Editor's note: Public affairs analyst, Abdulrazaq Hamzat, writes on the 'O TO GE' movement in Kwara which is affiliated to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, and is threatening to deal an heavy blow to the political network and structures of Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.
Immediately one steps into Kwara state, either through Kogi state, Osun state, Oyo state, Niger state or even through Benin Republic, the first thing that stirs one in the face is ‘'O TO GE,’ the All Progressive Congress (APC) popular shibboleth that has sent the name Saraki into sudden lethe in Kwara state.
The slogan literally means, 'Enough is Enough.' It was adopted by Kwara state chapter of All Progressive Congress (APC) as a representation of the feelings and resolve of the people to end Saraki’s hegemony and even before the election, it appeared the slogan has sent the name Saraki into sudden oblivion in the state.
Unlike in the past, when Saraki would be the dominant name ahead of the election. It appeared today, that the only name being heard in Kwara is Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and his O TO GE slogan.
It has been observed that in the past few months, life has not remained the same for the Senate president, as his girth on Kwara state has percolated before his very eyes and every effort to reverse the trend seem counterproductive.
Realising the impact of this 'O TO GE' shibboleth on Saraki’s waned popularity, the Kwara state government initiated some intervention to stop the opposition from further using the slogan, claiming it received a petition from the palace of Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Zulu Gambari against the slogan, but the legendary royal highness of Ilorin quickly dissociated the palace from such petition, furthering government’s confusion.
Furthermore, when the attempt to stop 'O TO GE' slogan failed to yield any positive result against the growing popularity of the opposition, the ruling party decided to be clever by half, adopting the same slogan for their campaign and more like impersonating the opposition with a distorted message to confuse the public.
The ruling party produced several campaign materials with the same slogan using it to discredit the federal government and blaming the president for the woes of the country. However, it turned out that the efforts of Kwara ruling party is rather making the opposition stronger.
While the Saraki led PDP is still finding ways to contain growing opposition popularity, suddenly, out of the blues, a giant billboard with 'O TO GE' mantra boldly in-scripted on it surfaced in Offa town, with picture of notorious armed robbers that killed more than 30 people in the town in 2017. The armed robbers, when arrested at the time claimed they were political thugs of the Senate President and the billboard was reminding the people of Kwara, what needed to stop. This move was seen as a master stroke against the ruling party and without wasting much time, thugs allegedly loyal to the PDP vandalized the Offa billboard and hundreds of others across the state.
Before the dust of this vandalization died down, the opposition turned it into a rallying point, as about a week later, a street walk was staged with a personalized 'O TO GE' banner being waved by a large group of people, while a bigger version of the vandalized billboard was restored.
The fear in camp of Saraki was obvious and for the first time in a long time, the Senate President was forced to appear in a syndicated radio interview, which was also streamed live on all social media platforms. He wanted to respond to certain questions fueling opposition popularity and hopefully turn the tide.
When he was asked about the Offa robbery incident, in which the arrested suspects claimed they were his political thugs, Saraki said he was being framed by the police. According to him, all funds available in all banks robbed in Offa was just N7million and when he went to condole with the community, he donated N10 million, arguing that he his beyond sending armed robbers to attack the community. However, this explanation didn’t go down well with many, as they have been asking, how did Saraki know the amount available in all the 4 to 5 banks robbed?
Some even chided the Senate President for demeaning the memory of the over 30 people who lost their lives in the unfortunate incident by focusing on money.
Reacting to the claim that Saraki donated N10million to the community after the robbery, prominent people in Kwara state, including Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed have tackled the Senate president, claiming that he lied about donation.
Furthermore, while the live radio interview was streaming online via Saraki’s own account, it could be seen that majority of Kwarans following the interview were against the Senate President.
It would be recalled that few months ago, Saraki’s candidate was defeated in the Kwara by-election won by APC House of Representatives candidate, Honorable Abdulraheem Ajulo and this has been said to be a testament to the imminent collapse of the Saraki dynasty.
As the 2019 election draw nearer, observers are keen to watch how this history unfolds in Kwara.
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