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B Side, Politics

Polithinks: Who Wins Lagos?

The top contenders for the job are Babajide Sanwo-Olu of APC, and incumbent governor; Gbadebo Patrick Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party and the People’s Democratic Party’s candidate – Dr Abdul-Azeez…

  • Folasayo Adigun
  • 9th March 2023
Polithinks: Who wins Lagos?

The electoral cycle in Nigeria for 2023 will soon end, but not before the gubernatorial elections in 28 states have been conducted on the 11th of March, 2023. Elections will not hold in 8 states given that they are off-cycle states. These are states whose elections have been subject of litigations in the past that led to the nullification of results. The states are Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kogi, Ondo, and Osun.


Lagos State is one of the states in the country whose governorship election is within the normal electoral cycle, and on the 11th of March, it will be battle royale for who takes the Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja. 


The top contenders for the job are Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and incumbent governor; Gbadebo Patrick Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party (LP), and the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate – Dr Abdul-Azeez Adediran. These three, including thirteen others will go into battle to get the top job in Lagos.


However, there are several factors that will shape the choice of the electorates in Lagos, and swing the determine who wins the governorship race. Let’s take a look at these factors:


1. The surprise defeat of Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT), Nigeria’s president elect, by the candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the presidential elections on the 25th of February felt like a shock to some people who had not given the party (LP) any chance in the country, much more in Lagos, which is the stronghold of BAT. This surprise win by the LP in Lagos may have served as a hint into what is possible in Lagos, and if the voting pattern in the presidential election is anything to go by, the governorship candidate of the LP, Gbadebo Patrick Rhodes-Vivour may have a shot at the top job in Lagos.


2. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the incumbent governor of Lagos State can point to several projects and programs that his administration has successfully carried out to lay claim to the office of governor, and remain as such. The most recent and widely celebrated project is the Lagos Blue Line Rail which was inaugurated in January 2023 by President Muhammadu Buhari. There are other projects that have been commissioned by the governor that may endear him to prospective voters. Hence, apart from the power of incumbency, the governor can return to government house on the merit of his performance as seen in projects commissioned.


3. Lagos is plagued by perennial problems of traffic congestions, bad inner roads, thuggery and a poor drainage system which precipitate floods at the slightest drops of rain. These challenges have bothered previous administrations in Lagos, including that of Mr. Sanwo-Olu. If the electorates find these sufficient enough issues, then Mr. Sanwo-Olu may not return to the top job in Lagos. However, if past trends are anything to go by, he will return as the governor of the state, after all, the same problems were there when other governors won their re-election bids. Many Lagosians may even count these as challenges that are not peculiar to Lagos as a big urban center.  


4. The ruling party in Lagos is very well entrenched in the governance structure of Lagos. Haven governed the state uninterrupted since the return to democracy in 1999, it will be difficult for an opposition to take the state from the ruling party.


5. As shown in the national elections, the combined votes of the opposition parties were more than those of the incumbent party, yet none of the opposition candidates secured enough votes to be declared the winner of the election. The same pattern may be repeated in Lagos during the governorship election. The PDP had perennially been the only party that mounted any form of challenge to the incumbent party in Lagos. With the dwindling popularity of the party at the national level (as seen in the presidential election), and even in Lagos, the party may not single-handedly mount a challenge to the APC in the state. Despite the rising popularity of the LP nationally and in Lagos, it may be too early for them to ruffle the feathers of the APC in Lagos. Hence, going alone, none of the opposition political parties may be able to clinch the top job in Lagos. A combined effort of the opposition may wrestle power from the ruling party.


In the end, a combination of the power of incumbency, performance, and a long history of the ruling party in Lagos may help Babajide Sanwo-Olu remain in power beyond 2023. However, if the voting pattern on the 25th of February repeats, and the opposition bands together, the incumbent governor may not retain his seat.

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