The 2019 general elections held across the country may have come and gone. While the winners have since emerged and are already rolling out the drums to celebrate, many of the losers are still sulking and counting their losses.
And expectedly, the shocking defeats, the unexpected victories and the new political heavyweights the elections have thrown up in it’s trail presently form the major topics of discuss everywhere you go. One of such is the emergence of the APC gubernatorial candidate and now governor-elect of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the less than impressive performance of the PDP guber candidate, Mr. Jimi Agbaje.
To say many were left utterly disappointed at the showing of Mr. Jimi Agbaje at the recent Lagos governorship elections would be putting it mildly. For someone who was no longer a green horn in the political terrain, having had two previous shots at the office of the governor of Lagos Sstate, a lot more was expected of him. He was expected to put in a much stronger fight and possibly take the elections to the wire.
His performance at the 2015 governorship polls was particularly encouraging. The incumbent governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, had only beaten him by the whiskers at the time. So, it is understandable to imagine that he could be third time lucky this time around, more so when you consider that he was thought to have an edge over a Babajide Sanwo-Olu who was contesting for the first time.
But that was not to be. Not only did Babajide Sanwo-Olu defeat him,
How did Jimi Agbaje get it wrong again for the third time? How could a campaign that started so brightly come crashing like a pack of badly arranged cards? Let us tell you how we think Jimi Agbaje got it wrong. For starters, many think he had a pretty decent start. Although he came into the fray a little late, Deji Doherty, Lagos PDP guber aspirant, was initially thought to be the party’s flag bearer for this year’s elections. He was the first PDP politician to come out to declare his intention to contest for the office of the governor of Lagos, but after a hurriedly done primaries, Jimi Agbaje was declared the PDP flag bearer.
Shortly after, we began to see beautiful posters of this technocrat turned politician fill up a few parts of the Lagos landscape. He made significant appearances on radio and television stations and was firing on all cylinders. People took him seriously. And he also showed the disposition of a man that was desirous to make an impact at the polls and hopefully realise his life-long ambition to become the next executive governor of Lagos State. But almost as soon as it started, the tempo of his campaign began to wane. The man fizzled out even before the battle proper started. This marked the beginning of Agbaje’s eventual defeat at the polls.
Many of Jimi’s critics have also argued that he has not shown the sort of hunger and desire expected of a man aspiring to occupy the office of the governor of Lagos State. To begin with, they think its ridiculous that Jimi Agbaje only shows up when the elections are just around the corner. You do not hear anything of him before the elections. He makes absolutely no effort to keep himself and what he stands for registered in the consciousness of people when there are no elections. When the elections are only a few weeks away, he emerges from inside his chemist, dusts up his political arsenal and declares his intentions to run for governorship. And once the elections are over, he returns to his chemist, waiting for the next three and half years to re-emerge again! This, critics say, is a major factor that has contributed to Mr. Agbaje’s failure to win any of the governorship elections he’s participated in. The Lagos political landscape is too tough and competitive for a contender outside of the state’s ruling party, APC, to stroll in and out of and expect to triumph at the polls. You must build a structure and it takes enduring years of political investments to do that. And that is something Jimi Agbaje is yet to accomplish
Another reason, according to critics, why Jimi Agbaje failed in his gubernatorial bid, is the fact that many felt his campaigns lacked conviction. His campaign ads just didn’t resonate with Lagosians. His ‘Lets free Lagos’ slogan was not only starting to look pedestrian, it just totally lacked substance. While the Sanwo-Olu campaign was dealing with issues the populace can identify with, Agbaje’s narrative of a free Lagos was simply not cutting it for many because, if you ask them, they would tell you they do not know any state in the country that is ‘working’ like Lagos is working.And for him and his PDP compatriots to have latched on to the failed ‘O toge’ movement to earn a possible political edge was simply a joke many didn’t find amusing.
Lack of a strong political war chest didn’t help Jimi Agbaje’s governorship ambition either. It became obvious at some point in the campaign period that he and his party lacked the financial muscle to compete with APC. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and APC were visible everywhere in Lagos. Compared to the volume of Sanwo-Olu’s posters littering the landscape, Agbaje’s posters were sadly few and far between. The PDP flag bearer couldn’t sustain the tempo with which he started. And those who know will tell you that whoever is serious about wrestling power from APC in Lagos State must come to the battle ground with a massive war chest big enough to weaken and possibly deflate a substantial part of the APC structure to stand any chance of wrestling power from APC in the state.
Also, the sudden but somewhat expected defection of some top PDP chieftains more or less nailed Agbaje’s governorship ambition. With only weeks away from the elections, former Lagos PDP chairman, Moshood Salvador left the party and defected to APC owing to crisis brewing repeatedly in the party. Not long after his exit, his deputy followed suit. He also moved to the ruling party. And of course, they all left with thousands of their supporters. Even Remi Adikwu, a great mobilizer for PDP in Lagos also exited the party and returned to APC where she had been a member for many years. All of these significant defections damaged whatever was left of the PDP structure in the state and condemned Jimi to, not only his third defeat at the polls, but to his most disappointing performance as well.
Finally, the Babajide Sanwo-Olu factor. Many were amazed at the way and manner the Sanwo-Olu campaign team went about the business. The APC flag bearer’s campaign was impressively aggressive. Sanwo-Olu was everywhere. He took full advantage of the social media, using all platforms available to reach out to the voting public and Lagosians as a whole.
While his posters flooded everywhere in Lagos, the last couple of weeks saw the
The energy, hunger and desire he brought into his campaigns were so intense you would think he was the under dog who stood no chance of winning the elections. He didn’t act like the man who had the powerful and efficient structure of the ruling party to ride on, Sanwo-Olu was doing exactly what was expected of Jimi Agbaje and his team. This endeared him to many Lagosians.
They got to touch flesh with him and access his sincerity and intellect at close quarters. And of course, everyone knows that you only need to spend a few minutes with the