Jimi Agbaje and Ambode: A closer look
Elections in Lagos State have always commanded national attention. With IGR that towers above that of every other state coupled with the fact that it is the commercial hub of the nation: it is often said that any party that controls both the federal government and Lagos State can easily crush the opposition. This cannot be far from the truth; As the APC practically built its stronghold in the South western part of the country through Lagos State alone. Governors of the state are always powerful and as such, their elections have always come with several twists.
In 1999 it was between Bola Tinubu and Funsho Williams, 2003 was a repeat between the them again, with Bola Tinubu emerging victorious on both occasions. Obanikoro and Ade Dosumu could not prove to be a match for Raji Fashola in 2007 and 2011 respectively, as he defeated them at the polls. While with the initial elections, AD/ACN/APC as the case maybe had a slight advantage over the PDP; their candidates seemed to be better administrators or were marketed as better administrators, whichever, it worked. A clear allegory was that of Obanikoro and Fashola which was tagged an election between “The Brute and The Brain”. 2015 however brings a different challenge, the two parties have presented candidates who can match each other in term of administrative and psychological competence. They are both regarded in the social media as technocrats. A choice between Jimi Agbaje and Ambode is definitely a challenge for objective Lagosians.
While a lot have been said about their personalities and achievements, I will rather concentrate on the salient factor attached to each of them, factors that might end up shaping the minds of people eventually. First is their dependency. Like every other politician in Nigeria, they are dependent; they are both riding on the wings of some Godfathers. For Ambode, it is an open secret that it is Tinubu. While Tinubu's style of Godfatherism has been tested through Fashola and some other South West Governors. He takes the backseat in the face of the public while he controls through the party structure. He however allows a measure of administrative and policy freedom, he allows the governor to be the governor as long as he does not encroach on his territory. It is left for people to decide if his style is a fairer choice. Bode George however comes with a baggage, his partner, Adeseye Ogunlewe, another Godfather for Jimi Agbaje. While Ambode has Tinubu to worry about among many lots, Jimi will have Ogunlewe and Bode George to worry about. And also, another glut is that their style of Godfatherism which have not really been tested; it may end up being a grope in the dark considering the past records of these people which do not need to be retold.
Another salient factor is control of party structure. While Ambode has been in the AD/ACN/APC since forever, meaning he has been part of the system, he understands the party, and to an extent, may be able to pull through certain difficult terrains, even while he is definitely not in control of the party structure in the state. Jimi Agbaje however, doesn't have such luxury. Jimi Joined PDP because he was almost sure of clinching the party ticket. This means that while he will be the Governor, he will not be in control of the party structure. Now in our kind of democracy, that isn't very good, it means the day he strays from the path of the Godfathers, they can either frustrate him or 'Ladoja' him.
While no doubt the two of them are perceived as good candidates, their delivery will be a function of the teams they end up working with, and the conditions presented to them. The perception of their high moral and integrity standards have already been nailed on the cross of their Godfathers, they have made concessions already, and they will make more, the question is how far will they go? 2015 will definitely not be a cakewalk for either of the parties in Lagos State; they will work and deserve their victories. We can only hope that when the eventual leader is unwrapped, he will be the real deal.
(Daniels Adeoye can be reached via [email protected] or @pdaniellz)