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Wednesday, June 8, 2022.
The 2022 Ekiti governorship election is around the corner! Saturday, 18th June is the D-Day. The incumbent, Gov. John Kayode Fayemi, is statute-barred and, therefore, not eligible to contest, having served one term as governor between October 15, 2010 and October 16, 2014 before he was walloped out of office by the enfant terrible, Ayodele Fayose. Fayose’s own first term as Ekiti governor was between 29th May, 2003 and 16 October 2006 when he was unceremoniously “impeached” and hounded out of office by “Federal might” deployed by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo. During an impasse in which three contenders laid claim to the governorship (Fayose from his place of hiding; his deputy, Mrs. Abiodun Olujimi; and the then Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon. Friday Aderemi), a Sole Administrator was appointed for Ekiti state by Obasanjo in the person of retired General Idowu Adetunji Olurin (18 October, 2006 to 27 April, 2007).
In-between Fayose’s exit and Olurin’s appointment, Friday Aderemi acted as governor for one month (17 October, 2006 to 18 October, 2006). After Olurin, Tope Ademiluyi acted as governor between 27th April, 2007 and 29th May, 2007. Segun Oni was thereafter proclaimed elected as governor and ruled from 29th May, 2007 but his sojourn was cut short by the Court of Appeal which declared Kayode Fayemi as the rightful occupier of the seat. Thus, Segun Oni’s reign ended on 15th October, 2010 and Fayemi’s began on the same day. Fayose returned for his second term by stopping Fayemi from having a straight second term in office; winning the election and serving his second term between 16 October, 2014 and 16 October, 2018. He tried to install his deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka, but Fayemi left his portfolio as Minister of Mines and Steel Development to give Fayose a savage headbutt and elbow Eleka out of the way. Eleka won the election but his mandate was stolen by Fayemi, relying on “Federal might” in what was referred to in Ekiti as “return match.” The “Federal might” of the PDP-controlled Presidency of Goodluck Jonathan was perceived as having helped Fayose to coast home to victory against Fayemi and his Action Congress in 2014. The “Federal might” of the APC-controlled Presidency of retired General Muhammadu Buhari helped Fayemi to return to power on October 16, 2018.
Despite the shenanigans of Fayose, Eleka won the election and Fayose cried like a baby at his Afao home where he was on the day of the election as reports of how the election was being rigged reached him. Those of us around him comforted him the best we could. But, in a sense, Fayose was the architect of his own destruction. They say curiosity killed the cat. Overconfidence killed Fayose. With due respect to him for his many sterling qualities, Fayose was a loose cannon. He talked without caring whether or not the sensitive information he was releasing got into enemy hands. Told to be cautious, he often retorted that he cared less! He was to pay dearly for this!
Fayose’s activism at the time endeared him to me. He had become the John the Baptist of our time, a lone voice crying in the wilderness. He was the last man standing, as it were. And truth be told, Fayose did a yeoman’s job that history will record in his favour. But he would have been more successful had he been more circumspect. In my own opinion, two “asejus” (over-sabi, overdo, excesses) which the Yoruba warn us can lead to “Baba asete” (disgrace and downfall) were his refusal to go to the airport to receive Buhari when the president came to Ekiti to flag off the APC campaign. Not only did he not go, he went on state radio and television to say Buhari had asked him to come and receive him at the airport but that he would not go and would send no representative! Politics apart, it is protocol for governors to receive a president visiting their state – either personally or through a highly-placed representative. The second “aseju” was that, on the orders of Fayose, virtually all commercial vehicles were mopped up from the state capital and packed right inside the Government House on the day preceding the president’s visit. These two events so angered the president’s men that the go-ahead was reportedly given to cut Fayose to size.
To spite the face (Fayose), Federal might was ruthlessly deployed to cut the nose (Eleka). Fayose sinned but Eleka bore the brunt on many fronts and he cut a pitiable and sorry sight. I hope Bisi Kolawole (aka Bisi K.), the PDP candidate in next week’s Ekiti governorship election, does not suffer the same fate as Eleka. Fortunately, Bisi K. was the Director-General of Eleka’s campaign – although there was no functional campaign council in the real sense of the word. Fayose and his alter ego (some would say “Man Friday”), Lere Olayinka, were the two-man campaign council! I pray Bisi K is not in the same boat that Eleka was! From available evidence, the 2018 Ekiti governorship election was well funded by the PDP but Eleka, the candidate, was starved of funds! He had to go a-borrowing and was hugely indebted after the election. He showed me the books. I hope Bisi K does not find himself in the same dire straits! All the funds donated for the campaign – where did they go? Exasperated, Eleka dipped his hands into some funds “kept” with him (if you understand what I mean) and he heard “dende oro”. He told me: “There is no name your friend did not call me. I heard bastard and nonsense from his mouth”. Eleka always referred to Fayose as “Ore yin” (your friend) or “Oga mi” (my boss). When it was time to go to court, Eleka had no say in the lawyers chosen for him. He was not part of the negotiations. He only heard that so and so amount in dollars were the fees. One day Eleka told me: “Your friend asked me if I had said ‘thank you’ to all those who gave us money for the election. I was surprised. I asked him who and how much?” End of story!
Why am I telling these stories today? One: the occasion is auspicious. This is another election cycle in Ekiti. Two: The dramatis personae are still all alive and can fill the missing gaps. Three: Ekiti must choose right. In case you did not know it, the South-west is the least well-governed part of Nigeria today. If you travel around, you will see it. We live in past glory, which is fast fading. We live on the achievements of our forefathers, which is fast eroding. Cumulatively, the South-west has had the worst run of leadership since 1999. The others have left us behind. Our economy and real estate (landed property inclusive) are in Igbo hands. We rely on the North to feed us. The artisans – the good and reliable ones – now come from Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, etc. In education and the professions, we have lost ground to others. We are nowhere to be found in the Armed Forces and we have lost our pride of place in the Civil Service. Yorubaland is almost empty! We shout “restructuring”, thinking it is the cure-all solution to our myriad self-inflicted problems. Yet, in this same skewed federalism, others are thriving. It is time we began to hold the feet of our own leaders to the fire! We must start with Ekiti! We now have a deluge of area boys, yahoo boys and cultists. And we are surrounded by killer herdsmen, bandits and all sorts on all fronts. Witness last Sunday’s carnage at Owo! In the midst of these, our leaders, like King Nero, fiddle while our homeland burns!
It is time to change the narrative! And we must start with Ekiti! The Ekiti guber race appears to be a three-horse race: APC’s Biodun Oyebanji; PDP’s Bisi Kolawole and the Social Democratic Party (SDP’s) Segun Oni. Oyebanji is the boy of the incumbent Gov. Fayemi while Bisi K is Fayose’s boy; only Segun Oni appears to be his own man. The politics of godfathers and surrogates is one of our problems in the South-west. Having been governor once, Segun Oni has experience on the job and should be able to hit the ground running. His antecedents also stand him out as a team player and man of the people. That he will serve only one term should be good news to the plethora of Ekiti sons and daughters interested in occupying the governor’s seat. The incumbent Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, has served one term as Ekiti state governor (1999 to 2003) and is waiting in the wings. Olujimi, who was Fayose’s deputy governor and currently senator representing Ekiti south, also waits in the wings. The likes of Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, Prince (Senator) Dayo Adeyeye, Senator Babafemi Gani Ojudu, and many others who may have their eyes on the governorship stool would prefer to wait only four years (if Segun Oni wins it) than wait eight years for Oyebanji or Bisi K to do two terms of eight years. (TO BE CONTINUED).
*Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Deputy Editor-in-Chief and Chairman of its Editorial Board, BOLAWOLE was also Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Westerner newsmagazine. He writes the “ON THE LORD’S DAY” column in the Sunday Tribune newspaper and the “TREASURES” column in the New Telegraph newspaper. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.