Lagos as the ultimate prize in Nigeria’s politics

17th January 2023

Lagos is an important factor in the upcoming elections for several reasons. For starters, the former federal capital is Nigeria’s most populated and economically buoyant state and the home state of the ruling party’s candidate, Ahmed Bola Tinubu. Lagos is also the most influential region as far as shaping the direction of traditional media and social media’s patterns is concerned, and Tinubu’s power came partly from the control of Lagos that was parlayed into regional dominance that was then used as leverage for a national play.

So Lagos is a key political prize that delivers control of a state economy that is larger than the economies of many African countries. Hence, it will be strongly targeted. The APC is strongly favoured to win the state again and the party would be doubly inspired by the need to help retain the presidency and its cash cow, but the rise of the Labour Party and its influence on voter registration and turnout presents a significant threat that’s especially striking when the numbers are considered.

APC candidate Babajide Sanwoolu won the last Lagos governorship elections with 739,445 votes while the PDP candidate Jimi Agbaje had 206,141 votes from an election that had a total vote count of 1,122,416.

Lagos now has a total of 7,075,192 registered voters and some sections of its cosmopolitan population are quite incensed with the ruling party. And if half of the seven million registered voters come out to vote, that would bring 2.5 million more votes that were not on board in the 2019 election. One would expect the opposition to pull together to make a formidable force, but they’re making their work harder by fighting each other.

There is currently some controversy around the late drive to get permanent voters cards to registered voters with some people accusing the APC of conniving with officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to hinder the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) at registration areas/wards in Lagos areas viewed as possible strongholds for the opposition.

INEC has recently extended the deadline for PVC collection while urging all registered voters to collect their voter’s cards while the window stays open. The collection at the ward levels would now be wound up on 22 January while collection at the local government level will resume on Monday, 23rd – Sunday, 29th January 2023.

The Independent National Electoral Commission has said that 1,630,744 cards belonging to registered voters in Lagos alone have not been collected. The APC could be a lot more vulnerable than it looks. 50% of the uncollected PVCs in Lagos alone are more than the votes cast for the APC in Lagos in 2019.

Only the votes will tell.