By Ibrahim Kazeem
In politics, especially on big events as Eid and in close-knitted states like Kwara, it is normal to have players outdo one another using various tricks. So I have had a good laugh as I watched supporters on both sides of the Kwara political divide deploy well-edited videos to drive narratives across social media platforms. It is what makes politics sweet!
Then came a video of a woman pensioner finding her way to the great Ilorin Eid. It is a video like no other, one that every player must pay attention to if they truly understand the world around them. In that video, the woman, a pensioner, poured out her mind in the most natural way imaginable. The Governor’s signature light convoy had just meandered past her and through the crowd headed for the Eid. In the video that trended across social media platforms on Tuesday, the woman remarked in the typical Ilorin-speak: “Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq , oo ba anu Olohun pade! Oofi iya je awa pensioners; oun san owo wa lasiko, oun san gratuity. Awon toun han wa lemon, atiku tan. Yoo da fun o. Oo so kale daadaa. Oo tun semii.” It roughly meant: “Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, you will be favored by God Almighty as you (the Governor) have chosen to take care of us pensioners. You pay us as and when due. You pay gratuities. Those who held sway in the past made us see hell. We only stopped short of dying in the suffering. It shall be well with you. You will end this your tenure well and you will do another term.”
This video, for me, is the real deal. Politicians can and do hire crowds. It is part of the game. A fair game. But those crowds have hardly translated to votes or real support. That is the way I situate the cacophonous videos from the Eid, for or against any of the sides.
To the video of the lone woman, i have seen a couple of reactions to it. For Sarakites, it was all planned. Was it? Maybe. It does not look a preplanned thing. But wait. Is the Governor truly paying pensioners as asserted by the lone woman? Were these pensioners victims of non-payment of their lawful earnings in the past? My findings show that the woman made no false claims. President of the pensioners in the state has repeatedly confirmed this to be true on his Saturday programme on local radio station, precisely Harmony FM. They want some arrears that AbdulRazaq inherited to be settled; but they are clearly grateful that their story has changed for the better. This change will determine the fate of the Governor, not any crowd, hired or earned.
2023 will truly be critical for Kwara. Politicians will do a lot of horse-trading. The Otoges, their now archenemies known as Aanigba, and indeed the Sarakites will do a lot of horse trading. Camp shifting will occur. But what will ultimately determine the contest is the recent history of the state and how people, ordinary people, relate with it.
For those chanting Sai Leader in reference to Saraki, it is important for them to understand how the game may likely go. Kwarans will ask themselves tough questions and their answers will decide their future. One of those questions is: what does Saraki want again? Coronation, again, as their godfather? Scoffs. That is a tag Saraki himself must be wary of. But politicians are not normal beings. Nigerians do not want godfathers anymore. Yet it is what Saraki can ever be in Kwara again. It is in fact the picture his carriage portrays. He possibly does not see it that way. Poor guy. This technically seals his political fate in the state. I may be wrong but I’m afraid Kwara elite appear ‘done’ with godfathers and the humiliation that comes with their magisterial powers. They won’t like to be told in Abuja or anywhere else to go get the nod of a godfather to be accorded any privilege. Not anymore. The elites see Rahman as some funny toughie. Even a perceived loner who just wants to do his things and leave. But they do not see him as ever barking down orders to them. They have seen Bukola Saraki do that in the past. Again and again. This difference matters.
Those on the side of the Governor will also need to do some introspections and make concessions here and there. They will need to tame their infighting and alleged superiority contest for a bigger agenda: save the revolution from derailing.
Ultimately, in my opinion, the people will decide which is better between today and yesterday. They will ask themselves tough questions about access to qualitative basic education, healthcare, basic amenities, and opportunities to benefit from government programmes without political connections or liking the face of those in government house and vice versa.
The glaring change does not mean it is all rosy in the state. It is only a case of picking between two eras, very different eras. That is why the video of the woman pensioner is an eye-opener. It is, for me, the video of the Eid.
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Kazeem writes from Ilorin