New intrigues and Fayose’s battles to save his mandate
• We have no hands in his travails, Fayemi, Oni
When Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Peter Fayose, briefed journalists recently in Lagos, it was to complain literally, that he has been surrounded by Philistines. That much was deduced, but he actually made the point in unmistakable terms that having chosen to occupy the office of Commander-in-Chief of the opposition, “I cannot be silenced.”
Although Fayose has become a constant presence in the national turf, coming all the way from Ado Ekiti to Lagos to address journalists, underscored the serious of the situation. His predicament was that even as he performs the office of leader of opposition to hold the federal ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), particularly President Muhammadu Buhari to account; enemies within have taken battle positions to take the wind out of his sails.
By next February when Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, takes office as new governor of Ondo State, Fayose would become, not only politically fatherless, but also an only child in the South West geopolitical zone. All around the Ekiti helmsman would be states controlled by APC governors. It is this frightening reality that opens the challenging tough prospects of an impending triangular duel for the Ekiti governor.
The three battle fronts, some of which the governor opened up by himself, include standing up against Buhari and his goons, continuous exposure of the duplicity of APC’s pretentious ‘Change’ agenda and preserving his mandate until October 5, 2018, when his second term in office ends.
Of the three battlefronts, the one Fayose found most dangerous and demanding on his wits is that concerning the attempt by his political detractors from Ekiti to prevent him from completing his four-year term as governor. So, he cried out against what he called some underhand plots by political detractors to adopt unconventional methods to undue him.
The governor informed reporters that he decided to write a letter to the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen, to alert “him of fresh plots by the APC to compromise a section of the Judiciary and muzzle democracy in their desperation to oust me from office before the expiration of my tenure in October 2018.”
What was the plot? According to Fayose: “At a recent meeting held in Ado-Ekiti, the State capital, at which several stalwarts and chieftains of the All Progressives Congress were in attendance, two former governors of the State and members of the APC, namely Engr. Segun Oni and Dr. Kayode Fayemi, now a Federal Minister, boasted that there is no going back on the latest plans to subvert the will of the people of Ekiti freely given; wrest the governance of Ekiti from me at all costs before the expiration of my tenure in October 2018 through orchestrated, but dubious legal process; and thereby render nugatory the sacred mandate of the people given unto me openly and unequivocally when I won in all the 16 local governments of the state while the then incumbent Gov. Kayode Fayemi recorded zero.”
The Ekiti strong man explained that those APC chieftains were “making subterranean moves to manipulate and compromise a section of the Judiciary, particularly some judges, to get through the back door what they failed severally to achieve through the ballot box as well as in open court, even in matters already decided by the Supreme Court.”
He noted that the essence of all the desperation was to silence him as the voice of opposition in the country, because according to him, he has bluntly rejected all overtures to him to defect into the ruling APC or stop talking.”
While stressing that “I figure out the hand of the presidency in the latest plot,” Fayose asserted that Fayemi and Oni were the local arrowheads on account of their desperation to contest the 2018 governorship election in Ekiti.
The governor alleged that a concocted fresh suit, which is being rehashed, would soon be filed against him on the same old allegation that have been trashed all the way from the Tribunal to the Supreme Court. “But this time,” he added, “the plotters plan to procure the services of a compromised or malleable judge to get self-serving ‘jankara’ and kangaroo judgment with the intention of having the Supreme Court reverse itself on the June 2014 Ekiti election.”
“Messrs Segun Oni and Kayode Fayemi boastfully claimed that they have enlisted the assurances of Justice Okon Abang and one or two other judges in the concocted fresh suit, hinged on the report of a useless, senseless, and orchestrated Military report not known to the Electoral law,” he alleged.
Based on the foregoing, Fayose said he reminded the CJN to refresh his minds on “judicial pronouncements by courts of concurrent jurisdiction, as well as, the scathing remarks of appellate courts on how the said Justice Okon Abang has been used in the past by anti-democratic forces to endanger democracy and engage in deleterious miscarriage of justice.”
Apart from expressing his implicit confidence in the Judiciary, Fayose pleaded with the CJN to ensure that the Judiciary under his watch “would not succumb to devious plots to undermine its independence and integrity and rubbish its good name and hard-earned reputation anymore.”
His words: “My Lord, you have a duty to ensure that no Judge under your watch is enlisted into this diabolical act by any rampaging anti-democratic elements. The embarrassing incidents currently playing out on our National Judicial horizon, with several judicial officers, including serving Justices of the Supreme Court, enmeshed in simulated and orchestrated corruption scandals and indictments by agencies of the Federal Government because they had refused, at one time or the other, to serve the base interests of the ruling APC government in matters pending before their Lordships, have kept us wondering whether the Judiciary will succumb to these unwarranted harassments and intimidation meant to coerce and cow it into submission and make this very important and indispensable Third Estate of the Realm subservient to the arbitrary wishes, whims, and caprices of the Executive and political desperados.”
But by the tone and tendency of his alarm, it was obvious that the man who calls himself the “leading opposition figure in Nigeria today,” did not want a replay of a similar plot, which led to his illegal impeachment from office in 2006.
Perhaps, embittered by that history or buoyed by his belief that “democracy without virile opposition will eventually turn into a dictatorship, which is currently being experienced,” Fayose has continued to wax very critical of “the anti-people policies of the Federal Government and its anti-democratic actions that endanger our renascent democracy.” This has placed him at odds with the powers that be.
If he is sure of his political steps and strategies, the Ekiti governor says he knows better than to allow his detractors to use judicial rascality to remove him from office. He said he would continue to believe in the Judiciary, especially on the open declaration by the CJN “to defend the Independence of the Judiciary; maintain its integrity and deliver a virile and disciplined Judiciary that is impartial, independent, non-partisan, and not subservient to the selfish interests of any individual, group or cabal, however powerful or influential they may be.”
Despite the hot words Fayose used against APC, the party’s spokesman, Hon. Bolaji Abdullahi, contended that since Governor Fayose named names in his allegations, it was better for the individuals to respond to the alleged involvement in any plot.
But on the face of it, is it possible for the judiciary, particularly the apex court to review a matter it had ruled upon? Fayose said he was inspired by the experience of the Abia State governorship dispute “to alert the nation and the world.”
Nonetheless, Minister of Mines and Solid Minerals, Fayemi and the APC zonal national chairman, (South), Oni said there was no substance in Fayose’s “weird claims,” stressing that refined democrats like them would not resort to any act capable of ridiculing the judiciary.
Fayemi, who spoke through his spokesman, Yinka Oyebode, noted that the incumbent Ekiti governor has been fond of making spurious allegations, stressing: “this allegation is not only irresponsible, but unfair to the two former governors of the state.”
On his part, Engineer Segun Oni, in a statement signed by his special assistant on Media, Ayo Akinyemi, argued that even before going public the Governor “himself knows that no judiciary can remove him now, because he enjoys immunity until the expiration of his tenure on October 15, 2018.”
While underscoring the point that Fayose’s immunity does not shield him from investigation, Oni said: “Perhaps Fayose is afraid of facing the law after his immunity might have expired next year and that is why he is labouring now to spill the beans in anticipation of his doom.”
Querying Fayose’s qualification to contest the governorship in the first instance against the plethora of corruption trials in court, Oni declared, “he is a drowning man trying to clutch on the last straw and smear anybody.”
As 2017 goes into full blossom, the question Nigerians would be asking is, could it be that a sting operation is being planned against the opposition Governor of Ekiti State? As things stand, remaining in office to the very end appears to be Fayose’s greatest among his three-pronged battles.