The conclusion of last Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly polls has inevitably recast the political permutations in Kwara State.
The long political domination of the state by Dr. Bukola Saraki drew to an unceremonious close after the head of the political family lost his re-election bid to the Senate.
Even more, the other two senators on the platform of Saraki’s Peoples Democratic Party, PDP were also edged out.
Saraki had before now been regarded as a political maestro with a near 100% record in winning elections on any political platform he contested on.
His success reached a peak when he led the campaign to outwit the combined forces of his father, Dr. Olusola Saraki and his sister, Senator Gbemisola Saraki in 2011.
Bukola’s leadership in the outgoing Senate also underscored his political prowess and deep understanding of Nigerian politics.
Saraki never failed at any given opportunity to call the bluff of the opposition in the state at every election period, describing them as foreigners who didn’t care for the masses. He saw them as people who periodically came during elections to paste posters around the state, campaign, and after suffering defeat, would return to their base to recoup for another election period.
However, the narrative changed this time.
The beginning of the end
The opening to the end of Sarakis political rulership in the state indeed started with the winning of eight councillorships and one chairmanship seat in the last local government election by the opposition in 2018.
The icing on the cake for the opposition members in the state was the by-election in the vacant Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Okeer federal constituency by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
It was in a bold attempt to address the potential threat to its hold on the politics of the state that the decision was taken to take the Kwara South Senatorial ticket from Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed to Senator Rafiu Ibrahim.
In a veiled attempt by Saraki’s dynasty to address the political error by returning the Kwara south senatorial ticket to the incumbent Senator Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim from Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed who was initially given, more political confusion set in. The INEC initially retained Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed who had been campaigning for his successor on its list claiming that the substitution letter was submitted late.
The political errors of Dr. Bukola Saraki
Over the years, Dr. Bukola Saraki had developed a perfect means of reaching out to virtually every member of his support base and thus sustained the political dynasty he inherited from his father.
Saturday Vanguard, however, gathered that things started falling apart and center could no longer hold when not a few of his aides through who he dispensed patronage began diverting the resources and political privileges meant for all , friends, and family.
This Saturday Vanguard further gathered caused enmity in many communities as the aides were seen as flaunting their riches at their expense.
Whereas the aides continued to live large around him with bloated wealth without caring about the survival of the dynasty, they also kept feeding Dr. Saraki with lies that all was well, telling him only what he wanted to hear.
To make matters worse, Dr. Saraki also abandoned other channels of reaching or measuring the pulse of the grassroots.
So, when the combinations of these political errors started eroding the supremacy of the dynasty, it was already too late for Dr. BukolaSaraki to make any meaningful amendment.
Not a few times, empowerment items meant to alleviate the sufferings of followers were allegedly sold off, while in other cases Dr. Saraki’s aides present their cronies to collect such empowerment items for private use.
It was as such not difficult that those aggrieved were easily swayed when the opposition APC came with the message of liberation articulated in the O to ge campaign popularised by Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.
Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed who could have made up and covered the holes, it was gathered, did not rise to the occasion.
What perhaps brought the roof down was the exit of major aides of Saraki from his fold over irreconcilable political differences.
This set of people understood him too well and were also conversant with the winning streak of the dynasty. While the need to reconcile with them for political reason was expedient Saraki was, however, prompted to call their bluff.
Expectedly these estranged former associates were able to download Saraki’s winning strategies in the past to the presidency, the APC and his foes who meticulously executed such to the letter.
The man Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq is by all standards a successful businessman and is not new in Kwara politics.
After his first shot at the governorship in 2007 under the banner of Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), he also contested the Kwara Central Senatorial District under the Peoples Democratic, PDP, in 2011.
He did not make any significant impact. Given this, some of his concerned friends were said to have advised him to face the business that launched him into affluence and fame.
But the billionaire did not despair.
Interestingly and as fate would have it, the relationship AA had with Gen Muhammadu Buhari when he contested as governorship candidate on the platform of the CPC came into play after 2015.
That he emerged as the gubernatorial flagbearer of the APC in the keenly contested primaries didn’t come as a surprise.
The emergence of O To Ge
The defeat of Dr. Bukola Saraki’s candidate in the House of Representatives by-election in Kwara was the tonic the main opposition needed to form a strong determination that the Saraki dynasty could be subdued.
O to ge was first coined as a song during a protest in Ilorin in 2017 by members of the opposition to protest the denial by Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission (KWASIEC) to announce the winner of Ilorin West Local Government chairmanship election allegedly won by Alhaji Musibau Esinrogunjo and other six councillorship seats won by his team. The protesters guided by the police locked down Ilorin, singing the protests songs, but KWASIEC refused to buckle.
During series of meetings on how to defeat Saraki’s political dynasty, one of the party elders, Alhaji Lasisi Jimoh popularly called L.A.K Jimoh, a writer and literary giant, and also one of the age-long critics of the Saraki dynasty brought the O to ge phrase to be used as APC campaign political slogan ahead of the coming elections.
LAK Jimoh had told them at the meeting that if O to gecould be effectively used as the party’s campaign slogan, it would resonate in the minds of people and become a movement which could work like a tsunami to oust the Saraki dynasty in the elections.
He was right. Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq sought the indulgence of the elders to adopt it as his slogan, and it was adopted, and other candidates also adopted it on their posters and other means of campaign advertisements.
As from that moment in the campaign rallies of APC O to ge, songs were coined, and members would sing to chastise Saraki’s political rulership of the state.
Soon, theO to ge song started gaining popularity, and O to ge dance which party supporters dance with admiration on campaign grounds was also formed.
These political theatrics had gone far before the ruling PDP in the state countered with O tun ya, meaning continuity.
Dr. Bukola Saraki has undoubtedly been side-kicked, but the lessons have surely been learned. But whether the lesson learned could salvage his political heritage next Saturday is another thing.
Abdulrahman appears to be coasting to victory going by the results of the last election and the mood in town. Only a surprise could make the story different.