Babjide Sanwo-Olu’s shot in the dark

Kenechukwu Obiezu

Kenechukwu Obiezu

With less than a year to the 2023 general elections, the race to Aso Rock is gaining steam as different candidates continue to throw their hats into the ring, and boldly declare their intentions to govern Nigeria.

As fingers have gone up in affirmation and identification, and territories marked, those interested are already dusting up the best robes to wear as the hold up their best credentials in the presidential parade before Nigerians. The problem that many have already predicted is that many of those robes would be found dirty, or full of holes, or simply full of oversize pockets that would panic Nigerians about the fate of the public purse.

To govern a giant country, common sense dictates that only men with giant credentials and intellect should put themselves out or be nominated by others for the arduous task. Alas, in a country overrun by little men, a good number of aberrations already convulse a nascent presidential race that is poised to prove so pivotal for the future of the country.

If there is today in Nigeria any politician who previously served in any public office in Nigeria, and who remains credible and creditable because they did not stoke the fire eating up the country today while in office, that politician is arguably of very rare stock because it is with unanimity that Nigerians agree that practically all those who have been saddled with public power in the past contrived in one way or the other to render a once towering country toothless.

Experience has shown that in many Nigerian elections, aggression trumps comprehension such that many participating candidates rather than channel their energies into convincing Nigerians on how they would expend energy in getting it right once they enter office, prefer to exploit any and every route to power.

Between 1999 and 2007, Lagos State, Nigerias Center of Excellence, successfully remained an opposition State under Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was governor for eight years. Under Mr. Tinubu, the state, one of Nigerias wealthiest, showed remarkable resilience when former president, Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo took the operations of the federal might to dangerously odious levels.

The state continued to be the bastion of opposition politics in the country until 2015 when a party it largely helped to create and shape won historic elections at the federal level to change the dynamics of power in the country.

All through the years during which Lagos State played a pivotal role in the power politics of the country leading to the seismic shift experienced in the Nigerian power circle in 2015, Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu always stood out as larger than life, projecting all along an uncanny political sense, and boasting of the patronage of many politicians spread across the entire southwest and the country. He has continued be very visible in the life of the APC in the country.

There is then an overwhelming feeling in many quarters that to get Mr. Tinubu onside is to get the entire Southwest onside just as to antagonize him is to risk losing an entire region. Such is perceived to be his power and pull. The 2015 general elections and many governorship elections in the Southwest have gone a long way to confirm this.

For many of Mr. Tinubus legion of followers, it is great news that he has long thrown his hat into the ring. One of his most ardent supporters and the current executive governor of Lagos State Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu recently drummed up support for Mr. Tinubus ambition.

The governor who spoke at the opening session of the 17th Executive and Legislative Parley organized for all elected public office holders in Lagos State waxed lyrical about the qualities of Mr. Tinubu, declaring him the best man for the job who knows the problems plaguing the country like the back of his hands, and has the magic wand to fix Nigeria.

While no one can begrudge Mr. Sanwo – Olu whose loyalty to Mr. Tinubu saw him unseat the unassuming Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode as governor of Lagos in 2019 his freedom of speech and association, there is no doubt that there is no magic wand to fix Nigeria, not to talk of such a magic wand resting in the hands of a man who divides opinion as sharply as he creates them.

Also, as a cautionary tale, Nigerians have been here before and must avoid falling into the same trap twice. Questions have already been asked about Mr. Tinubu`s age and competence, as have been of other candidates, just as they were asked of the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. Regrettably, where answers to those questions should have drawn coherent responses, they have instead drawn belligerent ones which is an indication that some people are really prepared to fight dirty to govern Nigeria in 2023 just as they have stated.

Nigerians are in the best stead to decide for themselves what the last seven years have been like. As they do that, history and posterity will judge them for actions they would take in 2023, especially for the choice of those they will elect to lead the country going forward.

Kene Obiezu,

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