•LAGOS PDP Guber Candidate’s Shocking Revelations About Self
•Reveals His other Sides Many Don’t Know
What kind of a person is the Lagos PDP governorship candidate, Mr. Jimi Agbaje? He is many things to many people. Some see him as soft and gentle. Others see him as a tough person. Some say he is a highly principled gentleman. There are those who know him as that successful Lagos Pharmacist who owns Jaykay Pharmaceuticals. There are others who know him as a politician. He is also seen as an activist by some, because of his pro-democracy stance in those good old days. He could also be described as a socialite, because there is a social side to him. He is an Omo Eko proper. He began politics during the Moshood Abiola vs Bashir Tofa presidential election period. He saw the annulment of the June 12 presidential elections as a personal insult and an assault on the Nigerian people. This led to his first entry into activism, working with other Concerned Professionals such as Prof. Pat Utomi, Dr Ayo Ighodaro, Asue Ighodalo, Billy Lawson, Oby Ezekwesili, Tola Mobolurin and Hassan Odukale. Jimi was in one form of resistance group or the other which ultimately led him to join the socio-political organization, Afenifere where he served as National Treasurer.
Based on his affiliation with Afenifere, Jimi Agbaje joined the Action Congress (AC) – his first political party. In 2007, Agbaje who had initially aspired to contest for the Governor of Lagos State on the platform of the Action Congress (AC) left the party to join the Democratic People’s Alliance (DPA). He was among the 11 aspirants that turned their back to the Action Congress (AC) when it was alleged that Governor Bola Tinubu had already anointed someone else to succeed him even before the party primaries. Widely believed to have conducted the best campaign in 2007, Agbaje contested in gubernatorial election on the Democratic People’s Alliance (DPA) platform, but eventually, alongside other major contenders – Musiliu Obanikoro of PDP, Femi Pedro of Labour Party (Nigeria) – lost to Babatunde Raji Fashola of the Action Congress (AC).
He left DPA in 2011 and went on to join the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP following the de-registration of DPA by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). On October 29, 2014, he officially indicated his interest in giving the Lagos State gubernatorial elections another shot by picking up the PDP nomination form. On 8 December 2014, he emerged as the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP for the 2015 Lagos State gubernatorial election, having defeated Musiliu Obanikoro at the primaries. Musiliu Obanikoro is the former Minister of State for Defence who is also a member of the APC.
In October 2018, Jimi Agbaje secured the PDP ticket to run for the office of the governor of Lagos State. He defeated Adedeji Doherty to secure the ticket. Jimi Agbaje will be running for the third consecutive time for the office of governor of Lagos State. He recently told City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE his story, how he began life as a Lagos boy. He is a scion of the Onilegbale Chieftaincy family of Lagos and Lasuwon family in Ikorodu. Below are excerpts of the interview.
You have contested twice to be Governor of Lagos why has it been difficult to clinch the prize?
Well I can speak for 2015, because I was in the PDP and I ran on the platform of the PDP. Like I say, we were not declared winner in 2015. That’s the way I like to put it. But the result was declared, just that we were not declared winner. Don’t forget you have to know what the politics of Lagos was. We had a situation in the South West in 1999 where the South-West was really a one-party region coming from the old Alliance for Democracy and that has evolved into different parties, AC, ACN, APC. So you had people that have been entrenched in Lagos with a big economy and when you have a large economy, its more difficult to uproot those that have been in power. To a great extent, we have had an Oligarchy in Lagos especially in the last 10 years or so. So everything has been done to intimidate, to bully people, in terms of which direction to go.
We believe that we started a campaign in 2015 that was able to give us the kind of votes that we got. So, the message was quite clear. And I think in 2019, the message is even clearer and stronger and people can see what they did not see in 2015. I say that the story of Lagos can be likened to that of a rape viction that falls in love with his rapist. And with time the eyes will open. The eyes are opening now, at this point in town.
Lets talk about the real Jimi Agbaje. Some people see you as too clean, urbane and refined to be a politician. How do you react when people tell you this?
You are right, a lot of people say this to me and I do get amused each time I hear it. Yes, I may have a soft face, but I think I have a very hard inside and I think anybody who sincerely wishes to run in Lagos, the way we are running, there must be something hard about the person, because it is not a tea party. Its a mistake to think Jimmy Agbaje is soft. Yes, Jimi Agbaje is a peace loving person. Jimi Agbaje believes that things should be done right, but I think it is clear that Jimi Agbaje does not like being cheated. What you find is that when you are able to show peace, to show decency, it does not mean that you are a fool that will take things lying down.
In 2015, we ran elections, we ran a very strong campaign. Like I said we were not declared winner. We want to the Tribunal. We moved to the Appeal Court. We moved up to the Supreme Court and we left it at that. We did not pull trouble because we didn’t think it was necessary to do. But when you begin to see the signs as we are seeing this time when your bill boards are openly vandalised by government and government agencies, then its like you are pushing people to the wall, to react. Because the challenge that we have is, as we go round, the polls show that we are ahead. The only question they are asking is how are you going to defend our votes when we vote for you. So, we have to begin to put a strategy in place to ensure that we are not bullied or intimidated on election day. We are going by the maxim of if you want peace you prepare for war. So, Jimi Agbaje may look soft on the outside, but I can assure you that he is very hard inside. And if he is not hard I am sure he will not be doing what he is doing.
Let me also have you share with us your growing up years: Where have you born, where did you grow up?
I am a born and bred Lagosian. I was born in the Isale Eko part of Lagos, stayed at Idoluwo, spent a bit of my early life in Idoluwo. I stayed more with my grandmother because my mother was going to school abroad. So, I spent quite a bit of time on Idoluwo Street. Eventually, we moved away from Lagos Island when my mother was more settled. My parents moved to Apapa. So I have been in Apapa all my life. So I will say I am an Apapa person. My mother was a teacher. She is still alive. And I have siblings. I think all my siblings work in the finance sector except me that did Pharmacy.
What has been your views on this issue of indigene or non indigene issue governing Lagos?
Honestly speaking, what I see playing out, is not so much an indigene or non-indigene issue. I believe that those that have held on to power in Lagos have been carrying out what could be likened to criminality. When you want to control the resources of state and you want to take on the assets, then you begin to divide the citizens and therefore you have a situation where you have a deliberate policy to push indigenes out of positions of influence in government. Its not so much an indigene and non-indigene thing. It is a criminal act to be able to control the assets of the state, because it is difficult to have an indigene of the state in a position to allow you for example to take charge or take possession of properties that belong to the commonwealth. But where you have put square pegs in round holes then it is an easy thing to do. So its not so much an indigene or non-indigene thing. Everybody in Lagos is a Lagosian. Thats my view. And everybody has equal rights to be a Lagosian but it is played up by the Oligarchs that have tried to make sure that those who have that extra sense of commitment, to the asset of the state, to the commonwealth of the state are moved out. Then you will find that the indigenes will then begin to complain that they are marginalised. They will begin to complain that they go to Alausa, the seat of government, and they can’t find anybody to talk to. They cannot even get jobs for their own people because the people there are non-indigenes. But like I said, I see this as a deliberate act by those that have controlled the resources of the state.