Rex Olawoye: The neglected O to ge crusader

On Thursday, 16th September, 2021, the political class in Kwara State was thrown into mourning following the news of the death of Chief Rex Olawoye who reportedly passed on after a brief illness.
The pharmacist-turned politician passed on at the age of 71 and was active in the politics of Kwara State as a disciple of late Dr. Olusola Saraki, for more than three decades.
Olawoye was under late Oloye as chieftain of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Congress for National Consensus (CNC), Social Democratic Party (SDP) and All Peoples Party (APP). Later, he was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before he crossed over to the ruling APC during the 2019 election where he remained until his death.
But he parted ways with the late Oloye dynasty when Saraki’s son, Bukola, became governor of the state.
The demise of the late APC stalwart regarded as one of the leading O to ge apostle in the state was coming at a time many believed the Kwara State chapter of the party needs his likes to make any headway in the protracted crises that has shattered the party and threatening to undermine its chances in 2023.
For those familiar with the political terrain in the state, the late Rex can be described as a cosmopolitan politician who had friends and sympathizers across a wide spectrum of the political landscape in the state from who he still commanded respect till his death.
Although he was a member of the APC, many members of the opposition PDP still referred to him as Baba Rex out of respect.
During the 2019 Otoge political struggle that birthed the present administration, late Rex was a frontline player and together with former PDP chairmen in the state, Iyiola Akogun Oyedepo and the present House of Representatives member for Ilorin West/Asa federal constituency, Hon Abdulyekeen Alajagusi, took the PDP to the “cleaners”.
Although some of the allegation they spewed against the then ruling PDP were later discovered to be false. The threesome took advantage of the fleeting nature of the radio airways to run down the immediate past government and they arguably became the face of the struggle against it.
And while doing this for those who were closed to him, late Rex had hoped for a better and reciprocal deal of sort for political rehabilitation from the biggest beneficiary of that struggle, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. That however, never came to pass until he breathed his last on Thursday in Ilorin.
According to insiders, despite the wide political gulf between them, the late Rex maintained a cosmetic political relationship with the governor unlike his colleagues like Oyedepo and Prof Abdulraheem Shuaib Oba who were “confrontational”. That reason, they argued accounted for some of his “soft” public comment about the governor and the government.
But away from such public posture, those who were close to him said late Rex constantly lamented about the ill treatment meted out to them by the governor and voiced out his frustration whenever he has the opportunity to do so.
When he began to suffer from the ailment crisis that eventfully led to his death after he fell sick again, he was said to have been abandoned to fate by the governor and had to rely on financial assistance from family and friends including party stalwarts from the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed faction of the APC headed by his fellow Ifelodun local government indigenes, Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa (BOB).
“During the period of his ailment that led to his death, many party stalwarts were disappointed that the Governor practically abandoned him to fate and this must have also affected him considering that his wife who understands the issue of his health better has passed on some months before.
“He had expected that things will be different after the coming of Governor Abdulrazaq and his many years of been in the opposition especially considering the role he played in the emergence of the present government. But that was not to be.
“If one is close to him, he usually reminiscence about the good old days when he was one of the prominent pharmacists in the state and during his time as a former council chairman of Ifelodun local government, the biggest in Kwara State. Years after he felt out with Bukola Saraki, he was not fortunate to taste power again until now that he believed he gave his all to actualize the installation of the present government. But the end result happened to be an anti climax for him going because of the altitude of the government”, a close member of the party had said.
Ironically, it was the Governor who raced to the public space after his demise with a statement describing late Rex as ‘a patriot and a pillar of the struggle that enthroned the ‘O toge’ administration in Kwara State.
“Baba Rex Olawoye was a delight to be with, a soft-spoken gentleman and orator, a lover of younger generation, a dogged fighter, and certainly a statesman who played a pivotal role in the political development of the state over the past few decades.
“We will miss his clarity of thought, his brilliance, and his constructive “advice” on governance. His words of wisdom even on his sickbed when I last spoke with him were quite reassuring as we were earnestly expectant of his recovery,” the Governor said.
But the same Rex had voiced out his frustration few months ago over the refusal of the governor to heed to his advice.
“I warned him (Governor) that he should not attempt to put up another political structure other than the APC structure we have on the ground. The Lord God is there. We spoke together and I told him this. I said this AA thing I am hearing, why sir? He said he was not the one that established them, but that he found out that the people involved said they were working for him.
“I warned him that this AA thing that he embarked on, he may not be able to finish it, that I hope that the project will not consume us. The second time I met him, I warned him that this AA project is making life more difficult for us to roll into his second tenure. I even told him that we are getting to a point that this AA of a thing is getting embarrassing. I warned him against all these one on one.
“I told the governor that some of the people that call themselves AA are going to each ward to remove constitutionally elected party officials and put themselves there. They now said if there is any money for the ward, it is now the man from AA that will pick the money and not the elected ward chairman. I said that is not the way to go. I advised him to direct people in AA to function only as his vanguard and let APC officials perform their functions.
“If there had not been some people behind him, he would have been able to see reason with other people’s views. There is no way a single individual can carry the burden of this state, there is no way he can make it. Bolarinwa did not say he cannot work with the governor, it is the governor that said he cannot work with Bolarinwa”, late Rex was quoted in a recent report by the media.

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