Explainer: Navigating Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour’s Issue-Based Campaign

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The Labour Party’s Lagos gubernatorial candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (GRV), has risen from the obscure in the past few months to become a strong contender for the hallowed seat. For the first time in the democratic history of Lagos, since the turn of the 4th republic, the next governor is arguably unpredictable and elusive. The rise of “Obidients”, an informal army of Peter Obi supporters, composed of mostly young people who are tired of leaving national or state affairs in the hands of either APC or PDP, have thrown their weights behind GRV  for the governorship, hence aiding the popularity of his candidacy. 

Meanwhile, GRV is not taking this opportunity for granted, as he has embarked on a series of campaign outings in the state, honouring interviews and, like every strategic politician, continually using the media to school the public on his plans for the state as a would-be governor. Amid the issues raised by the opposition to discredit his candidacy is his relatively scanty political resumé which is believed to be unsuitable for a position as lofty as the state’s First Citizen and General Overseer. Some of GRV’s non-supporters have also parsed him as an opportunist who is riding on the wave of the Obidients movement that inspired LP’s unprecedented presidential victory in the state. But his fans seem to be impressed by his eloquence, grand ideas, and the fact that he appears relatable at only 40 years old and possesses the youthful fervour to marshal the affairs of the cosmopolitan city.

Let’s take a last look at some of GRV’s campaign ideas, picked from pockets of interviews and conversations with the media.


Appraisal of Lateef Jakande Administration

In an interview, GRV claimed that the Lateef Jakande Administration (1979 – 1983) recorded achievements that outweighed those of the All Progressives Congress (APC) since the latter’s rise to power in Lagos in 1999. When asked about how he intends to rule Lagos in spite of his minimal political antecedents, GRV pointed out that Alhaji Lateef Jakande had governed the city successfully without prior public sector experience. 

Alhaji Lateef Jakande is often rated as the best governor the state has ever had. Pursuing the ideals of socialism, the late ex-governor is credited for the establishment of Lagos State University, the entrenchment of free education policy, and the construction of over 30,000 housing units in the state, among other achievements.


Opening up the Accounts of Lagos State

GRV has said a couple of times that one of his very first executive decisions as the newly-elected governor would be to open the accounts of Lagos state. “We are going to ensure that it is line-by-line transmission in terms of our costing. We will use infographics to actually make it more understandable because the idea is to build trust again with the people of Lagos,” the governorship hopeful claimed in an interview with Arise TV.


Depoliticisation of the Waste Management System

GRV has also repeatedly mentioned that he will depoliticize and restructure the Waste Management System which he believes to be one of the key sectors of the Lagos economy. He believes that there is a lot of pollution in the state and that would deter tourists from visiting.

“We are not doing waste management in Lagos, what we do in Lagos is picking and dumping,” stated GRV, decrying the current state of pollution in the state. “Waste management involves recycling, upcycling and waste to wealth systems”. He believes that the initiative must be “domicile at the local government level”. He envisages an efficient waste separation system involving the entire community. Hence, he stresses the need to maximise and create economies of scale in waste management.


Elimination of Agbero System in Lagos

GRV has promised to eliminate the agbero system in the state. While conversing with members of the Obidient Movement at their organised Youth O’ Clock breakfast meeting, he made this clear. He has also reiterated this promise in his other interviews.

“Agbero” is the informal word for thugs found around bus parks and garages and are involved in the collection of dues and rates from public transporters. They also extort money from traders, passers-by, street beggars, and have been notoriously associated with sales of illicit drugs and crimes such as pickpocketing. They exist in loose groups and are composed of mostly males (street urchins, teenagers, and youths). In Lagos, believed to be the homestead of agbero in the country, the group is perceived as an essential part of the Lagos State chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).

At the governorship debate held over a month ago, GRV said that he would reject the agbero system for “creating lots of bottlenecks and lots of safety hazards in Lagos state”. As an alternative, the governorship hopeful promised to engage the so-called agberos more meaningfully by equipping them with skills and other reasonable opportunities.


Privatisation of the BRT System

GRV has stated his intention to privatise the Lagos BRT system with a view to ensuring effective traffic management. “We want to open up the BRT lanes to private companies because people are waiting for forty to fifty minutes for a bus,” he says in an interview on I Said What I Said Podcast. He believes that private bus owners should be granted access to BRT lanes as long as they are willing to abide by traffic regulations and pay state taxes.


Lifting One Million Lagosians out of Poverty

“For us, the focus is to fight urban poverty,” claimed GRV in a discussion with Arise TV. He said that urban poverty was completely different from rural poverty. He intends to retrieve the Lagos state funds, acclaimed to be worth between 1.2 -1.6 trillion naira in present-day value, accumulated by Alpha Beta Company, and channel the recouped funds into empowerment programmes in a bid to lift one million people out of poverty in Lagos.

In 2020, an ex-Managing Director of Alpha Beta Consulting LLP claimed that the company made over 150 billion naira for its computation and reconciliation of internally generated revenue of Lagos state since 2000.

“The idea will be that they group themselves into five and loans of up to one million will be given to them to engage in productive work, in partnership with the government because the government actually requires a lot of services to make Lagos state excellent,” GRV buttressed.

GRV believes that there is an abundance of services to be rendered towards making Lagos a habitable place, which includes environmental sanitation and waste management systems. He then avows his commitment to the financial empowerment of groups of persons or businesses willing to undertake such public projects. Basically, the empowerment would be in the form of interest-free loans. In the long run, he asserts, this scheme would lift more people out of poverty.

At the level of local government, GRV has vowed to empower unemployed young people with vocational skills. “We are going to keep a database of the unemployed and the underemployed, and constantly be seeking to give them significant capacity. With the number of people we have in Lagos state, if we are not productive, we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder,”  GRV says.


Minimum of 35% Women Representation

GRV shows commitment to the inclusion of women as key players in his administration. He mentioned this in an interview where he pledged to have a minimum starting point of 35% inclusion of women. He also pledged his commitment to addressing feminist issues such as maternal health, sexual health, domestic violence, and fair and equitable treatment.

“I have always been attracted to strong women, women that have a vision, women that are outspoken. If you see me today here, it’s because I have a lot of women behind me, women that have encouraged me. So, we are better off as a society where women also rise to their responsibilities,” he claimed in the interview.

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