Jimi Agbaje: The Dark Looming Horse Who Will Topple The Jagaban Dynasty

By Ikenga Chronicles November 20, 2018

Jimi Agbaje: The Dark Looming Horse Who Will Topple The Jagaban Dynasty

–ThankGod Ukachukwu

Lagos governorship 2019 was a nunc scitote for All Progressive Congress (APC) until October 2018 when the bizarre dumping of Gov Akinwunmi Ambode for second term by his estranged godfather in one of the most dramatic rejection of a godson in Nigeria politics threw the race wide open. Sen Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the Jagaban of Borgu, the godfather of the Lagos politics backed Mr Jide Sanwu-Olu, a political neophyte. Consequently, opportunity beckons on dogged and stealth People’s Democratic Party’s candidate Mr Jimi Agbaje, the looming dark horse to end a 20-year chokehold on Lagos by Tinubu, the defacto Capo D Tutti of Lagos state (to borrow the words of Gov Amosun of Ogun State). There are 41 candidates jostling for the seat of power in Alausa but the race is essentially between PDP and APC.

The Dark Looming Horse

Mr Jimi Agbaje is simple man, sotto voce, sophisticated and urbane. Jay Kay (JK) as he is popularly known has come of age and has become a household name in Lagos politics. Ran for governorship three consecutive times. Despite criticism in some quarters of being a seasonal politician who comes every four years to raise hopes, many opine that JK being an entrepreneur with businesses to run such as his pharmaceutical stores, retires to his business after every election cycle instead of heading to Abuja to seek alliances, contracts and scavenger on the nation’s treasury as a way of recouping election expenditures. This depicts a pristine and flawless politician, with a clean record different from the multitude of political merchants and harlots. Do I think it is JK’s time? A resounding yes, and millions of Lagosians who yearn for disentanglement from the clutches of godfatherism, which has bogged down and dwarfed development also think so.

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When he was elected the flagbearer of PDP in Lagos state, there was excitement in the air, pessimism (given that Lagos State has reached the cesspit of iniquitous disposition) turned to optimism. As one popular social media activist put it, “in the past 19 years under AD/ACN/APC, the residents spend minimum of 2-4 hrs in traffic everyday, floods inundate the streets and roads at the drop of rain, lack of public water, severe bad housing deficit and over taxation” with little to show for its ‘megacity’ status. He challenged anyone to “list any major problem that has been resolved in Lagos since 1999”

The Mattanza (The Great Mafia War)

One cannot discuss Lagos politics and 2019 election without discussing the mafia style in which Gov Ambode’s 2nd term ambitions was jettisoned by Tinubu using his umbrella political group, Mandate Group as proxy. Nigerians watched aghast as Tinubu single handedly tore into shreds the dreams of Gov Ambode who until few weeks to the party primary was touted as the best governor in Nigeria. What rattled many was, if Ambode performed as touted for over three and half years, why deny him a second term which Tinubu in his own days and his successor Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN were privileged to? In Tinubu long treatise – on the eve of party congress to elect the flagbearer, amidst palpable tensions – made available on twitter after a week of confrontations in which Ambode called a press conference and hit the anointed one of Tinubu below the belt by labelling him as mentally unstable, Jagaban unequivocally stated that Ambode was not “a party man.” In order words, party supremacy should reign supreme. Tinubu’s reasons for dumping Ambode were the least convincing.

Ambode’s Achilles Heels

I got to learn from a friend who is privy to the inner workings of politics in Lagos that Ambode’s mistake was pledging loyalty to Tinubu and ignoring the party hierarchy in the state including the Mandate Group. Some bigwigs in the news confirmed the revelation that Ambode in the heat of the crisis didn’t take calls when they attempted to resolve the imbroglio. This polarized the rank and file of party members who rejected him as he lost their confidence, but the ubiquitous power yet denying culpability behind the scuttled ambition remains Tinubu. That Machiavellian ploy was the zenith of the Faustian bargain of 2015. However, the entire brouhaha has changed the political sentiments of Lagos voters who are not pleased with Ambode’s predicament and will most likely express their displeasure in a protest vote for JK. Over 50% of Lagosians aren’t indigenes and they have no incentive to continue to massage Tinubu’s ego. Because according to Tinubu, Ambode has failed and must go. However, Lagosians should trust him to bring another person to replace Ambode with the same wisdom that he used to put forward Ambode. That’s fuzzy logic!

Competent Leadership and Battle of Titans

JK’s competence is not in doubt but what is lacking are political structures as robust as that of Tinubu. JK needs massive organization of groups offline and online in all nook and cranny of the state. JK’s profile and experience as an astute and technocratic politician, an accomplished pharmacist with chain of stores, eclipses that of Baba Sanwu-Olu who will be a pawn in the hands of Tinubu, an open-secret which has become very much obvious and unhealthy for Sanwo-Olu’s ambitious. But one cannot take Tinubu’s influence for granted. He’s the garrison commander of grassroots politics in Lagos state. His clout was made more evident in the manner with which he commandeered loyalty of the umbrella political platform to thwart Ambode’s second term ambitions. He has the support of the street and is admired by all spectrum of the Lagos society, including the elite. He has a stronghold on Lagos-Ibadan press and commands the attention of Lagos OAPS. However the melting point of his influence remains the high handedness and dumping of Ambode.

Lagosians Will Decide

JK, PDP and their supporters have their work cut out for them. They need to get into streets of Lagos, in every nook and cranny to educate voters and inform residents that JK isn’t just that fastidious elite businessman but one who is ready to realize that elusive dream of a Lagos Mega City, which will have all the features of a true Mega city. He has run successfully businesses, a household name in Lagos politics and has run thrice for governorship, which were close races. Lagosians know that ending Jagaban dynasty is one way to ensure speedy development, as the governor will be free of encumbrances to function effective. JK has no godfather. It’s a tough call for him because Tinubu will not give up Lagos easily but the biggest upset of the 2019 election is set for Lagos state should JK and PDP get it right. Ceteris paribus, the odds are in JK’s favour. Lagos needs redemption and Jimi Agbaje is the answer.