“OTO GE” The Social Change Idea that Routed Saraki Hegemony
That His Excellency Senator Bukonla Saraki has lost the power dynasty bequeathed to him by his father and Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is no longer news. Perhaps, what could be of interest in the entire saga, is the unseen hands in “Oto ge” that sacked the dynasty and how the campaign was conceived to achieve the unthinkable which it did.
In an ideal society, campaign of calumny, lousy talks, abuse and name calling do not win election, neither do these depose a sitting president or any other elected official for that matter.
Against the backdrop of riotous campaigns and mudslinging, experts have noted, “you don’t change a government with hate and malice but with tact and intelligence. Only sincere electioneering ideas win election. Idiotic strategies of using religion and ethnicity have no electoral value”.
Unseating a sitting president or an incumbent elected state official always seem a herculean task, the touted power of incumbency with surreptitious moves and chicanery make the task a lot more complicated, coupled with the fact the challenger most often than not is hardly organized or strategic in his approach explained another expert who preferred anonymity.
Like the Obama Change campaign, the shoestring budget but highly strategic “Oto ge” campaign reflects an idea movement as against the commonplace rabble-rousing campaigns.
Most often, campaign handlers are reactionary instead of being proactive and single minded in their campaigns, he added, noting that situations like this often confer on the incumbent unfounded air of superiority and unmerited unfair advantage over the challenger.
The Kwara situation looks every bit the scenario painted above with the incumbent presumed to have the upper hand in the competition for the political soul of Kwara.
The political hegemony of the state has always resided or is seen as the property of one family. The late Saraki Patriarch, Dr. Olusola Saraki was the state’s king maker and a Senator of the Federal Republic. He presided over the hallowed chamber twice 1979 – 83 (though aborted). His son, Dr. Bukonla Saraki, was a 2-term governor of Kwara State between 2003 -2011 courtesy the Sarakis’ political dominance in Kwara.
For the uncharted in history, when no Saraki is interested or available to take up a position, the family firms out such to whoever it pleases. Such were the interregna of Mohammed Lawal 1999 and 2003 and Abdulfatah Ahmed 2011 -2015 both spent a term each no thanks to the Saraki’s highhandedness and lordship in the State and its unwritten feudal arrangement, history confirms.
“For about 35 years, the Saraki’s words were decrees and laws that must be obeyed. They controlled the state in fiefdom style. Like feudal lords the elder and the younger Saraki at their different times, arrogate and allocate instrument of state and power as they will”, volunteered a Kwara indigene who travelled from Lagos to Kwara to exercise his civic right.
While lamenting that Kwarans have be complacent in the past, he noted that progressive minds in the state were fed up and tired with the system and the “Oto ge” concept spoke our mind and addressed our situation .
Such were the excesses the 2019 Kwara (Arab Spring) election took upon itself under the aegis of the APC. The motive according to findings was to demystify the Saraki hegemony and free the the state from the “oppressive” feudal style of leadership that has become a well recognized nomenclature in Kwara.
The brief for the strategic communication, according to those in the know, was followed by a detailed research and reputation audits to uncover the missing links and fix the yawning communications gap.
The image and environmental audits yielded a harvest of disillusionment, sense of servitude and bondage, a source familiar with the business revealed. Therefore, the campaign was premised on the basis that for the last 34 years has been unsavoury with one family deciding the fate of all. “We want this no more, enough is enough”. To achieve optimal effect and secure immediate buy-in by the vast rural community, the communication consultants distilled “Enough is Enough” to Yoruba dialect – “Oto ge”, a shorter, sharper, more direct and impactful slang that sits beautifully with the people, addresses the person of the usurper, his class and the issue at hand. Like a wild fire, “Oto ge” became the buzzword and the most important line in Kwara politics.
Speaking on the ‘Oto ge” narrative, Bolaji Okusaga, CEO, Precise Communications & Design, disclosed that he had the privilege of working closely with The Hook Creative Agency guys who came up with what he calls an “ingenious slogan” – Oto ge! Enough is enough. “They are young men who did a thorough research on the squalor and abject poverty which is the lot of the people of Kwara State”, Okusaga said.
“As some form of copy testing late last year, I was sure the guys were on point what with revelation that there is a primary school with only one teacher for all the students from primary one to six who teaches the students in Nupe language; with poor old women walking up to five kilometres just to earn a political gift of five hundred naira; with people dying from stampede over the sharing of a bag of rice – enough was enough”
The five letters -3 words line encapsulates the entire Kwara political and socio-economic scenario, the people’s feelings and where they are headed. Being the product of a broad-based research with samples cutting across the state, it resonates and became instant success as it reflects the people concerned. The three words became the idea for the desired social change. Hence, it recorded unprecedented acceptance by the majority of the 3.4 million Kwarans. They own it, and run with it.
“So after almost half a century, the Saraki hegemony has suddenly come to an end”, Bolaji declared while sounding the warning, ‘let every hegemon, be they in APC or PDP, beware your days are numbered”.
According to sources, Abdulrahaman AbdulRazaq, the APC Governorship Aspirant for the 2019 elections in the State contracted the young egg-heads team at Lekki, Lagos based, The Hook Creative Agency as Communication Consultant for his election campaign. However, the work’s sheer brilliance and currency in style, tone and design endeared it to the party structure in the state. The materials were adopted for the senatorial contests in the state and it recorded its first casualty in the incumbent Senate President bringing an end to the Saraki political dynasty in Kwara.
The governorship election slated for March 9th will be another defining moment in Kwara to confirm the “O to ge” ideas for social change campaign efficacy as the electorates in will file out in their numbers to elect their governor and fill other relevant elective offices in the state. Meanwhile, the concept is being adopted in other states. GNI campaign in Ogun state is routing “Otooge na nibi” in anticipation of March 9th.
Like the Arab spring, and Nigeria’s “MKO is our man o” and Obama’s “Change”, The Hook’s “Oto ge” is set to be another social phenomenon that leads a people to a defining socio-political awareness and defining decision.