By Promise Eze
Mr Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state who is the political godfather of the state Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, suffered a humiliating defeat in a state he had politically dominated for over two decades by Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP).
However, Tinubu would go on to win the presidency in a tightly contested election.
All thanks to Obi’s victory in Lagos, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (GRV), the LP candidate in the state, has now gained popularity. It was assumed that Obi’s victory would sweep away every remnant of Bola Tinubu’s threshold in Lagos which would set the pace for a different government. And this would mean GRV sending the man at the helm, Sanwo-Olu, out of power.
But the music has changed.
Rhodes-Vivour is currently under fire for allegedly conspiring with Igbos to uproot Yorubas from lagos. LP has also being accused of being an Igbo party and moonlight tales has it that GRV is an Igbo hiding under the cloak of a Yoruba man, and one who’s hell bent on delivering Sanwo-Olu’s head on a platter to Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the outlawed separatist group—Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
But how true are these claims?
Here are five interesting things to know about Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour as he battles Sanwo-Olu for the soul of Lagos in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.
1. A family of lawyers
Somewhere in Lagos State on March 8, 1983, GRV was born to Barrister Olawale and Mrs Nkechi Rhodes-Vivour. His family lineage is no ordinary one. His father is a Barrister and his mother a former Supreme Court of Nigeria justice and jurist. His uncle is Bode Rhodes-Vivour, and his grandfather is the late Judge Akinwunmi Rhodes-Vivour. He is the great-grandson of Steven Bankole Rhodes, Nigeria’s second indigenous judge.
2. His name is Chinedu
Despite his pedigree, both the elites and laymen from the opposition have attempted to strip him of his Yoruba heritage simply because of his affiliation to the Igbos.
Some even say that he was born out of wedlock and not raised by his father simply because he bears the Igbo name Chinedu.
Rhodes-Vivour’s mother is Igbo from Anambra state, and just like his father he took a wife—Dr. Ify Rhodes-Vivour (née Aniebo), a molecular geneticist by profession, who is the daughter of former military administrator to Kogi and Borno states, Augustine Aniebo— from where his mother came from.
However, many politicians have criticized his ethnicity and top on the list is Femi Fani-Kayode, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign team, who claimed that GRV “is also in bed with IPOB and is hell bent on imposing an unashamedly Igbo agenda on the people of Lagos state including removing all our Yoruba traditional rulers and imposing Igbo ones.”
However, Rhodes-Vivour, would counter his enemies when he emphasised that he was a Lagos boy, “an Omo Eko Proper, no doubt! I am an original Omo onile olona of Lagos. With so many high flyers in this Yoruba family that I have to emulate and surpass, I hardly have time for the 1939 April Fool’s day joke that ignited the Yoruba versus Igbo rivalry and its current divisive effects.”
3. His Education
Rhodes-Vivour came at the centre of a certificate forgery allegation after an email that purportedly emanated from the office of the Registrar of Massachusetts Institute Technology (MIT) appeared on social media claiming that the candidate never attended the school.
However, the American institution confirmed he attended the school.
Prior to that, he attended Chrisland primary and secondary schools until JSS3, at which point he moved to Paris to attend Ecol Artive Berlin, where he finished his secondary education.
He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Nottingham and a Master of Architecture degree from MIT.
He completed his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in 2008 after his first Masters. He later attained a second Master’s degree in Research and Public Policy; from the University of Lagos (UNILAG).
4. Rhodes-Vivour the activist
While GRV quietly nursed his political ambitions, he was very active in causes that affect Nigerians.
For instance, he is the convener of Nigerians Against GMO, an NGO organization that campaigns against the proliferation of genetically modified foods in Nigeria.
In 2017, he collaborated to spearhead a 2,000- person march to the Senate in order to raise awareness about environmental deterioration.
Additionally, he was also one of the active participants in the 2020 #EndSARS protests.
5. From KOWA to PDP and then to LP
GRV was one of the candidates poised to clinch the PDP’s guber ticket for the 2023 general election but withdrew from the race hours before the party’s primaries. He would go on to join LP and become its candidate.
But his political career didn’t start there.
Aged 39, he was the KOWA Party candidate in Ikeja in the 2017 local government election in Lagos State, making him one of the first individuals who benefited from the Not Too Young To Run legislation.
He later joined the PDP and ran for the Lagos West senatorial ticket, narrowly losing to the incumbent senator, Solomon Adeola, of the APC, polling 243,516 votes to Mr Adeola’s 323,817.