On Saturday, the 11th of March, 2023, the people of Kwara State will join our compatriots in the majority of our states to elect a governor. Let me state from the onset that I strongly support, advocate, work for, and desire that AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, the Kwara State Governor, gets a second term when we go to the polls. I was one of the many aspirants for the gubernatorial position in 2018/19. As it turned out, AbdulRahman became the APC candidate, who also became the symbol of the OTOGE movement, which effectively, swept into the dustbin of history, the 40-year Saraki hegemony (1979-2019), symbolised by the 16-year State Capture regime, perpetrated by Bukola Saraki, 2003-2019!
As an aspirant, my view of the situation was very clear. What was imperative was to reclaim our state, and I was once asked by some interested people what my attitude would be, if another person emerged as the flag bearer, other than me. I responded that whoever emerged was assured of my total support; this wasn’t about personal aggrandisement. We were all committed to the liberation and reclamation of our state. We had suffered the arrogance of hegemonic domination, especially in sixteen years from 2003, that a historic conjuncture as we had on our hands should never be wasted. And thankfully, it wasn’t!
We massively swept away the hegemony in one of the landmark elections of the Nigerian Fourth Republic. It was so total and all-encompassing that the PDP didn’t win a single seat in all the elections. The people discovered their metier, found the courage to speak authoritatively with their votes, and dealt a mortal blow to the arrogance of the hegemony. The people have never been slaves, and the 16-year opprobrium of state capture was cast away.
Soon after he was confirmed as gubernatorial candidate of the APC, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq visited me, and we commenced discussions about his plans, not just for the campaigns and the polls, but how he envisaged power and its utilities, when we win the elections. We were very sure that we would swim on the crest of the people’s wave of discontent and total rejection of the ancien regime in our state. It was very important to get that peek into his thought process.
The OTOGE movement was also an omnibus vehicle, which brought several strange bedfellows together for a decisive delivery of a coup-de-poing against the 16 years of state capture and 40 years of hegemonic control. While that was a very strong platform, the strength also conveyed its essential weaknesses. The movement was saddled with hubristic standpoints from individuals with very tall egos, who had developed strong senses of entitlement, that they felt were commensurate with their alleged roles in the emergence and victory of the governor at the polls, as well as the overall performance of the APC, in general.
This group of individuals was utterly disappointed that their fancies were not indulged as they had assumed, they should, when the APC administration was installed in the state. As governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq faced the choice of either surrendering to the desires of these individuals or taking the tough but historically correct step of dedicating power in the service of the people of our state. He chose the latter! The consequence of his choice is the systematic manner that a new, putative, disorganised opposition, made up of erstwhile OTOGE adherents emerged, and began to prepare battle plans against the governor and his administration.
I think AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s greatest strength has been that his adversaries always underrated him: his mental toughness; his political adroitness; and his understanding of the various forces at play in the game of power. That’s why AbdulRahman was able to wrong-step his adversaries; firmly took control of the levers of the party, thus reducing the noisy, self-appointed political gurus, literally into internally displaced politicians, who sought refuge in disparate parties, which as the returns of the February 25th elections showed, are quite irrelevant, as far as the people are concerned.
These came along with AbdulRahman’s dedication to a particular course of action, which is the centrality of concern for the welfare of the people of our state. The manner that he has used the four years, since 2019, to serve the interests of the people in towns and villages all over the state has been impressive. I honestly think that AbdulRahman has been able to redefine politics and political engagement in Kwara, in far more ways than a lot of people have been able to appreciate fully.
The long list of achievements speaks to the fact that governance can and indeed has become more responsive and responsible, with the interest of our people becoming the most decisive factor in the choices being made each day, in our state. These choices are visible in several sectors: education; health care; rehabilitation of roads and water supply projects; anti-poverty intervention programs; the mainstreaming of women and youth in the process of governance; openings in sports; the conscious support for entrepreneurial endeavours, to mention just a few of the efforts of the past four years.
These are no mean achievements of the AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq administration, and they are very tangible. They speak for his commitment to the betterment of the conditions of the people of our state. But far more poignant for me is the fact that the past four years have created an ambience of democratic dialogue beyond what used to be the state of affairs in our state. There are critical voices on several social media platforms, all speaking to the situation of our communities and the people. The preponderance of our population is young, relatively educated, admirably enlightened, and they want genuine service delivery. They’re also not afraid to bear their minds on the issues of governance.
The administration knows that it is constantly under scrutiny and because the people decisively defeated the Saraki state capture excesses, it has had to operate with a greater level of awareness of, and greater dedication to the common good. For me, more than all the very laudable achievements recorded over the past four years, the defeat of all pretentious political godfathers, jobbers, and deluded individuals who assumed they are the patent holders to politics in the state, represents our greatest asset of the past four years.
It hasn’t all been honky-dory over the past four years. No! Governance should continuously be renewed; technology and ICT must be employed more and more; communication with party activists and members should be better; the people must be constantly engaged with; occupational groups; unions; community associations; women and the youth; and NGOs should be listened to in the design of programs and policies; procurement and contracting should more and more be used to create opportunities for Kwarans, to deepen wealth creation within the State. Democracy is about the people, therefore, the people must be encouraged, and presented opportunities to make inputs into all areas of governance. On balance, it is clear that we have certainly moved away from the irresponsible arrogance of the old hegemony, which was built upon a regime of state capture and a lack of respect for the values of our communities.
This is the backdrop against which I firmly believe that it’s in our enlightened self-interest to give AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq four more years in power when we vote on March 11th, 2023. That way, we can seal firmly and, forever, the place of the disgraced hegemony in the dustbin of history. Similarly, the elections of March 11th would assist us to consolidate the green shoots of growth associated with the progressive governance that we have seen unfurled over the past four years in our state. This is the time for us to consolidate the power of the people in Kwara State. Let us give AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq four more years of service delivery to the people of Kwara State.