Posted by Dozie Okebalama on
Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State is one of the governors I admire, though I have never met him in person. I must add quickly, however, that the sympathy I have for him stems from the fact that he is one of the few members of my generation that have managed to break into Nigeria’s ruling class.
Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State is one of the governors I admire, though I have never met him in person. I must add quickly, however, that the sympathy I have for him stems from the fact that he is one of the few members of my generation that have managed to break into Nigeria’s ruling class. Here, mostly tired old men, gerontocrats, rule.
In Nigeria, youths are leaders of tomorrow only on paper. Even at 60, you can still be a youth, a leader of tomorrow. Those who tasted power since the First Republic in the 1960s are still there, physically or through their cronies, and are most unwilling to let go. Past military rulers cannot help themselves to anything better than dusting their agbada or babaringa and returning as civilian leaders. Having the likes of youthful Fayose in power, therefore, makes the encouraging statement that there still exist some rays of hope.
It had been my belief that the greatest challenge Fayose would face in office was his Higher National Diploma certificate controversy, which reports say has been resolved in his favour. Sadly, the governor is being linked with various other contentious issues that are fast eroding his credibility.
A few days back, reports said Fayose publicly sought the forgiveness of two prominent lawyers from the state, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) and Mr. Femi Falana, “for whatever wrongs he might have done them.” Both Babalola and Falana had accused the governor of threatening their lives. Babalola, especially, was said to have petitioned President Olusegun Obasanjo, to whom he serves as counsel and friend; and the Police, detailing the threats and the reasons he suspected were behind them.
The Government of Ekiti State has been accused of complicity in the killing of one Mr. Tunde Omojola during a councillorship bye-election on May 28, this year. The state had, likewise, been accused of having a hand in the attempted murder of a Local Government chairman, Mr. Taiye Fasubaa. Fayose was said to have personally clashed with some eminent persons and groups in Ekiti, including the monarch, Oba Rufus Adejuyigbe. Indeed, the governor has been portrayed as a violent leader that patronizes a hit squad.
The fracas, last year, between Governor Fayose and his Lagos State counterpart, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, following the latter’s unofficial visit to Ekiti, was common knowledge. The governor, elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, is said to be ruthless in suppressing the opposition, led by the displaced Alliance for Democracy in Ekiti. These are just some of the allegations brought to the public’s court. If the claims are correct, then, it is statesmanly of Fayose, a man with such a frightening record of tyranny, to have publicly apologized to Babalola, especially.
Except that President Obasanjo might have extracted the apology from the governor to buttress his commitment to his lawyer and friend. In fact, unrefuted reports claimed that Obasanjo recalled Fayose from Germany to respond to the issues raised by Babalola. The apology seems the magic of being close to Mr. President. A sitting governor, Chris Ngige of Anambra State, who was abducted from office and reinstated without any security apparatus, and who is now being hounded like a criminal by both officialdom and the PDP, is yet to attract such presidential attention.
Some claim, however, that Fayose is not the power drunk many believe he is. Many in and out of government say the man means well for the state. Fayose himself says he is not desperate for a second term, that he wants his achievements in office to “drive away” his opponents, whatever that means.
Ekiti State is not a traditional PDP stronghold. It is one of the South West states “captured” by the PDP. And everyone knows how. Chances of losing it to its traditional occupants are also 50–50, if elections were to be free and fair. Fayose the politician cannot gloss over these realities, even when there are yet no indications that the 2007 polls would be better than what obtained in Ogun State, where the 2003 presidential poll result was voided by the Appeal Court; or in Anambra, where Chief Chris Uba confessed how he rigged Ngige to power.
Yet, retaining Ekiti by the PDP cannot be sustained in the long run by violence against perceived opponents. Despite the unflattering polls that brought him to power, Fayose’s dedication and service can endear him to the people, certainly not violence against them.
The Punch, Friday June 24, 2005
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