When the news broke on Tuesday that Femi Otedola, a business mogul has been offered a ticket by the leadership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to represent it as the gubernatorial candidate in Lagos State for 2019, the question on the lips of many people was “what is Otedola looking for in politics?”
The question did not arise out of the belief that Otedola is not competent to govern a state, but it was out of disbelief, mingled with great expectation.
Otedola, a chip-of-the-old-block, has a robust political pedigree, his father, Michael Otedola, being a former governor of Lagos State.
Otedola is the chairman of Forte Oil Plc, an importer of fuel products, a philanthropist and owner of a number of other business concerns spanning from shipping, real estate to finance.
There is no doubt that going by his success in the private sector, Otedola could bring his competence to bear should he become the governor of the state.
This is coming at a time when many people are clamouring for the involvement in politics of players in the private sector. The thinking is that they would be in a better position to manage the economy.
It is believed that the nation’s economy had been in the doldrum for many years because wrong people have been at the helms of affairs. It is also the belief of many that those who have successfully run their businesses to profitability for many years are more likely to understand how to manage men and materials for the good of the country.
Having watched from the sidelines as the economy is being messed up year after year, at all levels of government, a number of technocrats have determined to go on a rescue mission. Many of them have since declared their ambition to seek their parties’ nomination to contest for governorship.
In this pack, you see the likes of Tonye Cole, Chidi Okoro, Alex Otti, Opeyemi Agbaje, Pat Utomi, Buka Kyari, Eyo Ekpo, Joseph Tegbe, Adebayo Adelabu, among others.
But Otedola stands out by virtue of the size of his business and the name he has made for himself in the business world. This is why his rumoured interest in politics is eliciting a quantum of reactions.
Some pundits say that except his deep pocket, the business mogul is not street-wise.
“Recently, Otedola rode in a public bus in a part of Lagos and was neither accosted nor ‘mobbed’ by an army of commuters. It shows that nobody in that class knows him. He is not street-wise. Dangote cannot do such a thing (go on such ride) without being pulled here and there by sincere seekers of financial assistance. It means that Otedola must have been planning to run before now. Politics is purely grassroots,” an analyst said.
Some analysts have said that if indeed the Forte Oil chairman is going for the race in Lagos, the battle then would be fierce for other candidates of other parties, including the ruling APC, particularly with the discordant tune coming out from the broom party.
“Otedola is one of the big sons/friends of Lagos, who has played vital roles in different areas, particularly the security of the state, by way of contributing to the Security Fund. If he has decided to go into politics, that is to tell you that he is not satisfied with the quality of governance in the state. That would also tell you that by his own calculation, he had expected the state to have developed more than it is now going by the huge resources available to government, which he also knows by virtue of his position and rich contacts,” Gbenga Shittu, a public affairs commentator, said.
Shittu further said that Otedola’s entrance into the murky waters of politics may ruffle some feathers and may also put the loyalty of other “big boys” who are entrenched friends of government into jeopardy.
“It is not just about Otedola; it is about other ‘big boys’ in town who indirectly control the state. I am not sure that if Otedola is really in the race those associates of his would leave him and support the ruling party in the state. If you know how these people operate, they operate as a team; closely knit together. You know what it means if they decide to throw their weight behind Otedola,” Shittu said.
According to him, “Recently, pictures of the ‘big boys’ enjoying barbecue in a yacht were all over the social media; I think it was during the Sallah holidays. They also gathered again when one of them threw a birthday bash for his mother. They have always been together, and it will be interesting to watch the epic battle ahead, at the governorship.”
The billionaire businessman, Otedola was said to have been offered ticket for the gubernatorial election, by the PDP, which he has also accepted.
The Lagos State chapter of the PDP has been in crisis since after its state congress where Salvador emerged the chairman. The rift between the leader of the party in the state and a member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Olabode George, culminated in the dastardly murder of the Apapa chapter of the PDP, leading to the arrest and incarceration of Salvador and a few others.
Upon his release, Salvador dumped the party for APC. The party has never known peace ever since. This is the status of the party, a precarious situation that ordinarily, is capable of hampering any dream of taking over Lagos by PDP. But the arrival of Otedola on the scene, may change the game.