It was a long hour vigil at State House in Marina, where Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, stayed awake to watch the televised collation of results of the State gubernatorial election held on Saturday, March 18th, 2023.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could not hold elections at 10 polling units in Victoria Garden City (VGC) in Eti Osa Local Government Area on the Election Day due to disagreements over the relocation of the polling units.
After the snag sorted, the umpire rescheduled the concluding polls to Sunday.
The exercise delayed the announcement of the overall results, after the commission had already announced results from 19 councils.
At 11:40pm on Sunday, after receiving results from the 10 polling units, INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Lagos, Mr. Segun Agbaje, resumed the collation exercise which extended into the midnight.
Sanwo-Olu, his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, and their wives sat patiently to watch the collation and waited for the final results’ announcement.
They were joined by Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji, Senator representing Ekiti Central, Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele, Speaker, Lagos House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, cabinet members, All Progressives Congress (APC) chairman in Lagos, Hon. Cornelius Ojelabi, Director General of Lagos APC campaign, Sen. Ganiyu Solomon, and other party faithful.
The final moment came at 1:15am on Monday when the Returning Officer for the Lagos gubernatorial election announced the winner.
Sanwo-Olu polled a total of 762,134 votes, securing a comfortable margin of 449,805 to defeat the main challenger in Labour Party (LP) that scored 312,329 votes. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came third in the election, having received 62,449 votes.
Spontaneous jubilation followed Sanwo-Olu’s victory announcement by INEC. People from various parts of Lagos trooped to the State House in the midnight to celebrate the feat, which sealed the Governor’s mandate for second term.
The jubilant crowd was feted in a banquet and entertained by a live band.
Sanwo-Olu stepped out to give his acceptance speech, saying the electoral outcome affirmed the choice of the Lagos electorate to choose competence, experience and track record as the State marched toward a new democratic dispensation.
His victory, he said, attested to Lagosians’ faith in APC as their party of choice, dedicating his success to all “hardworking” residents of the State.
Since inception, the Governor said his administration had worked hard to live up to its responsibility of providing the best leadership and trackable record of achievements in “most important” sub-national economy on the continent.
His second term, Sanwo-Olu said, will bring about consolidation of his administration’s development agenda and witness the delivery of legacy projects that would raise the development profile of Lagos.
He said: “We thank the Almighty God, to whom we owe our every breath, and who has spared our lives to see this day. I am grateful to all good people of Lagos. I salute every citizen, not just the people who voted for us, or those registered to vote. Lagos is at this enviable stage of development today because of each and every one of you, regardless of your ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, gender or age. We are a vibrant and thriving hub of commerce, finance, entrepreneurship, innovation and culture because of the diversity that has come to define us, over the decades and the centuries.”
“I thank all our supporters, who worked day and night to take our message of competence and accomplishment far and wide. Many of you did what you did not because you knew me personally, but because you identified with the progressive vision that we represent and believe in the message of continuity that we advocated.”
“Now that the elections are over, we must re- affirm the spirit of solidarity and togetherness that binds us as Lagosians. Governance must continue and dividends of democracy must continue to be delivered. There must be no break, there will be no time-off. We will keep all the promises we have made to all Lagosians.”
Sanwo-Olu saluted the courage of his opponents to take part in the democratic process, saying their contribution created a competitive participation that reflected the essence of democracy and electioneering.
The Governor extended his hand of fellowship to his opponents, saying there was no victor and no vanquished. He urged them to accept the electoral outcome in the true spirit of sportsmanship.
Sanwo-Olu, however, condemned what he called “divisive rhetoric” used by opposing parties in course of the campaign, noting that it was wrong for anyone to attempt to make the election about ethnicity and religion, when it should have been about capacity, competence and experience.
He said: “We saw hateful and hurtful ethnic profiling by fellow citizens, which is totally out of place for us as Lagosians – the proud residents of West Africa’s pre-eminent melting pot. I recognise and salute all the Lagosians who refused to succumb to those who sought and still seek to divide us with their unguarded and inciting comments.”
The Governor condemned pocket of violence that marred the election in a few polling units, which led to some residents sustaining injuries. He said relevant security agencies had been directed to investigate the breaches and to ensure that those found culpable face the full wrath of the law.
Sanwo-Olu extended his gratitude to the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for standing in support of his Government since inception, pledging that Lagos would remain aligned with the centre under Tinubu’s leadership.
The Governor thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, his commitment to leaving a legacy of fairness and equitability in the nation’s electoral system, saying: “We believe posterity will judge President Buhari well for his commitment to a fair and equitable country.”
Sanwo-Olu also hailed the President for the “unprecedented support” to Lagos in the last eight years.