POLITIQUE BY TAIWO FAROTIMI
Peter The Rock, that is the appellation that Ayodele Fayose, outgoing governor of Ekiti State so cherish. He presents the image of a warrior who is not afraid of any Goliath. So, do not taunt him in any corner, for he will go for you. The popular politician is a rabid critic of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari (and give it to him, some of the times he is on point) for being high handed and undemocratic. But the man is himself said to run a fiefdom in his Ekiti.
His signature political strategy is that he bonds with commoners, eats at the local restaurants and splits drink with them at the local pubs. Fayose is seen as a man of the people.
The July 14, 2018 election was a contest not between his erstwhile associate Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress, APC and Kolapo Olusola Eleka, candidate of his People’s Democratic Party, PDP, but between him (Fayose) and Fayemi. For the two, it was an opportunity to make a strong political statement.
Fayose was there for Fayemi as political platoon commander in 2007, which Fayemi won. But by the time Fayemi settled down to governance, the bond of friendship suffered a setback. The details of what happened between the two may be told in details someday. Fayose was not the only one who fell out with Fayemi. The latter, it is said, could not minister to the appetite of some political backers.
But confronted with the lean resources and the contract he signed with the people during the campaign, Fayemi, a pro-democracy campaigner who will have to answer questions from numerous lovers of democracy and good governance from far and near, would probably have been torn between responding to the needs of the electorate and pleasing political comrades and godfathers.
The result was the campaign of Fayemi’s aloofness (read pride) as against Fayose’s grassroots presence. So, in 2014, when the urbane Fayemi thought he had enough legacy projects to ask the people of Ekiti for second term in office, he confidently went into a duel with Fayose. He probably assumed that were they to campaign project-for-project Fayose would lose out.
Perhaps his calculations were strong, but he did not have a thorough dialogue with his constituency. At the end of the day, the enemies within his party were as strong as the enemy without. Fayose knew what Fayemi did not know that the stomachs of many of JKF’s Party men were feeling the pangs of ulcer, which they did not want to allow to get out of order. By the time the results start to roll in, Fayemi realised that he had built on quicksand. That was why at the start of his campaign this year he was talking about betrayals and forgiveness.
A quick advice for Fayemi: he should not change what the Ekiti people admire in him, nor should he aspire to adopt the comic strategy of his friend. It is also important for Fayemi to settle down fast and plan for his handling over in 2022 from now. This is crucial because most public office holders assume that they have such a long time to play with they lose focus. But when the bell sounds for them to pack their bags, they start to run from pillar to post. The numerous times that Fayose had dined at the street restaurants or split drinks at the public bars will not count as legacies. Perhaps he has come to that realisation now that it is too late.
The returnee governor should also not take on any part of Ekiti or group that he lost in 2014. Rather, he should be truthful with his declaration of forgiveness for those who wronged him, and not hesitate to use any of them good enough to assist him in advancing the cause of Ekiti.
Often it is said that when a public officer returns to office and would not require to seek re-election they behave according to the archetypal “Oyinbo” who soils the throne at his departure. Please run this four years as if it is your first and you need another term. Do not cow people; do not wield power as if other people are minions and inconsequential. Remember, sycophants destroy only to blame you for being weak. Learn also from the mistakes of other people.
Note now, the ebullient Fayose, the warrior and the unbeatable rock appears to have gone into hibernation. It is surprising that he is not responding to the taunt from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, or the alleged ticket to France nor has he spoken on the legal challenge by Amina Zakari, a national commissioner with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
You will show enough appreciation of the love of Ekiti people if you do not do things that will make you go into hiding after polls in 2022 or issues that will make the electorate there to have nostalgia about an administration that wrote new rules about governance that cannot be recommended. Yes, bring back the honour of the land, but without throwing away some good works. And yes of course you know that Ado is different from Abuja.
Welcome back home!