By Joseph Edgar…
Lagos needs to be saved. This is a position that is being held by all across the spectrum, even held by those who hold Lagos. The fifth largest economy in Africa, one of the most populous cities in the world with the average population inching closer to the 23 million mark coming with an increasingly lowered indices of human development. It’s much vaunted wealth not showing in the daily lives of its teeming population, infrastructure in a state of inadequate disrepair, a health system in jeopardy and a general run down that belies the unique opportunity it carries in its belly.
The issue with Lagos is more economic in my estimation that political. The huge resources it generates needs to be controlled and usurped, hence the massive struggle and concentrated need to secure power by very strong groupings. Lagos comes at you with tremendous resources, wealth and power which if carefully curated and wielded could catapult the holder to positions of immense privilege.
For the last decade or two, a grouping has held on to Lagos wielding tremendous power over its structure and resources to the point that these interests have been entrenched and may not easiiy be dislodged from Lagos. The situation is now so rabid that decisions as to who leads or controls domiciles within the framework of an artificial construct headed by a very charismatic and powerful individual, Bola Tinubu, who suffers no fools.
That he has been a recurring decimal in the affairs of the state cannot be ridiculed and to be fair to him, he has given Lagos a semblance of normalcy, a routine succession plan and a credible developmental growth trajectory, although very far from internationally accepted mores, still when compared to other climes within the Nigerian project stands out. The strides Lagos have achieved especially in Internal Revenue generation to mention just one can be directly traced to this leadership which immediately understood the very critical role of IGR the implementation of policies independently to a sometimes hostile center.
But this is where the story really ends, because the influence has been parlayed into an unnatural power vortex which unilaterally rests decision taking especially on very important policy direction in the hands of an unelected grouping which relying on very primordial and sometimes unexplainable factors choose for the people their Leaders who are now expected to be subservient and parley to the interest of this grouping.
Now comes in gentleman Jimi Agbaje, a member of the elitist construct that has been part of the structure but with a conscience. He came out in 2015 with a cry for a diversion. His message resonated with the people especially with the disenfranchised army within the disgruntled matrix. He was said to have performed an almost miracle which could have upset the mainstream power structure. This showing began to show the chink in the armor of the holders of power which include the traditional stool and in some cases uniformed elites.
He left that campaign a folk hero and the peoples champion. No wonder immediately after the Ambode implosion, people first started in whispers yearning for his return, a motley grouping of disenfranchised and unhappy people drawn from the belle of the controlling party and others who simply were not happy at the seeming stranglehold of the power vortex in Lagos.
Agbaje in answer to these cries has jumped into the fray and with it his contradiction. His style of politics has been calm, almost lukewarm, elitist and an over reliance on logic and debate as a vehicle for the emancipation of the people. As I listen to him speak in Lagos I see a gentleman politician with a basic contradiction. Though very experienced, still coming across with the innocence of a child expecting to argue his way into power.
A state with trillions of Naira as IGR, a state with a collection of the most valuable lands in probably the whole of Africa, sea ports, about to house the largest Refinery in the world with 22million people and a power cabal that has only just begun to taste the true nature of the power it wields and ready to do anything to maintain status quo.
So, gentleman Agbaje comes into this war with the strengths of his arguments, trying to trigger debate and with his gentle mien attempt a revolution. This is almost laughable. He spoke of his convictions, his believe in the right things and his investments in the very strong values of ethics, transparency and good governance.
All these flies in the face of a jungle that is Lagos. A jungle controlled by a menacing flock of hyenas who do not respect any rule or law that could bring sanity to its clime. How do you attempt to recreate a David and Goliath scenario and expect another biblical miracle to happen.
At this level what we are beginning to see is the end of a mirage, a sharp coming back to the reality of a Jagaban victory if effective change in policy, strategy and personal mien is not effected.
We left that meeting that dark Sunday night with our dreams in our hands, looking shattered with the very reluctant ability to go into battle with the right kinds of weapons. We have asked for an activist candidate as a very powerful tool to effectively bring down this veritable ‘Berlin wall’ that stands between us and true democracy in Lagos. What we seem to be getting is a philosopher king not to clear as to the enormity of the battle ahead.
What is needed is a calculated tear at the structure, using fuel from the teeming disenfranchised youths as a powerful weapon. What is needed is a leader who not only understands what he will do with power but much more importantly a leader who is ready to jump into war with fire in his belle, galvanizing the people into a massive throng of people-powered revolt directed at the soft underbelly of the cabal.
We certainly are not in need for another philosopher king. This will not cut it. There certainly will not be a negotiated entry into power. It has to be taken, and this can only be achieved with a purposeful and deliberate push at power, not debate.
JK where is the fire?
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