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Fayose: The APC Nemesis




EKITI State governor, Ayodele Fayose, is one man that political historians of this generation should spend time to study, as there could be some takeaways in his brand, such traits that could be documented for history and posterity. Every political dispensation produces its own standouts, and there is good reason to distinguish and chronicle such, so that those coming hereafter may have something to engage and romanticize.

For instance, some of us did not have the advantage of physically beholding Gbadamosi Adegoke Adelabu (1915-1958) in person, but we now talk so fluently and familiarly about Peculiar Mess, one of the political catchphrases the man left behind. History says that Adelabu was a strong and influential Nigerian politician of Southwest extraction. He was self-made, having been born into a humble family. He attended Government College, Ibadan, and that was all he needed to become outstanding, in great speeches and delivery. Till date, the man is remembered for his brand of politics, and he is defined as “a fiercely independent-minded man who refused to be swayed by the herd mentality.” He was no zombie.

Today, we have the advantage of sharing the same political space with Fayose, whose brand, coincidentally, shares some likeness with that of the man just described above. Fiercely independent-minded, Fayose has remained one lone, but strident voice in the opposition wilderness that trades punches regularly with the party in government, All Progressives Congress (APC), and with President Muhammadu Buhari. Fayose does not shy from a good fight.

Hardly a week goes by, without the Ekiti governor issuing punchy statements to denounce proclamations of the ruling party, or, to bore holes in some of the policies that are yet to gain momentum. Last Monday, Fayose bought media space to puncture the ruling party’s efforts in the last six months. He titled it ‘Buhari/APC Six Months of Deceitful Change’. The last word ‘Change’ was put in the reverse gear, to put graphic effect to the meaning of the advertorial.

When the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) became crestfallen, after former president Goodluck Jonathan hurriedly surrendered in the aftermath of the March 28 presidential and National Assembly polls, many of its members took ill psychologically and were left numb for weeks. It took the party secretariat agonising weeks to rouse from coma to weigh the immensity of the party’s disastrous trouncing. Even when they were roused, they spent weeks apportioning blames and trying to figure out whom among its members contributed to the defeat. Then they fingered those who were in control of campaign funds, who failed to disburse hugely in order to procure votes. They were all in a mess. But there was one man, who refused to go down with their stymied ship. And that man is Fayose. And he has been labouring since then to push it out of quagmire, to set sail for 2019.

In an era when nearly all PDP governors have developed cold feet and gone to sleep, Fayose is awake. In a season when the fear of Buhari is the beginning of wisdom, Fayose does not show signs of buckling. Even the once strong and ebullient Ondo strong man, Olusegun Mimiko, who is chairman of the forum of PDP governors, has lost verve. Others are grappling with challenges of lean resources and are more on the fence than in the opposition. For instance, the one in Ebonyi State, David Umahi, sounds like an APC member most of the time. His manner of winning the PDP ticket in the first place, was fraught with acrimony, such that he emerged more as his own man, rather than the party’s choice. His loyalty is to himself. We hear tales of the other two governors in Abia and Enugu, Okezie Ikpeazu and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi considering abandoning the PDP. We don’t know how true these tales are, but we also cannot distinguish from their posture whether they are in still in the PDP, or have taken a walk. Some have election case, which in fairness are sufficient distractions.

The aristo governor of Cross River, Benedict Ayade, appears too sartorially engrossed to have time for Fayose’s kind of opposition tirades. After all, he is one of the first governors to invite the president to their states. Men of the DSS rudely invaded the privacy of the Akwa Ibom government house in September. Such visits could ruffle even the most stern of politicians. Besides, the election tribunal has ordered a rerun in 18 local government areas of the state. Ordinarily, that is enough issue for urbane governor Udom Emmanuel. But the man said recently that he is not roughened. Maybe after the elections, he would have more space to play opposition politics.

What about the once ubiquitous Rivers Governor, Nyesome Wike? The man has enough governance matters to take care of first. He needs more money to make a difference, but that is not even the main thing. He has tribunal issues to settle and cannot add to that quarrels with Abuja. It is the same thing with the man in Taraba, whose election has been overthrown. Gombe governor, Ibrahim Dankwabo must be working on plans to realign. Many have forgotten that there is another PDP governor up north. Such is the fate of PDP.

But not so with Fayose, who took campaign advertorials in the countdown to the general elections that were thought in some quarters to be indecent, vitriolic and lacking in civility. He deployed everything into the campaigns and showed clearly where his loyalty resided. He did not equivocate and he never apologised. After the elections, he congratulated President Buhari and accepted his fate as an opposition governor.

Some do not like the man and his style, which they reason tends to be combative, perhaps, crude. All the same, it is his brand, a winning one at that. In his first coming, in 2003, no stars heralded his coming, because he looked too ordinary. However, his was a sensational success, because he connected with the people. In office, his brashness was well advertised and did not go down well with certain godfathers. They plotted and uncovered him, leaving him bare and vulnerable. He was dethroned.

His return in 2014 was unimaginable. The template had changed, with the APC now having a full house in the Southwest, with the exception of Ondo. He was to confront an incumbent that was selfless, learned and thorough. It was like a David confronting Goliath. But fearlessly, Fayose retrieved his abridged mandate, which he now deploys ceaselessly to stalk Buhari and the APC.

And thank God, this is a democracy; it allows for freedom of speech and association. It permits some to form government and have their way, while others remain in the sidelines and whine endlessly. It is such a beauty, because nothing is permanent and absolute. You can have your way in so far as you do the things you promised the people. You can also have your say provided you stay within the provisions of the law.

So far, I think Fayose is doing very well as the uncrowned leader of the opposition. He has a duty to put the APC government on its toes and to constantly remind the party all the promises it made to the people.

For instance, Fayose has asked Nigerians to take a look at the APC government of six months and reason whether they have not been conned. Fayose said the Buhari administration has tarnished the image of Nigeria abroad, all in the name of winning cheap recognition. A latest corruption ranking by Transparency International (TI) placed South Africa and Ghana ahead of Nigeria as the three worst performers in Africa. While it is sad that Nigeria is still at that obnoxious level, no other country’s leader goes abroad to announce his helplessness with corruption. Buhari has done that consistently.

The Boko Haram scourge has remained unabated, Fayose claimed. And there is some truth here because Nigeria has still not fully recovered all of its territories from the group. The promise to finally eject the insurgents this December does not look feasible anymore.

Fayose said APC government is anti-people. The scenario Jonathan was in December 2011 is not fundamentally different from where Buhari is in December 2015. Buhari, of course, is worse, because oil revenues have plummeted. Confronted with issues of comatose refineries, debilitating oil subsidy payments, threatened salaries, poor electricity and crumbling economy, what will Buhari do radically that will not pitch the APC government against the people?

I think Buhari should not get angry with Fayose. The Ekiti governor is far more useful to this government than those who sing fake praises. All is not well and it will take some time to fix. That is the message this government should learn to tell the people. If they continue on this warpath with ousted PDP, this government might miss the mark. And Fayose will continue to be their nemesis.

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