23 Apr 2015

What Will History Say About Ayo Fayose? - by Niran Adedokun

Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State is an enigma. I know a lot of Nigerians would find even the contemplation unacceptable but then truth must be told. To drive the point home appropriately, let us attempt a definition of the word “enigma”.

The online dictionary, oxforddictionaries.com, defines enigma as “A person or thing that is mysterious or difficult to understand.” I do not know a better word to describe any man who sponsored some of the most virulent advertisement against the person and candidature of Muhammadu Buhari before the recently concluded presidential election but would equally be the first to congratulate him when it became obvious that Buhari was winning the election. Fayose just seems so adept at compartmentalising his emotions even if just fleetingly. But this is not the only testimony of enigma of Fayose and I am going to attempt a systematic construction from here.

When he was declared winner of the June 21, 2014 governorship election in his state, there were two phenomenal things about the declaration. The first was that the 55-year-old defeated a sitting governor who was a contestant in the election. Now, in Nigeria, you hardly find anyone defeating an incumbent executive, be they president, governor or council chairman. It is just not our way.

Fayose did not just win the election, he defeated Governor Kayode Fayemi in all the 16 local government areas in the state, including the latter’s Oye Local Government Area. Although a tape allegedly recorded by an intelligence officer who was on duty during the election increased speculations about the likely manipulation of this election, two immutable factors testify that Fayose attained this victory creditably.

One is that elections are hardly ever rigged with the perfection of the results of the electoral exercise under consideration. And the second is that all possible courts in the land have conclusively decided that the election was legitimately won by Fayose.

The second significant thing about his victory in 2014 was the fact that he was returning to the position eight years after his first tenure was terminated by an impeachment. Fayose was first sworn in as governor of the state on May 29, 2003. He however soon ran into trouble with the Federal Government under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. This was followed by allegations of corruption initiated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and his eventual impeachment by members of the House of Assembly for a myriad of charges in October, 2006.

In effect, he won the 2014 election with quite a baggage of moral and legal issues hanging on his neck.

These accusations have formed the basis of a chain of actions and law suits which continue to dog the governor since his election. At some point, there were fears that he might not be sworn in because of the issue of eligibility which was one grounds of appeal raised by the All Progressives Congress against him.

Although the governor was last week finally vindicated by the Supreme Court, he still has a case with 19 members of the state House of Assembly who are bent on impeaching him over a series of alleged constitutional infringements.

The impeachment notice brought the cloudy situation that the House of Assembly has been in since November last year when seven members of the House sat and impeached Dr. Adewale Omirin as their Speaker and appointed Mr Dele Olugbemi as his replacement to a head.

The seven legislators alleged that the decision became imperative following Omirin and his deputy’s “absence without official notice,” and that “the business of the House cannot grind to a halt” in their absence. They also accused Omirin of revealing official secrets, misappropriation of assembly funds and signing of bonds with the past executive without the knowledge of other members of the House.

This is the situation that Ekiti has been in over the past few months. When the majority legislators are not plotting to send Fayose out of government, they are calling press conferences to draw national attention to allegations including threats to their lives by the Fayose administration.

And on the part of the administration, we have seen at least two massive blockage of roads leading into Ado Ekiti as well as the House of Assembly complex, all in a bid to ensure those who want to impeach the governor do not have access to the complex.

Just last Monday, private and public schools failed to reopen for the third term while a lot of workers went back home out of fear of being caught in any untoward situation that could emanate from clashes between supporters of the APC and Fayose’s Peoples Democratic Party.

The Monday action was a direct result of the governor’s broadcast the previous day alleging that the opposition lawmakers planned to invade the Assembly on Monday to effect the impeachment proceedings against him. He urged transport unions, market women and workers to rise up to protect the mandate they gave him. Incidentally, a day before that day, Fayose had during a church service appealed to his political opponents to sheathe the sword and join him in the very urgent need to move the state forward. And then the broadcast just shortly after!

One week before this, members of labour unions in the state staged peaceful protests in support of the governor warning that any attempt to impeach him was bound to meet the resistance of workers who voted him into power.

The Secretary to the Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, Mr. Ade Obatoye, was quoted as saying that: “…the people of Ekiti did not only vote for Fayose, but the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, had also revalidated it. We appeal to the APC to wait for four years when there will be chance to elect another governor and if they can appeal to our people, they can get it back, but not the way they are presently doing.”

All of these without any doubt point to the fact that Fayose is quite popular amongst the Ekiti State electorate and that those who voted for him are willing to defend their mandate, something which put him in a rare class of politicians in the country.

However, the governor must realise that there is a difference between populism and delivering good governance, and that there is a difference between being famous and being a role model, which is what everyone who is in a position of leadership like Fayose should aim for. The governor is totally far from that lane with these invitations to protests and sieges to institutions of government.

Maybe, the governor needed to do some desperate things for his political survival at some point, but he has already started to beat the drums too hard and risks a tear. As he gets close to the first anniversary of his administration, he needs to face governance and seek peaceful co-existence of all the people he governs. The governor needs to behave like a leader, live up to the promises he made to work with the APC lawmakers last Sunday, give them all their dues and work towards leaving a legacy that would outlive him. He needs to seek the assistance of traditional and religious leaders, who are too quiet by the way.

True, the APC lawmakers and their party equally need to bury the hatchet and allow peace to reign but the governor has more at stake. He has to justify the second chance that God has given him and work for the good of his people that is going up in waste. He needs to stop this popularity show and work towards the peace and development of the state. So, he will be on the right side of history. That is still possible.

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