With the December 5 Lagos East senatorial district bye-election won by Mr Tokunbo Abiru of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the stage is set to fill the vacuum created by the demise of Senator Osinowo Adebayo, writes KUNLE ODEREMI.
Of the five senatorial districts in states where the bye-election took place on December 5, none commanded more attention than the Lagos East senatorial district. It was the most keenly contested with the background, especially the political antecedents of the two main candidates: Mr Tokunboh Abiru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Mr Babatunde Gbadamosi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). From 1999 till date, the zone has had six senators before Abiru won last Saturday, having polled a total of 89, 204 votes to the 11, 257 scored by Gbadamosi. The last senator was Osinowo Adebayo (APC), who died some months ago, necessitating the December 5 bye-election. Though the electioneering was characterised by the usual intrigues and bravado, the electorate from the area were not ready to be taken for a ride. So, those looking for their mandate had their eyes on the ball.
In the camp of the APC, the intensity and seriousness displayed on the field during the campaign jolted the people because it was as if what was at stake was the governorship seat. Abiru was taken to task on the campaign. His words: “I will not describe it as an elaborate campaign as such. If you are familiar with Lagos East, you will come to this conclusion: first, it largely comprises indigenous people of Lagos. We are talking about Epe, Ibeju-Lekki, Ikorodu, Kosofe and Somolu. Outside Ikorodu, which is my origin, I am not sure I am well known in these locations. Second, if you look at the composition of people along this belt, you will find a commonality there. And that belt is composed of Ijebu-speaking people, especially in Epe, Ikorodu, Ibeju-Lekki and Somolu. For somebody, who has spent his life in the private sector, I cannot take things for granted. Let it be that people actually know me. I have to move around and explain myself to them. Also, I crisscrossed all the local government areas (LGAs) in Lagos East.”
Many factors, analysts say, worked for the APC and its candidate in the election. His credentials cut across banking, administration, accounting, philanthropy, to name a few professional and other human endeavours. It is the belief in most quarters that his wealth of experience came in good stead. There is also the family background as his father, Senator Mudashiru Akanbi Abiru, was a senator from the area under the platform of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), founded by the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The mutual relationship with politicians of the progressive bent is also believed to have worked in his favour. For more than 21 years in this dispensation, the people of the zone have not, for once, severed the umbilical cord with progressives at all levels such that the same political lineage has consistently dominated the five local government areas making up the district: Ikorodu, Somolu, Epe, Ibeju Lekki and Kosofe.
Some analysts also attribute the triumph of Abiru to the erudition, intellect and hard work, citing the quality of his campaigns and policies and programmes he marketed before the electorate. He led a crack team that comprised Honourable Seye Oladejo and other APC stalwarts to every corner of the district to showcase his blueprint, which have direct correlation to the wishes and aspirations of the people. Through these, he was able to find himself on the same page with the citizens, both the high and the low. Part of his agenda is to collaborative with colleagues to secure a special status for Lagos and further devolution of powers to the federating units under a new dawn. He also promised to establish and institutionalise an endowment fund to support the aged; protect the vulnerable; sponsor youth employability schemes; support women empowerment programmes and cater for indigent but brilliant students in all parts of the district.
He justified his resolve to fight for special status for Lagos on the account of what he described as the strategic roles of the state as the nation’s commercial, financial, industrial, media and entertainment capital.
With the APC as his platform for the election, many had predicated a smooth ride for Abiru in the contest. The trajectory of the state since 1999 is the unbroken record of the party and its precursors forming government, including the present administration of Governor Sanya Sanwo-Olu. According to the erstwhile publicity secretary of the APC in the state, Honourable Seye Oladejo, through their votes, the electorate in the senatorial district acknowledged and appreciated the various developmental projects in their part of the state. He noted that the Dangote refinery, the Eleko to Epe roundabout, the Ikorodu road reconstruction and the Lekki deep sea port, among others, are projects that provided employment opportunities for the people and would most certainly change their socio-economic landscape when completed.
”We appreciate the tremendous support of the electorate who gave us the unprecedented 89 per cent of the total votes cast. We wish to assure you of our renewed commitment to good governance that will be impactful on all and sundry. Perhaps, we should also commend our opponents whose sheer falsehood and desperation served as additional impetus to work diligently for the victory,” Oladejo stressed.
The ex-APC spokesman explained that the bye-election was an opportunity for the electorate to access the performance of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration and most especially its response to the unexpected challenges. The government initiated the ingenious THEMES agenda which encapsulates transportation and traffic management; health and environment, as well as education and technology, with the governor’s desire to make Lagos a 21st century economy, entertainment and tourism, security and good governance a focal point. It completed inherited projects, including the Murtala Mohammed International Airport road; the Agege Pen cinema fly-over is at the stage of completion, while it has commissioned 37 newly constructed roads and rehabilitated 500 others.
The government acquired eight boats for water transportation, recruited 1000 officers towards the improvement of public transportation and showed dogged commitment to construct the 4th mainland bridge, with the shortlisting of eight out of the 30 firms that indicated interest. The various empowerment and poverty alleviation programs were geared towards addressing the peculiar challenges of the moment. The Covid-19 pandemic brought out the inherent leadership qualities of Mr Governor who acted as the Incident Commander in words and indeed. There was also the provision of the requisite medical needs- isolation centers, laboratories and other incentives to set the ideal standard for government response, as well as the provisions of far-reaching palliatives to cushion the effect of the lock-down occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the fruitless efforts to politicise it, showed the human face of our government.
The EndSARS protests, which started as a legitimate demonstration of democratic rights, but ended with orchestrated violence on public and private properties, afforded the governor the chance to further bond with the people. So, the state government was the first to set a judicial panel of enquiry to put together the pieces of the unrest for posterity and seek justice for the victims, just as it took an inventory of the losses, provided succour to the victims and initiated proactive measures to rebuild.
For more than two decades, the battle for the soul of Lagos has been between the APC and the PDP, with the other parties having no serious and noticeable incursion and impact, though some of them usually decide at the last minute to declare their support either for the candidate of the APC or the main opposition PDP. In the opinion of observers, it was time for a deep reflection by the fringe parties to reappraise their strategies as the gradual march to 2023 elections begins.
You want to share a story with us? You want to advertise? You need publicity for a product, service, or event? Contact us on WhatsApp – +234 803 3018 881