Sanwo-Olu’s victory, a teachable moment for the young
Waiting for the governorship election to end and the eventual winner declared so that I can publish this article must have been one of my longest wait. For the purpose of clarity, let me make it clear that if you fall between the ages of 35 to 40 years this article is not meant for you. I deliberately take your age demography out of the audience because of two salient reasons. Firstly, I believe Nigeria’s fourth republic started in 1999 and you were already a teenager. I want to assume you should possess some sort of encyclopedic knowledge of the Nigeria political landscape if you were born at least eleven years before Nigeria’s fourth republic. That you have refused to have such knowledge, or you have it, but have chosen to be obtuse is your fault and on that premise alone I will not be addressing you in this article as I find you very irredeemable and unbendable like the stock fish. The second reason I will prefer to focus on the young people especially people in their eighteen(s) and early twenties is that they are Nigeria’s only orphan generation; bedeviled by one of the most corrupt versions of parenting ever witnessed in our cultural history and the disappearance of role models. By the time many of you became adults, role-modeling has shifted from a concept of great and modest humans who are doers to decrepit and noise makers who are popular. Please note that I’m very at home with your age demography, many of you who I call friends are in this demography and you have transfigured from being an aburo to becoming my friends. This disclaimer is necessary to point out how devoid of bias this writing is and how it’s actually dedicated to your redemption. Lastly, this is likely to be the most serious thing I will write following governor Sanwoolu’s victory, after this, my timeline shall be a haven of banter and neck pressing short videos.
Having settled the key introductory matters, let me begin. In the weeks preceding the March 18, 2023 elections in Lagos state, the incumbent, Governor Babajide Sanwo Olu has been in the eye of the storm. It started with the Labor party’s hysteria that resulted in winning in Lagos state during the presidential election. After the president elect had been declared and the Labour party had rejected the result of the election and had promised to seek redress in the court, attention shifted to Lagos’s governorship election. Governor Sanwoolu, aware of the evil of perception, intensified his campaign train, an idea that I personally find unnecessary because his leadership has been exemplary and visible. Since he started the campaign there’s no demeaning name or expletives I have not seen you people call him. Some of you said he went to church because he wanted people’s votes, some of you said he has turned himself to usher, some of you said he should reduce the intensity of the scorching sun for you, some of you said the reason why you won’t vote for him is because he was the one who ordered soldiers to kill youths at the Lekki Toll gate. As you said all that, you also circulated memes of him at all sorts of workshops (electrical shops, computer village etc) and campaigns. I noticed the reinvigoration with which you did all these things, it was to shame him and give a momentary pyrrhic victory that “the youths sent him packing.” In the course of all these, you have publicised your candidate, and you have already given him legitimacy on the grounds of his young age and degree from an Ivy League school. Let me address your many ignorance as follows: firstly, of all the governorship aspirants in Lagos state, it’s only Funso Doherty that is close to Sanwolu in all metric of assessing quality leadership and these metrics include education, private sector experience, public sector experience, tangible public life success, tangible private life success. I have not even compared the quality of deputies, an area where other aspiring deputies cannot even clean the shoes of Dr. Femi Hamzat. If the youths were looking for competence as they often claim, Sanwoolu or a Doherty candidacy is your best bet. However, like the presidential election taught us, what you are looking for is not competence, what you are looking for is momentary joy and someone that fits your biases (ethnic and religious). You are the only young people in the world I know who want to elect a public officer because of the sexiness of his name and the lightening colour of his spouse. I find this to be very preposterous but like I said perception is a very dangerous tool in the hands of propagandists. I have written about the penchant for frivolity and mundanity of the Nigerian young, I do not want to appear to you as a revisionist, so I won’t go back to it. Secondly, It’s important to state here that many of us are in Lagos today because of the failure of the leadership in our various states. I have written many times about how pathetic the leadership of many states are in Nigeria and how their only touch of leadership is when they pay salaries to civil servants.
I have been particularly harsh on the leadership of the states in the South West who have not leveraged on the proximity with Lagos to scale. That you went to the University of Agriculture in Abeokuta and you still have to come to Lagos to hustle for a job of N150,000 a month is as a result of the failure of leadership over the years in Ogun State, this is not Sanwoolu’s problem, in fact, that the leadership of many states have fallen short in key leadership metrics makes people who find their way into Lagos a menace rather than a blessing. I listened to the Labour party’s candidate in one of his many catchy promises saying he would reduce the travel time in Lagos. I find that submission very ignorant, because trying to demarket an incumbent and sell yourself on the premise of an error not caused by the incumbent and that you as an aspirant, won’t be able to solve is below the belt. Is it Sanwoolu that is responsible for the influx of people in Lagos or the linearity of its roads? Finally, I have observed that the Nigerian youth, trusted with power is a disaster waiting to happen. Many of you are a shameful parody of the biblical Rehoboam, you are guilty of all you often condemn. It’s either your way or the highway. In the road to the 2023 elections, you have bullied people who had a different political ideology, you have reported to Netflix to remove an actor’s movie from their platform, you have told Multichoice to sack one of their presenters who is of a different political ideology. People easily get into your bad books once they do not agree with you. One of my aburos told me in clear terms that he was disappointed in me because my spiritual eyes are not functioning. I received this backlash from him on the grounds of my political decisions and ideology. How do I explain to him that hindsight and foresight are two currencies of elders that I’m adequately equipped with? In a career of a decade plus in which I have experienced a boss in his mid 40s only once who I can say is the only irresponsible of all my bosses, I can say older people are better than many of you in many ways. I’m offering you this advice because I’m assuming you are still redeemable and also because I believe that one day you will also grow old and think of these things. The power architecture and wealth architecture of Nigeria is still predominantly resident with the elders, even the Fintech that you people often pontificate about is with the elders. Elders only give this power or share it with the young who have been mentored and humble enough to take their counsel. If you want to smell or even have a taste of power/leadership in Nigeria you will learn to work with the elders and shun the insults. Emotional blackmail, causing, insults, cheap heroism that have been your stock in trade will always take you far from power and prosperity in the grander sense of the word. Your idea of forcing pathways that pleases you without understanding negotiation will never lead you anywhere. Sanwoolu has won, add four years to your age and consider the futility of the path you took.
Kehinde Oluwatosin Babatunde