Nigerians will vote for governors on Saturday, three weeks after the presidential election, and all eyes will be on Lagos, the economic capital and former stronghold of president-elect Bola Tinubu.
For the first time in two decades, the bustling 20-million-person metropolis could bypass Mr Tinubu, its historic “godfather,” in favour of an opposition governor.
Mr Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos (1999-2007), possesses enormous wealth and influence, which has provided him with the networks required to lead Africa’s most populous country, despite the opposition’s claims of massive fraud in the February 25 election.
Nigeria will elect governors and local government representatives for 28 of the 36 states that comprise the federal republic on Saturday (the others have already been subject to by-elections).
Lagos, Nigeria’s economic powerhouse with its massive port and thriving businesses, is attracting attention.
The megalopolis is the birthplace of Afrobeats, a musical genre whose stars include Burna Boy and Tems, as well as Nollywood, the world’s second-largest film industry.
This “centre of excellence,” as it is known in Nigeria, is Bola Tinubu’s stronghold, with “the upper hand in the appointment of all governors since 2007,” according to Yusuf Omotayo in the editorial of the political magazine The Republic.
Tinubu’s “puppet” in the local press is the current governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who ran for re-election on Saturday for a second term.
Omotayo, on the other hand, claimed Tinubu’s stranglehold ” as Lagos prepares for a historic election” on Saturday.
Bola Tinubu, 70, did indeed win the presidential election with the most votes cast nationwide.
However, in Lagos, outsider candidate Peter Obi, 61, a youth favourite, won with 10,000 more votes. The slim lead is a symbolic victory for Mr Obi and his Labour Party (LP), which has raised hopes of winning Lagos on March 18.
“It’s a strong warning,” Olanipekun, a 28-year-old salesman, said of the warning “The majority wants better governance and wants to change the poor political system that has been imposed on them for many years.
This resident sees the massive traffic jams in a city that is severely lacking in public transportation and housing, rather than the “transformation” of Lagos that Mr Tinubu and Mr Sanwo-Olu claim to have brought about.
So this Peter Obi supporter will vote on Saturday without hesitation. Because, if Tinubu has not lost control of Lagos, there is a “chance” on Saturday to “turn the tide” and vote for another politician.
Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, the LP’s gubernatorial candidate, is a 40-year-old architect from a prominent local family who promises to put an “end to the monopolisation of Lagos’ resources by one man and his family,” urging young people “to come out massively to vote,” he told AFP.
– “Offended” –
During his campaign, Rhodes-Vivour recalled being a member of the “Endsars,” a historic youth movement against police violence.
Tens of thousands of Nigerians took to the streets in October 2020 to protest the brutality of the security forces and to demand better governance.
The authorities, however, put down the peaceful demonstrations in blood, most notably at the Lekki toll plaza in Lagos, effectively ending the movement and traumatising the youth, who had promised to punish the leaders at the ballot box.
Analysts believe Endsars and his crackdown are largely to blame for Obi’s massive popularity, who is seen as younger and more upright, and who may vote for the LP candidate on Saturday.
However, in order to destabilise the Tinubu regime in Lagos, the youth must vote, and many are “disgusted” by the presidential election process, which was largely opaque.
Some young people interviewed by AFP stated that they will not vote. “What exactly is the point? They cheated in the presidential election, and they plan to do so again on Saturday “Damola, a 23-year-old student, explained.