by Femi Owolabi
Last year February, during an interactive meeting with the then governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi at the Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort, one of the participants asked the governor to rate the performance of his predecessors. Fayemi, calmly throwing the excesses of his agbada over his shoulder, began with the first democratically elected governor of the state, Niyi Adebayo. For Fayemi, one of the accomplishments of Adebayo is the Ekiti House in Abuja. The proceeds from the rent add to the state’s IGR, Fayemi revealed. In the order in which each assumed the governorship seat since 1999, Ayo Fayose should follow, but Fayemi skipped him and moved over to Segun Oni. And he decorated Oni with kind words.
What about Fayose? The audience chorused. Like a student inside an exam hall trying to remember something, Fayemi cast his gaze at the ceiling, shook his head, and then brought his face back to the audience. I can’t really point to one thing as his (Fayose) achievement, Fayemi eventually said, shaking his head again. I pinched a friend who sat by my side, and whispered to him, that is too much politics! How will Dr. Fayemi say Fayose didn’t do a thing? My friend laughed, and while I also laughed along with him, I told him that at least Fayemi could have acknowledged Fayose’s contributory efforts and support when the former was fighting to reclaim what was his from Segun Oni.
Later, we heard that Fayose won the PDP governorship primary. Owing to how he was disgraced out of office in 2006, I had never thought he could win the primary, and then regain his prominence in Ekiti politics. At the time, the contest seemed to be between the incumbent Fayemi and the LP’s Bamidele who fell out with the former when the duo, who used to belong to the same APC, couldn’t agree on an alleged consensus deal that favored the incumbent.
In no time, Fayose assumed the leading and popular opposition status and was poised to unseat Fayemi.
On the eve of the governorship election, I arrived in Ekiti. And after critical interactions with people around, Fayose’s victory became an absolute certitude. Every government has its own defectiveness. My sympathies, however, had always been with Fayemi and I wanted to see him reelected. His government was self-critical. Ekiti State, under Fayemi, was first to domesticate the FoI bill. His PA then, Egghead Odewale, would tell me to look out for the government’s shortcomings, anytime I was in Ekiti. Unfortunately, Ekiti people couldn’t cope with the seeming revisionism that was Fayemi’s government, and they all bought into Fayose’s mawkishness.
When Fayose was announced governor-elect, I reached out to one of his ardent supporters, Lere Olayinka, for an interview. At the time, Fayose was painted a devil/thug especially in the social media, and I thought, for once, I could be fair and help the Fayose’s narrative since he’s now the preferred choice of the people. On hearing that Fayose had won the election, renowned poet and scholar, Niyi Osundare, published a poem, dissing his fellow Ekiti people ‘who voted Fayose because of rice.’ I took the poem to my Facebook Wall and dismissed it. Professor Osundare was in faraway America during the election, it is not true that Ekiti people voted because of rice. Later in the year, I would meet Osundare at the Wole Soyinka 80th Birthday Public Lecture held in Unilag. The few minutes I had with Prof, I tried to persuade him to accepting Fayose whom I believed has changed for good—having begged all those he had offended– and that his second coming won’t be conflict-laden like the first. It was an unpaid, genuine effort to present Fayose’s ‘new image.’
This is only five months of Fayose’s government, and we are already seeing the gristly activities that characterized Fayose’s first reign. I am sad. The people I sold Fayose’s ‘new image’ to have mocked me. It hurts much. Just in five months; Fayose has supervised the slapping of a judge, the invading of the APC secretariat where many were injured, the removal of the speaker, and the installing of a new [seven-man] speaker. I need not mention his venomous attacks on Muhammadu Buhari.
And more worrying is Fayose’s loquacious SA on Public Communications, Lere Olayinka, who at the moment, I think, suffers schizophrenia. Once, as his own way of campaigning for Jonathan, Olayinka pic-mixed a picture of Professor Yemi Osinbajo with that of a monkey, and captioned it; ‘Osinbajo has finally found his brother,’ and then, he shared it on his social media networks. When I received the picture on WhatsApp, I messaged him immediately, telling him how disappointed I was. Responding, he said, ‘we are playing politics.’ I almost hit my head on the wall. A special adviser to a governor? I couldn’t bear the silliness. The same Olayinka had forged a medical report claiming that Buhari has prostate cancer. When I had continually rebuked him on WhatsApp, he called me one evening, and for almost one hour, he continued to spit his usual nonsense of ‘we are playing politics.’ And when I didn’t bow to all of those, he said he was going to block me on WhatsApp, and he did.
Bunmi Ojo, Egghead Odewale are aides to former Ekiti governors that I kept similar relationship with, and even when I criticized their principals in harsh tones, they were always patient enough to explain things. Not a bit of politeness in Olayinka’s disposition. Peremptory in tone just like his principal, as though the Ekiti seat of government is their father’s property. You have no stake in Ekiti, Olayinka once yelled at me.
Recently, when some APC lawmakers in the state tried to convene in Ado-Ekiti, the capital, some thugs, believed to be sponsored by Fayose, blocked all the roads leading to Ekiti, and this Lere Olayinka took to his Facebook page to proudly share the pictures of how the thugs barricaded all the roads. “All roads leading to Ekiti State blocked! They called for war, and they are getting it. Let Omirin and his APC jesters come to Ekiti and carry out their evil plot,” he wrote. So much more for a governor’s aide!
On our way to our home in Ikole-Ekiti over the weekend, we were stopped, harassed and extorted by thugs who claimed to be Local Government Task Force officers. None of them could present his ID card when I asked. And none of them could explain to me why the Local Government, in whose name they are collecting this money from us without issuing a receipt, would open office on a festive weekend?! That is how thuggery is now the order of the day in Ekiti.
As it is now, nothing is left to the imagination of how disastrous Fayose’s second coming is. Teachers have not been paid since January, the students of the state’s university have been home for weeks because their lecturers are on strike over the non-payment of their salaries, and the Governor Fayose is so busy chasing the state’s lawmakers out of the state, so that they are unable to carry out their legislative duties. It is time Ekiti is rescued from this irremediable tyrant and his cronies.
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