By Charles Olufemi Folayan
The decision to take down the infamous Saraki Dynasty in Kwara State was in many ways, a widely held one amongst the generality of Kwarans. To many, Dr. Bukola Saraki represented the prideful haughtiness that typified political despots and his reprehensive style of leadership was in stark contrast to the sense of democracy that should have been the hallmark of political leadership in the 21st century. For others, it just did not seem right and fair that he had arrogated so much political power and autonomy to himself to unilaterally choose those who occupied political positions at the local, State and even national levels. For the most part, not a few Kwarans agreed that Saraki dynasty had to go, so that the overriding interest of the majority of Kwarans could hold sway and a new political order which had no political ties and or loyalties to Saraki could be installed.
For me like many others, the grouse against Bukola Saraki was premised on his maladmistrative tendencies, his egocentric leadership and gross insensitivity to the deplorable state of infrastructures across the State. There is no doubt that Saraki’s highhandedness and sheer ineptitude has given rise to a high level of poverty, no thanks to the huge debts profile he had stockpiled in has mainstay as the enfant terrible of Kwara politics. While he and his cronies lived fat on the commonwealth of the state, majority of Kwarans were left to grope and groining in abject poverty. In the intervening years of his successor to the Governorship seat of the state , criticism gave way to agitation and then activism, all of which culminated in the “Otoge Revolution” that toppled the Saraki hegemony and brought in Abdulraman Abdulrasaq in the guber elections of March, 2019.
Since assumption of office, the new Governor has left many marvelling at his unpretentious nature and style of leadership. Perhaps , it is yet too early to tell how he will fare in the light of the level of surreal flamboyance and ostentatious luxury that was reminiscent of his two predecessors; the blaring sirens, the array of exotic cars and the feudal style leadership that Kwarans have come to identify governance with in the past 16 years. Abdulrazaq has so far shown uncommon restraint and austerity in his leadership approach. He has revealed a side to governance that is unusual of the average governor. More than a chief with servants , he has demurred to serve in the place of a chief of servants.
Governor Abdulrazaq has remained true to his nature, humble in his comportment and unassuming as any ordinary Nigerian. He has opted to defer to religious and traditional leaders, giving them the leeway to stay in the fore in their respective spheres of authority. So far, his style of governance has called to question the very nature of power and how it was that Saraki had taken on such an imposing stature while in power as Kwara’s political Tzar.
To the discerning, it is clear that the Governor is acutely aware of the onerous task fhat lies ahead of him and has chosen to abandon the oft Imperial status of the average Nigerian Governor and rather chosen to Don on the garb of a servant, who is intent on turning around the fortunes of a state whose people have been perennially stripped of its dignity and deprived of the dividends of good governance.
For many, it is a struggle to readjust to the reality that is now the style of governance in Abduldazaq’s Kwara. For a people who have known no other way but the “Sarakian” way of impunity and lawlessness for nearly 2 decades, adaptation appears to be a huge and uneasy thing. To the Kwarans who have known nothing but measly appeasements and temporary mincemeat, Governor Abdurazaq is a discomfiting change. Some have opined that nothing is happening in the Government at the moment, the streets are eerily quiet and perhaps, the governor is operating a sole administrative system. They point out that the governor has yet to make certain necessary appointments to his cabinet. For some who fed fat on the ridiculous system in the past, the governor’s decision to monitor government spendings has come as a rude shock, however, Abdulrasak visits to various dilapidated institutions and his immediate action and approval for repairs where necessary is speaking for him.
In my opinion, I believe the Governor is setting the tone for those who would eventually make up his team to realize the enormity of challenges that is in wait for them. He is making it clear to those who have the foresight to see that his government will be one that lives up to its “Iseya” slogan. “Iseya” means “it’s time to work” and it is only fitting that the governor lives up to this maxim and as against the practice of indulging in endless ceremonial displays and unwarranted public fanfare, the focus must be on delivering to the good people of Kwara State, the long-yearned for dividend of good governance. Every right-thinking person must begin to think of how they can contribute their part to ensure that the Abdulrazaq administration works in the overall best Interest of all kwarans.
Kwarans must immediately expunge the peasant mentality of accepting temporary appeasement and the practice of recieving Amala and Rice now and then in place of the more substantial rewards of effecient and responsible leadership. They must realise that such practices undermines the goodwill that the people should ordinarily enjoy and it only empowers lazy and inept governance. Now, more than ever, they should begin to demand for government to be increasingly focused to creating the enabling environment and opportunities that can inspire growth and prosperity, this way, they can lead more meaningful and comfortable lives, provide for their families and improve their standard of living without depending on Government for sustenance.
On his part, Governor Abdulraman Abdurazaq must remain very mindful of the sensitivities of then people and must always take into account the fact that change in many regard is a difficult thing for most people. In his stride to deliver on his campaign promises, he must tread cautiously, knowing well that the task of reforming mindset and orientation of a people can only be successfully achieved in a steady and stealth manner and not by an overtly sweeping method. This is especially so for a people who have inculcated a dependence culture over a long period of time.
Opinion first published August 20, 2019.
Charles Olufemi Folayan is now the Chairman, Young Progressives Party, YPP.