By Tolu Daniel
I am new to Lagos, still a year and a half into my transition from Abeokuta- the snail city whose shell is the Olumo Rock, and the busy anyhow city called Lagos. On some days, whenever you commute in Lagos from Iyana-Ipaja to Oshodi and the districts in between, you would experience the madness of the infamous Lagos traffic in full force, ranging from the screaming bus conductors and the crazy danfo drivers as they stop to pick up impatient passengers who will turn on them as the journey progresses with the hapless insults that would be hurled from one corner of the bus to the other.
As the bus moves, you are met with no fewer than twenty smiling faces of the All Progressive Congress gubernatorial candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode on posters slammed on dirty walls and billboards and it would make you pause and wonder what the story behind his smiles is; what the smile would mean should he lose the elections to the challenger- a certain pharmacist and flag bearer of the opposition, People’s Democratic Party by the name of Jimi Agbaje.
The campaign posters of Jimi Agbaje are a sharp contrast to his opponent’s who is riding on the waves of the incumbent and ruling Governor, Babatunde Fashola. His has a strange calmness, a poise that makes him seem more experienced which could be true if one decides to view his political credential- he had contested under the Labour Party at the election that brought in the incumbent.
Jimi Agbaje in his campaign posters neither smiles nor frowns; there’s a slight curve below his mouth showing that a smile doesn’t visit that face often, it seems like he means business.
Whoever is handling the campaign of Ambode however is having all the fun in the world smashing his pictures on every nook and cranny- pictures of the candidate smiling, laughing, posing, doing shoki…anything to get Ambode stuck in our heads! It is working, but would it translate to votes? We’ll see.
It is almost as if his team has conceded to the common consensus that Jimi Agbaje is a more brilliant fellow and if Ambode cannot defeat Agbaje in wits, he will make up for it in popularity. Or maybe it’s just me thinking out of context in a stuffy bus with a woman beside me chewing a leaf from her ugu bunch carelessly tossed at the back of the bus.
Agbaje employs a more subtle approach to that of his political rival though- lack of funds or elitist attitude? Hmmph!
These women in this bus find the many posters of Ambode disturbing, and they say it gregariously with chewing sticks and ugu in their mouths.
“You wear fancy cloth finish, na fine cloth we go chop?” one says of Ambode’s poster.
“Na to give us beta life na im concern me” another added
They claim that they are tired of the APC and want change; this is very funny because the hallmark of the message that APC preaches is change.
The women continue, “dis one na fine man,” pointing a chubby finger at a “JK can” poster, “make we give am chance small. Maybe e go do beta.”
“All of dem na the same abeg!” a third one says.
Between the smiling man with a war chest of certifications and degrees and the unsmiling pharmacist who has been repeatedly accused of tax evasion by the incumbent, Lagosians must choose come the next elections, they must choose the side of the coin that they will like to live with. Maybe it is the incumbent party which has done quite well in the last sixteen years to tame Lagosians from the crazy stereotype that the world has come to identify her with or the challenging opposition party which is also the ruling party at the centre and has been accused of incompetence but has presented a candidate that neutrals have described as a man worth his onions, it is bound to be a great democratic experience.
After elections though, we can start to clean the city of a million secondhand posters *whew*