How ‘O to ge’ campaign is defining political landscapes
The fact that Senator Bukola Saraki lost the political dynasty bequeathed to him by his father and a seat in the Senate are no longer news. Perhaps, what could be of interest in the entire saga is the unseen hands in a new political mantra called ‘O to ge’ that sacked the dynasty and how the campaign was conceived to achieve the unthinkable.
The O to ge campaign, conceived and executed by a Lagos agency, The Hook Creative Agency, a partnership of four young musketeers, has recorded massive traction, as did their ‘Disgusting Ad’ of last year. It was premised on the knowledge that election cannot be won on campaign of calumny, lousy talks, and name-calling; neither do these unseat a sitting president or any other elected official for that matter.
The Lekki-based agency is an unusual set-up with Akinwale Muse who functions as Director, Business Development & Strategy while the trio of Toheeb Balogun, Sam Ochonma, Adebayo Owoshina operate as Creative Directors. Like the Obama ‘Yes, We Can’ campaign, the shoestring budget but highly strategic O to ge campaign reflects a movement as against the commonplace rabble-rousing campaigns, Akinwale hinted.
Often, political campaign handlers are reactionary instead of being proactive and single-minded in their campaigns, Balogun interjected, noting that such things often confer on the incumbent unfounded air of superiority and unmerited advantage over the challenger.
Going into the background of the campaign, the Strategy Director explained that the political hegemony of Kwara State had always resided or seen as the property of one family. The late Saraki patriarch, Dr. Olusola Saraki, was the state’s king-maker and a Senator in the Second Republic. He presided over the hallowed chamber twice 1979 – 83 (though aborted). His son, Dr. Bukonla Saraki, was a two-term governor of Kwara State from 2003 – 2011, courtesy the Saraki political dominance in Kwara.
For the uncharted in history, he added, when no Saraki is interested or available to take up a position, the family farms out the position to whomever it pleases. Such were the interregna of Mohammed Lawal 1999 and 2003 and Abdulfatah Ahmed 2011 -2015, with both spending a term each, no thanks to the Saraki’s highhandedness and lordship in the state and its unwritten feudal arrangement.
In fact, the Senate President stopped her sister, Gbemi, from contesting the governorship in 2011. She would later join forces with the O to ge movement to uproot her brother from his entrenched position.
The brief for the strategic communication, according to those in the know, was followed by a detailed research and reputation audits to uncover the missing links and fix the yawning communications gap. Thus an image and environmental audits yielded a harvest of disillusionment and sense of servitude and bondage, a source familiar with the business revealed. Therefore, the campaign was premised on the basis that the last 34 years has been unsavoury with one family deciding the fate of all.
This yielded, “We want this no more, enough is enough.” To achieve optimal effect and secure immediate buy-in by the vast rural community, the communication consultants distilled “Enough is Enough” into Yoruba language, thus O to ge was born, a shorter, sharper, more direct and impactful slang that sits beautifully with the people, addresses the person of the usurper, his class and the issue at hand. Like a wild fire, O to ge became the buzzword and the most important line in Kwara politics, Balogun added.
While lamenting that Kwarans may have been complacent in the past, he noted that progressive minds in the state were fed up with the system as initial campaign revealed. Hence, the O to ge concept was berthed to speak the people’s mind and address the situation.
While speaking on the O to ge narrative, CEO, Precise Communications & Design, Bolaji Okusaga, noted that he had the privilege of working closely with The Hook Creative Agency fellows, who came up with what he calls an “ingenious slogan” – O to ge (Enough is enough).
“They are young men who did a thorough research on the squalor and abject poverty which is the lot of the people of Kwara State,” Okusaga said. APC’s governorship candidate for the 2019 elections in the state. Abdulrahaman AbdulRazaq, contracted the young team at The Hook Creative Agency as Communication Consultants for his election campaign. However, the sheer brilliance of the concept, currency in style, tone and design endeared it to the party structure in the state. The materials were adopted for the senatorial contest in the state and it recorded its first casualty in the incumbent Senate President and brings to an end the Saraki political dynasty in Kwara.
The governorship election slated for Saturday, March 9, will be another defining moment in Kwara to confirm the O to ge idea for social change campaign for its efficacy, as the electorate will file out in their numbers to elect their governor and fill other relevant elective offices in the state.Meanwhile, the concept is now being adopted in other states. Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (GNI) campaign in Ogun state is running on the Otooge na nibi mantra in anticipation of March 9.
The O to ge mantra is beginning to take root in Lagos. And like the Arab Spring, and Nigeria’s ‘MKO is our man o,’ and Obama’s ‘Yes, We Can,’ The Hook’s O to ge is set to engineer another social phenomenon that leads a people to a defining socio-political awareness that brings about genuine change from the status quo.A group called the Free Lagos Movement, led by Lagos State gubernatorial candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Jimi Agbaje, has accused the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, of positioning his son to become the next governor of Lagos State come 2023, and also placing his relatives in key positions. Tinubu, who was governor of Lagos State for eight years, was said to have installed Babatunde Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode who ruled for eight years each. #OtogeLagos, is out to put a stop to Tinubu’s supposed third installation in the person of Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Agbaje’s freedom message seeks a free and better Lagos for all, where no one man has the power to decide people’s collective fate.
Recently at World Press Conference held in Lagos, Comrade Mark Adebayo, while delivering a paper said, “A Lagos that is free from stunted economic growth occasioned by monumental corruption and social manipulation of the people; a free Lagos that will embrace in all its ramifications the tenets of good governance in public sector, transparency, accountability, fairness and ethnic cohesion.
“Today, the reality on ground is that the Centre of Excellence, the economic capital of Nigeria and indeed the fifth largest economy in Africa, has been held captive and brazenly been manipulated by a group of power cabal, led by a former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for their selfish interests rather than the public good.”He said it was disheartening that for 20 years Lagos State has ended up becoming a personal cottage industry of one individual, who solely determines the fate and destiny of about 20 million people.
While this sentiment sounds logical and reasonable, transplanting the O to ge mantra and movement into Lagos may not be so simple. First, it is coming too late in the day and Lagos electorate have not been properly mobilised to buy into its philosophy yet. The O to ge movement in Kwara State took a while before it took root. Besides, Agbaje’s campaign has been too lukewarm to galvanise the people to the reality of a Lagos held hostage by one man.
Whatever it is, Saturday is just a few days away. Whether O to ge can be successfully transplanted into Lagos’s political life to give it a new vibrancy will be seen on the electoral battle that seems a two-horse race between the candidate the Jagaban of Lagos politics is pushing forward, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of APC or Agbaje of opposition PDP who is taking his third bid for Alausa Government House, Ikeja.