Ekiti State Governor-elect, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has demystified outgoing Governor Ayodele Fayose by winning the governorship election last weekend, Shola Oyeyipo writes
Going by his famed populist strategy and character, outgoing Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State seemed indefatigable, but this supposition fell like a pack of cards when last Saturday, his anointed candidate, Prof. Kolapo Olusola was defeated in the governorship election.
Apart from his political juggernaut facade, Fayose’s unbridled vituperative attacks on the likes of former president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), his continued assurances that he would determine his successor, made the Ekiti election interesting to many.
So, last weekend, the attention of Nigerians was on Ekiti State where former governor and Minister of Mines and Steel, Dr. Kayode Fayemi slugged it out with the PDP candidate, Olusola. But Fayose’s image was so towering that the aspirant himself was hardly seen or known.
For Fayemi, it was a different ball game. He was certain that his meritorious performance during his first term would find favour with the people. Therefore, he could not understand how he lost the 2014 governorship election. In the end, he blamed his loss on the brutish deployment of ‘federal might’
by former president Goodluck Jonathan’s men. To him, there was no election in Ekiti in 2014.
Ordinarily, underrating Fayemi could have spelt doom for the ruling PDP. By any means, he could not described as an underdog. As a former lecturer, journalist, researcher and Strategy Development adviser in Nigeria and the United Kingdom and a former Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development – a leader of the Nigerian opposition to military rule in exile, Fayemi founded and managed the opposition radios – Radio Freedom, Radio Democracy International and Radio Kudirat and played a central role in the opposition’s diplomatic engagements in exile.
His wife, Mrs. Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, is also not a push over at local, national and international levels too. She is a renowned activist, writer and policy advocate, who co-founded the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), the first pan-African grant-making organisation and she serves as a UN Women Nigeria Senior Advisor, and was appointed as a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King’s College, University of London in 2017. She is Principal Partner, Amandla Consulting, and runs an online community called abovewhispers.com.
When Fayemi took office as Governor of Ekiti State, she became actively involved in policy advocacy, grassroots empowerment and social inclusion programmes and led the campaign to enact a gender based Violence Prohibition Law (2011) an Equal Opportunities Bill (2013) and a HIV Anti-Stigma Bill (2014). With their combined influence, the two of them actually wield considerable political powers in Ekiti and Nigeria at large.
Though the contest was between Fayemi and Olusola, Fayose was the marked arrowhead of the PDP campaigns. The Ekiti Governor was poised as an open enemy of the President Buhari-led APC administration.
He even said if he presented a candidate from his family, Ekiti electorate would vote for the person in order to show support for his style of governance. To Fayose political influence could be exerted through fraternising with the people by buying and eating roasted plantain by the road side, eating with commoners in ‘mama put’ restaurants and frying garri with others.
Last year, when he made his intention to vie for presidency known, Fayose said having defeated two incumbents in his state, he was sure of defeating even President Buhari at the general election with the support of the PDP.
He also said as Nigeria’s longest-serving governor who worked under former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and now Buhari, he had what it takes to emerge Nigeria’s next president.
“Twice, I defeated incumbents to become the governor of Ekiti State and I am confident that with your support as my party leaders and supporters, I will defeat the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, in a free and fair election,” he told PDP leaders last year.
Even on the eve of the election, Fayose continued boast. He was cocksure of victory. He reiterated: “With all humility before Ekiti people, if I support anybody, whether it is from my household, they will still support that person.”
But Fayemi talked rather sparingly. He didn’t boast as Fayose did. Banking on his antecedents, he took his campaign to the nook and crannies of the state. He cleverly pointed out the errors in Fayose’s government and vowed to reverse the negative narrative about Ekiti State and that paid off for him.
For those close to the soft-spoken Fayemi, it was obvious that he would return as governor. He was confident that the people had gone through so much pain under the Fayose-led PDP government and they would compare between Fayose and him; to draw a conclusion in his favour.
Fayemi told whoever cared to listen that the PDP-government in Ekiti was a product of fraud and that it did not care about peoples’ welfare, particularly considering that civil servants had not been paid their salary in eight months.
Those were the messages he took to the people. He also assured them of a more cordial relationship with the federal government rather than the hostile and less productive grandstanding of Fayose.
Fayemi also reminded the electorate that under his former regime, Ekiti State moved from Number 34 to Number 5 on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking. He also pointed to the DFID assessment of governance, which ranked Ekiti as the state with the most transparent budget. He pointed to the investment that his administration put into Ikogosi, with the aim of giving a boost to tourism. These are some of the issues that shaped the eventual outcome of the July 14 election.
In the build up to the election, Fayemi told journalists that, “People who visited Ikogosi when I was governor can attest to what we did and those were the kind of things that would draw people to our state. Ekiti became a kidnappers den when I left office. So, security in the state was compromised, accountability was compromised, government was also compromised because what we had was a one-man show, it was not government of the people by the people and for the people.”
Relying on his past records and insisting that the just concluded election was a referendum on his achievements as former governor, Fayemi presented the APC and himself as credible alternatives to lift up the weak and vulnerable people in the state. He vowed to implement corrective measures that would grow the economy, improve the development of the state and then bring good living standard to the people more abundantly.
The election has come and gone. A winner has emerged. The losers are licking their wounds and counting their loses. Obviously, Fayose’s PDP is not happy about the outcome. The governor’s party described Fayemi’s victory as a product of ‘poll robbery,’ and they have threatened to seek legal redress to reclaim what it tagged “stolen mandate.”
Nobody knows what the outcome of the legal process will be. It is still in the realm of speculation. The talking point now centres on how Fayose intends to manage the remaining few days of his administration. Everyone is watching what will become of him after he leaves government and his immunity comes to an end.
Having dared the lions in Aso Rock Villa, many people think, he sneak out of the country, rather than stay back and face the consequences of his actions and his inactions, some of which may land him behind bars. Already, Fayemi has given a hint that he will probe the Fayose administration.
Some of the lawmakers he chased out of the State House of Assembly at the onset of his government want him impeached before his tenure ends and that he should be brought to justice speedily.