It is no longer news that Babatunde Olalere Gbadamosi, BOG for short, a businessman cum politician won the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket to represent the party at the Lagos East senatorial by-election scheduled for October 31.
Gbadamosi had an easy landslide victory at the PDP primary held on September 5 at Shomolu, one of the local government areas that fall under Lagos East senatorial zone. He scored 529 votes to defeat three other aspirants, Princess Saidat Odofin Fafowora 59 votes; Olanrewaju Moshood Babatund 21 votes; and, Princess Abiodun Oyefusi’s seven votes, while 14 votes were voided.
However, this victory will be a child’s play compared to what he will face at the election proper against the All Progressives Congress (APC), candidate, Tokunbo Abiru, a banker-turned politician, and candidates of other political parties participating in the election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is conducting the by-election to fill the vacant Lagos East senatorial seat at the 9th Senate created by the death of Senator Adebayo Oshinowo, who represented the area from June 6, 2019 to June 15, 2020.
The PDP has remained merely the major opposition party in Lagos State as all its attempts to break the APC rule have failed since the return to democracy in 1999.
Thus, the October 31 contest presents another opportunity for the PDP and the APC to woo and try to win over the people of Lagos East in particular and the state in general in the over two-decade long political rivalry between both parties.
For the PDP, the by-election is a first step towards reinventing itself in the politics of Lagos State in the face of growing opposition to what critics perceive as the control of the APC in Lagos State by an individual.
National leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, who was instrumental to the emergence of Abiru as the APC candidate has been widely accused of single-handedly deciding who gets what, when and how in Lagos State.
However, despite the resentments, Gbadamosi will face some hurdles in his bid to take Lagos East seat in the Senate.
BOG’s burden of trust
Of a fact is that BOG and the PDP will face a burden of trust hurdle in this senatorial by-election.
To some extent, Gbadamosi can be grouped in the class of a pro democracy fighter. He joined the United Kingdom (UK) branch of the National Conscience Party (NCP), in 1994, and represented the party in the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) UK, a broad coalition of political groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that fought the military from outside the shores of Nigeria.
However, some critics see him as a ‘prodigal’ in the PDP, who cannot be trusted.
To this group, BOG is a typical Nigerian politician who is driven by solely political ambition and will switch political allegiance to achieve that ambition.
Daily Sun recalls that BOG contested the PDP primary to run as governorship candidate in 2011 and 2015, losing on both occasions. By 2017, he joined the Action Democratic Party (ADP) and later won the party’s governorship ticket for the 2019 election, which he again lost; was the second runner up. He rejoined the PDP in March 2020 and won the PDP ticket for the Lagos East senatorial seat.
Gbadamosi, however, has refuted the assertion that he abandoned the PDP when he lost the governorship bid in 2015 or that he is a political ‘ship-jumper’.
He said, “I had been with the PDP before. When I left the party in 2015, I actually resigned from politics, I didn’t just leave the PDP and jumped into another party; it is not as if I decamped to another political party. I actually retired from politics. Now that I’m back, I’m fully committed to progress in governance, the PDP Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole. I do hope people trust me enough to know that they will be safe with me.”
Another hurdle BOG may face will stem from how he relates with the other aspirants that contested against him.
At least two of the defeated aspirants, Princess Abiodun Oyefusi and Princess Saidat Odofin Fafowora come from Ikorodu, district as BOG and can easily sway their supporters for or against BOG.
Daily Sun also recalls that Princess Oyefusi, the daughter of the late Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba S.A.A Oyefusi contested for the Lagos East senatorial seat against the late Oshinowo in 2019 and lost by a narow margin of 13,075 votes against Oshinowo’s 18,713 votes, an indication that she has many followers.
She has however, indicated that she will work to make the PDP bid to take the Lagos East seat a reality.
At the PDP primary, she said: “This by-election is actually for the PDP to win; the PDP has never lost a by-election in Lagos East. We did one in Epe, we won, in Ikorodu we won…I am very confident in the process, we just want to make sure everything is done right and that due process is followed. We don’t impose candidates and the PDP has done a very good job, we are one in PDP. This primary is not about Oyefusi, it is not about Fafowora, it is not about Gbadamosi or Bob Tarner, it is about PDP and we are coming for our seat.”
BOG has meanwhile, pledged to work with Oyefusi and the other aspirants to ensure victory for the PDP.
He said, “My victory is not mine alone but for the PDP. It is a victory for the constituents of Lagos East because at last, there is an opportunity for them to see what PDP representation looks like. I guarantee you that with my fellow aspirants beside me and whispering into my ears, I will not lose my anchor. We will bring something better than ordinary governance. That is why our slogan is ‘Beyond Ordinary Governance, which is an anagram of my own initials. We will also bring legislation that will impact on the lives of the people of Lagos East, the entire Lagos East and Nigeria in general.
“In terms of legislation, I will pursue a review of the recent companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), with a view of making it more investor-friendly. What we need in this country is investor-friendly laws and not laws that scare investors away; the CAMA law is one such law. There is also the Water Resources Bill which I call a Monkey dey work, Baboon dey chop law. There is the VAT where Lagos State is contributing 55 per cent to the VAT that accrues to the Federal Government and gets less than 1 per cent. I will fight for the VAT to be domesticated in the state from which it is generated. The state government should control the VAT.”
APC is Lagos, Lagos is APC
Fans of the APC have very often argued that Lagos is APC and APC is Lagos. If this be true, then the most formidable obstacle BOG will face will be the APC machinery.
Abiru may be a political neophyte compared to BOG’s almost a decade of active politicking, but he will have the whole armour of APC’s political machinery behind him. True, some APC chieftains grumbled against the alleged imposition of Abiru on the party by Tinubu, but the party cannot afford to lose the Lagos East senatorial seat to the PDP. Thus, all grievances within the APC will be resolved before the by-election.
A chieftain of the APC, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, is confident that his party will win the by-election. Igbokwe, who is the Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Drainage Services, at a recent event in Lagos, described the PDP as a dead political party.
He said: “I do not see any competition from any political party in the election. APC will win the two by-elections with a landslide; the party will emerge victorious. I don’t see any competition from any party in Lagos. As far as I am concerned, the PDP is dead. Do they still exist? I don’t think so. However, we will treat the elections with all seriousness to make the victory overwhelming.”
Meanwhile, the PDP said it is not afraid of the APC candidate, noting that “the Lagos PDP asset into future elections in the state is the APC’s inadequacies in Lagos State, especially in the said senatorial district.”
Publicity Secretary of the PDP in Lagos State, Taofik Gani said, “We are going into the Lagos East senatorial by- elections and other future elections with the kind of morale needed and ready to face and defeat the APC, irrespective of their eventual candidate. Voters in that senatorial district will not be fooled by affluence of any candidate but the physical developments sponsored and encouraged by the candidate.”
According to him, the PDP has resolved on taking on the APC “vote for vote, strategy for strategy in the coming by-elections and the general elections in 2023; “the inadequacies identified in the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu led APC administration shall be our winning asset going into any future election in the state.”