As the 2019 elections beckons, there are anticipated political tug of war amongst very strong opponents vying for the same office within the same party or between the leading parties. Already, there are battles setting up in the Lagos East Senatorial Zone, where the heaviest of APC political heavyweights are slugging out. This is the zone that has Yayi, Koro and Opeifa gunning for the Senator seat within the All Progressives Congress (APC).
At the Lagos Mainland Local Government, there is one that is delicately poised after the young Dayo Israel announced that he is challenging the incumbent member of Lagos State House of Assembly representing Lagos Mainland Constituency 1, Hon. Oladele Rufus Adekanye. We call it the battle of the Internet vs. Grassroots Politicians.
These sets of individuals who run for and take political offices have over time built a structure around their personality to enable them not only wield influence but create a team of like minds that hold dearly their ideals and political ideologies who in turn grow into foot soldiers that help propagate their political interests at the community level.
With the emergence of social media, quite a number of younger politicians have integrated the internet as a platform into their plans to reach out to a large section of the public which they represent. They have used the power of social media reach and engagement capabilities to amplify their manifestos and political campaigns and building huge support among the youth population segment.
However, a closer look at recent happenings have also shown that not all campaigns heavy on social media and the internet have resonated with people at the grassroots level. Such is the case of Dayo Israel, a young and bubbly politician, who ran for the Lagos Mainland Local Government Chairmanship position during the last council polls in Lagos State held in July 2017. Dayo, ran under the umbrella of the APC sought the party’s slot for the post of Chairman in Lagos Mainland Local Government and campaigned vigorously using the internet and digital platforms optimally. He could not pull enough ground support to clinch the party’s ticket during the primaries. The embittered Dayo, who swore not run again, resurfaced early this month to declare interest to represent Lagos Mainland Constituency I in the Lagos State House of Assembly.
This time, Dayo is making a bold move to run in the same party and against an incumbent holder of the office, Hon. Oladele Rufus Adekanye, who represents the Lagos Mainland Constituency I in the Lagos State House of Assembly.
Digital engagement vs Grassroots engagement
Although Dayo gained prominence at the grassroots level after he embarked on free medical treatments, vocational trainings, musical concerts and other community-driven initiatives, he had much focus on the social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and more – using digital platforms to engage his constituents.
InsideMainland’s independent investigations showed that Dayo Israel, although young and vibrant, did not do enough to build a strong influence at the grassroots base. He is InsideMainland’s poster child of the Internet politician with interesting ideas but lacks the structure at the grassroots level to win and represent the interest of his people.
On the other hand, Hon. Adekanye, has been in politics since 1996 and first attempted to represent his community at the Assembly in the same year. A one-time Secretary and Executive Chairman of the Lagos Mainland LG, the politician has been in politics for more than two decades and has served in various capacities at the council and state level.
Investigations revealed that Hon. Adekanye has a strong grip on his constituency. Dayo has to do more to convert his internet and digital followers into party boots in the ground to pull his biggest political victory since his foray into partisan politics. That looks a daunting task!
Hon. Adekanye has do more to create a personality that appeals to the younger voters as a well-placed opposition candidate with strength on both the ground and internet spaces may use that as a huge advantage over him. His projects are also not well known to the residents and may not be a very popular choice if faced with a younger well-grounded opposition. That would be another battle worth an analysis.