Fayose’s liberal democracy

It is not only Wole Soyinka, our own Nobel laureate and a citizen of the world that has found Kayode Fayemi’s defeat and Ayo Fayose’s political resurrection in Ekiti after eight years in the wilderness inexplicable. Ekiti intellectuals, including a professor of nuclear chemistry from the University of Ife who after listening to Fayose’s inaugural speech was shouting hysterically, “Can you now see what your people have done”, swearing to take a sabbatical from home for the next four years, are still dazed. But I reassured my friend that with okada riders and motor park touts now given rooms in Government House by Fayose who has said industrialization is not his priority and has gone ahead to appoint Sunday Anifowose as Personal Assistant on Special Duties and Stomach Infrastructure, a professor of nuclear chemistry would not be missed.

Fayose’s unexpected victory no doubt defied logic. Here was a man whose first term was marked by violence which found expression in the unresolved assassination of some of his close PDP rivals such as Ayo Daramola and Tosin Omojola among others; here was a leader who disbanded a University College of Medicine in order to fund an ‘integrated poultry projects’ with rented chicks which partly accounted for his impeachment by the state House of Assembly on October 16, 2006; here was a man who admitted he fled the state shortly afterwards abandoning all his properties in Government House. “During the seven and half years of my political wilderness”, he told his crowd of supporters during his inauguration, “I was taken to court over what I knew nothing about 59 times, aside the 45 days I spent in Ikoyi Prisons during my trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)”. He did not forget to add “My security and political aides, such as Dayo Okondo, were incarcerated for three and half years without committing any offence”. He was silent on the status of the cases which have dragged on for years like most cases involving PDP men. Here was Ayo Fayose who because of the feeling of ‘self worth’ moved to Labour Party to contest the 2011 Ekiti North Central senatorial seat but was roundly trounced by Senator Babafemi Ojudu. Then the serial carpet crosser moved back to PDP, a party that has claimed what it does best is winning elections and inexplicably trounced a highly rated sitting governor, Fayemi in all the 16 local council areas of the state.

Fayose himself was dazed by his victory. Finding no rational explanation, he went spiritual: “The total glory of these unusual dynamics of history, which are too precise to be taken away from divinity, goes to the Almighty God, the Alpha and the Omega”. To Feyisetan, his wife, “God told me that our return would be done in such a way that will beat people’s imagination… God told me that I should leave him there because he has committed a lot to politics and has yet to reap the dividends”; and to his mother, Prophetess Oluwayose, “The Lord, who brought him this far, is also the one who would bring to fulfillment the good work He has started in him.”

They may all be right. But the issue is that the battle between the church and the state had long been settled on the side of the latter long before liberal democracy became tool for managing society in the western world in the 18th century.

Similarly, Fayose’s inaugural address, like his victory which defied logic was equally a celebration of the absurd. On empowerment, he says he is set to create “an egalitarian society for all Ekitis at home and in the Diaspora”; on education, which he destroyed during his first outing, he says his PDP government is set “to pursue the restoration of the past glory in education”.On security, his “Government shall ensure the take-off of the military formation in Ekiti State”, perhaps to continue with the pacification of Ekiti from where the 12,000 military personnel deployed during his reelection stopped.

On public service, his “government shall review all public service personnel issues including appointment, promotion, and disciplines which were hurriedly effected after the governorship elections”.

Like a military dictator, he directed with immediate effect from the inaugural ground that “the Head of Service is hereby directed to return all officers to their substantive positions as at June 21, 2014”. And finally, his government is “to usher in another era of restoration – of meals to the tables, of smiles to faces, of money to pockets, of soundness of body and mind and of unique infrastructural development – as we resume the steady journey to plenty and prosperity.” He did not say how.

PDP and Fayose by fielding and winning the Ekiti election seemed to have re-defined liberal democracy as an irrational and absurd concept.  But liberal democracy is not only rational, it is a scientific endeavour which became the basis of western civilization centuries back. Long before it became a god worshipped by more than half of the world, Plato had criticized it on the basis that most people are ill-equipped educationally to make informed selection of their leaders. Aristotle had questioned its false assumption of equality of men (okada riders, road transport workers touts with professors). For him, without first educating the people, democracy can only end up producing mediocre like Fayose who proudly asserted in an interview that the people knew he was not a professor before electing him. Liberal democracy has undergone many reforms and today, it thrives more on representation rather than equal participation. Thus Americans elect their leaders through Electoral College and not by equality of voters. There, democracy is known as a tool of ‘gentle men of property’ and in not too distant past, women, slaves and other underprivileged members of society had no voting right. Closer home, in Great Britain, up to 1954, a university graduate vote carries four times the weight of a non-graduate vote.

But alas! Here in Nigeria, we always put the cart before the horse. We manufacture cars without an iron and steel industry and without first acquiring the capacity to manufacture car tyres and car batteries. By 1955, we already had universal adult suffrage ahead of many parts of Europe and Asia including China. When Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, one of the more far-sighted members of our founding fathers cautioned about the rush for adult suffrage especially as it related to his own people, he was pilloried by the eastern and western regions. If those who claimed to be ready for adult suffrage in 1953 were sincere, they would have teamed up to do what Kenneth Kaunda did with the Northern Rhodesia in East Africa. But then as it is today, our different nationalities have their different agenda.

Besides, liberal democracy is not a tool for scoundrels; it is a tool by which the capitalist class, the barons who owned society manages their society. They decide who governs because they owned the political parties. They ensure good governance in order to protect their investments. They are ready to die for their society. But here, what we have are political parasites sucking and surviving on the blood of the poor. As Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, a former External Affairs Minister recently observed, most Nigerian billionaires made their money through the state. Perhaps this also explains why the followers flood the churches looking for miracles or trying to reap from where they have not sowed.

While there are no free meals in the homes of those who introduced liberal democracy to the world, our own leaders bribe ill-informed voters with our money in the name of stomach infrastructure. Prime Minister Cameron of Great Britain has no official private aircraft because the barons would not pay for such extravagance. He lives in a three bedroom house. Our president on the other hand controls a fleet of about 10 aircrafts while some governors hop around in leased aircrafts or helicopters as Fayose did in a state as compact as Ekiti during his first coming. Our own vice president’s 20 billion mansion is probably still under construction. The rape of our society in the name of liberal democracy does not end there; unlike the western societies, where national assets are kept in trust for future generations, here our leaders who impose themselves on us either as military dictators or as PDP electoral fraudsters, appropriate our national patrimony.

Fayose’s aberration is symptomatic of PDP and its leaders’ exploitation of the concept of liberal democracy to perpetuate evil against our people because they know they can always get away with it by appealing to our religious, ethnic and cultural differences. Deployment of soldiers and police to intimidate political opponents during election and surreptitiously undermining the judiciary by using ill-informed ‘okada’ riders and touts to unleash terror on judges is a betrayal of the ideals of liberal democracy such as check of abuse of power, accountability and impeachment for those who abuse their positions, ideals that are not totally alien to some of our cultures.

Weep not for Ekiti; but weep for the nation.

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