Lagos was critical to Bola Tinubu’s victory in Nigeria’s presidential election last month, but the megacity could raise a stir on Saturday by voting for an opposition governor.
Nigerians will vote again three weeks after 25 million people voted in a presidential election challenged by the three main opposition parties over fraud accusations.
This time, Africa’s most populous country will vote for governors in 28 of the federation’s 36 states, with the remaining states having already held by-elections, as well as representatives in state assemblies.
Lagos, the buzzing coastal home of some 20 million people and the country’s and region’s economic nerve center, is ready to stand out.
Lagos is also a cultural center, producing singers who have achieved international recognition, like Afrobeats stars Burna Boy and Tems.
Together with India’s Bollywood and Hollywood, it is also home to Nollywood, one of the world’s largest film production centers.
Bola Tinubu’s dominion is Lagos, renowned as the “center of excellence” in Nigeria. From 1999 through 2007, the president-elect was governor of the state that contains Lagos.
As the “godfather of Lagos,” he has developed the political clout that has propelled him to the president on the ruling All Progressives Congress platform.
“Tinubu has had a hand in the rise of all the governors of Lagos since 2007,” noted journalist Yusuf Omotayo in the Nigerian magazine The Republic. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the incumbent governor of Lagos, is standing for a second term.
Local media has referred to Sanwo-Olu as a “puppet” at times. But, the power long wielded by Tinubu could demonstrate its limits on Saturday “as Lagos sets up for a historic governorship election”.
-Hope for change –
While Tinubu, 70, received the most votes countrywide in the February 25 presidential election, he was defeated in his home state of Lagos by an opposition candidate, Peter Obi.
The 61-year-old from Southeast Nigeria is popular with young people, a significant pool of voters who helped him win 10,000 more votes in Lagos than Tinubu.
Obi’s followers and his Labour Party are now expecting to win the March 18 gubernatorial election.
“The masses are demanding a chance for better administration and a change in the mediocre and oppressive system that has been placed upon them year after year,” Olanipekun, a 28-year-old voter, said.
He claims Tinubu and Sanwo-Olu are to blame for the city’s problems, which include a lack of housing and a lack of public transportation, resulting in severe traffic jams that routinely put the city to a halt.
Olanipekun said he would vote on Saturday for Obi’s party since he believes “there is room to overturn things”.
Others are rooting for the LP’s Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, a 40-year-old architect from one of Lagos’ most important families with traceable years of origin, who promises to be different from previous governors.
- Dissatisfied –
The “state capture” of “resources to one individual (and) his family” would end under his administration, Rhodes-Vivour said AFP. “The state’s riches must be used to uplift and benefit the people of Lagos.”
Several people were traumatized by the crackdown and swore to vote in 2023 to express their outrage.
Analysts believe that occurrence, and how the government handled it, explains a big part of the support Obi gained among Nigeria’s youth.
It remains to be seen whether this popularity will transfer into a governorship and eliminate Tinubu’s tremendous grip on the state.
Turnout could be a deciding issue, given that many young people were dissatisfied with the way the presidential elections were organized.
“Do you want to vote? “Well, what’s the point?” Damola, a 23-year-old student, agreed. “The election was rigged on the 25th, and the results will be manipulated on Saturday.”
The electoral commission has refuted charges that the presidential election was manipulated, although it has acknowledged technical flaws, such as the slow uploading of electronic results.