Soldiers Of Kwara Political Freedom - Politics 

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Kwara State, in North Central Nigeria is one of the first generationstates created in 1967. The state is one of the poorest and leastdeveloped states in Nigeria, when compared to other states created inthe same period.

Historically, Kwara used to be a vibrant state with so many striving industries and a growing economy, but due to the emergence of a new political leader in the second republic, things changed and the fortune of the state of harmony never remained the same again.

About 4 decades ago, a medical doctor turned politician took over the political leadership of Kwara State; His name is Dr Olusola Saraki.

Olusola Saraki who is popularly referred to as the strong man of Kwara established a political dynasty that not only controls the political system of the state, but also influences the traditional, religious and social institutions for almost 40 years, precisely between 1979 to 2019.

The dynasty, which is currently controlled by Bukola Saraki was crushed and uprooted out of Kwara State in the 2019 general election by the All Progressive Congress (APC), led by its Governorship
candidate, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.

How Saraki got power

During Nigeria’s civil war between 1967-1970, Dr Olusola Saraki, a medical doctor turned politician, who had earlier lost election in 1966 in an area now known as ASA local government served as a major
supplier of medical services to the military government. His close contact with high ranking members of the then military authorities
gave him unhindered access to power at the highest level.

Dr. Saraki was one of the few individuals who made huge fortune from Nigeria’s civil war and with the aid of his acquired wealth during the tragic warfare that reportedly claimed over 3 million lives; Saraki
tactically positioned himself to take over the political space in Kwara State through politically motivated charity, which worked greatly in his favor.

When the military government prepared the transition process of handling power over to democratically elected government in 1979, Dr. Saraki became one of the delegates at the constitutional conference in
1977 and he eventually emerged senator in 1979 and has been influencing the choices of who become what in Kwara state ever since.

Upon Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, Dr. Saraki continued to hold unto the political control of the state. In 1999, Saraki installed late admiral Muhammed Alabi Lawal as governor of Kwara State, before his biological son, Dr Bukola Saraki took over in 2003.

In 2011, Olusola Saraki surrendered Kwara political leadership to his son Bukola Saraki and like his father; Bukola has been installing all political office holders in the state. Bukola Saraki is currently a senator, representing Kwara central senatorial district and also the senate president of the federal republic of Nigeria.

How Kwara was liberated from Saraki Dynasty

After the terrible defeat of Kwara opposition in 2015 under the leadership of Chief Iyiola Akogun, young people in Kwara State were outraged about the total lack of inspiration from the leadership of the liberation struggle. They resolved that going forward; they will
take their destiny in their own hands.

Sooner after, a pro-democracy group known as Kwara Must Change came to lime light with its unique brand of citizen’s advocacy and political mobilization. Kwara Must Change (KMC) is a civil and political advocacy group founded by a group of young people who are frustrated by the lack of social justice and good governance in Kwara State and are determined to change the status quo.

After the 2015 election in which the liberation struggle suffered a major setback despite being in the ruling government at the national level, most people were sober and demoralized, fearing that the hope of liberating Kwara from the shackles of Saraki dynasty might have been chattered.

However, Kwara Must Change surfaced out of the blues to change the atmosphere when it released a publication titled ‘’Kwarans have defeated mentality’’. The reflective publication by Abdulrazaq Hamzat,
the convener of of Kwara Must Change was released on May 25 2015, few days before the inauguration of the new administration and that singular action marked the birth of a new era in Kwara political
history.

In the publication which serves as a wakeup call for many Kwarans, Hamzat explained that the defeat of the liberation struggle in 2015 was as a result of a defeated mentality and has nothing to do with the
capacity of the Saraki dynasty. He therefore called for immediate reawakening to free the people’s mind long before any future elections.

To match action with words, leaders of Kwara Must Change which include Abdulrazaq Hamzat, Yusuf Olatunji, Hassan Adio, Ibrahim Olanrewaju and
many others led the reformation of Kwara Must Change and positioned the group to lead a long term struggle for freedom through massive
public mobilization and political mobilization.

The group’s public sensitization campaign led by the President, Abdulrazaq Hamzat gained wide followership both on conventional and social media, while its grassroots political mobilization led by the
state coordinator, Yusuf Olatunji, 3 senatorial coordinators and 16 local government area coordinators penetrated across the length and
breadth of the state. Kwara Must Change suddenly becomes synonymous with Kwara liberation struggle not only in Kwara State, but also across the country.

In numerous releases by Kwara Must Change, Hamzat had maintained that the group has only one mission between 2015 to 2019 and it is to break
the culture of silence imposed on Kwarans by the Saraki dynasty.

Hamzat is convinced that if they are able to get all kwarans talking about how they truly feel about the situation in Kwara in defiance to the culture of silence, the liberation will naturally take care of itself long before any election and the group provided a platform for that.

Between June 2015 to August 2017, Kwara Must Change released approximately 150 statements, countering government propaganda at all
levels and creating new discuss. The group basically became the pace setters that set the agenda for discuss in the state, leaving the state government and its political associates always reacting.

Within this period, other counter narrative radio programs by opposition political parties, particularly one anchored by Chief Iyiola Akogun had also became popular and it complemented the efforts
of the group in sensitizing the people.

Having successfully established itself as a major force in the state, Kwara Must Change in June 2017 announced its decision to recall the senate president, Bukola Saraki from the senate over what it described
as bad leadership and misrepresentation. Analysts have maintained that, the bold move by Kwara Must Change in championing the attempted recall of the senate president is the singular master-stroke that kept the fire burning and illuminated the kwara liberation struggle.

The recall of Bukola Saraki as announced by Kwara Must Change was earlier dismissed by the Saraki dynasty and described as empty noise from none existing entity, but after seeing how positively people
received the news, they became jittery and apprehensive, leading to issuing threat, blackmail and false propaganda against the group.

However, despite the numerous threats of violence and blackmail to the leadership of the group, Kwara Must Change insisted that the recall shall proceed and it went ahead to write the Independent National
Electoral Commission (INEC) to that effect. Later on, the recall exercise was aborted after INEC failed to supply the group list of registered voters in Kwara central senatorial district. But despite suspending the recall exercise in August 1st 2017, Kwara Must Change
continued its advocacy and local mobilization across the state, building on its popularity and visibility.

More than ever before, the group’s presence at the grassroots level became more visible and its media activities gradually expanded from social media to conventional media. It grew to a point that hardly
would you visit any part of Kwara State without a visible presence of Kwara Must Change and this is why they are being referred to as soldiers of Kwara political freedom. The group also played a major role during the 2017 local government election which exposed the
declining unpopularity of the Saraki dynasty.

In March 2018, leader of the group, Abdulraza Hamzat was reportedly declared wanted by the Kwara State government and he was invited by the Department of State Security (DSS).

In the Saaraki dynasty, Kwara Must Change is being referred to as a digital terrorist organization and this is understandable because its online engagement has made it impossible for the Kwara state government to get a pass for any act of irresponsibility.

Government media team on a regular basis discusses how to respond to the groups growing critical reviews and as a matter of fact, the mere mention of the name Kwara Must Change or Abdulrazaq Hamzat in
government circle often sends fear into their spines.

Despite not having any known sponsorship, the group continues to grow in scope and coverage and repeated attempt to buy them over didn’t yield any result. This led to accusation of them being sponsored by
kwara opposition. The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki particularly accused them of being agent of All Progressive Congress (APC) national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Minsiter of Information and Culture, Alh Lai Muhammed.

However, the convener of the group, Abdulrazaq Hamzat insisted that the group is a self-sustaining pro-democracy group with no link whatsoever with the Jagaban or any politician in the state at the
time. Although, Hamzat said he has a great respect for Bola Tinubu’s democratic credentials, notwithstanding, he said he has no connection with the APC national leader, but he hopes to meet him later in the
future.

After Bukola Saraki left APC to PDP in 2018, the political wing of Kwara Must Change teamed up with other opposition political leaders who joined APC to form a united front against the Saraki dynasty
leading to the birth of #Otoge revolution.

The political structures of Kwara Must Change in the 16 local government also became an asset for the otoge revolution and the group’s massive and ever active online platforms also became a useful
tool for propaganda and information dissemination.

During the Kwara Bye-election in November 2018 in which the APC claimed its first major victory, Kwara Must Change played a leading role to make this happen and it was not surprising that shortly after
that election, precisely in December 2018, another sponsored publication emerge online, with the title ‘’ Abdulrazaq Hamzat: Tinubu’s agent in Kwara’’.

Prior to the bye-election, Kwara Must Change and 72 other youth led groups in the state had formed Kwara Rescue Alliance (KRA) with the aim of unseating the Saraki dynasty in 2019 and the victory of APC in
the bye-election was just the beginning.

In a release by Kwara Must Change in February 2019, the group had confidently declared that PDP will not win a single seat in Kwara State in the election and even though most people didn’t believe the prediction, the APC went ahead to clear all 3 senatorial seats, 6
Federal House of Representative seats, the governorship and the entire 24 state house of Assembly. It can therefore be said that the
liberation of Kwara State from the grip of Saraki dynasty came from political mobilization and master propaganda of the Kwara Must Change.

As the new era of freedom begins in Kwara, let all beneficiaries of the resolve of the people of Kwara work to justify the mandate given to them by the people.


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