The postponement of the governorship and state assembly polls by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) brought relief to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, who has grappled with panics of losing his re-election bid to his top challengers, sources told Peoples Gazette.
Top aides said Mr Sanwo-Olu’s fears are not unconnected to the defeat suffered by his “godfather”, Bola Tinubu, who lost the state to Peter Obi of the Labour Party in the recent presidential polls, a development that threatens the governor’s re-election, as one of his top challengers, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, continues to gain momentum in the commercial hub.
“The governor was able to breathe well after the news was sent to him that the election had been postponed,” one of the governor’s aides told The Gazette.
On Wednesday, INEC postponed the governorship polls till March 18, citing the need for adequate timing to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). The development came shortly after the Appeal Court granted its request ahead of the polls initially scheduled for Saturday, March 11.
Our sources insisted that the governor was happy with the development because he saw the momentum building for Mr Rhodes-Vivour and felt agitated by it.
“He didn’t see anything coming, I mean the sudden momentum that followed the presidential election in which Asiwaju was defeated in Lagos by the Labour candidate,” the aide further added under anonymity to avoid being antagonised in government.
However, Gboyega Akosile, a spokesman for the governor, said his principal has the momentum currently and would have been able to emerge victorious had the exercise proceeded as scheduled.
“We believe that Governor Sanwo-Olu will win the election,” Mr Akosile told The Gazette by telephone. “The person next to him may not even score beyond 25-30 per cent.”
Mr Akosile said some aides might have misunderstood the governor’s body language about the election being postponed Wednesday night.
“The governor’s feeling was more about how the election could be postponed despite all the stress we’ve been through for preparation,” the official said. “It was not because he felt that he would’ve lost under any circumstances had the election not rescheduled.”
The disruption of votes by the Labour Party in the presidential elections has put pressure on Mr Sanwo-Olu, who has renewed his strategies and intensified his campaign to win the hearts of the electorate, especially youths who have declared support for Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour.
Apart from consulting religious and ethnic groups, the ruling APC has also embarked on door-to-door campaigns.
Mr Sanwo-Olu also has Abdulazeez “Jandor” Adediran of the PDP to contend with in the strong battle for the office of the governor of the megacity.