As dictated by the norm, the electorates in any democratic environment are saddled with the task of delegating authority to some select group to preside over their affairs. The periodic rituals, which have come to be known as election to various political offices, take place within a prescribed period of time.
In keeping with this norm, the Nigerian 1999 Constitution (as amended) makes it incumbent on the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, to conduct polls to public offices every four years.
The period of electioneering provides the opportunity for stakeholders to appraise the choice they have made in the last four years with a view to determining whether or not to renew the social contract they have with those in authority or to change what is termed the status quo if the consensus is that those they have elected had not met their expectations.
Essentially, aspiration to public offices is carried through via the various political parties within the given environment. Though in some other environment, independent candidacy is allowed; but that is not the case here in Nigeria. Any aspiring politician has to look for a viable political vehicle with which to vent his or her aspiration.
Called political parties, the various platforms usually come with varied form of manifestoes, coded promises with which the electorate would hold them liable to. These set of promises are also the yardstick for measuring the performances of those elected into government, so the electioneering period provides for stocktaking regarding how the ruling party has fared in terms of meeting the yearnings and expectations of the voters.
For the opposition political parties, the electioneering period provides yet again another opportunity to sell their agenda to the electorates. This is the scenario playing out in the country’s most viable and cosmopolitan state, Lagos.
Though there are so many political parties and gladiators jostling for power in the state that prides itself as the CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE, two broad and distinct platforms, the ruling All Progressives Congress and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, stand out in the pack.
As envisaged, the candidates of the two leading parties have been wooing voters. The two gladiators, Olujumi Kolawole Agbaje of the PDP and Babajide Sanwoolu of the APC, have been doing all they can to outwit one another in the contest that is gradually assuming a two-horse race.
Sanwoolu has been telling voters that nothing significant has occurred for them to vote out the ruling party who in his reckoning has done a lot to change the face of governance in the state, especially in the last 19 years. To him and members of his party, Lagos has fared well and there is no reason for the electorate to stop the course of progress which they claim is very steady in the state.
Members of the APC have been telling those who cared to listen that the increase in revenue that has accrued to the state has helped in the various developmental strides that have been recorded in the period under review. To them, the state has recorded more than a giant leap from generating a meagre monthly income of N600 million to the current N38 billion accruals.
APC members thump their chest to state that under their watch, the state has attained the status of the fifth largest economy in Africa. They argued that the financial arrangement put in place has ensured an efficient tax collection mechanism where many more residents of the state have come into the tax net.
This claim is however punctured by the rival PDP, that has continued to state that despite the increase in revenue, the state has continued to remain an underachiever in virtually all the various indices anyone could use as yardstick for measuring its supposed growth and development.
To members of the PDP, the humongous accruals have not in any way impacted in putting in place necessary infrastructural amenities that would maximally serve and service the ever-growing metropolis. These they (PDP members) argue have continued to negatively impact on the quality of lives of residents who are said to be in excess of over 25 million.
PDP members, have argued that for instance, the state has been ranked as the second least liveable city in the world, second only to Damascus, a city in war-torn Syria, an annual survey conducted by a reputable organization amongst 140 cities across the globe for last year.
The ranking is contained in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2017 Global Liveability Report. In the report, successive regimes in the state are painted as having done little or nothing to reverse series of declines in the area of ease of living.
Several indices were used by the reputed organization to arrive at the conclusion and such indices include crime rate, healthcare, climate, corruption and censorship. The implication of the ranking means that successive administrations under the same tendencies have failed the residents in key critical areas of social services to the teeming masses resident in the state.
The opposition argues that if the revenue accruing to the state had been well managed, perhaps the indicators would point in the positive direction. This forms the theme of the current campaigns for the two major political parties.
While Jimi Agbaje argues that the best way to rescue the state from this seeming state of underachiever was to ensure a change in guard so that the prevailing order that concentrate power and economic capital in the hands of the few privileged individuals are reversed, his opponent, Sanwo-Olu argues that the trend must continue.
Agbaje has since been telling those who care to listen that a situation where the decision-making process is the sole preservation of a few predatory clansmen will not augur well for the rapid growth of the state and that governance and its structure needs retooling to ensure the broad participation of all. He believes that this would be the best alternative for the state to meet its potentials.
What is gratifying to note is that the message of change that the PDP and its candidate are yarning have been resonating positively with the people of the state. If it works, when the forthcoming general election has come and gone, a new vista of opportunity for growth and development would have berthed in the way and manner the state is governed.
. Oladipo is a Media Officer in the Jimi Agbaje Campaign Organisation.