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Abdulrazaq explains birth of party crisis, discusses origin of ‘otoge’ mantra

Barely two years after ousting what most Kwarans regarded as the ‘Saraki Dynasty’, the Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has offered rare insights into the protracted crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. He attributed the cause of the crisis to his refusal to fund a campaign structure that was formed without his prior knowledge or input as the governorship candidate, Harmony Times understands.

AbdulRazaq, who was represented by his deputy, Kayode Alabi, at the launching of a book titled ‘Otoge’, recounted that some cabals within the party who received hundreds of millions of naira as donations for the Kwara struggle from far and wide did not deliver a kobo to him.

He explained further that some members of the party, thus, boycotted his campaign team until triumph was recorded in the reelection bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The governor said: “I (also) need to set the record straight about the party crisis. It did not begin after the election or swearing-in. It is safe to say that those who claimed to own the party in the state at that time practically disowned me until after the President had won his election and the coast became clearer back home.

“Here is the story. Shortly after the primaries in October, the party told me they have set up a campaign structure. Nobody consulted me before doing that, even though I was the governorship candidate. They asked me to fund the campaign structure that I was not privy to. Of course I declined it. I would later lead my own small campaign team across the state. It is on record that the party officially boycotted my campaign tours.

“Party officials got the instruction not to attend my campaign. A few of them can testify to this. I went round the whole of Kwara North without the party. However, they stylishly joined the campaign after the presidential election when it was clear Kwarans had decided in our favour. I am not aware of any decent democracy where a candidate would not be given the privilege of shaping the direction of his own campaign. It is even worse that my campaign was boycotted because I refused to be led by the nose.”

He, therefore, added that Kwarans are the ones who sweated over the ‘Otoge’ struggle which had even started before the 2019 election. “Every Kwaran of good conscience owned and worked for that struggle in various ways. We were only positioned by providence to lead the final lap of the breaking of the jinx that dated back many decades,” he said, in what was the first public statement made by him on the issues within the party,” he added.

“However, permit me to assert here that contrary to some claims out there, the battle cry “Otoge” and its adoption were a product of a statewide field research that I commissioned shortly after the primaries in October 2018. If anyone could lay claim to its copyright, it has to be the Hook Nigeria, a communications outfit owned by very young people. One of them, Toyyib, is a Kwara South prince.

“I had held meetings with various PR outfits but I found their own presentation most strikingly catchy and reflective of the Kwara struggle. We ran our campaign with that slogan and it quickly resonated with our masses. So popular was it that even motorcyclists and trailer drivers adopted it in their honking. It became a household refrain. To God be the glory and we thank the people of Kwara for this.”

Meanwhile, the Governor gave accolades to the author of the book, Tony Oyeyiola. He described it as a commendable effort and purchased 100 copies for the government.

“I believe efforts as this are necessary to research and document history and the various roles played or purported to have been played by various stakeholders. I congratulate the author for the work,” AbdulRazaq said.

“Let me make it abundantly clear that we are guided by lessons of history. On our part, we are working within available resources and realities of our state to be on the right side of history. This explains our efforts in spreading development and making huge investments in basic amenities of life. While we are not perfect, we have facts and figures to assert that our state is better than we met it on all indices.”

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