Ekiti whitepaper rekindles Fayose, Fayemi feud
The recent indictment of immediate past Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode John Fayemi by a judicial panel set by the state government has done much to exhume the political contentions between the current minister of Mines and Steel Development and incumbent Governor Ayodele Peter Fayose.
It would be recalled that Fayose confirmed his ‘giant killer’ attribute after defeating his predecessor in the 2014 governorship poll, which was the second time he was defeating an incumbent in such an election. But despite the willing acquiescence of Fayemi to his defeat, the former governor and his successor continued to bicker. They tried to work things out in the past but fell apart on the basis of suspicion and conflict of ambitions.
Fayose was impeached in controversial circumstances in 2006, a year shy of his four year mandate. In 2007, Engineer Segun Oni found himself on the governorship seat by virtue of then President Olusegun Obasanjo’s state of emergency and do-or-die garrison electoral feat, after a tempestuous recycling of administrator and acting governor.
Fayemi, who was governorship candidate of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the election protested to the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal. His challenge of the flawed poll netted a rerun as ordered by the Court of Appeal. During the rerun, which produced spectacular violence and theatrics by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mrs. Ayoka Adebayo, the garrison camp returned Oni to power. But irked by the naked show of disdain for the people’s will as expressed in the votes, Fayemi went back to court.
Field reports showed that Fayemi and ACN won the rerun as in the main election fair and square. Most importantly, that victory was with the assistance of Fayose, alongside his ground troops of election operatives, who tried to march the naked fury of the rampaging garrison foot soldiers.
Fayemi reclaimed his mandate via a favourable Court of Appeal ruling that sacked Oni. On October 15, 2010, three years after a prolonged electoral wrangling, Fayemi was sworn into office as the third elected governor of Ekiti State.However in 2011 Fayemi rebuffed overtures from the Fayose camp to recompense their contribution to his electoral victory with a senate seat for their principal, even if on ACN protem platform.
Having been consigned again to political wildness, Fayose basked in the euphoria of court denunciation of his impeachment as illegal. He continued to maintain his political structure, biding his time for another go at the governorship.
In 2014 that opportunity knocked on Fayose’ door and he delivered the legendary 16-0 drubbing of his unwilling ally and incumbent, Fayemi. Although Fayemi lost, he won many admirers by the affable and spontaneous manner he delivered a concession speech, thereby saving Ekiti from a repeat of the 2009 debacle.
But regardless of that gentlemanly conduct, the minister continued to nurse misgivings about the poll, while his successor sustained the feeling that he (Fayemi) was still plotting against his political peace in Ekiti.
More Than APC, PDP Rivalry
AGAINST the background of the rough political relationship between incumbent and predecessor, it could be seen that the recent development in Ekiti goes beyond the legendary rancour subsisting between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
While APC believes that it lost Ekiti through the elitist political style of Fayemi, the governor insists that the outcome of the 2014 governorship was a reflection of his grassroots presence and public rejection of Fayemi. Furthermore, as the ruling party continued to taint Fayose’s victory with the dark brush of corruption, Fayose has been unrelenting in presenting the ruling party as pretenders with malevolent agenda for the state.
Sources claimed that former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had forewarned Fayemi of the tragedy that lay ahead for his second term vis-à-vis the place of his former secretary to the state government, which the then governor overlooked.It was also alleged that despite their membership of different political platforms, Tinubu and Fayose share mutual political understanding to the extent that Fayose’s support for Fayemi in 2010 was brokered by Tinubu.
It was perhaps based on that possibility that Fayemi was said to have worked for the election of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in the 2015 governorship of Ondo State, against the interest of Tinubu, with hopes that the Ondo governor would help his cause in the likely event that he contests the 2018 governorship.
With his position as minister of Mines and Steel Development (MSD), Fayemi, in the mind of Fayose, must have gathered enough financial stamina to throw a serious challenge more than former Governor Segun Oni in the 2018 governorship. But with the recent indictment and former allegation that he funded the APC presidential election with funds from Ekiti State treasury, Fayemi, if he had serious intentions to contest the governorship would be thinking of other pastimes, including vacating the 10 years embargo on holding public office.
The fact that the minister and his former Finance Commissioner, Mr. Dapo Kolawole, were yoked together under the weight of a 10 year-ban tends to remove the pall of inter-party rivalry or political squabble from the panel’s pronouncement.More damaging is the fact that the Justice Silas Oyewole panel took umbrage at Fayemi’s refusal to honour an invitation to answer to allegations against him, particularly after a court of competent jurisdiction had rejected his attempt to stop the panel’s sitting.
IT is left to legal authorities to determine the full import of the government white paper on the judicial panel of inquiry’s recommendations on the political future of Fayemi, but as far as the 2018 governorship poll and or even the 2022 edition are involved, Fayemi is at a cross roads.The indictment more than intruding on the minister’s calculations for 2018 has become a veritable source of distraction and diatribe with the outgoing administration in Ekiti.
Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Lanre Ogunsuyi, provided that lead when he chided Fayemi for not appearing before august panel to prove his innocence of the allegations against him. While justifying the 10 years ban on holding office in Ekiti and anywhere in the country, Ogunsuyi declared: “Their disrespect to constituted authority, and the undignified roles they played in the entire contracts saga, were obviously against the interest of the state they were supposed to protect.”
The information commissioner, for full political effect, noted that the Fayose administration views accountability and probity as the hallmark of good governance, stressing that the government “takes the report seriously and intends to carry out all the recommendations.”But pooh-poohing the report, Fayemi described it as a joke taken too far, stressing that the inquiry into the financial transactions of his administration was not done in a responsible manner.
Speaking through his Special Assistant on Media, Yinka Oyebode, Fayemi contended that the inquiry was the administrative equivalent of a witch-hunt and a calculated attempt to victimise him.He said: “The entire process is discredited right from the beginning, as the only agenda of the panel was to rubbish Fayemi’s public service record. One is therefore not surprised at the recommendations of the white paper. It only goes to confirm our initial position that the panel was compromised right from inception and targeted against Fayemi.”
Fayemi is entitled to his opinions, yet the aspect of the white paper that concerns the refund of N2.7billion might entail legal disputation, especially against the directive to the Ministry of Justice to begin appropriate legal actions to enforce the sanctions.On his part, Fayose has tried to divorce politics from the white paper, saying that his administration has done what is right in the eyes of the law. He added that competent persons were appointed to undertake the assignment.
His words: “It is not wrong to ask how the finances of the state have been appropriated within a given time and we are following due process. I am not part of the panel that sat for the inquiry, they submitted the report to me and I presented it to an appropriate organ and I will do the same with this document. This is not personal in any way, we are only doing the right thing and following due process.”
To some extent, on a comparative note, the Ekiti panel finding contrasts with a similar undertaking in Rivers State, that was shrouded in confrontations and procedural controversies. It is not enough to constrict governance on the basis of political antagonism.The recent development in Ekiti has thrown up new realities in the inter-party machinations in the state. While the opposition sees Fayose as a nitwit lacking in high academic accomplishments, the governor has continued to apply his street wisdom to deconstruct the elites by delivering electoral knockout punches. It seems the white paper has portrayed Fayemi as a whited sepulcher. And he would need the courts to regain his original complexion.
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