A simple lesson in history will teach any politician that people don’t care what you do, they only care about how you make them feel. Dear Governor Ambode, it doesn’t matter how many groups endorse you openly, the land use charge increase, as well as that on the spike in the tolling of vehicules, is a banana pill you have stepped on and which will hurt you in 2019 if you don’t fix it quickly.


Governor Akinwumi Ambode has, very close to an election year, increased toll fares and land use charges, both of which have far reaching implications on the average cost of living for most Lagosians. Mind you, Governor Ambode had earlier in his administration hiked the fares on the BRT buses and has sought to tax the private drilling of boreholes. There are even rumours of a possible hike in the fee of motor vehicle licenses.

Shamefully, yet unsurprisingly, the elected representatives of the people have conveniently looked the other way, rather than stand up for the people they claim to represent. These ‘honourables’ put up no fight and ask zero questions, preferring to sit on the laps of the executive. When ‘honourables’ fail to walk the path of ‘honour’, a society pitifully loses its moral bearing.
Governor Ambode has performed quite well, no doubt, but elections are not merely won on the basis of performance. In fact, elections are more emotional than they are logical. As such, people are more likely to vote on the basis of how they feel and not on any empirical evidence. The governor must realise that the people of Lagos are feeling overburdened with the paying of levies and taxes, hence, increments, such as on the land use charge, can deeply hurt his electoral chances.

When Bill Clinton ran for re-election as governor of Arkansas in 1980, he lost by 35,000 votes to a republican, Frank White, becoming the first governor in Arkansas to have been denied a second term. The consensus was that Clinton lost the election largely due to an automobile tax increase which became very unpopular with the people. Clinton went on to win the next gubernatorial elections by conveniently avoiding the issue of tax increment.

In any case, the Nigerian people have an ugly history of tax increments, some of which destabilised the colonial government, toppled kings and instigated mass riots. It was increased taxes that led thousands of Igbo women in November 1929 to congregate at the native administrative centres in Calabar and Owerri, leading to huge riots across the city centres. The colonial government backed down on the tax increment and sacked the native warrant chiefs in charge.

…recent political history is a pointer to what massive discontent can do to the electoral chances of an incumbent. The singular decision by former Governor Kayode Fayemi to go through with the competency test of teachers in Ekiti saw him lose a re-election bid, irrespective of his performance in other areas.


Tax increments also led Oba Samuel Ladapo Ademola, the seventh Alake of Egba land to abdicate the throne of his fathers when Fumilayo Ransome Kuti led thousands of angry women to protest the over burdening taxation on market women. Again, the women won and several local chiefs were sacked.

It took Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who had just been released from jail to negotiate with Mustapha Okikirungbo, Tafa Popoola, Adeniyi Eda, Adeagbo Kobiowo and Mudasiru Adeniran, leaders of the ‘Agbekoyas’, to quell the 1968 riots instigated by the increase of taxes on farmers. Even recent political history is a pointer to what massive discontent can do to the electoral chances of an incumbent. The singular decision by former Governor Kayode Fayemi to go through with the competency test of teachers in Ekiti saw him lose a re-election bid, irrespective of his performance in other areas.

A simple lesson in history will teach any politician that people don’t care what you do, they only care about how you make them feel. Dear Governor Ambode, it doesn’t matter how many groups endorse you openly, the land use charge increase, as well as that on the spike in the tolling of vehicules, is a banana pill you have stepped on and which will hurt you in 2019 if you don’t fix it quickly.

foraminifera

Ayodele Adio, a communication strategist, writes from Lagos.