Lagos was crucial to Bola Tinubu’s victory in Nigeria’s presidential election last month, but the megacity may raise a stir on Saturday by electing an opposition governor.

Nigerians will once again cast ballots three weeks after 25 million people participated in a presidential election that was being contested by the three main opposition parties due to claims of fraud.

The most populous nation in Africa will vote this time for representatives in state assemblies as well as governors in 28 of the 36 states that make up the federation (the other states have already held by-elections).

Lagos, the vibrant coastal city that is home to almost 20 million people and the economic hub of the nation and region, is one state that is sure to stand out.

Lagos is also a center of culture, producing singers who are successful abroad, such as Afrobeats icons Burna Boy and Tems.

Together with Bollywood and Hollywood in India, it is also the location of Nollywood, one of the biggest film production hubs in the world.

Bola Tinubu controls the “centre of excellence,” as Lagos is referred to in Nigeria. From 1999 to 2007, the future president served as governor of the state, which contains Lagos.

The so-called “godfather of Lagos” has built the political clout that propelled him to the presidency on the ticket of the ruling All Progressives Party.

The rise of each governor of Lagos since 2007 has been aided by Tinubu, according to a report by journalist Yusuf Omotayo in the Nigerian publication The Republic. That includes Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the incumbent governor of Lagos, who is seeking reelection.

Sanwo-Olu has occasionally been derided as a “puppet” by the neighborhood media. Omotayo, however, asserts that as Lagos prepares for a historic governorship election on Saturday, Tinubu’s long-standing influence may begin to wear thin.

– A desire for change

The 70-year-old Tinubu may have received the most votes countrywide during the presidential election on February 25, but he was defeated by Peter Obi in his home state of Lagos.

The 61-year-old from southeast Nigeria is well-liked by young people, a sizable support base that helped him win 10,000 more votes in Lagos than Tinubu.

Now, Obi’s followers and his Labour Party are aiming to prevail in the March 18 governor’s race.

The general public, according to Olanipekun, a 28-year-old voter, wants a shot at improved administration and a change from the unsatisfactory and oppressive system that has been bestowed upon them year after year.

He contends that Tinubu and Sanwo-Olu are to blame for the challenges brought on by a lack of housing and a dearth of public transportation, which frequently results in severe traffic jams that cause the city to come to a stop.

Because he thinks “there is a room to overturn things,” Olanipekun declared he will cast his ballot on Saturday in favor of Obi’s party.

Others are placing their hopes in the LP candidate Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, a 40-year-old architect from one of the most prominent families with a traceable history entrenched in Lagos and who promises to be unique from prior governors.

The “state capture” of “resources to one individual (and) his family” would end under his administration, Rhodes-Vivour said AFP. “The state’s resources must be utilized for the advantage of and betterment of the people of Lagos.”

– Devastated –

The vivacious Rhodes-Vivour frequently referenced his involvement in the 2020 #EndSARS demonstrations, which saw young people take to the streets to protest against police brutality and for better governance.

When military and police opened fire on nonviolent protestors at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos in October 2020, the movement was brutally put to an end.

The crackdown traumatized many, and they pledged to vote out their rage in 2023.

According to observers, that incident and how the government handled it play a significant role in the support Obi gained from Nigeria’s young.

We’ll have to wait and watch if Tinubu’s strong influence in the state would diminish if he wins the governorship.

The level of participation, which could be low given that many young people were dissatisfied with how the presidential election was handled, will be a deciding factor.

Vote now? What is the purpose? said Damola, a 23-year-old student. “The election was rigged on the 25th, and the results will be manipulated on Saturday.”

The electoral commission has refuted allegations of election rigging, although it has acknowledged technical issues, such as the tardy uploading of electronic results.

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