BY ABDULRAFIU LAWAL
A popular Yoruba proverb says it is weird to find oil in a place where you expect water. This proverb succinctly captures the reaction of many Nigerians when Ayodele Fayose emerged as the governor of the ‘’Fountain of knowledge’’ state for the second time in 2014. It would be recalled that his first outing as governor ended unceremoniously via an impeachment. The manner he defeated the incumbent, eloquent Fayemi, proved beyond reasonable doubt that poverty can be worse than cancer. This is due to the dire consequences of having too many people in the society who are struggling to get three square meals. The self acclaimed ‘’spirit who eats jollof rice’’ not only proved political pundits wrong, but also made the outcome look like a scene from a Hollywood movie that looks too good to be true.
Over the next few months, the reality of the situation dawned on Ekiti people and Nigerians as whole. This is because Fayose proved beyond reasonable doubt that no matter how many times you take a pig to the shower, clean it up and spray perfume on the pig, it will still wallow in the mud and garbage.
Fayose began his tenure by creating the office of Special Adviser on Stomach Infrastructure, an unknown office and phrase in Nigeria’s political dictionary. Stomach Infrastructure to my understanding is another name for corruption. It involves normalizing abnormality by sharing money to people instead of using it to build roads, schools and hospitals. The way and manner he read his speech at the inauguration defied the glamour and honour associated with such event. This is because he not only rubbished scholars of speech and public speaking like……. but made the event look like the ‘’parapo of Agberos’’ in Oshodi . For non Yorubas, agbero refers to ‘’motor park tout’. Justifying his rape of democratic process and norms a step further, he told hundreds of his supporters to pass the night in any of the rooms in Government house Ado Ekiti and also use the swimming pool because it belonged to them.
His emergence underscored one thing, someone can have good education, but it may not be of any use, if one goes to bed hungry. Hence, the saying that education is a vehicle to a better life may not always be true, at least in the case of Nigeria. This is because there is a difference between being educated and being literate. A literate person only knows how to read and write, while the educated person can read,write and also evaluate information at his disposal before acting on it. Fayose’s emergence as governor whether through ‘’Stomach Infrastructure’’ or votes of aggrieved Ekiti electorate wishing to humble Fayemi and his elitist politics rubbished the state’s claim of being a ‘’fountain of knowledge’’ . The pride of Yorubas as people who had early contact with western education through Christian missionaries was also badly bruised. One cannot say because a ram is not behaving well and then you replace him with a monkey. How does one explain that in a state like Ekiti with so many intellectuals famous across Yoruba land for their unlimited capacity to write petitions against their leaders chose to give the business of piloting their affairs to a ‘’literate Agbero’’? Their case is like giving the job of a pilot to a roadside barber who lacks finesse nor knows the meaning and value of leadership. This is because few days to the election, many Ekiti people were seen on national television queuing up for Fayose’s rice, seasoning cubes and kerosene. This is a thing that is unusual in Yoruba land because it denigrated the ‘’omoluabi’’ concept. In addition, yorubas are known to be very proud, independent and industrious people that queuing up to collect what they could afford like ‘’Almajiris’ stinks to the high heavens.
The next thing he did was to instigate crisis at the state house of assembly by running the nineteen All Progressives Congress( APC) lawmakers out of town and replacing them with his seven People’s Democratic Party (PDP) legislators. Like a scene from the politics of stone age, he got the seven lawmakers to pass his budget and screen his commissioners. While this might look like a child’s play, what transpired in Ekiti will make the likes of Late Professor Chike Obi to turn in his grave because he would not fathom that a governor will emerge that will know mathematics better than him. This is because a primary three in pupil in public school despite the decay in our education system knows that nineteen is greater than seven.
Fayose’s invasion of a court premises last year with thugs assaulting the judge and other court officials and nothing happened underscores the belief in some circles that thugs have hijacked power. This is unbelievable in a country whose constitution upholds the doctrine of separation of powers in a democracy. It is an undisputed fact that every Nigerian governor swears to uphold and protect the constitution before assuming office. His crime is not only against the constitution, but also the people of Ekiti state who as a matter of right are entitled to good governance. Though, I am not a lawyer, but by my layman’s understanding of the Nigerian constitution Fayose is guilty of ‘’gross misconduct’’ the minute he led thugs to a court of law. Two weeks ago, the same Fayose used thugs blocked all major roads leading to the state capital and house of assembly just to prevent the nineteen lawmakers from sitting to deliberate on his impeachment.
It is appalling that President Jonathan and National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP), Adamu Muazu did not see anything wrong in what Fayose did. Perhaps, their silence encouraged him to foul the polity with ‘’hate speech’’ and libelous statements during the presidential campaigns. The president has had the rare privileged of being a deputy governor, governor, vice president and president within a span of sixteen years and is expected to understand and protect the constitution more than any other elected official. As if adding salt to injury,Muazu was governor of Bauchi state for eight years where he excelled, a feat yet unparalleled by any civilian governor in that state, but sees nothing wrong in one of his governors raping democracy and the constitution. This is why some people believe Nigeria is a sick country because it accepts things which people during the stone age will not condone. Perhaps, this accounts for why some doctors in the past had advocated the need for people seeking elected office in Nigeria to pass psychiatric test as a condition for contesting.
However, they have no reason to complain now that the ‘’Enfant Terrible’’ has given them a fair share of what they bargained for. After all, you do not deliberately walk into snow without warm clothing, gloves and begin to complain of cold. This is because one will look stupid before the whole world. Ekiti people knew Fayose’s antecedents as a ‘’violent governor’’ without any sense of decorum, yet they voted for him for the second time.
It is not only Ekiti people that should be blamed for the mess the state has found itself, but also the former governor ,Kayode Fayemi. I have had the privileged of meeting Fayemi at Harvarvard University about two years ago when he came to present paper at the ‘’ Nigeria in the World Series’’lecture with the Weatherhead center and hosted by Professor Jacob Olupona of the Divinity school. During his presentation, question and answer session he struck me as an intelligent leader with a passion for service as’’the phrase ‘’paradigm shift’’ in government business and politics in Nigeria was the major theme of his presentation. On the other hand, he cut the picture of someone who because of his education has lost touch with certain ‘’Nigerian realities’’ like taking so many things for granted. The reason is not farfetched. In Nigeria, it is the masses in Oshodi,Mushin, Arochukwu,Rann and Albasu that vote and not ‘’ipad and iphone’’ carrying elites in Victoria Garden city who speak English like ‘’okro soup’’ with overdose of potash. Any politician who refuses to make them the focal point of his policies and programmes will in no time kiss the dust.
In Yoruba land, attending weddings, naming and burial of people especially the masses add value to one’s political career. This is because it establishes a bond between the leader and the led and gives them a sense of belonging. This is one reason why the late founder of ‘’Amala and Gbegiri’’ politics, Lamidi Adedibu became the undisputed godfather of Ibadan politics . This is why the likes of Richard Akinjide(SAN) with his knowledge of law and all the quotations of famous philosophers around the world could not march him politically in spite of his little education. This is not to say that he has to go to every social event in his neighborhood, but should have a found a way of connecting with the masses through his numerous aides.
With what we have seen in Oyo state under Rasheed Ladoja, Alao Akala with Late Adedibu and now Ekiti, the Yorubas need to wake up from their slumber or what Late Hubert Ogunde calls ‘’Yoruba r’onu’’. Anything short of this will lead to the race loosing the moral right to criticize any wrong doing in other parts of Nigeria through the biased ‘’Ngbati” press.
It is shameful that people of Ekiti with their level of sophistication are now practicing and nurturing ‘’Agbero’’ politics. Or how does one explain the role of the state’s council of traditional rulers pleading with lawmakers and opinion leaders in the state to halt the impeachment process ? Allegations of gross misconduct with consequences of impeachment if proven are basic ingredients for nurturing democracy.
Thus, the lawmakers should be allowed to go through with the process. It is expected that once the house of assembly is able to do away with Fayose. The people of Ekiti will learn from their mistakes , redeem their image in the eyes of Yorubas and Nigerians in general. This is because the state is so endowed with so many intellectuals that it is unbelievable that they are presenting one of their ‘’worst eleven’’ in the person of Ayodele Fayose..
Lawal, a public commentator writes from Boston, United States. He can be reached at [email protected]