Lagos PDP, 2019 and the lessons moving forward

On a sunny afternoon in September 2018, I received a WhatsApp message from a young man like me who requested an audience with me concerning my political views and stand especially as it concerns Lagos state. The young man who I may not mention his name but he would definitely read this and know he is the one being talked about, asked me if I was comfortable with the way and manner Lagos was being run at present and wanted to see a change in that? Of course my answer was in the positive and the rest is history.

The 2019 elections is one that I have learned a lot of personal lessons from and I wish to share the lessons publicly as I find that one of the problems we have politically is because the wrong versions of our political history are made public while we are not even consulting with history to plan and create the future. The young man asked that I join him and other young people in moving Lagos to a state where resources are being distributed by merit and not based on godfatherism and the citizens know about the finances of the state as it relates to them. While he related his personal experiences with the man I eventually voted for and what the man thinks about the state and what needs to be done.

About a month before meeting this young man, I have already been working as the Coordinator of the JK Volunteers in Mushin Local Government – a position which helped me see beyond the politics that I knew beforehand even though I have served the party as a Ward Secretary and even the Ward Coordinator of the National Youth Vanguard in Mushin Local Government.

I accepted to work with this young man and I gave him ideas on what could be done in our own space – at least I refer to myself as a strategist and bringing up ideas in-situ is something that comes to me naturally. After our conversation for the day – he confessed to me about the shortage of cash his group had to work with and thus if we would implement some of these ideas it has to be on a list of pending items till money was made available.

Months passed and he requested that he meets with a couple of Influencers in the Social media space who are based in Lagos – this was what birth the #FreeLagos for Free, a popular slang among Social Media influencers in Lagos made popular on WhatsApp statuses and many other groups. I organized the meeting with Social Media influencers by calling into my network and we had about 100 young women and men come out expecting to land a Jimi Agbaje campaign – although I must confess that I knew the campaign was not going to be paid one even if they were going to be paid eventually, it would be a token for their service, but I played my part in the organization of the meeting.

The evening was a terrible one as we had to deal with changing of venues to many other logistics issues – I counted it all joy because I was expecting to see a new Lagos, one where the citizens mattered and one where many of these influencers would be a part of the making of this Lagos.

Afterwards, the young man spoke about his desire to see Lagos governed by Jimi Agbaje and what he stood for out of passion, insight and commitment which he has always spoken out of each time we met and spoke on the subject matter, some influencers agreed to be a part of the project while some opted out – you won’t blame them though because the game is the game.

After a while, we commenced work – on seeing the need to plug myself as well just like I did in 2015.

In 2015, I worked full time in the campaign office, sacrificing my time, energy and other resources to see the image of Jimi Agbaje is well represented online. I worked with some other great guys though whom I am inclined to mention – Ife Ward, Deji Gunnarson, Oke Stalyf, Adelaja Adeoye (who is now in the Action Democratic Party, ADP), Everest Mr Prezident and a lot of them.

After one or two calls – I was on-boarded as an influencer for the campaign and I knew the responsibility was a great one as I knew more needed to be done. Those I worked closely with accepted the ideas that I came up with among many others although I must say that it was really difficult because most communication ideas needed finance to make them go through – something the campaign grossly lacked from my viewpoint of events.

I brought on like minds whom we have worked together on other projects – political and even non-political projects and we started the project of representing the person of Jimi Agbaje with passion, energy and enthusiasm.

I must give kudos to some of these guys who did not get a dime but got on because they believed in the vision of #ReanchoringLagos – Ayo, Yetunde, Adeola, Busayo, Elizabeth, Tito, Tonye, Ada, Isiaka Steven, Jefak, Peter, Nnamdi, Litany, Olisa, Everest, Shola, Wale, Tope, Mex, Wande, Stanley, and Dapo – you guys were far more amazing that anyone can ever think or imagine and I enjoy every experience I had with every one of you.

Back in my local government, I met with the House of Representatives candidate, Hon Jude Obiekwe whom I saw so much passion to win the election in his eyes and Mrs Fashola Yemisi who I was unsure of how she got the ticket in the first place really as she lacked the finesse, resoluteness or any desire to win an election in an opposition-dominated area like Mushin II Federal Constituency.

On having these meetings, I spoke to them about my mandate to work and carry them along in my work for Jimi Agbaje and also to support them. At this time, I had already planned to organize a rally for the candidate Jimi Agbaje and also commenced the pasting of posters of the man and the two candidates I was meeting with exactly for this purpose and I must also commend Hon Kayode Shobande for facilitating this meeting. I discovered that Mrs Fashola did not have any poster printed yet. I was taken aback at how she did not contribute anything to the discussion in fact and played the silent contributor in an election she supposedly wanted to win.

One of the issues that I discussed that evening is the 65%-35% line of division that has engulfed the party as a result of groups and caucuses with each group loyal to a leader of the party. I discussed how we needed to manage this divide as it would severely hurt the numbers of the party heading into the elections. Already, the 35% group who had more numbers as regards group numbers in the local government had agreed they needed to be consulted before they work with both candidates in the LGA – Hon. Dayo Ogunjebe of Constituency I and Hon Jude Obiekwe.

After this meeting, we agreed on working together and harmonizing everyone. On the day of the rally, I was shocked to hear that the rally was tagged a 35% rally and as such should not be attended by the House of Representatives candidate structure – I just smiled and kept on with the rally.

On organizing about 3 to 4 other rallies, the campaign period ended and we had a woeful outing across the local government on the day of elections. The events of that day would be described much later on.

Across the Lagos PDP, there was a heavy and massive division which even affected how the presidential elections went on with the PDP losing the election with about 132,758 votes despite heavy voter intimidation and abuse. The party had people who were not even politicians or on ground handle campaign funds – a complaint which was common across my many LGAs and Wards. In my zone, the woman, who was given money to mobilize agents despite the presence of a Zonal Chairman, was not even a party member and she did not drop any money for any agent and told me categorically that there was no money given to her.

Membership is also another challenge the party had heading into the elections, the party lacked membership into the nooks and crannies of the 20 LGAs cum 37 LCDAs of the state. In fact, to put it bluntly, the party cannot boast of 100 members across all the Wards in the state who are members and people who will come out on the day of the elections and identify as members.

The truth is, going forward, the party needs to build its membership base across the 20 LGAs of the state. I understand that some LGAs have more members and sufficient even in numbers but we need more in those LGAs because if we call those places our stronghold, we need to win there and win there massively to own those LGAs even though some All Progressives Congress leaders will argue otherwise but it does not make those places less the Peoples Democratic Party stronghold.

The Anti-Tinubu narrative is a messaging that was greatly exploited this election season with Jimi Agbaje coming out bold to claim he is the messiah to bring freedom, democracy to the people of Lagos. It is not rocket science that this narrative was adopted by the elite community of Lagos, sadly many of them do not either have Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) due to their work schedule or other reasons or do not just come out to vote on election day.

The All Progressives Congress even made reference to the Freedom statement a couple of times – from both the followers to the leaders at public gatherings. I was assessing this narrative or messaging on the election day and I observed that despite all the obvious moves the former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made in the state – his followers and himself are still very much loved and adored in the state and it boils down the benefits being gotten by these ordinary Lagosians and thus feel entitled to voting for their party and everyone else they represent.

Although I must confess that they are not in the majority but they are in the majority of people who come out to cast their ballots on every election day. Although, my friend Ayobami disagrees that a stronger Anti-Tinubu narrative would work still if well planned but 2023 is another year of elections and I hope the Lagos chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party will put its house together ahead of that time and come up with solutions to the critical challenges facing Lagos state.

Going forward, the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos needs to go back to its roots and build the party, young people need to come on board and give the party a youthful face and disposition and also rebrand the party. The party also need to fix its reward system where those who are loyal to the party emerges as candidates and not those who just see the party as a vehicle to make some quick money during elections.

“Israel Oladipupo Ogunseye is a Lagos based politician who aspires to see a sane Nigeria where we have sane Environmental laws while also respecting them. He is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party and tweets via @LadiSpeaks”

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