The vote in Lagos State on March 11 goes beyond Tinubu and Sanwo-Olu

Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress

Ordinarily, one would seek to refrain from partisan political discussions, religious arguments and ethnic-based conversations. From one’s pan-Nigerian experience and having lived a greater part of life northward of rivers Niger and Benue, it is rather undignifying to have myopic view of issues, be it religion, politics or ethnicity. Nigeria has been kind to one’s generation, with opportunity of free education, well secured jobs and able to “Japa” when it was not yet in vogue, thus able to see developments in other parts of the world. In essence, one has lived the Nigerian dream if there is anything like that and should not dabble into local issues. But these are not ordinary times.

As the saying goes all politics is local. Today, there is anger and frustration in the land, especially among the indigenous people of Lagos, my beloved state. There are three issues at stake and they are all interwoven and deserve some consideration or introspection by lovers of peace, justice and fairness. First is the claim by certain people that Lagos is a “no man’s land”; second is the performance of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and the need for his re-election and finally the incongruity of a probable Lagos State Governor in a political party different from that of the president of the Republic.

Importantly, Lagosians have been called different names, squanderer (“Omo oni no kuno”, “Akotileta”), party goers (owambe lovers), etc. by people whom we have allowed to settle and prosper on our lands. We have been called touts and motor parks managers. It is exasperating. As a realist, I belong to the school of thought that believes we perhaps deserve these name tags by non locals (“Ajejis”). It is a great awakening and calls for sober reflection and urgent need for an objective assessment of how far we have succeeded in the management of our affairs since the creation of the state in 1967.

As I read in one Whatsapp post recently, no gun was placed on our heads when we sold our lands to the “Ajejis”. How about the parcels of my ancestral land in Lekki axis given out to build Dangote Refinery to halt the depletion of Nigeria’s Foreign Exchange Reserves, no one is talking about that. That Lekki deep sea port is going to revolutionise Nigeria’s commerce in years to come is no news, but we are still being abused as if we don’t matter. I do not really blame the perpetrators of these evil deeds and the revisionists that are claiming we deserve the treatment being meted out to us. Perhaps we “sow the wind we should reap the whirl wind”. Lagos is now the proverbial bat that has no identity, a bird and a flying rat.

Notably, Lagosians are the least prosperous among the entire Yoruba nation. Look at all the estates sprouting on the Lekki Peninsula, from Lekki Gardens to Sapphire etc, they are owned by none Lagosians. How about the media and the banks dominating the landscape? Yes, they pay taxes, how come we cannot own such and pay taxes? Politically, we are the most marginalised in the country. Please believe it, that is the truth. This is the reason why a sitting senator of the Federal Republic representing Lagos could have the temerity to contest for the same position in a neighbouring state. Same with a serving member of the House of Representatives who aspired to be a governor in yet another state while representing the state. What a shame? There was a time the Vice President of the Republic was a commissioner in Lagos State while his brother was also a commissioner in a neighbouring State. This has been the fate of the indigenes that so many politicians used and are still using Lagos as a preparatory ground to higher offices in their states. As if that is not enough, they are now positioning their children to take over as members of the State House of Assembly and House of Representatives. These are people whose family homes and graves of their fathers and grandfathers are not in Lagos state.

We know some of the reasons for these seeming aberrations, including the fact that Lagos used to be the former capital of the Federation. It is understandable that Nigerians from every part of the country will migrate to the city and state and after many years can come up with the idea of Lagos being “no man’s land”. So this fallacy did not just start today. It has been a recurring mentality among different ethnic collections but has now been accentuated by certain group for political gains and ambition. Even the late first governor of the state, General Mobolaji Johnson in September, 1970 had to publicly state that “Lagos is not a no man’s land” while rebuking Col. Abba Kyari, his North-Central State counterpart, over the latter’s comment that a Federal Capital Territory be carved out of Lagos State.

This now brings me to the second issue which is the obligation on us all to re-elect the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu for a second term. While Lagosians are justifiable in being angry at this moment for all that have been done on their behalf and against them, what is needed now is to first win the State for APC and Sanwo-Olu. It is expedient to do that and come back after the election of March 11 to talk about how our grievances will be addressed. According to a Yoruba proverb, “e je ka le akata lo no ki a to pada bo wa ba adie”, (let us chase away the fox and come back to scold the chicken for straying into the forest). The issue at stake is that Sanwo-olu has performed by any standard of assessment and deserves to be given the opportunity for a second term. Can he do better, of course, there is always room for improvement.

Just one example will suffice. In the 1980s, the travel time on the newly opened 76 kilometres Lekki-Epe Expressway from Mobil Headquarters in Victoria Island to Epe was 45 minutes even by the rickety of cars. At some point in 2020, it would take anyone going to Epe between 6 to 8 hours to get to his destination, especially during peak hours. Now, that stretch of road from Eleko Junction to Epe has been rehabilitated and the journey is about 3 to 4 hours even with the ongoing construction at VGC intersection. It is hoped that the construction will be over soon and the journey though cannot return to 45 minutes of old because of development along the axis but not the horrible 8 hours before the intervention by Sanwo-Olu. Also, the political set up at the wards, local governments, divisions, state and the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) levels is skewed and deserved to be re-examined to reflect the demographics of the youth and the indigenous population in the State. But for now, the task is to re-elect Sanwo-Olu and the vote on March 11 from Epe to Badagry, from Ikeja to Eti-osa must reflect that in order to take back our land.

Finally, it is inconceivable that the former governor of the state will be the president of Nigeria and Lagos governor in a different party. I know some people will say it happened in 1999 when former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in PDP and the governor of the state in AD. This is false equivalency. President Obsanjo was neither a politician per see nor a governor in the state before contesting the election. In any case, he dramatically changed the political situation in the 2003 election when he deployed all means and resources necessary as a former war commander to capture the state. But somehow, he did not forgive the citizens of the state nay the region for that indiscretion. Lagos-Otta-Abeokuta road is a practical demonstration of what can become of the infrastructural development of a state if the people fail to realise that it is in their interest to have the governor and president in the same party.

In the end, for a prosperous Lagos, a thriving business community, the hub of information communication technology, the base of Nollywoood we should not make the mistake of voting another party on Saturday March 11 but APC and Governor Sanwo-Olu. Let us put what happened on February 25, 2023 behind us and consider it as an aberration that would not repeat itself. The non indigenes in Lagos have nothing to fear. They will continue to live in Lagos, marry Lagosians, enjoy owambe parties, but the values, cultures, norms and traditions of the people must be respected and recognise that Lagos belongs to Lagosians and not a “No man’s land”. That is an incontrovertible fact.


Wale Oloko, a Policy Analyst writes via


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