Obanikoro: A Game Changer in Lagos Politics
By Emmanuel Ajibulu
One of the most potent political nugget but least talked about in the last few years in the country especially in South-West has been Obanikoro's stand point on “Say no to godfatherism, oppression of the underdogs and unfavourable elitist policies”. Together with his “one man, one vote” charge; it has resonated deeply with the people of Lagos, and in that climate there was only going to be one clear winner who is Senator Musiliu Obanikoro.
The immediate past Minister of Defense is one of the few Nigerians who have been favored politically, a chieftain of the People's Democratic Party, born in the year 1954 into the prominent Obanikoro family. Obanikoro is aware of his cherished heritage as a descendant of Ajayi Bembe, the illustrious Obanikoro of Lagos; this antecedent places a burden of care and passion for Lagos on him which is why he is committed to the dream of becoming the next Governor of Lagos State.
Apart from his astuteness and cerebral approach to sensitive issues, the unique aspect of his grassroots politics is one thing that cannot be taken away from him, interestingly that is really yielding him fortunes in his gubernatorial ambition. He is a focused man who doesn't see any challenge as a hurdle on his way to success, a no-nonsense person, yet he doesn't engage in any social vices.
Koro as fondly called by his political fans and associates had a humble beginning as a Clerk at Lagos Health Management Board, after which he moved to Union Bank at 131 Broad Street in Lagos. For a man who refused to renege in pursuing his vision academically, he got admission/visa to study in the United States. He successfully completed his Bachelor programme in Public Administration as well as a Masters Degree respectively. In 1989 he returned to Nigeria where he worked in different capacities in the public service.
He contested and won chairmanship election of Lagos Island Local Government, a position he held from March 1997 to July, 1998. During his tenure as Chairman, he implemented lots of masses-friendly policies including opening account for council staffs, to alleviate the burden of queuing up to get paid, as well as fighting the menace of ghost workers. Koro who led by showing good example effectively engaged the locals in the habit of promoting good environmental sanitation and personal hygiene through many advocacy programmes and orientations . Besides, his administration also gave out bursaries to indigent students.
Records also show that he was the first Executive Chairman to tour round all schools within his local government area in Lagos, this exercise afforded him the opportunity to identify and fix all problems associated with the roles of his local council.
Subsequently, Koro was appointed as Commissioner for Home Affairs/Culture in the administration of Senator Bola Tinubu, he managed this position meritoriously from 1999 to 2003 when he got elected into the Senate to represent Lagos Central Senatorial District. At the Senate he offered quality representation, through bills and motions on the floor of the Senate and engaged in many far reaching empowerment initiatives that cut across socio-economic life of his people.
Koro also served as Nigeria's Ambassador to Ghana between 2008-2012, he was equally member of ECOWAS monitoring team for Ghana's presidential election; member of AU election monitoring team for Kenya's 2013 presidential election. In 2014 President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan appointed him as Defence Minister on January 21, 2014, nine months after he honorably relinquished the position to pursue his gubernatorial ambition, but he impressively left many indelible records to his credit.
However, the secular nature of Nigerian body politic cannot admit religion as a qualification for public office; sadly those who are trying to play politics of religion will woefully fail in Lagos State. Whipping up religious sentiments to make any politician to look bad or expose him to hatred is not only vicious, but also reckless and dangerous. Religion is an emotive issue and should not therefore be allowed to creep into politics to cause conflicts among us.
If our politics is based on religion, why did General Buhari pick Pastor Tunde Bakare as his running mate in 2011 Presidential polls? If Nigeria is a Christian State, why did the President appoint Namadi Sambo as his Vice President in 2011? Also in Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola was a Christian Governor for almost eight years with a Christian deputy Governor, Erelu (Dr.) Olushola Obada, and amazingly the civilized people of Osun never engage in any protests about such arrangement during that period.
Ignorance is a virulent, deadly disease and can fatally threaten or even tear apart the toga of our democracy, painfully so. Which law says that a Muslim should not accept public appointment under a Christian President? Which law also says that a Christian should not accept appointment under a Muslim President? None! Religious bigotry and intolerance should not be allowed to harm the larger interest of this country.
Religious bigots are enemies of peace. They constantly seek to create tension, using religion to incite people. PDP should thread cautiously in Lagos and ensure that a candidate with wealth of experience and not an opportunist who is totally disconnected from the people is fielded as its standard bearer, a candidate that is not only capable of wrestling power with the ruling APC in the State but an individual with the capacity to win with a convincing margin at the polls, therefore Obanikoro is that game changer to deliver Lagos to PDP.
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