The Nigerian Voter is a series that seeks to understand the motivations that drive the voting decisions of Nigerians — why they vote, how they pick their candidates, why some have never voted, and their wildest stories around elections.
Editorial Note: The Nigerian Voter is a platform for Nigerians to passionately discuss policies and politics with little interference to individual opinions. While our editorial standards emphasise the truth and we endeavour to fact-check claims and allegations, we do not bear any responsibility for allegations made about other people that are founded in half-truths.
The subject of today’s “The Nigerian Voter” is Victor, a travel consultant in his mid-twenties who is a resident of Lagos State. He told us about his shattered dreams for Obi as president, his reasons for preferring a second term with Babajide Sanwo-Olu as Lagos State governor, and his thoughts on the other Lagos gubernatorial candidates for the March 11 elections.
When was the first election that you participated in?
The 2023 election was the first election I participated in. This is because I never had an interest in politics until the EndSARS movement when people came out to protest in large numbers and were also killed. I always felt that nothing in the political system of Nigeria could change, but something very special happened during EndSARS — there was just this newfound belief that people had the power in their hands to make the country work. This belief birthed in me the desire to vote. I no longer wanted to sit on the fence and criticize the government. I registered for my Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) in 2021 and voted in 2023.
Who did you vote for during the 2023 presidential elections and why?
During the presidential elections, I voted for Peter Obi of the Labour Party. I don’t vote based on parties but rather based on individuals. Peter Obi was my best choice because I saw his background as an economist and I felt he could fix up our economy. I was so disappointed when he lost.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) at the federal level has failed us woefully, especially in my area of expertise.
For instance, in Jonathan’s time, it is possible for you to see the Naira to Dollar exchange rate between ₦180-₦200. But now, with a ₦740 to a dollar exchange rate, a round-trip ticket from Nigeria to London would cost you nothing less than ₦3.3 million through Virgin Airways. This was a place that people used to go to for ₦110,000 back in the day. This has really discouraged people from travelling.
Now that Tinubu is president-elect, have you accepted the current administration?
Well for me, no. I’ve not accepted that man as my president, but at the same time, I don’t want to get my hopes high. He may not be Buhari but he still had a crucial role to play towards his administration.
I’m just watching and waiting for what happens over the next couple of months regarding the post-election tribunals.
Have you ever taken an interest in Lagos State governance? What are your thoughts?
Yes, I have. I firstly believe that it is Babatunde Fashola that really made the positive changes in Lagos, not Tinubu. Then Akinwunmi Ambode did his best, then Sanwo-Olu came in.
I believe that the current governor has tried in his capacity. A lot of projects have been going on such as The Blue Rail Project, the invention of new road networks, and even safety too. If you go back to some years before now, there are areas in Lagos that you can’t even go to once it’s 7 p.m. due to thug harassment. But Sanwo-Olu has been able to take care of those boys and make the roads safe for travel.
For instance, there was a friend of mine that came to Lagos recently and arrived in Oshodi at midnight. I was so scared for her safety, but she got to her place unhurt. It was even the touts that were helping her and warning others that she shouldn’t get hurt. I was really amazed. This would have been a very risky move for her to make some years back.
He has also tried in education. I spoke with a friend who is a teacher, and she told me that the education system has improved greatly in the last four years. The curriculum now has been made to properly prepare students towards the needs of the outside world. With all these testimonies, I feel the activities and governance of Lagos State have been a success so far under Sanwo-Olu.
So is it fair to say that you’d vote Sanwo-Olu for re-election as Lagos State governor?
Yes, this is definitely what I’m doing. I’ve noticed that Sanwo-Olu always tries to make amends for his wrongs. I know some think he is doing this just for his re-election, but this is a trait I’ve always noticed in him. Some leaders (whom I’d rather not name) would prefer that the country burns than listen to what you have to say. But that’s not Sanwo-Olu.
For instance, look at this cash scarcity issue. He has made sure that all Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) vehicles have their fares cut to 50% and the same is true for vehicles under the National Road Union of Transport Workers (NURTW). That is the act of a leader that listens and cares for people.
(Editorial note: Sanwo-Olu did reduce the fares of all state-owned transportation services by 50% in February 2023. However, there is no news on a fare reduction from the NURTW.)
What would you then say about his lack of accountability towards the Lekki Toll Gate shootings?
One thing people don’t realise is that there is no established fact on who gave the order for the shooting. This October would make it three years since the tragedy happened, but we still don’t know for a fact. So how can you then accuse Sanwo-Olu directly for anything?
Also, I feel the administration of Lagos is purely run as a godfatherism thing. This is not to say that Sanwo-Olu is completely a puppet. But what if the order came from above and was completely out of his hands? That is something that would not be publicised. He tried to pay the medical bills for victims as well as set up a panel of inquiry. Is that the best he could do? Not quite, but I’d not hold that against him. I really don’t think that Sanwo-Olu is responsible for what happened, until we are aware of who gave the order.
(Editorial note: Sanwo-Olu did set up a trust fund of ₦200 million to compensate victims of the Lekki Toll Gate shootings. He also set up a panel of inquiry. However, it is not clear if the trust fund was set aside specifically for medical bills or not.)
What would you say about the other Lagos gubernatorial candidates?
I know of the Labour Party guy (Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour) and Jandor of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). For Gbadebo, I’d say that I never knew him until after the presidential election. I feel he is personally running off the wave of support for Peter Obi, which honestly is smart in a sense. I don’t blame him for it. However, this doesn’t mean that the man has elaborated fully on what he has to offer Lagosians.
Watch: Lagos State Is Run Like A Mafia Government – Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour
For Jandor, I don’t know his portfolio. I only know that Fashola said that he was his cameraman when he was in power.
What are those problems that you’d like Sanwo-Olu if re-elected?
Well, now that we have a Tinubu presidency incoming, I want Sanwo-Olu to have a very firm grip on the agberos or touts. I don’t want Lagos to be violent from the activities of these people again just because Tinubu is president.
I’d also like for him to continue his work on infrastructure. He has been trying but there are many places in Lagos that still has bad or poorly maintained roads.
In the end, after all said and done, a Nigerian politician would always be a Nigerian politician. I’m not expecting him to be a Messiah, but he should try as much as possible to make life easy for the average Lagosian. That’s all I require.