Nigeria: Can Saraki Exploit Split in ‘O to Ge’ Movement to Make a Comeback in Kwara?

The governorship election in Kwara is a rematch between the rump of the Oto ge motion and the Saraki dynasty which the motion uprooted 4 years in the past

As voters inside the North-central state of Kwara elect their subsequent governor on Saturday, they’re going to additionally be reviewing the overall performance of the “O to ge” motion that ended the lengthy domination of the Saraki political relatives of their state.

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Four years in the past, the “O to ge” motion, drawn from the Yoruba phrase for “Enough is Enough”, displaced the Sarakites, a dynasty that had dominated the politics of Kwara State throughout a interval of 40 years.

The dynasty begun in 1979 when Olusola Saraki, who in that Second Republic grew to be the Senate Leader, led the National Party of Nigeria to win the primary governorship election inside the state. He would installation three extra governors, consisting of his son, Bukola, who later seized manipulate of the state from him and mounted his personal successor in 2011.

The junior Saraki was the Senate President inside the eighth Assembly when the relatives misplaced its fiefdom in Kwara to the “Oto ge” Movement in 2019.

By the tip of the 2019 elections, Mr Saraki and his whole political construction capitulated to the coalition that had gathered inside the All Progressives Congress (APC). The coalition later briskly confirmed themselves as unusual chicken fellows united solely by their mutual disdain for the Saraki overlordship.

By 2021, the coalition was in name only, having been torn aside in a capability wrestle between Governor AbdulRazaq AbdulRahman and the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed. By all accounts, the governor looks to have received the struggle, forcing a number of members in Mr Mohammed’s camp to hunt refuge inside the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Young Peoples Party (YPP) and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

While the ruling occasion was engrossed in an inside wrestle, the previous Senate President and his allies got here up with a counterpoise political slogan; “O su wa o”, a Yoruba phrase that might be loosely translated as “We are tired.” Within the PDP, “O su wa” has change into the battle cry to retake the state.

The governorship election has pitted previous buddies towards one one more, even as some previous enemies have discovered explanations to work collectively.

Within the break up “O to ge” motion you will have Abdulraheem Oba, former vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin of the NNPP; Lawal Akeem, son of former Governor Mohammed Lawal, of the SDP and Gobir Yakubu of the YPP and the incumbent governor. All of them are from the Kwara Central Senatorial District.

On the opposite hand, the PDP looks to have remained intact and unanimously behind its governorship candidate, Abdullahi Yahman. Ironically, Mr Yahman, who’s from the Kwara-North, the sole senatorial district that has not produced a governor since 1999, was a principal parent inside the Oto ge motion and a serious contestant inside the APC primaries that produced Mr AbdulRahman because the governorship candidate in 2019.

Presidential election as a yardstick

If the presidential and National Assembly elections are for use to evaluate the power of the events, one would say the ruling occasion has a agency grip on the state. The APC received the presidential election and all 9 National Assembly seats inside the state.

However, a number of aspects would bring about the consequence of the 25 February elections deceptive. One is the attractiveness of the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, in Kwara State, the place he performed a number one function inside the “O to ge” motion.

Several factions of the “O to ge” motion that defected from the APC labored for Mr Tinubu inside the presidential race. For occasion, Saheed Popoola, the SDP House of Representatives candidate for the Ifelodun/Offa/Oyun constituency, brazenly declared his help for Mr Tinubu inside the build-up to the presidential election.

“I owe Asiwaju Bola Tinubu my allegiance and loyalty irrespective of my interest because he came to my rescue when they were tormenting me in this state,” he informed journalists in February.

The Tinubu wave inside the state, coupled with the strengths of the APC National Assembly candidates, show up to have decided the consequence of the election. For the governorship race, nearby politics and alignment will play a serious function.

“Our people seem to agree that, even though informally, the presidency should go to the south. That resonated well with almost everywhere across the various zones in the country, and Kwara State was not left out in that belief. It was that narrative that influenced the presidential and National Assembly elections,” Wahab Oba, the spokesperson of the PDP governorship candidate informed PREMIUM TIMES.

Politics alongside the three senatorial districts

The southern senatorial district has seven nearby governments; Ekiti, Oke-Ero, Irepodun, Isin, Ifelodun, Oyun and Offa. In this republic, the zone has produced a governor, Abdulfatai Ahmed from 2011 to 2019. Mr Ahmad is from Share inside the Ifelodun Local Government vicinity.

The Kwara Central district has 4 nearby authorities areas; Ilorin East, Ilorin South, Ilorin West and Asa. The zone has produced three governors; Mohammed Lawal (1999-2003), Bukola Saraki (2003-2011) and the incumbent (2019 until date).

Meanwhile, Kwara North, consisting of Pategi, Moro, Kaiama, Edu and Baruten nearby authorities areas, has not produced a governor during this republic. Its solely governor, Shaaba Lafiagi from Edu, ruled for less than 20 months between January 1991 and November 1992 inside the aborted Third Republic.

Permutations forward of the election.

Kwara Central

Kwara Central is the battleground during this election as 4 main candidates are from the zone. Messrs AbdulRahman, Oba, Lawal and Gobir think of the zone as their dwelling turf. Also, Mr Saraki is from the zone.

Mr AbdulRahman is looking for a second time period. He will get the chance to take a look at his power because the de facto chief of the APC inside the state. Aside from the incumbency thing, the governor shall be relying on the voting power of Kwara Central, the biggest voting bloc inside the state.

Ilorin, like most dominant voting blocs inside the kingdom, has retained capability for 16 years and in governorship elections, a candidate from Ilorin generally has the sting, apart from in 2011 when Mr Ahmed beat Gbemisola Saraki to succeed Bukola Saraki inside the workplace. The latest governor appears to be a trustworthy possibility right here contemplating the incumbency thing.

Unlike him, Messrs Oba and Gobir are contesting beneath political events that lack large acceptance.

On the opposite hand, Mr Lawal of the SDP is estimated to journey on the love divers have for his late father, former governor Lawal, significantly from Idi-Ape and different locations in Ilorin. However, the love is probably not enough for him to win the election. Also, he appears to not have fun with the help of everything of his occasion.

A member of the SDP, Iyiola Akogun, who’s a former chairman of the PDP and a former chief of the “Oto ge” motion, informed PREMIUM TIMES that not one of the candidates has a message to rally voters. Rather, he reported dollars will choose the election.

“Money is taking part in a massive function, it’ll figure out who wins, not message. Politics during this period is about funds and carry. And that’s when you consider that not one of the events might be reported to have an outstanding message which can inspire the persons to vote.

“In 2019, we had a good message, a quality message, and we won. We defeated the incumbent governor and the then-Senate President. But when there is no message, people go for whatever is around,” he reported over the mobilephone.

The estimated menace shall be from the previous Senate President, Mr Saraki. The battle shall be convincing the persons of Kwara Central to drop “their son” for an individual else. Also, there’s the sensation that voters should not but geared up to welcome the Sarakis lower back to capability.

There is the argument that Mr Saraki achieved this earlier than when he backed Mr Ahmed in 2011 towards his sister, Gbemisola, of ACPN and Dele Belgore of ACN, equally from Ilorin. However, he was equipped to attain the capability shift as an incumbent governor. In 2011, divers additionally backed him for standing as much as his father, Olusola Saraki, who needed Gbemisola to succeed her brother.

A controversial hijab policy would play a substantive function during this senatorial district. In 2021, the resolution of the state authorities to enable the usage of Muslim females’s head cowl in some grant-aided colleges based by Christian missions generated an argument that virtually snowballed right into a violent sectarian battle.

The ten colleges inside the centre of the controversial insurance policies had been shut down for weeks as a consequence of their resistance to the coverage. It is inconceivable to rule out protest votes from the Christian neighborhood towards the governor over that improvement.

Kwara South

The southern zone may very well be referred to as the battleground of the deputies as the key candidates picked their working mates from the vicinity.

The incumbent deputy governor, Alabi Kayode, and the working mate for the SDP, Olakunle Olayinka, are from the Ifelodun Local authorities vicinity even as the PDP picked Gbenga Makanjuola from Irepodun.

Also, SDP is probably the fastest-growing occasion in Kwara South when you consider that a number of followers of Lai Mohammed defected to the occasion after they misplaced the capability tussle inside the APC.

Although the consequence of the presidential and National Assembly elections didn’t favour them, SDP may nevertheless pull some impressiveness in Offa and Irepodun when you consider that of Mr Popoola and Wale Suleiman, who contested House of Representatives and senatorial seats respectively on 25 February. However, the governorship candidate is simply not a family title inside the south.APC and PDP will matter on the power of their working mates inside the zone. In the case of the incumbent deputy governor, there’s the incumbency thing, even as PDP will matter on the affect of Mr Makonjuola, a former member of the House of Representatives from Omu-Aran.

Kwara North

The final time Kwara North produced a governor was in 1992 when Mr Lafiagi was the governor. However, for the reason that return of democratic civil rule in 1999, the zone is but to supply a governor.

The PDP strategically zoned its governorship ticket to the district with a view to interesting to the emotions of the persons for capability shift to their vicinity. The candidate of the PDP is the sole one from the zone. However, not like the south and central districts, the North is simply not homogeneous–it is made up of a number of ethnic communities.

Winning block votes during this zone will rely on regardless of whether Mr Yahman can attraction throughout ethnic divides in your entire zone. Some residents would argue that their curiosity can be enhanced served by supporting Mr AbdulRahman now in trade for his help for capability shift in 2027.

The poser is, will it’s “O to ge” or “O su wa” on Saturday? Or can any of the smaller events play the Labour Party in Kwara by springing a shock that transformations the electoral map of the state?

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