Skip to main content

#Otoge vs #SetLagosFree; Between A Street Revolt And A Twitter Revolt By Obajeun Jonah Ayodele

January 14, 2019


The chilly politics of elections is fast reaching its crescendo. For the first time in Nigeria’s political history, the electioneering process is characterised with heavily demonetized campaigns even as players watch campaign spending with sullen silence. Political investors are punching calculators and are taking stock.

The issue this time is the political freedom fighters in Lagos and in Kwara. These two States connote different things to the competing political blocs. While the street is being mobilized behind #Otoge (meaning enough is enough) in Kwara, the front-liners in Lagos are battling with their agenda to #SetLagosFree.

#SetLagosFree – Lagos State

Led by the highly perspective Jimi Agbaje, the revolt in Lagos against the establishment does not look like a movement that has taken off. Agbaje has launched his campaign on the backdrop of the argument of freeing Lagos from the grip of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. To Agbaje, Lagos is far from where it should be and until Lagos is set free, the State would continue to wallow in despair.

With the benefit of hindsight, Agbaje does not seem to be a good student of history or at least, a reader of moments. Revolution requires a longer view of history which cannot be accessed in the din and devastation of immediate battle that Agbaje has plunged himself into.

Agbaje has made the election between him and Tinubu, who is arguably one of the most influential politicians in the country. An absentee politician, pundits have posited that Agbaje has failed to brand himself as the needed warrior at the battleground. More so that he is fighting a battle against an opponent that is not at the theatre of war.

Agbaje has abandoned the campaign strategy that saw him almost springing a surprise in the 2015 elections, leaving loopholes for his political adversaries to feast one. He wants to make history by his own choice, but this is a usurpation of the powers of history. In a revolution, history makes choices available.

People make history but not under the circumstances of their choice. This truism remains as valid as ever. It is also a historic certitude that individuals often fight valiantly and heroically for a cause only to find that what they have fought for is not quite what has happened. It is then left for the struggle to resume in other frameworks.

Agbaje’s #SetLagosFree does not seem to resonate with the people. It is at best a movement on twitter, it lacks street credibility.

#Otoge – Kwara State

A relatively agrarian State with moderately ambitious natives, Kwara State was created in 1967 when Yakubu Gown broke the Federation’s four regions into 12 States. In 1976, the Ida/Dekina part of Kwara was carved out and merged with Benue/Plateau State to form Benue State. In 1991, five Local Government Areas (Oyi, Yagba, Okene, Okehi, Kogi) were excised from Kwara to form part of the new Kogi State while Borgu LGA was merged with Niger State.

Fast forward to today, there is a growing cry for a change in political hegemony. The Sarakis have always determined the political direction of the State, but for the choices made available by history when Bukola Saraki moved his political arsenal from APC to PDP.

Interestingly, natives latched on this historic opportunity to lead the fight from the front. The uprising has turned the sing-song #Otoge to the language of the street.

Unlike #SetLagosFree, #Otoge does not have a face to it. The face of #Otoge is the street, not even the gubernatorial candidate of the opposition party, APC in the State can lay claim. The street has taken over the campaign. The front-runners don’t belong to themselves anymore, they now belong to the warm embrace of the movement.

In every corner of Ilorin, there is frenetic fury, an unquenchable rage to end the reign of the Sarakis. To the natives, this is an opportunity to make a detour and redefine the political configuration of the State.

Unless there is some political magic in the offing, a demographic earthquake which reconfigures existing balance of electoral forces in favour of the passive mass of boiling youth of Kwara extraction and the radically disaffected, the political direction of Kwara is almost clear.

The tempest in Kwara is not showing any sign of retreat. In all likelihood, and without any ill-will towards whoever wins the forthcoming election in the State, the #Otoge storm is likely to proceed at furious pace. This is because what faces Kwarans is a fundamental systemic gridlock. #Otoge is a quest for a societal re-engineering!

Obajeun Jonah Ayodele writes from Lagos. He is on twitter @Obajeun