Let The Truth Be Told; Agbaje, You Have Godfathers!

imageWhile reading the excerpts of the media interaction of the gubernatorial candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje in The Guardian of January 23, 2015, and also watching his interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily by the trio of Chamberlin Usoh, Sulaiman Aladeh, and Maupe Ogun, the words of German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche came to my mind. He apparently had Agbaje in mind when he said: “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

Having unashamedly told lies to Lagosians, it will surely be difficult to believe his campaign promises. When Agbaje told journalists “I don’t have a godfather”, I cringed. Agbaje should tell that to the marines. One question one must ask Agbaje is: how did he, who joined the PDP a few months to the party’s primary election, emerged as the candidate without the support of the godfathers who controls the party’s structures? Agbaje wanted us to believe that Chief Bode George and Chief Adeseye Ogunlewe who allegedly influenced the primary election and deployed state apparatus in his favour did that out of sheer altruism and without vested interest. Can Jimi Agbaje dispute the fact that he emerged the candidate of the PDP in Lagos State through a manifestly fraudulent and violent process? Perhaps, it is apposite to refresh the memory of sufferers of selective amnesia as no one can build something on nothing, as it will not stand.

In the primary election that produced Agbaje as the candidate, 806 voters were accredited but 863 votes were counted. This is in line with the PDP’s “democracy” algebra. To the PDP, 16 is greater than 19 at the Nigerian Governors Forum’s election and seven is greater than 19 at the Ekiti State House of Assembly. Agbaje did not have the capacity to conjure the 57 ghost delegates, as he did not control the structure of the party. It was only the bipolar super power of George and Ogunlewe that could brazenly invent such parody of democracy. Agbaje, tell no lies, claim no easy victory!

I also recall that the cache of weapons recovered by the Police in a SURE-P bus put at the disposal of Bode George’s thugs on the day of the primary election could have assisted the soldiers complaining of ill equipment in the war against Boko Haram. I did not invent this. The serious allegation leveled against Bode George and SURE-P was made by no less a personality than Musiliu Obanikoro, immediate past Minister of State for Defence and victim of the rigging process. A friend, who passed through Ketu and Ojota on that day, confirmed the scary incident that one of the gubernatorial aspirants donned a bulletproof vest at the venue of the primary election. Television cameras captured this. What other proof do we need?

George and Ogunlewe could not have deployed “life and death” and “do or die” tactics to secure the ticket for Agbaje if they were not driven by self-serving agenda. They are waiting for huge return on their ‘investments’ if Agbaje is elected. That Bode George has not been consistently seen on the Agbaje campaign train is not because he is old, as Agbaje wanted us to believe, the truth is that he is being kept away from the public glare like a leper. He is considered a liability to the campaign, as he is much remembered by the masses for his alleged heist on the public till at the Nigeria Ports Authority and his days at Kirikiri Maximum Prison for corrupt enrichment, though quashed by the Supreme Court. Don’t forget that Bode George is the cornerstone of “I don’t have godfather” castle of lies being built in the air by Agbaje. This is what he wants to sell to Lagosians in exchange for their mandate. I say to the electorate, ‘caveat emptor, buyers beware!’ Anyway, Lagosians are too sophisticated for this deceit. Eko oni gba igba kugba, which literally translated means, ‘Lagosians don’t suffer fools gladly’.

Again, at the media interaction, Agbaje put on a “holier than thou” garb. He mentioned the phrase “vested interest” for almost 10 times while aiming punches at the All Peoples Congress (APC). Sadly, there was not a giant mirror in the room; otherwise, he would have seen himself in the mirror with bloodied face from a self-inflicted injury. He was apparently desperate to ram it in the head of his guests that if elected, his administration will be devoid of vested interest. As Americans would say: “Mr. Agbaje, gimme [give me] a break!” Is Agbaje saying that he is the sole financier of his multi-billion-naira contest for power project? Or do his campaign financiers see their contribution as donations to charity and therefore no string attached? Ambrose Bierce apparently had Agbaje in mind when in his book, Devil’s Dictionary he defines politics as “strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles”.

Agbaje, tell no lies; you owe three people if you are elected governor: godfathers, campaign financiers and the electorate. It is now left for you to hone the skill on how to strike the balance and draw a right scale of preference.

It is settled that both Agbaje and Akinkunmi Ambode, the APC gubernatorial candidate in Lagos State, have godfathers and financiers whose “vested interests” will also be protected if elected while fulfilling the campaign promises to the electorate. The coming gubernatorial elections in Lagos State are a proxy electoral battle between Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of APC and Chief Bode George of PDP! One must be a fool to believe otherwise. Therefore, for me, the criterion to choose the better candidate is the capacity of the candidate. This is why I’ll go for Ambode. Agbaje is an accomplished businessman and he is eminently qualified to become the Lagos State governor. But Ambode, with huge experience and fulfilled career in both public and private sectors, embedded with local and international capacity building, is the best man for the job.

It is interesting to note that Ambode had cause to work with seven governors (civilian and military) in the voyage of his career. The slump in the oil price and attendant decline in federal allocation necessitates having in Alausa a governor that is well adept in financial engineering. Lagos State has experienced sharp drop in the accruable revenue in the past when former President Olusegun Obasanjo, with the blessing of Agbaje’s godfathers (Bode George and Ogunlewe), unlawfully withheld the state’s monthly allocations as a result of the creation of additional Local Council Development Areas that were meant to take governance and development closer to the grassroots. Ambode, as the state’s Accountant General, was credited with excellent management of the account at the trying period, which lasted for four years. The state government survived this period without abandoning its responsibility to the people or sacking a single worker. Lagosians need Ambode’s expertise and experience more than ever in this period and when the era of high oil price is over.

More importantly, the recent victory of the All Progressive Congress at the federal level will hasten the 25-year development plan in Lagos, with Ambode in the driver seat of governance, where 24-hour power is possible, National Art theatre and National Stadium will be refurbished, Apapa roads will be maintained and more opportunities will be provided for the hardworking Lagosians regardless of tongue, tribe and gender.

Shadrack Sewanu, a Public Relations and Brand Communication Consultant based in Lagos.

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