Fayose: New face of forgive-less audacity
EVER since his first appearance or outing as the candidate of his party, the PDP, in 2003 when it did not look good or promising for anyone to doubt or dare the populist credentials of the ruling ethic in south-west Nigeria, Ayodele Fayose, Governor of idyllic Ekiti State has left no one in doubt respecting his audacious dare-devilry. He takes on most difficult tasks; revelling in dangerous assignments and daring open suicide or inducing hara-kiri.
A man of moderate intelligence or perspicacity but worldly wise, Fayose is imbued with a large dosage of ardour and valour. The essence of Fayose’s life and times as a politician is unfolding before our very eyes in as memorable a manner as possible.
It seems that in an instant of epiphanic revelation, Fayose has burst into our consciousness assuming the place ingloriously vacated by Nigeria’s once burgeoning civil society. Fayose’s direct, palpable and undisguised verbal assault or attack on the Buhari administration methods has positioned him as the nation’s un-official ombudsman. His acerbic criticism of the ways of the new helmsmen or of the organs of government though possessing a personal, idiosyncratic slant is deep or matrixed in the formal social, political, juridical, etc. situation of Nigeria.
It is against this background that we need to consider what some may call the unsolicited interventions of Governor Fayose whose primary aim may have been to play opposition to the ruling party but whose methods have unwittingly shifted the emphasis of the critique of political colleagues from its present exclusive concerns with trifles or inanities to a new focus upon the formal modes through which we may adjudge the manifestoes, policies or performance of those in government.
There is hope now of a direct correlation between our contemporary political experience and the criticism devoted to its corrective or reformist quest. This overriding methodological perspective against the vagueness or naivety of many ill-digested policies or concepts may now determine our direction. Our collective and personal sense of loss, angst, agonies, etc. is captured in the Fayose no-holds-barred unmasking of our continuing slide into decadence forced on us all by those who have been put in charge of our affairs.
At the ceremony to usher in the 2015/2016 Legal Year of the Judiciary, Fayose took a swipe at that arm of government. Said he: “The judiciary has the power of life and death but this sensitive arm of government has been compromised and most judgments in Nigeria today are monetised…” Not done, he went further to identify “… corruption in the judiciary [as] so endemic that judges lobby to be appointed to serve in election petition tribunals in order to make money and as well influence judgment in favour of their political friends.” It seems to this writer that we as a people have lost the ability to be shocked or flabbergasted out of our senses.
In saner climes, these damaging remarks against government are enough to elicit widespread denunciation, alarm, derision or provoke fractious temper. Even though the Fayose disclosures are common knowledge, we all lack the requisite courage or boldness to call a spade a spade and not a fork or “an implement resembling a shovel.” We all should have applauded this legitimate social activity on the part of Fayose and demand for a probe of the alarming situations when “facts have revealed that most … judgments were written by lawyers for compromised judges.” Something of a sacred regard for the judiciary should have animated our conception of the intellectual and moral crisis, which the Fayose allegations portend or foretell.
The decline of the judicial process as a focus of our collective consciousness and sensibility, which the Fayose narration provokes ought to give us a new assignment or status. Fayose’s criticism must not be seen as being at a second removed from life in Nigeria particularly against the background of a groundswell of allegations of corruption levelled against judicial officers.
It is worrisome that the tradition of social criticism that we inherited and whose influence was pervasive even during the military era is waning. In retrospect, it is significant to note that many civil society platforms reproduced the fire and polemical ardour of the past in the early days of the nation’s return to democracy.
Many examples of the interventions of civil society are self-revealing of a conditioning of the critical consciousness of her leaders and followership. But today, that self-same civil society consciousness is comatose or is atrophying. There is a requirement however to re-vitalise its processes for contemporary use. The order, restraint, rationality, etc. which are the hallmarks of good governance can only be put in proper focus as we all actively covet, possess or are imbued with that disquieting spirit which neither rests, sleeps nor slumbers until all things are put right or are restored to gloriousness.
Unfazed by the tepid or lukewarm attitude of civil society to his campaigns, Fayose has drawn public attention to a snag that bedevils a policy of government which policy has otherwise been widely celebrated as fitting, proper and well intentioned. He has challenged the federal government to unmask the real owners or proprietors of an e-collection firm, through which money is allegedly siphoned to fund partisan commitments or predilections.
The Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy, he has alleged, is positioned for recouping money spent on the last general elections by the ruling party and for enriching certain individuals. These are grave allegations particularly regarding the evidence of the payment of a colossal sum of N25 billion to one company as one per cent transactional commission for a yet-to-be-disclosed function concerning the TSA.
Fayose has delineated the terrain regarding this alleged humongous scam by suggesting that Nigerians expect from the federal government an explanation on the alleged irregularity associated with the operation of the TSA. The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has, in fact, appropriated to itself the benefit of whistle-blowing by vain-gloriously claiming that its stand on the alleged TSA fraud has led to the refund to the Central Bank of the sum of one per cent by a little-known private company, respecting alleged collection on “mopped-up funds.”
Fayose’s criticisms take a clearly discernible “aluta continua” posture regarding our social and political difficulties. It is indeed a matter of supreme irony that a prime member of the political class has constituted himself into a vigorous critic of the valorisation of a system on which undue admiration is showered by his fellow politicians and their ilk under the ignoble excuse that ours is a “nascent democracy” that is learning the ropes of good and responsible governance and, therefore, expectedly prone to forgive-less errors or blunders.
Not for Fayose the seduction or enticement of executive complacency or avoidance of responsibility to the same people who trusted public office holders with power and dominion; for him is the requirement, if need be, [judging by his many-fangled interventions] to submit his person to the possibilities of annihilation or violation in the interest or pursuit of his convictions. This is the sterner stuff of which we all should be made. The price of liberty, we are often reminded, is eternal vigilance and, sometimes, self-immolation or sacrifice.
It is precisely on account of this Fayose temper-of someone who has taken up the role that belongs to all of us which role we have abandoned or neglected – that we need to include the celebration of courage, audacity and valour in our long list of un-important or emotional national rituals or celebrations.
• Rotimi-John, a lawyer and commentator on public affairs, contributed this piece from Abuja.