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A schizophrenic shift for a radical party – The push for GRV in Lagos 

Babatunde Adeleke

In the history of Nigerian political elections, we have often gone to the polls knowing, who is likely to come out tops, at least from the 1999 elections. Nigeria is a country that shows its hand, and it is not often difficult for the very observant to see that the strongmen of the country weaponized situations and circumstances for their own good.  

In the just-concluded election, there was a movement within a movement. The Labour Party campaigned with Peter Obi, former two-term governor of the southeastern state of Anambra, as a leader – and people took notice. In 8 months, Labour Party galvanized support and did over six million votes at the polls on Saturday, February 25th, 2023. 

While the strength that Peter Obi’s movement mobilized was not enough to make him president; it was gladdening enough to make him third.  Peter Obi has promised to challenge the outcome of the elections. The movement has now birthed 12 House of Representatives members, two of whom are said to be commercial transport workers before the Obi wave carried them into the Nigerian green chambers. Call it a victory for democracy. You will not be wrong. In the meantime, the sight of the ‘Obidients’ and Labour Party members are now set on gubernatorial elections and elections into State Houses of Assemblies. 

A thorny pathway riddled with puzzles

Prior to the presidential election, a lot of political analysts did not expect Peter Obi and the Labour Party to win Lagos. Not only is Lagos Nigeria’s economic capital, it is also the base of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The Labour Party won with the APC coming second and the PDP coming a distant third. 

Following this development, a candidate has found his voice in Lagos. He has not been silent all along, it is just that he found renewed strength in his party winning Lagos in the presidential elections. Gbadebo Rhodes Vivour is now pressing the advantage. He will stop at no length as he has now seen a blurry path to victory. 

It is important at this point to critically look at GbadeboChinedu Rhodes Vivour. He has had various takes at political office. In 2015, he attempted a senatorial bid on the platform of the PDP, with his poster name being Chinedu. Later, he unsuccessfully tried to become a Local Government chairman under KOWA, specifically in 2017. 

In the build-up to the 2023 elections, Rhodes Vivour recalibrated his political dreams and threw his hat into the ring for the gubernatorial primaries of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He was the runner-up to Olajide Adediran, popularly known as Jandor. How did the man who was supposed to be the deputy governorship candidate of the PDP become the flag-bearer of the Labour Party? Allow me take you on a journey: 

After losing the flagbearer position to Jandor, there was a consensus that he would be the deputy governorship candidate. However, Jandor went for Funke Akindele as his running mate. He claimed that “Funke Akindele and myselfwill use our popularity to win more people and more votes for Lagos State PDP in the general election and in the presidential election.” He saw Rhodes Vivour as a political lightweight. 

Sucking in his loss, Rhodes Vivour moved to the Labour Party where even more drama unfolded. He allegedly arrived and bought the nomination form after which he defeated his only opponent in Moshood Adegoke Salvador by polling 111 votes to Salvador’s 102. However, both of them should have been ineligible to run since the party’s INEC-recognized candidate, Ifagbemi Awamaridi did not withdraw his candidature.According to the 2022 Electoral Act, the only means of replacing a candidate before an election is through voluntary withdrawal or death. 

Salvador, in his reaction to the primaries, rejected the result, alleging over-voting by members of the state executive. He warned the electoral committee not to spoil the name of the party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi. He noted that the problem was left for the party to address the anomaly if the party wants to win Lagos State in the 2023 elections. This was how Rhodes Vivour got to this point. 

Lagos – a battleground state 

While on the campaign trail, Peter Obi’s favourite line was “Go and Verify” as he pointed to the frugal government he ran in Anambra. So, why are Labour party members and ‘Obidients’ who have always been loud about track recordschoosing to vote a man who has none? 

Rhodes Vivour has never managed any government establishment. While writing this, I tried to look up the businesses he owns, but I was met with dead ends, with trappings of what looks like shell companies – there is Spatial Tectonics, with only a street view credited to it on Google maps. It was uploaded a few days ago, perhaps 7 days in fact. RV Trustee Company Limited with an address in Nottingham in the UK and nothing more. There is nothing about the nature of the business that the companies do, nothing about the scope of operations.

This is the man that Lagosians want to entrust with Africa’s ninth economy. I think not. It is a schizophrenic move from a group of people that have always banked on achievements. I have read quite some things across social media, people want to vote for the Labour Party candidate because he has a handsome face, some because he has a fine name. These reasons are perhaps the most ephemeral of all the reasons for anyone to vote for a governor. 

If Rhodes Vivour was up against a dunce, it would have been a walk in the park for him. However, he is up against arguably Nigeria’s best-performing governor. Sanwo-Olu has worked off his socks in every area of the economy and has been excellent all-round. Lagos has its challenges, however, the most qualified of all the contenders still remains the incumbent Babajide Olusola Sanwo-olu. To push any other candidate, especially as a Labour Party member is to be very schizophrenic, deluded, and to fall from the lofty standard that the party has set for itself.  It will mean that the votes are not for competence, but for mediocrity.

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