•Tinubu, George To Slug Out Old Time Rivalry Again
The October 31, 2020 by-election for Lagos East Senatorial District and Kosofe II Constituency for Lagos State House of Assembly will test the strength of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and that of the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, ahead of the 2023 governorship race.
Since 1999, Lagos is one of the few states, where the PDP has failed to make a mark and win in any of the three senatorial zone elections.
Although, former Senators Musiliu Obanikoro, who represented Lagos Central and Adeseye Ogunlewe, Lagos East, won their senatorial elections on the platform of defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) that later transformed to Action Congress (AC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and now APC, the duo defected to PDP after some differences with former governor, Bola Tinubu, but could not retain the senatorial districts in subsequent elections. Since then, APC has dominated the three senatorial seats.
Facts and figures of election results, especially in 2015 and 2019, show that Lagos East Senatorial election is not always an easy take for the ruling party, especially in the 2019 senatorial election, when late Senator Bayo Oshinowo, whose demise created room for the coming bye-election, struggled to defeat PDP’s candidate, Princess Abiodun Oyefusi.
Not wanting to take chances ahead of the coming polls, APC has admonished its members not to commit the error of underrating PDP and or any contestant even though it is in power and also has many things to its advantage.
While speaking at the unveiling of its flagbearers, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru for the upper chamber and Mr. Femi Saheed for the state Assembly, Lagos APC Chairman, Chief Tunde Balogun, urged party faithful, especially those from the East Senatorial zone and Kosofe II, not to treat the bye-elections with levity. Balogun commended party leaders and members for the exemplary peaceful conduct of its primary. He also acknowledged the sacrifice of other aspirants, who conceded to the idea of a consensus candidate as provided for in the party’s constitution.
To strengthen its base, the party also inaugurated a 100-man Campaign Committee, led by the Vice Chairman, Lagos East Senatorial District, Asipa Kaoli Olusanya, and his deputy, Chief Bode Oyedele. It signalled a new dimension in campaign structures within the ruling party.
In his acceptance speech, Abiru promised to pay particular attention to the speedy completion of the rehabilitation of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, accelerated completion of the ongoing Epe-Ijebu Ode Expressway and ancillary industrialisation along that axis, and development of the tourism potential of Ibeju-Lekki area.
After the presentation of the party’s flag, the former bank chief, Abiru, promised to join forces with the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, and Senator Olamilekan Adeola, among others, to pursue efforts to secure a special status for Lagos State. Abiru said he would also pursue and support initiatives and policies that would better the lot of Lagosians and Nigerians in general if elected.
“I will be a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with resolute focus on the welfare of Lagos East, Lagosians and Nigerians at large. I will use the position of senator and my energy and resources to further their well-being, welfare, prosperity, empowerment and security.
“In my role as a senator, my legislative activities will be anchored on two overriding considerations, one of which is to join hands with colleagues in the National Assembly from Lagos to further efforts to secure a special status for the state in view of it being the financial, industrial, media and entertainment capital of Nigeria.”
Abiru acknowledged the pressure on the infrastructure of Lagos State due to federal establishments like seaports, airports and military installations, and the mass rate of migration from other states for the economic opportunities in the state.
“I will contribute towards improving national economic performance, including but especially national revenue generation, industrialisation, infrastructure development, financial deepening and inclusion, employment generation and poverty reduction,” Abiru said. “I intend to pay attention to the execution of projects and initiatives which will have significant impact on Lagos East Senatorial District and Lagos in general.”
Specifically, the APC candidate noted that he would work towards the reconstruction of Ikorodu-Epe-Ijebu-Ode and Ikorodu-Sagamu expressways as well as ancillary industrialisation along these corridors when elected. He also pledged to work with the relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to ensure speedy completion of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. He said he would work to ensure the development of tourism potential of Ibeju-Lekki and sustained industrial and commercial development of areas like Ikorodu, Somolu, Epe and Kosofe.
The APC candidate promised “to establish and institutionalise programmes for the poor, the vulnerable, the unemployed, the aged and women generally to create employment and reduce poverty in Lagos East.”
Abiru said he did a lot to reposition Polaris Bank Plc as CEO, and would come to the senate with the same character if elected. He thanked party members for nominating and affirming him as candidate, saying his nomination was the greatest honour ever done him as a citizen of Nigeria. He also commended APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for providing what he called leadership vision in the state since 1999.
He also commended the state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for what he called “interventionist strides in the state. At this point, let me assure our leaders and members that I will never betray the trust they have reposed in me. Rather, as we approach the bye-election and afterwards, I will build on this trust and join forces with all public office holders elected on the platform of our party to build upon the foundation of progressives the party has laid for our country since 2015.”
Abiru urged party members to work assiduously for the victory of the party at the bye-election scheduled for October 31.
ON his part, PDP’s Gbadamosi assured the electorate in Lagos East of his readiness to initiate legislations that would reposition Lagos East and bring out its economic potential if elected. He made the statement during a courtesy call on the former Deputy National Chairman of PDP, Chief Bode George.
Gbadamosi said that among the list of changes he would bring to governance include ensuring that some legislations, which negatively affect the state, would be reviewed. He said that the Company and Allied Companies Act (CAMA) affects Lagos disproportionately, adding that Lagos generates 55 per cent of Value Added Tax (VAT) and when redistributed at the national level leaves the state with just two per cent. He said there must be economic and fiscal devolution.
“We can’t have one corporate registry operating from Abuja,” he affirmed. “Each state should have its own company registry. Each state should take its own companies’ taxes; that is how a federal system should be operating. The National Water Resources Bill should also be a source of concern. Lagos has little land and so that water resources bill is a good example of a federal law that affects Lagos State disproportionately. These are the issues that I would fight on the floor of the Senate for the benefit of citizens of the state in particular and Nigerians in general.”
George, who commended PDP for the peaceful primary election, stressed that the party was democratic by all standards, unlike the other parties, especially APC, which according to him, adopted a consensus system where candidates were imposed on the people.
He said, “PDP will remain democratic. We are going to stay and work together to ensure that we get victory. The time has come for a democratic party to take over leadership. Nigerians should know that APC is not a democratic party, but a private company, which can hire and fire at the whims and caprices of the emperor. PDP will remain fair, just and equitable as a party. I appeal to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the election is free, fair and credible. The voting system is archaic and gives a lot of room for manipulations. It should be reviewed.”
What would probably play out in the election for both Abiru and Gbadamosi is the strength of their respective platforms and individual political influence. While the APC candidate, who is fresh from the financial industry, may bank on the well-oiled political machinery of APC and the power of incumbency in the state, Gbadamosi, who has always been a politician of substance and former governorship candidate, may combine his personal strength with that of the crisis-ridden PDP to make impact in the race.
Another issue is that both candidates have solid family political backgrounds in the zone. While the Abirus are well known in Ikorodu axis, Gbadamosi is considered to be popular in the Lekki and Epe axis. The PDP candidate may also capitalise on the poor policies of the ruling party, especially at the federal level, to run a popular campaign ahead of the poll.
The October bye-elections will also provide another opportunity for the duo of Tinubu and the former Deputy National Chairman of PDP who are regarded as the godfathers of Lagos APC and PDP to test their political strength and popularity ahead of 2023.
While some said Abiru would represent Tinubu in the bye-election, facts show that Gbadamosi, who returned to PDP recently after his defection to ADP to contest the 2019 governorship election but lost to Sanwo-Olu, rode on the influence of Bode George to win the senatorial ticket. The former PDP’s deputy national chairman ranks among the few personalities Gbadamosi first paid homage to after picking the senatorial ticket. But in all, the ruling party remains a force to beat by the opposition PDP.