Mazi Richard Ibegbulam

In about a month’s time, the nation will go to poll for Presidential and National Assembly elections. One focal point for major political parties’ calculations is Lagos West Senatorial District, undoubtedly the largest senatorial district in Nigeria in terms of population. It is made up of 10 humongous LGAs of the 20 in Lagos State if we go by the 1999 Constitution or 28 LGAs/LCDAs out of 57 if we go by the Supreme Court recognized State created Local Governments of Lagos State. The senatorial district stretches from Ikeja, the state capital through Oshodi-Isolo, Festac, Ajeromi Ifelodun, Ojo to Badagry and encompasses such highly populated areas as Mushin, Ajegunle, Okokomaiko, Alimosho, Agege, Ifako Ijaiye among others.

Of Lagos state estimated population of over 21 million, 70 percent are domiciled in Lagos West. It will not be surprising if three quarters of INEC registered 6.5million voters in Lagos State are located in Lagos West comprising all ethnic groups in Nigeria. It is thus a no brainer to know that Lagos West is an electoral decider in who become Lagos State Governor as well as a ripe electoral field for any presidential candidate to harvest votes. In relations to the former, the rich votes of Lagos West must have informed the then President Goodluck Jonathan to relocate to Lagos towards 2015 with the so called “Dollar Rain” targeted at critical Lagos West.

Presently, the highest elected political office holder in the Senatorial District is Senator Solomon Adeola, aka Yayi, a tested legislator and grassroots politician who is seeking re-election to continue to represent the district in the Red Chamber. Of the progressives APC, Yayi is the focal point of mobilizing the grassroots of this key district for all candidates of his party particularly the President, Mohammed Buhari and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governorship candidate of APC for Lagos State.

For Yayi as a candidate and from what is on the ground of his track record as can be glimpse online and interaction with stakeholders, he is a legislator that objective voters can easily vote for. In terms of legislative duties of law making, Yayi who always drum it into the ears of all in his frequent contributions to critical debates that he represents the largest senatorial district while receiving the same dues as other districts with less than one fifth of his population, has to his credit 15 sponsored bills, two of which has been passed as part of the constitutional amendment bills of the 8th National Assembly. This indeed put him among the top five senators with the highest sponsored bill in the 109-Member Senate and couple with his reasoned contributions earned him “one of the top 10” senators of the 8th Senate from a publication while City People Magazine gave him the “Best Senator Award of 2016”.

Fully representing his constituents Senator Adeola presented at least 5 petitions on behalf of his constituents seeking administrative justice. One of the petitions which was fully resolved was the case of Sgt. Amos Olaniyan of the Nigeria Police Force who was verbally suspended from duty for a case he was exonerated from for 21 years. The Senate via a Resolution ordered his re-instatement, promotion and payment of all salaries and dues. He is in the process of getting all his dues from the Police.

In the area of oversight, the incumbent senator sponsored and co-sponsored many motions with three of his motions passed into Senate Resolutions. Two of the resolutions led to two Senate Ad-Hoc Investigative Committees on “Misuse of Internal Generated Revenue by MDAs” and “Local Content Elements and Cost Variations of Total $16 Billion Egina Deep-sea Oil Project” both of which were chaired by Yayi with many rot exposed for corrective measures by the Executive. As pioneer chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Content, as well as member of 5 other Committee, Yayi was fully involved in many oversight activities in the interest of Nigerians like the kick against increase in GSM Data tariffs as well as multiple charges by banks on customers using ATM among others.

Some of his intervention projects include provision of 10 Nos of 500KVA Transformers for 10 LGAs, 23 Boreholes, 5 Public Toilets while 10 Boreholes and 5 public Toilets are in various stages of completion. The Senator facilitated the Rehabilitation of Baale-Olodi-Apapa Road, facilitated Construction of 1 Classroom and Installation of ICT Equipment for Gaskia College, Ajeromi among other.

But it is in the areas of empowerment that Yayi continues on his track record in previous legislative assignment for constituents. Such include Payment of 500 JAMB Forms for indigent students, entrepreneurship development and skill acquisition for over 1000 constituents and donation of 500 Lifejackets to constituents in river transportation business. Other employment generation equipment facilitated and distributed for constituents are 25 Block Molding Machines, 380 Sewing Machines, 300 Grinding Machines, 40 Modern Vulcanizing Machines, 40 Welding Machines, 10 Tricycles, 44 Wheel Chairs, 120 Hair Dryers with Stands, 250 Clipper and handheld Dryers apiece as well as donation of 18 Seater Toyota Buses to Lagos West Stakeholders like Council of Obas, CDCs, CAN, LASU, Lagos State Student Union, League of Imams, Women and Youth Groups. All these are documented and shared during Town Hall Meeting that Yayi organizes.

For Senator Adeola, the election of 2019 is on a familiar terrain among electorates that have repeatedly elected him in the past in his unblemished political career spanning over 20 years. He was first elected as a state legislator in 2003 for Alimosho State Constituency 2 and re-elected again in 2007. Having perhaps served his constituents well, he was promoted to the National Assembly to represent Alimosho Federal Constituency, the largest in the federation in 2011 where he was appointed to head the Public Accounts Committee, the only Constitutional Committee of the House of Representatives. Again, Yayi must have been a politician that touched the lives of constituents that when it was time for 2015 election he was the one his party APC put forward after winning a party primary with a convincing votes of over 4500 delegates to his closest rival 500 votes. In the General Election he won his closest opponent from PDP with over 70000 votes to be elected as a senator.

It is from such a background with performance streak that Yayi is contesting again against some coterie of candidates from about 20 political parties with some of the candidates being stark neophytes in the politics of Lagos West and indeed in public service. By far the most ‘prominent’ challenger to Yayi, mostly in terms of political party visibility and structure at the national level is Architect. Gbadebo Rhode-Vivour of PDP. From all accounts, the emergence of this young man that barely met the constitutional age requirement for Senate must have been informed by the unwillingness of many otherwise more qualified aspirants to throw their hat in the ring for what looks like a lost cause. For one and predictably due to his age, he is relatively an unknown political quantity having only contested and lost an election to be the Ikeja Local Council Chairman under KOWA Party.

As earlier stated, his emergence as the flag bearer of PDP for Lagos West, a party with many tested and renowned politicians bring to fore the issue of nobody wanting to waste his resources for what is probably an uphill task at best or a lost cause at worse. With the campaign in full swing the issue for Lagos West and indeed Nigeria is between Continuity and Change. For Yayi it has been a continuous and progressive affirmation of his trustworthiness to fully represent his constituents who has returned him to elective positions four times in a consecutive row. Most objective observers agrees that nothing will change in the winning trajectory of Yayi in the coming election more so that the change being proposed is a virtually unknown, untested individual whose public service experience is virtually zero.

In the business of legislature, experience counts greatly in delivering the goods for constituents and the nation. And there is usually a ranking order that determines positions, appointments, lobbying and visibility in the running of legislative houses. In this wise a new entrant will take a year or so to even know the procedures, processes and dynamics of law making often requiring seminars and workshops to get a grip of what the whole show is all about. Yayi suffers from none of these impediments as he is a ranking legislator/Senator with cumulative legislative experience of 16 years. Certainly discerning Lagos West electorate will not see a “political toddler” as a ‘Change’ they want for the largest senatorial district in Nigeria. Among former Governors, retired military generals, retired permanent secretaries and similar tested and experienced career Nigerians that usually populate Senate, the highest legislative body in Nigeria, it will be a mistake for Lagos West to vote an untested young man as its senator. Certainly Yayi remains the best foot forward for Lagos West under the circumstances based on his track records, legislative experience and a grassroots oriented progressives politics that is his forte over the years. In the next few days and weeks to election the critical voters of Lagos West will decide.

Mazi Richard Ibegbulam Esq.

13 Ayo Oluyemi Cresent,

Egbeda, Alimosho

Lagos State.

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