The Emerging Colour Of Lagos Politics

By Tope Templer Olaiya

It is 40 days to the dawn of a new era in Lagos. On May 29, the Governor-elect, Akinwunmi Ambode, will be sworn into office as the next Lagos ‘Driver’ to pilot the affairs of the nation’s commercial nerve centre till 2019.
For the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), which has held the reins of power since the fourth Republic in 1999, things may never be the same again in the next dispensation beginning from next month. It was a long-drawn and hard-fought battle for the party since the day its top hierarchy projected Ambode to be the next occupant of Lagos House in Alausa.
From the thorny issue of preparing the grounds for the emergence of a Christian governor to satisfying agitators from the Lagos East Senatorial district, who were yet to be represented at the Lagos ‘Oval Office’ and finally managing the combustible reactions of losers, who had desperately eyed to be on the party’s ticket, it was not a 100-metres dash race.
If the APC thought they were nearing the finish line when against all odds, they shrugged off all internal schisms to sell Ambode’s candidacy to Lagosians, they sooner than expected woke up to the reality that there were many rivers to cross, with their main challenger, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), digging deep to present a formidable match in Jimi Kolawole Agbaje.

LAGOS HOUSE: Front view of the Governor's Office, Alausa

LAGOS HOUSE: Front view of the Governor’s Office, Alausa

Bola Tinubu’s eight-year administration laid the groundwork of modern Lagos as has been rightly termed ‘The Navigator.’ Governor Fashola came on board as ‘The Actualizer’ to implement the development and policy thrust of his predecessor before Ambode comes on stream as ‘The Consolidator.’
Though this was the first time the opposition PDP went into the election without much rifts, the party was for the fifth time unlucky. Many political observers, including leaders of leading political parties in the state have admitted that last week’s election was the fiercest in the history of governorship elections in the state since the return of democracy in 1999.
The campaigns leading to the elections were very tense and fear of violence gripped residents. This was further heightened a week to the elections when the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, threw away the garbs of decency in a hate speech to canvass support for his anointed candidate. He told some non-indegene visitors to his place to vote Ambode or be damned.
He had infamously threatened the Igbo and non-indigenes, who were showing much love for the PDP, to drown them in the lagoon if they fail to vote for Ambode, whom he has chosen.

Ambode (middle) discussing with close associates

Ambode (middle) discussing with close associates

The governor on Wednesday restated the obvious when he described the 2015 election campaigns as the most difficult he has ever participated in. Fashola, in his confession, said never has any political contest divided over 120,000 Lagos civil service than the 2015 general elections did.
The governor, who, however, thanked the workers for giving APC the edge, said it was time to close ranks and give the in-coming administration massive support. “I have been involved in four elections till date. In 2003, I was the Chief of Staff to Governor Bola Tinubu, 2007 and 2011 as candidate while 2015 as governor. But not in any of those elections have I seen a campaign that tried to divide our public service.
Last Monday, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) drew the curtains on the April 11 governorship and House of Assembly elections in Lagos, it was a subdued celebration that greeted the announcement of Ambode as the winner of the election, after polling 811,994 votes to defeat Agbaje who scored 659,788.
This has been the closest and tightest race so far between the two parties. And for the ruling party, it is an election result that is too close for comfort. They cannot sleep easy anymore from now till 2019. In 2003, the late Funsho Williams polled 700,000 votes as against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s 900,000 votes to secure his second term in office.
At the 2007 poll, outgoing governor, Babatunde Fashola, who scored over 800,000 votes, hedged out Musiliu Obanikoro, who was able to secure about 300,000. In 2011, Fashola dusted the PDP’s Ade Dosunmu with over a million votes polling 1,509,113 to 300,450.

From Right: Lagos APC Chairman, Henry Ajomale, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola and Pa Odunsi

From Right: Lagos APC Chairman, Henry Ajomale, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola and Pa Odunsi

For the first time since 1999, the ruling party will have to carry on its business of marrying politics and governance, while a keen opposition breathes down their neck. Out of the 40 House of Assembly seats, the PDP has claimed eight. When the Eighth Session of Assembly resumes on May 29, 2015, about half of the faces will be newcomers and some of them members of the opposition PDP.
The eight PDP lawmakers will change the complexion of the House that has in the last eight years been a one-party chamber. Besides the eight, 11 newcomers on the platform of the APC will also join 21 returnees for the coming Assembly that has already been touted to be more competitive and feisty along party line.
Composition of principal officers will be the first acid test. With the current Speaker of the House, Adeyemi Ikuforiji and Deputy Leader, Lola Akande voluntarily quitting the business of law making; Majority Leader, Dr. Ajibayo Adeyeye and Chief Whip, Dr. Rasak Balogun losing at the APC primaries; and the last principal officer standing, Deputy Speaker, Taiwo Kolawole, crashing at the polls last Saturday, the Assembly will be walking the tight rope of leadership battle.

Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and Jimi Agbaje

Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and Jimi Agbaje

Roll call of the PDP-lawmakers has Fatai Olatunji Oluwa, representing Ajeromi-Ifelodun I Constituency. Oluwa defeated the sitting Deputy Speaker and the longest serving member of the House, Taiwo Kolawole, who has represented the Ajegunle axis of the state in the last 16 years. In Ajeromi-Ifelodun II Constituency, Dayo Famakinwa of the PDP defeated the sitting APC lawmaker, AbdoulBaq Ladi Balogun.
For Surulere II Constituency, Mosunmola Sangodara-Rotimi of PDP won with 33,583 votes against 32,767 pooled by Abiodun Awobotu of the APC. Dipo Olorunrinu and Hakeem Bello, both of the PDP also clinched the tickets for Amuwo Odofin Constituencies I and II seats. Olorunrinu ousted incumbent Sultan Adeniji-Adele of the APC, while Bello also clinched the Amuwo Odofin II seat from sitting Ramota Akinola-Hassan of the APC.
In Oshodi/Isolo Constituency II, the Ndigbos in Ajao Estate and Ejigbo axis ensured that the PDP candidate, Emeka Idimogu, won with 27,423 votes after defeating Olayinka Ajomale, son of the Lagos APC Chairman, Henry Ajomale, at the polls. A PDP candidate also clinched one the constituencies in Ojo area of the state.
If the story of the Lagos 2015 elections will be told in years to come, one of the highlights would be the remarkable success of the non-indigenes in Lagos to make a loud statement about their future stake in the Centre of Excellence.
In one fell swoop, three non-Yoruba including two Ndigbos from the opposition PDP won elections into the House of Representatives from Lagos State. They are Chief Oghene Egboh, Mrs. Rita Orji and Mr. Tony Nwoolu. Egboh won the House of Representatives seat for Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, while Orji won in Ajeromi-Ifelodun LGA and Nwoolu won the Oshodi/Isolo Federal Constituency.

Governor-elect Akinwunmi Ambode and the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akinolu when the former paid the latter a courtesy visit after the election

Governor-elect Akinwunmi Ambode and the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akinolu when the former paid the latter a courtesy visit after the election

In the governorship election, PDP won in five out of 20 local government areas. They are Ojo, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Surulere, Amuwo-Odofin and Oshodi/Isolo. These places are suspected to be stronghold of non-indigenes in the state.
Remarkably, all three defeated incumbent holders of seats and they all won in areas heavily populated by the Igbo in Lagos State. The victory of the Igbo candidates in Lagos, according to some observers, is not a surprise as Igbo candidates have in the past won national elections in the state.
They cited the era of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), led by the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, when Igbo residing in Lagos won elections into the regional and central legislatures.
The Igbo may have fled Lagos in 1966-67 during the civil war but 2015 has proved the year of their resurgence in Lagos politics. Igbo, by sheer industry, has dominated street commerce in Lagos in the past few decades and as their businesses flourished, their numbers grew. The Igbos’ preferred trade apprenticeship system meant that as Igbo entrepreneurs grew they brought in family and friends from the east as apprentices.

Welcome to Lagos

Welcome to Lagos

Preoccupied with commerce, wary of politics, mindful of the war and their residency status, Igbos helped build and develop Lagos but played only at the fringes politically. The ambitious trader aspired to be the president of the market union or the Eze Ndigbo Lagos for vainglory, but that stereotype has been consigned to the dustbin of history, as a new Lagos emerges, where everyone has a stake.
Gradually, a score that the Nigerian Constitution has been unable to settle as it relates to citizenship and indigeneship is being addressed in light of modern day realities – a system in which citizens can live all their lives in a city, raise children, pay taxes, have constitutionally protected rights to vote and be voted for but are somehow not expected to occupy elective positions.
However, in the light of the 2015 experience, it remains to be seen if in the nearest future, politically ambitious “settlers” would not be looked at as ungrateful usurpers.

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Day ‘Owanbe’ shut down Lagos Island

By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor

It was lockout day in most parts of Lagos Island on Tuesday as three important celebrations paralyzed economic activities in the area.
On a normal weekday in Lagos Island’s commercial business district the place is always the hub of trading activities but Tuesday’s events namely, the Oba of Lagos 70th anniversary, installation of Mrs. Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, daughter of former governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu, as the new Iyaloja General of Nigeria and the 70th anniversary of Island Club combined to turn Obalende and Isale Eko into a holiday of some sort while celebrations rent the air at the Oba’s palace and the Island Club.
Even the absence of popular Lagos showstoppers, including father of the new Iyaloja-General, Bola Tinubu, Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, did not remove colour from the installation ceremony.
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Deserted Balogun Market, Lagos Island on Tuesday.

Whereas the Oba of Lagos, Oba Riliwanu Babatunde Akiolu 1, had, in the days preceding his 70th birthday, opted for low-key celebrations and appealed to associates and admirers including corporate organizations not to place advertisements for him in the media, the decision to include the installation of the new Iyaloja-General as part of his birthday’s activities made it a massive event.
Notwithstanding the monarch’s earlier directive that those who wish to honour him should direct the funds earmarked for such purpose to the Iga Idunganran Primary Healthcare Centre because the current atmosphere in the country does not call for any form of merriment but he was wrong.
After returning from the Palace Mosque by 10am, he was surprised to meet a mammoth crowd in colourful Aso Ebi with matching geles, who had besieged the palace to witness the Iyaloja General’s installation ceremony.
As it is customary with such celebrations, major markets in the state were expected to be grounded. So, it was a total shutdown of some sort as virtually all the markets in the Island and other parts of Lagos were closed down because the traders were mandated to head to the venue of the installation ceremony at the Oba’s palace.
At the ceremony, Oba Akiolu, who advised the new Iyaloja to be diligent and committed to the service of humanity, noted that the position was important to the development of market activities in Lagos and the country at large.
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Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Babatunde Akiolu (second left); the Iyaloja General of Nigeria, Mrs. Folasade Tinubu-Ojo (left); Oyetunde Ojo and Senator Oluremi Tinubu during the installation of the Iyaloja-General at the Oba’s palace in Lagos.

… Sambo, royal fathers celebrate Island Club’s 70th anniversary
As the euphoria which heralded the installation of Iyaloja General of Nigeria was dieing down and the sounds of talking drums and dancing were ebbing, policemen and protocol officials of the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, laid another siege on Obalende and Onikan as members and well wishers of Island Club besieged the area to receive the representative of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who is the grand patron of the club.
As usual, the roads leading to the club had been blocked to motorists. The chopper that brought the Vice President landed at about 3pm.
The grand occasion for the club was its 70th anniversary and foundation stone laying ceremony of a multi-storey car park.
According to the chairman of the Club, Prince Ademola Dada, the car park project would be beneficial, when completed, not only to members of the club but also to visitors to the island.
He declared: “Apart from providing this worthy civic service to the community, the car park would also generate employment for many people and bring revenue to the club.”
Vice President Namadi Sambo, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan at the event, extended the president’s congratulatory messages to the club and the Oba of Lagos. He spoke on the process of electing officers of the club, which he said was primarily based on service and what candidates are willing to offer to extend the frontiers of the premier social club.
Dignitaries who graced the occasion included the Obong of Calabar, Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu, Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, Amanyanabo of Nembe, Dr. Edmund Daukoru and Olugbo of Ugboland, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan, among others. They all danced to the melodious and sonorous music of the legendary music icon Chief Ebenezer Obey.
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Vice President Namadi Sambo (middle) investing the Amanyanabo of Nembe, Dr. Edmund Daukoru (right) as Vice Patron of Island Club as the club chairman, Prince Ademola Dada (left) looks on at the 70th anniversary of the club in Lagos… on Tuesday.

… how Tinubu-Ojo stepped into grandmother’s shoes
The installation of Folashade Tinubu-Ojo as Iyaloja General of Nigeria alongside Alhaja Bintu Tinubu, mother of Oando’s CEO, Mr. Wale Tinubu, as the Iyalode of Lagos, nailed the coffin of repeated denials from Lagos State government of All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftains that Mogaji’s granddaughter has been made the new Iyaloja-General.
Shortly after the death of Abibat Mogaji, the late President-General of Nigerian Market Men and Women, there was a rumour that Mogaji’s granddaughter has been made the new Iyaloja-General.
Succession to the position left by the late Mogaji was expected to be stormy, partly because Lagos is the commercial-nerve centre of the country and the intrigues within each market guild in different parts of Lagos is well known.
This may not be known to most people because the last Iyaloja-General held the market men and women in her grip for over 50 years and while in office, she successfully suppressed, schemed and manipulated the various guild of Lagos markets preparatory to the smooth take over of the post by her successor.
At her transition at 96 on June 15, the stage was set for intense lobbying by foremost market leaders to be in the chase for who succeeds Mama, as the late leader was fondly called.
Unknown to many that the succession arrangement had long been concluded and perfected, as the usual burial traditions were being observed and market men and women paid their last respects to the departed mama; and for three days markets were shut in the state as traders trooped out in Aso Ebi to the third and eight-day fidau prayers, those who were gearing up for the race to succeed mama got the shock of their lives when the rug was pulled off their feet barely a week after Mogaji’s demise and her grand daughter was announced even amid mourning that she was the new successor.
abibatu_mogaji1                                                                Late Abibat Mogaji

Nobody had expected that the coup would be executed so soon and at an inauspicious time, which was during the eight-day prayers for the former Iyaloja.
For the secret aspirers, their thinking was that, usually, when a market leader dies, it was customary to shutdown the market for a day in the neighbourhood where the deceased held the fort and vacuum was expected to last for at least 41 days after the final 40th day prayer must have been held.
They were of the opinion that the six weeks gap was enough time to play underground politics in all the market guilds and factions in the bid to garner support. But all these were not observed.
Sources informed The Guardian that Mogaji appointed her successor before she passed away. A market leader, the Iyaloja of Oyingbo Market, Basirat Balogun, said Folashade Tinubu-Ojo had been unofficially appointed to understudy Mama as the natural successor few years before her death. The first step to actualize this was Tinubu-Ojo’s appointment by Lagos State government as chairman of the state market board.
“Contrary to popular opinion that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu foisted his daughter as the Lagos market leader, it was a consensus agreement by market leaders of all the 57 local councils in the state, including the Babaloja of Lagos, Alhaji Wasiu Balogun to support her since she was the closest to mama in her dying years.”
Political watchers in the state would, however, found it difficult to believe that this arrangement never had the secret backing of Tinubu, who is revered in Lagos and popularly hailed as the Jagaban Borgu.
“What do you expect when market leaders in all the 57 LGAs and LCDAs have consented to Tinubu’s choice, there is little any opposition can do because the stronghold of grassroots mobilization, which is mainly market men and women, road transport workers and their union, and the local councils in Lagos is effectively controlled by Asiwaju,” a market leader said.