5 key people behind “O to gee mantra” in Kwara

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After the crushing defeat occasioned by the O to gee mantra at the presidential and national assembly elections last week, the Saraki dynasty bequeathed to the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, by his father, Olusola, appears to have collapsed like the Berlin wall as predicted.

Meanwhile, here are some  Key political figure in Kwara who spearhead the  “O to gee movement  that destroyed the power of saraki’s age-long dynasty.

1. Ibrahim Labaeka

Although there are conflicting accounts of how the “O to ge” mantra was birthed in Kwara, the dominant narrative is that it was coined by Islamic gospel artiste, Ibrahim Labaeka. Mr Labaeka, a member of the Islamic Musicians Association of Nigeria (ISMAN), also confirmed this in several amateur clips posted on Youtube as well as a social networking site, Facebook, in the heat of the campaign.

Mr Labaeka is a respected voice in Kwara music industry, ranking as one of Ilorin’s most influential artistes. He has often lent his voice to discourse on Kwara politics, supporting with his music the late Olusola Saraki and Governor Muhammed Lawal at different times in the past. When the Senate President was reportedly assaulted at the Ilorin Eid ground in 2015, he was also recruited to appeal to the people and indeed released a song calling on Ilorin people to protect Saraki, whom he described as “Ilorin’s Shield.”

But in the buildup to the 2019 elections, Mr Labaeka alleged that he was ‘swindled’ of millions of naira by those in Senate President Bukola Saraki’s camp, despite working for them in the past. He thereafter claimed that he would expose them as ‘deceptive hypocrites’ who failed to honour basic terms of agreements and campaign against them.In a city with deep religious sensitivity, it was easy for him to appeal to the people’s emotions and, hence, the potency of the “O to ge” mantra.

2. Lai Mohammed

While Mr Labaeka provided the artistic inspiration for the birth of “O to ge”, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, provided the political shield. Seen as an embodiment of the “federal might” in Kwara State, Mr Mohammed successfully rallied party members to the cause despite protracted legal battles that almost scuttled the party’s plan.

Mr Mohammed himself has often identified with the “progressive” camp in Kwara politics, which has its firm root in the southern district. He contested the 2003 election in the state on the platform of Alliance for Democracy but lost to Mr Saraki of the PDP. Unsurprisingly, on Saturday, Mr Mohammed swept the elections in his hometown, Oro, and won his Irepodun local government for President Muhammadu Buhari.

3. AbdulRazaq Abdulrahman

The governorship candidate of the APC, AbdulRazaq Abdulrahman, remains one rallying force in the “O to ge” movement in Kwara State. An oil magnate with a deep pocket, he is the CEO of First Fuels Limited.

He is also a son of the first lawyer in Northern Nigeria, AbdulGaniyu Folorunso (AGF) Abdulrazaq, considered one of Ilorin’s most influential elder statesmen. The old man is believed to have popularised the notion that Mr Saraki’s father, Olusola, hailed from Abeokuta.

On two occasions, precisely in 2011 and 2015, Mr AbdulRazaq contested the Kwara Central Senatorial District seat. But he lost to Senate President Bukola Saraki. He defected to the APC from the PDP in the build-up to the 2019 elections and declared interest in the governorship seat.

Party insiders told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr AbdulRazaq was picked ahead of other candidates in the party primary, especially Oba Abdulraheem, because of his non-affiliation with the Saraki family. Unlike other contestants, sources said, party chieftains chose Mr AbdulRazaq because they were worried that the “O to ge” mantra may be problematic if its major candidate has no clear ideological detachment from the Saraki clan. That he is a son of one of Ilorin’s most respected elders, and the candidate with by far the deepest pocket, were only a plus.

4. Ibrahim Oloriegbe

Ibrahim Oloriegbe won the Kwara Central Senatorial seat in Saturday’s election. He is a medical graduate of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria with decades of experience in both the private and public sectors as a medical professional and politician.

A one-time majority leader at the Kwara State House of Assembly between 1999 and 2003, Mr Oloriegbe contested for the Kwara Central Senatorial seat on the platform of the defunct ACN in 2011 but lost to Mr Saraki at the court of appeal. He has since been a major opposition figure in Ilorin and on several occasions, vowed to retire Mr Saraki from active politics.

5. Moshood Mustapha

Known widely as MM, Moshood Mustapha was once Special Adviser on Inter-parliamentary Affairs, Protocol and Special Duties to Senate President Bukola Saraki. Mr Mustapha has been an ally of Mr Saraki since 2002, serving as commissioner until 2005. A former member of the House of Representatives, Mr Mustapha fell out with Mr Saraki over what party insiders said were intra-party affairs at the time. He was consequently denied the ticket to return to the National Assembly in 2015, despite being among those who decamped with Mr Saraki into the APC. He was one of the earliest governorship aspirants in the APC to declare his ambition. When he lost out in the primaries, many insinuated that he would decamp but he did not.

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