By Fareedat Taofeeq
Politics in Nigeria has always been a spectacle to anticipate due to the controversies that characterize each election season.
The 2023 general election is not an exception. There have been heated conversations around the country’s presidential election and the three major candidates — Peter Obi, Atiku Abubakar, and Bola Tinubu.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had earlier declared Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the president-elect.
The declaration, however, was greeted with intense backlash, with many alleging irregularities in the process that produced him as the winner of the presidential election.
Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Atiku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has filed suits contesting the victory of the former governor of Lagos at the polls.
As the conversations around the presidential election gradually fade away, the attention is now on the forthcoming governorship election taking place in many states across the country.
Lagos is considered a major battle ahead of the guber election scheduled for March 18, with Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivor (GBV), candidate of the Labour Party (LP), dominating discussions. Rhodes-Vivor is seeking to defeat Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the incumbent governor, who is pursuing a second term in office.
The election was initially considered an easy task for Sanwo-Olu of the APC but the dynamics have changed since Obi defeated Tinubu to win Lagos during the presidential election.
While GBV is arguably the man of the moment, not many know a lot about him. To this end, CRISPNG examines a few things to know about the Lagos LP guber candidate.
Born into a family of lawyers
GRV was born to Barrister Olawale and Mrs. Nkechi Rhodes-Vivour on March 8, 1983, in Lagos State. He was born into a family lineage that is far from ordinary. His father is a Barrister and his mother is a former Supreme Court of Nigeria justice and jurist.
"Lagos is working",our drainage systems say otherwise,The traffic, harrassment by state backed youth,building collapses,Zero transparency & accountability,all say, LAGOS IS NOT WORKING. It is time to make Lagos Excellent again. It is time for a Lagos that revolves around YOU. pic.twitter.com/nKIeVRYkGk
— Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (@GRVlagos) September 13, 2022
His uncle is Bode Rhodes-Vivour, and his grandfather is the late Judge Akinwunmi Rhodes-Vivour. Notably, he is also the great-grandson of Steven Bankole Rhodes, Nigeria’s second indigenous judge.
Growing up, GRV attended Chrisland primary and secondary schools until JSS3 before moving to Paris where he completed his secondary education at Ecol Artive Berlin.
- Politician Turned Activist
GRV may be a name that you haven’t heard before, but he’s been quietly making waves in Nigeria’s political and social landscape. While nursing his political ambitions, he has been very active in advocating for causes that impact Nigerians.
As the convener of Nigerians Against GMO, an NGO organization, GRV campaigns tirelessly against the proliferation of genetically modified foods in Nigeria. In 2017, he spearheaded a 2,000-person march to the Senate to raise awareness about environmental deterioration.
But that’s not all. GRV was also an active participant in the 2020 #EndSARS protests, joining forces with thousands of other Nigerians to call for an end to police brutality and corruption.
- Graduate of MIT
He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Nottingham and a Master of Architecture degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
He completed his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in 2008 after his first master’s. He later attained a second Master’s degree in Research and Public Policy; from the University of Lagos (UNILAG).
- Political Journey
GRV is not a total novice in the political landscape of Nigeria.
Starting his political career in 2017, Rhodes-Vivour contested the Ikeja Local Government Area chairmanship under the KOWA Party (KP) but lost to his rival at the polls.
In 2019, he contested for the senate seat to represent Lagos west under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). This time, he came second in the final polls, losing to Adeola Yayi Olamilekanola of the APC.
- GRV is bi-ethnic
Rhodes-Vivour’s lineage is a unique blend of Igbo and Yoruba heritage. His mother hails from Anambra state and is of Igbo origin, while his father is a Yoruba man. Following in his father’s footsteps, Rhodes-Vivour also married from his mother’s homeland. His wife is Dr. Ify Rhodes-Vivour, a molecular geneticist and the daughter of Augustine Aniebo, a former military administrator of Kogi and Borno states.
However, despite his multicultural background, Rhodes-Vivour has faced criticism from some political figures who have accused him of promoting an Igbo agenda in Lagos state.
Femi Fani-Kayode, a member of the APC presidential campaign team, is one of his vocal critics. Fani-Kayode alleged that Rhodes-Vivour is aligned with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and seeks to replace Yoruba traditional rulers with Igbos.
I make no apology for saying the following. Lagos is NOT no-man's land. It belongs to the Yoruba. Other than winning the Presidency,the most imp. thing for the Yoruba to do is to ensure that @jidesanwoolu is re-elected as Gov. of Lagos.Outside of that we are finished as a race.1/ pic.twitter.com/cOi7EAGN95
— Femi Fani-Kayode (@realFFK) March 7, 2023
However, Rhodes-Vivour has consistently refuted these claims and identified himself as a true Lagosian. He proudly proclaims himself to be an “Omo Eko Proper,” which translates to an authentic Lagos native.
The Peter Obi factor
Rhodes-Vivour was not a popular name in the Lagos guber race until Obi’s heroics in the presidential election where he defeated Tinubu in Lagos — a state the president-elect had politically dominated for years.
Many believed GRV’s sudden popularity is based on his ability to ride on Obi’s movement.
The guber candidate enjoys massive support from the youths — who are becoming impatient with the PDP and APC.
Can GRV pull a surprise at the polls and defeat Sanwo-Olu? Time will tell.