of his only four years tenure (1979-1983), including the award of the mass transit metro line, the major celebration of those who have seized Lagos by the jugular since 1999 is increase in internally generated revenue hauled only through astronomical taxation of the hapless citizens, including permissive seizure of their wares by official touts.
Since pre-colonial times, long before the birth of Nigeria and Lagos, later declared its capital, Lagos has remained not only the epicentre of the country’s political activities but also the thermometer with which the nation’s political temperature is measured. For the 2023 elections, the youths have taken the initiatives. Their hands are on the plough and certainly not looking back. The Nigerian youths of Lagos are one and united absolutely behind the Labour Party and its candidates.
For those to whom it matters, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, the Lagos State gubernatorial candidate of the Labour Party, is not only Yoruba, he is the only real Lagosian in the race, if the contest, as it now seems, is between his party and the APC. His ancestry on the Lagos Island dated back to at least the 18th century. No person who has been Lagos Governor since 1999 has comparable family pedigree.
That his mother is Igbo or of other non-Yoruba tribes eloquently depicts the enviable cosmopolitan status of our dear Lagos and can only be an added electoral advantage, certainly not a liability as some uninformed ethnic jingoists would sell to their gullible patrons.
Like most youths of Nigeria who are justifiably disenchanted with the system, Gbadebo joined his colleagues in the #EndSARS uprising. So bloody what? Why are some of us, members of the older generations now being celebrated as NADECO heroes in which many of us participated and which is the most celebrated garb their own presidential candidate is decorated. Many of us, particularly from Yorubaland holding important positions in government, including some of our colleagues in the National Assembly were with the late Dr. Frederick Fasehun when the dreaded Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, was founded.
Some of the APC apologists many of whom know next to nothing about Lagos and its peculiar ethnography have become social media teachers about how Lagos should continue to be part of Yoruba territory as if that was ever contested, not even in the First Republic when Muhammed Ribadu was Minister of Lagos Affairs. A charge to the Nigerian youths: Go out all over the nation and vote showing all that your exploits during the presidential election was not a fluke. Reject doctrines aimed at dividing your ranks, including lecturers now hired to teach ethnic nonsense on your campuses. Go for Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour. He’s one of you. Nigeria, we hail thee.
Ebiseni is the Secretary-General Afenifere and South West Coordinator OBIDATTI Campaigns Organisation.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.