(TBS Lagos) – The Clifford 1922 Constitution enabled Nigeria’s first nationwide elections. Four (4) elective seats – 3 for Lagos and 1 for Calabar – were created in the Legislative Council while 13 other members were appointed by Governor Clifford to represent diverse European and African business interests. In September 1923, NNDP won the Lagos seats while an independent candidate, Kwamina Ata-Amonu, won the Calabar seat.
Beyond the glitches that informed INEC’s decision on manual collation of Presidential election results, Nigeria’s 2023 elections mark a century of elective democracy since Clifford 1922 Constitution. It will also go down well in history as the most orderly and inclusive. With 57 APC Senator-elects and 162 APC Reps-elect, the Party will produce the next Senate President; and only 181 Reps are required for APC to also produce the next Speaker of the House of Representatives. Under His Excellency Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s Presidency, business climate enhancement is expected to be an important agenda.
Lagos is important in Nigeria’s politics for all reasons. Nigeria’s non-oil economy, West African neighbours and the Gulf of Guinea will be severely impacted by an unstructured unpredictable control of governance in Lagos State. Alhaji Lateef Jakande’s pioneering efforts on Lagos planning were dwarfed when he accepted to serve under a Military Junta. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s political legacy can be directly attributed to his wisdom in avoiding Jakande’s error; and with it came the astute planning and phenomenal improvements recorded under him and successive Governorship Administrations.
The Nigerian 2022 – 2025 Sensitivity Analysis had determined that Lagos State will be impacted in the short run over Bola Tinubu’s rumored Presidential ambitions. The involvement of Military in #LekkiProtest made retribution votes against the ruling APC inevitable. This scenario played out in the Presidential elections where APC lost simple majority votes in the Presidential elections despite winning 20 Federal Constituencies and the 3 Senatorial seats. In the words of Hon. Vincent Anthony Ubani of Peter Obi Support Group, “taking over Lagos even at the cost of lives is a cardinal objective”. Such attitude runs contrary to public policy and should be discouraged. Elections do not deserve a bloodshed.
Lagos has a very simple business in the forthcoming governorship elections. Beyond the divisive sentiments major political parties have employed in the Presidential elections, the best governorship candidate is the one who can consolidate and improve on existing infrastructure and policies to enhance economic growth, development and peaceful co-existence Lagosians are known for. His credentials must stand him out as an accomplished administrator with a demonstrated capacity to balance competing interests for the common good.
Several candidates have been presented by Political Parties. The APC, LP and PDP are leading this race. Governor Sanwoolu’s advantage stems from assessment of his performance since assumption of office in 2019. Away from party affiliations and coloured perspectives, the bare facts are easy on the eyes.
Special Adviser Tokunbo Wahab explained that networking is at the heart of digital transformation enabling growth and development across diverse sectors. This is responsible for the influx of people in Lagos and how easily they could thrive, a fact that appears to have been taken for granted and abused. It is the philosophy for ensuring top-notch infrastructure, efficient welfare system, good road connectivity, trade hub enhancement, people-centered law enforcement, education and healthcare delivery as well as other giant strides in Lagos. This philosophy has expanded telecoms penetration in Lagos, deepened financial inclusion, as well as enabled social interaction and civic participation in a way unimaginable in other parts of Nigeria.
Lagos State is the commercial capital of Nigeria. A failure in its education delivery, transportation and security infrastructure will spell doom for the country. The fact that Nigeria could afford the cost of organising general elections despite ongoing war on insurgency amidst global post-Covid19 induced recession, and locally-induced cash crunch, is a testament to Sanwoolu’s efficiency in providing accessible universal services and addressing security concerns.
There are technicalities underlining federal support and funding for important projects such as Lagos Rail Mass Transit, National Theatre redevelopment as Creative Industries Park, Road Infrastructure Tax Credit, investments in healthcare improvement and other opportunities, made possible by virtue of an alignment between local and federal politics. This was not possible for 16 years since 1999, and Lagos was specifically persecuted by President Obasanjo throughout his administration. Most people will never understand those intricacies in the light of Nigeria’s Constitution but they trust Governor Babajide Sanwoolu and previous Administrations to sort out those details and deliver on the projects anyway.
Beyond his adroit administrative acumen, Babajide Sanwoolu demonstrated remarkable loyalty and enterprise when he ensured the commissioned multibillion dollars Dangote refinery, fertilizer and petrochemical investments found a good place to thrive in Lagos. The benefits accruable from Lekki economic corridor will positively transform the lives of Lagosians beyond wildest imaginations, but only under a tested and trusted Governor who could balance competing interests.
The 4th Mainland Bridge (under development) will connect Lekki Epe with Lagos Ibadan Expressway in 20 minutes, a significant improvement on the 3 hours it takes to cover same distance presently. It will feed into Lagos Abuja Railway project at Arepo and open up all the corridors for development. It will also create 5,500 additional jobs for the people of Lagos among other benefits.
Governor Babajide Sanwoolu’s Administration is focused on making all Lagosians happy, delivering critical infrastructure, and expanding affordable and free access to universal services such as quality education and healthcare, electricity and transportation services, security and welfare services, housing and food security, and other interventions that enriches lives.
The business of Lagos on 18th March is therefore very clear. Lagosians will either re-elect the incumbent Governor who has done so well for Lagos, or replace him with another aspirant from one of the other political parties. The choice is between retention of an experienced, focused and committed Sanwoolu as provided by law or a gamble on other aspirants.
According to the National Coordinator, Coalition of Young People for Digital Transformation, Kolawole Dada, “there is no doubt about the fact that Lagos loves Sanwoolu. He is a young and humble technocrat in government, an enterprising and accomplished administrator, and a leader of men and resources all parties respect and understands. Lagosians understand that governing Lagos requires some firmness, and they appreciate overtures and gratuitous reliefs such as releasing lawfully impounded cars and door-to-door campaigns. It shows that people are at the heart of governance, and they understand the need for preserving that way of life for all Lagosians”.
Beyond the rigours of electioneering campaign, it is important that political parties and civil societies continue to strengthen electorates with quality information and guidance necessary for making informed choices among candidates. Politicians have deviated from issues and blackmailed citizens emotionally. As citizens, it is our collective responsibility to insist on fair play campaigns in other to discourage cheap blackmail, and ensure our votes count. The conducive business environment of Lagos which has been preserved throughout the 100 years history of our general elections, must not be shattered presently.
(Sponsored by Coalition of Young People for Digital Transformation)
Report by: Samuel Odebowale (Managing Editor)