Fayose: Yoruba’s new PDP leader in action

I sympathise with Ayo Fayose for his current travails. It is as if it is now a crime to be resourceful enough to defeat two sitting governors at different periods. He has on account of trials by his political detractors since his second coming six weeks ago become the face of all that is wrong with us as a nation and with our fledgling democracy.  The truth however is that the Fayose phenomenon is only symptomatic of a nation ‘of anything is possible’, one that thrives in aberration of putting  square pegs in round holes, hoping the nation will wobble on.  Didn’t we not too  long ago have an ill-equipped Aguiyi-Ironsi who thought all that was required to manage society was military training and tactics, an ill-equipped Obasanjo, who thought he could play god because fortune had smiled on him, and an  incompetent Shagari who only wanted to be a senator but found himself imposed on Nigeria. He smoked while Akinloye and his NPN wrecked the economy. There was also the cunning Babangida who took the nation for a ride for eight years of ‘transition without end’; an impostor called Abacha whose only agenda was to mindlessly loot the treasury. We have similarly had a terminally ill Yar’Adua and a Jonathan who by all accounts is a good man but lacks the competence and political will to manage a multi-ethnic society which is today torn between Christians and Muslims, north and south, Fulani versus Middle Belt and Ijaws versus Hausa/Fulani – their traditional allies.

Fayose, today’s aberration is brash, garrulous, and confident. He is well grounded in the art of street fighting as espoused by his mentor the late Adedibu, PDP garrison commander of Ibadan politics who rose through the rank as an Action Group thug in the first republic to become the leader of Ibadan thugs and road workers union. He it was that told us that to be a governor, you must be ready to remove your dress and fight it out on the street and have no inhibition about falsely swearing publicly with the Holy Koran. Fayose has been an outstanding student. But for those like Obasanjo who have continued to prolong our nightmare through playing god, Fayose would have been a celebrated success if he had been restricted to his area of core competence – protecting the king on the throne. The Yoruba with its rich culture have long warned of the consequences of usurping the throne by those not groomed to ascend thrones. Accordingly they say, “Ti a ba fi eru j’oba, ilu a tuka.” The governor  by all accounts is not a slave; this is just the Yoruba way of saying those who were not groomed to be kings but usurp the throne, will mismanage the fortune of the people while the community will be in disarray. We witnessed the consequences of such an aberration during the reign of Abacha, when NADECO members fled the country. We saw a bit of it during Fayose’s first coming as governor 2003 -2006 when Ekiti elite fled from the state while revered traditional rules like the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti who had nowhere to run to was rudely challenged by Fayose to remove his crown and sceptre and come to the political arena for contest of popularity.

Indeed the view of George Akosile, the state chairman of defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) shortly before Fayose’s impeachment in 2006 was that “Fayose is not a proper person to rule Ekiti State. He has no certificate. He is an area boy…” This may sound harsh and uncharitable, but Akosile was vindicated by Fayose’s subsequent impeachment by 23 of the 26-member state House of Assembly in October 2006 for the mismanagement of N12 billion local government joint contribution fund and the alleged theft of N1.3 billion through the derailed integrated poultry project among 26 charges brought by EFCC to support his impeachment.

Most people had thought that eight years in the political wilderness,  51 court appearances and months of detention over the yet-to-be resolved 26 charges EFCC  brought against Fayose would have sobered him but a leopard does not change its skin. This time around, he did not even wait for his inauguration before resorting to self-help. He simply led a band of thugs and okada riders into a court premises, beat up the judge handling the case about his eligibility to contest an election, filed long before the election. They tore the judge’s gown along with some prepared judgments.

With inauguration, he started with the mundane. The government house commissioned on the eve of his inauguration, he claimed, was too big and too tastefully furnished for a people’s governor. He then directed okada riders and thugs to go and have a taste and feel of the place because government house belongs to them. Days later, his political detractors claimed he spent another N200 million to carry out further repair on the same house. At the state secretariat, a new entrance was to be constructed to keep ‘evil servants’ at a distance while the governor moves to his office every morning. There had been an earlier directive that civil servants who got promoted in the last one year were to revert back to their old positions. Due to no fault of theirs, they would also have to refund the allowances already earned because government is broke. Along the line, the people’s governor appointed a special adviser on stomach infrastructure. Government also issued a public notice inviting his supporters to a rendezvous at drinking joints for carousing on Fridays at government expense.

Then from the mundane, the government moved to the bizarre. Never equipped to manage conflicts through negotiation and compromise with the other arms of government, he forced 19 of the 26 members of the state House of Assembly out of town, ferried the seven members of PDP in a government bus guided by over 300 heavily armed policemen to the assembly chambers where the seven hilariously pronounced the speaker and deputy impeached in their absence and accorded one of their seven members the title speaker. Minutes later, the governor, dressed like one of his supporters was addressing local and international press. He told bemused nation that he has recognized the new speaker and was prepared to work with him.

With Ekiti now fully secured, Fayose who won an election without an agenda has moved on to the national stage. Last week he ferried PDP members and some leading Ekiti Obas to Obafemi Awolowo University, to sell Jonathan who is seeking re-election in 2015 to the marginalised Yoruba who the Jonathan administration has largely ignored for three years. This in itself was an arduous task. But Fayose instead of selling Jonathan embarked on petty personal wars by attacking Obasanjo’s person.

Fayose’s answer to Obasanjo’s warning that “increasing corruption under Jonathan had damaged the economy, with possible consequences of having to borrow to pay salaries and allowances because of dwindling revenue allocation to states and local governments” was to call attention of the public to donations to Obasanjo library and an alleged sharing of N50 million to each senator and House of Representatives member during Obasanjo’s third term fiasco.

Fayose’s answer to Obasanjo’s warning that “Nigeria cannot continue to indulge in disdain for truth, elevation of corruption and incompetence, reinforcement of failure, and celebration of mediocrity, tribal bigotry, fomenting violence and anti-democratic practices in states and National Assembly” was to accuse Obasanjo of intolerance of those with independent minds of their own.

Fayose’s reaction to Obasanjo admonition that it took Jonathan more than three years to appreciate and understand that “Boko Haram is not simply a menace based on religion or one directed to frustrate anybody’s political ambition”, was to praise the president for refusing “to toe the path of unconstitutionality” and for respecting human rights by not committing crime against humanity” as Obasanjo once did.

I am sure it is not only the Ekitis  at home and abroad that feel diminished by Fayose’s emptiness and attempt to wage petty personal wars with serious national issues at Ife last week, his entourage made of professors and respected traditional Ekiti rulers and even  Obasanjo who first promoted him beyond his level, would probably share the same fate. Behold the new Yoruba PDP leader, the nemesis of Obasanjo in action.

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