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Governing Lagos 2019: Of Babajide Sanwo-Olu's Popularity and Jimi Agbaje's Tough Fight 

By Alao Abiodun
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Lagos is a city in continuous transition; the signs of development are everywhere - though it is yet to completely deal with the big and complex demands of attaining the status of a 'mega-city' because the population is on the continuous rise.

In the last couple of weeks, brilliant ideas to further transform Lagos into a better city were in abundant supply at various levels of campaigns to debates and to many other forms of political ballyhoo -- Education, urban, infrastructure, health, transportation, solving the traffic imbrogilo, security and alternative ways of generating revenue for the state were all promised.

Down the memory lane, Lagos has been lucky in terms of governance, because it has secured more attentive stock of ingenious administrators than other states, even under successive military regimes. It has always been an interesting political hub or better still the headquarters of Nigeria's politics when it is season of elections. The sterling existence of the Center of Excellence over the years attaining giant strides is as a result of the successive combination of good governance.

Interestingly, The clock is ticking and in less than few weeks a new governor will emerge, bringing an end to the four year reign of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode in Lagos State and as such, 41 candidates of various political parties in the state are expected to jostle for the 'Number one' seat.

While the political space is getting heated up as the 2019 Lagos Guber election draws nearer, in the wake of dire political aspirations, everyone’s ultimate goal irrespective of the pessimism is to be declared the winner of the election.

Against all odds and with the level of unprecedented development, Lagos has transformed into a classy state and a widely cited example of effective African governance. It has succeeded in multiplying its tax revenues and using these resources to restore basic infrastructure and expand public services and law enforcement.

The Major and Strong Contenders are back in the trenches once again, to either retain hold on the governance of the state or take over the reins of governance come 2019. As the various parties intensify their alliance talks, alignments and campaigns elections, one state that would surely be of interest to keen watchers of the nation’s politics is 'Lagos State', The 'progressives' have firmly been in control of the state since the advent of the current dispensation in 1999.

As preparation gathers momentum for the 2019 gubernatorial election, the PDP believes that its gubernatorial candidate in the 2019 election, Jimi Agbaje, a pharmacist-turned politician possesses the requisite criteria to unseat the ruling APC, which had been in power since the advent of this political dispensation in 1999.

From Senator Bola Tinubu to the current occupant of the office, Akinwunmi Ambode, the PDP has found it extremely difficult to make any headway or to effectively challenge the dominance of the All Progressive Congress in the State.

The incumbent Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, is set to complete his aborted four years reign of one term in office, not like his predecessors in office; but the question on the lips of every Lagosian today remains, “Who will succeed Ambode come 2019?”

The Major Parties and Strong Contenders
The major contending parties are the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), The strong contenders using the PDP as a platform is a former Governorship aspirant of the party in Lagos State, a reputable pharmacist, Mr. Jimi Agbaje and Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The other aspirants are not too influential but could spring surprises given the peculiar nature of politics in Nigeria. They are Salis Owolabi and Babatunde Gbadamosi. However, with the 2019 battle in Lagos already shaping up with high momentum, so many questions will run in the minds of those interested in what becomes of Lagos.

Jimi Agbaje Vs Babajide Sanwo-Olu
The battle to become the next Lagos governor in 2019 is primed to be a showdown between Jimi Agbaje and Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Last year, Jimi Agbaje won the PDP's primary election with 1,100 votes to beat his only opponent, Deji Doherty (742 votes), according to the result announced on October 5, 2018.

It should be recalled that Agbaje lost the 2015 governorship election to the outgoing governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, by over 150,000 votes before also losing the national chairmanship of the PDP to Uche Secondus in 2017.

However, with a very tough fight this time around, Jimi Agbaje is hoping to stage a comeback and consolidate his outing in the last election when he polled 659,788 as against 811,994 votes recorded by the then APC candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode. The outcome of the 2015 election got many PDP chieftains ranting that they were actually rigged out of the poll by the ruling party in the state.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu's popularity and grassroots campaign has generated so much discussions In the last couple of months, Just like MTN's slogan, Sanwo-Olu's campaign train has peregrinated the nooks and cranny of the state, literally its everywhere-you-go even on the virtual world.

Sanwo-Olu served as the Managing Director of the Lagos State Property Development Council (LSDPC). He's regarded as a public sector expert in human resources and policy formation, Sanwo-Olu has at different times served as Special Adviser to former Lagos State Deputy Governor, Mr Femi Pedro, as well as Tinubu when he was state governor. He also served under the immediate past-governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, as Commissioner for Commerce and Industry; Budget and Planning as well as Establishments and Training.

Interestingly, Femi Hamzat who's to Deputize Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is a technocrat and three-term commissioner serving both Tinubu and Fashola administrations at the Ministry of Science and Technology as well as Works and Infrastructure, respectively. His father, Oba Hamzat, until his emergence as a king in Ewokoro Local Government Area of Ogun State, was one of the most respected political leaders in Lagos.

With the forgoing narratives, it is crystal clear that this race is going to be a keen contest between the duo, it's therefore expedient to remind the citizenry that governing Lagos is a 'serious business', it goes beyond the surface level. it should therefore not left in the hands of mediocre. it's not just enough to dominate the online sphere as social media commentators to criticise the government, our simple civic responsibility to get involved in government activities must be re-engineered.

Summarily, will Babajide Sanwo-Olu emerge as winner to continue the APC's long dominance? Or will the PDP under Jimi Agbaje as the flag-bearer break the jinx and wrestle a 19-year stronghold of the progressives in Lagos? One thing however is certain: Lagosians will be looking forward to a technocrat with a pedigree and sterling antecedent to match, if not surpass, Ambode’s achievements. How it will play out, only time and the electorates can tell in the next couple of weeks.

Alao Abiodun is a Journalist, He can be reached via [email protected] . Tweets @Kingbiodun_

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Alao Abiodun and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."