By Issa Itopa Lucky
The name “Jimi Agbaje” is not strange to Lagosians anymore, the only strange factor however will be if he vies to be their Governor in 2023. Jimi Agbaje is already known to be a serial contestant for the office of Governor of Lagos State. It is a popular say that once the Lagos governorship election is closeby, Jimi Agbaje will come out of his comfort and retirement to commence commenting and showing up to rally Lagosians on the state of Lagos.
For the sake of context, it is important to state that Jimi Agbaje is a member of the main opposition party in Lagos, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was Lagos PDP guber candidate in 2015, losing to Akinwunmi Ambode of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He was the Lagos PDP candidate in 2019, losing to Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Many are of the opinion that Jimi Agbaje as much of an orator and mobiliser that he is, he is actually not a serious opposition that the PDP should keep relying on if the party must win Lagos State any time soon.
Some say he is a possible stooge of popular Lagos “godfather”, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, an APC chieftain. According to those who are of this school of thought, Tinubu may have planted Jimi Agbaje in PDP to ensure the PDP never has a chance of ever winning Lagos State. Whether that is true or not, is left for the truth to speak for itself.
A discussion with many APC supporters in Lagos will suggest that they are of the view that Jimi Agbaje is only popular on the streets of social media and that since there is no polling unit on social media, Jimi Agbaje will never actually be able to help PDP win Lagos State.
In fact, it was worse in 2019 as he did not even wait for the final results of the Lagos governorship election to be announced before he conceded defeat and disappeared into thin air, leaving his supporters and the supporters of the PDP in Lagos in the cold. The truth is, Jimi Agbaje, much as he is a force to reckon with on social media, he is an electoral disaster to the PDP in Lagos.
The fact is Jimi Agbaje is hardly around for party and political activities in Lagos. He is only available the moment the Lagos governorship race is some few months ahead. He did so in 2015 and did worse of the same in 2019. The truth is PDP should look for any other aspirant in Lagos/from Lagos aside Jimi Agbaje. There are alot of eminently qualified Lagos PDP members, from which the PDP can select a candidate for itself in Lagos ahead of Lagos 2023 governorship poll, but not Jimi Agbaje.
The PDP in Lagos needs a rebirth. They need to get their acts in order. They need to put their house in order. They need to reposition the party chapter for it to able to win election. The party should elect for itself somebody else aside Jimi Agbaje as flag-bearer ahead of the 2023 governorship poll.
The party should go for somebody who is grassrooted in the politics of Lagos State. Jimi Agbaje should give way this time and let a fresh hand try. Jimi Agbaje has not presented himself as a leading enough opposition figure in Lagos. Ordinarily, there are enough grounds to get APC out of power in Lagos but the possible lukewarm politics of the PDP in Lagos is the main reason why the APC is still in power in Lagos, election after election.
The PDP should go out to the streets while maintaining popularity on social media, and mobilise Lagosians to rally around it as a party ahead of the next Lagos poll scheduled for 2023. The people of Lagos are willing to vote for any other party but APC, they are willing to vote for PDP but as far as PDP keeps presenting candidates that are not popular in the grassroots of Lagos, then it will be difficult for it to defeat the APC, a party that has a well-established structure in Lagos, in all fairness to its efforts right from its days when it was just an opposition party at the centre before the 2013 APC merger that saw to party APC the later version of what the ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria) used to be.
The PDP in Lagos should embark on massive grassroot membership drive. The party should start rallying Lagosians now, the party should not wait for few months to the 2023 governorship poll before commencing the process of rallying Lagosians.
They should commence a massive campaign that will be convincing enough to say that indeed, the PDP is ready to take power in Lagos. It is not enough to trend on social media, it matters more being on ground. The PDP in Lagos should to this end, reject Jimi Agbaje should he show up ahead of 2023 to vie for its governorship ticket and insist on who is on ground in Lagos as against a Jimi Agbaje is more of a “political visitor” who visits Lagos and its politics whenever it is governorship election time in Lagos.