By Femi Odere
The article by Dare Odufowokan, the Assistant Editor of The Nation, which appeared in the newspaper on Sunday, July 30, 2017 can be said to be an appraisal of Ekiti State politics vis-à-vis some of its major players. One can also be forgiven if he sees another gathering storm not only because of the unwieldy field of aspirants specifically in the camp of All Progressives Congress (APC), but also because of the turbulence that seems inherent in Ekiti State politics. More importantly, it is probably billed to be another traumatic experience for Ekiti people because a brigand and violence-prone incumbent Governor Ayo Fayose has said he wanted a continuation of his administration through a chosen heir. Odufowokan, no doubt has gained a reputation for his brilliant analysis of the nation’s political space and its major actors, but some aspects of his recent appraisal of Ekiti State politics in reference to Dr. John Kayode Fayemi should be placed within the context of facts so that conjectures are not misconstrued as facts by his readers for the sake of history.
While it must be stated that some values may indeed have been added to the political profile of the Minister of Mines and Steel Development by the author’s veiled acknowledgement that the road that would lead to the Government House for the APC in next year’s governorship election must necessarily pass through Isan-Ekiti where Fayemi’s political capital is formidable enough that he can decide who passes through that road on his way to Ado-Ekiti, for yet another rescue mission to end a debilitating socio-economic affliction that has been wrecked on the people by none other than their governor. Conversely, it should also be noted that a man known to be more concerned about how history would look at him may not have been well served by some assertions in the article, hence the attempt here to situate some salient points in proper perspective with this rejoinder.
Odufowokan’s assertions that “not a few analysts have described the renewed face-off between Fayose and the former Governor Kayode Fayemi as a direct fall out of the race towards the 2018 governorship election” and that the restraining order filed against the panel set up by Fayose to probe the Minister of Mining and Steel Development was tainted and its members biased because “the chairman and many members of the commission have an axe or the other to grind with him” may not be the total and accurate representation of why Fayemi squared off with Governor Fayose or filed a lawsuit, which we shall see presently. Although having quoted a source, readers may also be misled into believing that Fayemi is already in the running for the governorship seat in the author’s postulation that “Fayemi has declared his interest to return to the Government House” in the article. Since it is from the nuggets of information that crowds the public space that history is probably more likely to extract from in arriving at its verdict, it is therefore within the context of setting the records straight that, hopefully, this rejoinder should be strictly seen rather than through the prism of criticism or excoriation.
It must be stressed first that Fayemi and Fayose lives in two different ‘worlds’ that are very far apart from each other even though fate—-for inexplicable reasons—-has directed both of them to preside over the affairs of the same ‘household’ at different times in their lives. But the latter has validated the universal adage that a pig dressed in Damask would—-by its very nature—-still venture into the mud intermittently because it is where it derives its real and authentic joy, to the eternal chagrin of the investors in that fabric of royalty. The so-called renewed face-off between Fayose and the former Governor Fayemi cannot—-in all practical terms—-be described “as a direct fall out of the race towards the 2018 governorship election” but Fayemi’s principled stance that integrity and honour may not be egregiously violated just because a chief of state is so uncomfortable under his own skin that he must hound those he considers his political enemies out of his present political domain. For a governor who has made bullying, irresponsible and reckless lies the fundamental objective of his administration, it stands to reason that those among the political class in the state who values his integrity and honour more than anything else in life must necessarily have a face-off with Fayose. Fayemi just happens to have taken a serious exception to anyone—-no matter how highly placed—-to re-define him and the values that have set him apart from a political class that seems to place less stock on virtues. This is what is at stake for Fayemi and not necessarily 2018.
The author’s assertion that Fayemi’s perpetual injunction to restrain the panel set up by Fayose from probing him “on the basis that its members were biased” and that the “chairman and many members of the commission have an axe or the other to grind with him” has very little, if anything, to do with the lawsuit. It’s purely a legal matter to re-educate and enlighten Fayose that laws and due process do matter even when he must persecute his political enemies without any justifiable cause in a civilized society, and in a democracy to boot. The fact that some members in Fayose’s commission may “have an axe or the other to grind with him” because he refused to indulge some of them in unreasonable financial gratifications with state funds and elevate some others to positions they did not deserve when he was the governor is the very least step in the totem pole of the suit. Rather, the lawsuit afforded him the opportunity to not only present credible legal evidence to the world that Fayose is engaging in a misguided political witch-hunt, but also that the law frowns at double jeopardy for anyone brought before it. It should be recalled that Fayemi’s main legal argument is that it was needless for Fayose to have instituted a panel when the court was yet to rule on the suits before it on the same issues that he has mandated his panel to look into.
That “Fayemi has declared his interest to return to the Government House” through a “source” may be a “clever by half,” if not an insidious attempt to throw the minister into a crowd of shadow players that he definitely has not made up his mind to join. It is one thing for the former governor to have talked to a “source” (assuming this is truly a credible source) privately about his ambition, and it is quite another to have equated his inter-personal discourse into a publicly declared interest “to return to the Government House.” Professionalism would have been displayed had Odufowokan placed a call to Fayemi (who’s one of the most easily accessible high public officials) to corroborate his source. A mere declaration of an intention to participate in such a public good should not have been elevated into some form of secrecy that the author could not have followed up with a call to Fayemi to ascertain (one way or another) the veracity of his “source.”
Fayemi’s present noncommittal posture in the Ekiti State governorship election in 2018 might be causing some apprehension in the camp of his supporters while raising the body temperatures of his detractors on a daily basis, but people should be cognizant of the fact that Fayemi is currently saddled with an excruciatingly important national assignment that he did not ask for, but was given to him by President Muhammadu Buhari. He heads a ministry that has been given the marching order by his boss to redirect the nation’s oily economy whose ship has hopelessly been operating in the waters for too long without any appreciable benefits to the Nigerian people, to be recalibrated so that it can now operate on land through her vast but largely untapped mineral resources. This is by no means a daunting task. It would be out of character for Fayemi to make a unilateral declaration either way on the Ekiti governorship election without clearing from his boss whether or not he would still be needed until 2019 or beyond. Fayemi’s systematic, methodical, rational, logical and reasonable approach to Nigeria’s untamed politics, which has become his trademark should not, and must not be jettisoned just because of a governorship election in a state whose people have now realised that they’ve been had, if not brutally violated since 2014. This, it seems to me, is the way it should be.
Femi Odere is a media practitioner. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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