Nigeria News

NIGERIA: Fashola’s Gaffe as PDP’s Gains

 It is not exactly clear what the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, was thinking but his comments to Lagosians that his friend and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate, Jimmy Agbaje, was too old at 57 to rule the state, was a hit below the belt of his own All Progressives Congress (APC), which is fielding a 72-year old retired General, Muhammadu Buhari, to run a country of nearly 170 million persons.

Fashola said: "You know what you must do. Open your eyes clearly. When I took this job, at the age of 44, I was counting the number of white hair on my head. Today, at 52, I am counting the number of black hair on my head. Akinwunmi (Ambode) is younger than me. You need youthfulness to do this job. That man (Mr. Agbaje) is already 60; he cannot cope with this job. If you call him at night he will not take your phone.”

Since Fashola is a lawyer, he can be forgiven for adding more than two years to his friend's age, but he cannot be forgiven for forgetting that his party peopled by gerontocrats has been working the social media with a lot of falsehood and tweaked information to try to win the young generation of persons who largely do not vote on Election Day.

If Agbaje, a 57- year old Pharmacist, businessman and politician with a well- rounded educational background is not able to run a state of about 20 million, how can a former dictator with questionable secondary school leaving certificate, be trusted with the most populous and complex black nation in the world?

While all the 72-year old Buhari has to show for corporate governance is a military career that was based on a command and control structure, and a failed 20-month administration that was all about militarising a civil populace, Agbaje boasts of a rich background that included fighting dictators.

According to Wikipedia, "in a 2013 interview with The Punch Newspaper, Agbaje talked about how he began in politics: ‘It had to do with the Moshood Abiola/Bashir Tofa presidential election’, he said. ‘I saw the annulment as a personal insult and an assault on the Nigerian people. This led to my first entry into what I would call activism, working with other concerned professionals such as Professor Pat Utomi, Dr Ayo Ighodaro, Asue Ighodalo, Billy Lawson, Oby Ezekwesili, Tola Mobolurin and Hassan Odukale. Jimi was in one form of resistance group or the other which ultimately led him to join the socio-political organisation, Afenifere, where he served as national treasurer.

"Based on his affiliation with Afenifere, Jimi Agbaje joined the Action Congress (AC) – his first political party. In 2007, Agbaje who had initially aspired to contest for the Governor of Lagos State on the platform of the Action Congress (AC) left the party to join the Democratic People's Alliance (DPA). He was among the 11 aspirants that turned their back to the Action Congress (AC) when it was alleged that Governor Bola Tinubu had already anointed someone else to succeed him even before the party primaries. Widely believed to have conducted the best campaign in 2007, Agbaje contested in gubernatorial election on the Democratic People's Alliance (DPA) platform, but eventually, alongside other major contenders – Musiliu Obanikoro of PDP, Femi Pedro of Labour Party (Nigeria) – lost to Babatunde Raji Fashola of the Action Congress (AC).

Agbaje left DPA in 2011 and joined the ruling party, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) following the de-registration of DPA by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). On December 8, 2014, he emerged as the candidate of the PDP for the 2015 Lagos State gubernatorial election, having defeated Musiliu Obanikoro in the primary.

It may be unfair to continue to compare Agbaje with Buhari, because both men are vying to run separate entities; so it may be necessary to compare the 72-year old general with questionable credentials with the zoologist, President Goodluck Jonathan, with a Ph.D.  In terms of age, the retired general has all it takes to be a traditional ruler before any consideration will be given to President Jonathan, but unfortunately they are not both from the same district either in Fulani land or Ijaw land.  While Buhari has lived more than 26,300 days on earth, Jonathan has spent about 20,860 days, giving the general an upper hand.

But that is where it ends. Jonathan has been commander-in-chief for 1,850 days in a country of 170 million persons, but Buhari was there for about 605 days when the country's population was just 84 million. So in terms of experience, Jonathan is better qualified.

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