Posted By: Segun AJIBOYE
HE was the ultimate Ekiti success story, or so it seemed, when he emerged governor of the agrarian state in 2003. His feat was seen by many as a source of encouragement for young men to dare to dream. Ayodele Fayose, a man of humble background from Afao Ekiti, defeating the son of General Adeniyi Adebayo in a governorship contest was expected to open the doors of opportunity for many upstarts in the state.
But whatever joy and hope that trailed his emergence vanished as soon as he assumed office as governor. Throughout his tenure up until his impeachment in October, 2006, Fayose was prominent in the news, most times for the wrong reasons.
For him, no other person mattered in the state except him. Not even the revered royal fathers were spared the governor’s bitter pills. And for the elders and political leaders in the state, Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, became a no-go area.
For all his performances during his first stint as governor, the case of embezzling state funds, particularly the Ekiti State Poultry Project handled by his childhood friend and contractor, Gbenga James, resonated most.
However, Fayose has refused to acknowledge any contradiction in what he professes and actual actions despite his claim that he had learnt from his past mistakes. Like the proverbial leopard which does not change its spot, he has continued his less-than-refined style of governance from where he left it in 2006.
If anyone thought he had truly become wiser and mature from the experience that culminated in his impeachment in 2006, his actions since then have been to the contrary. Soon after he won the election, he dared the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Southwest, proclaiming himself the leader of the party in the zone.
Fayose’s battle with the 19 lawmakers may have entered into the history books, not for the crisis it generated, but for the dangerous tactics employed by the governor and its implications for the future. At each step of the way, Fayose dragged the fragile peace in the state to the precipice, inciting the people against the lawmakers.
Presenting the budget to the seven-man House, Fayose said: “Mr Speaker, you are the speaker. I say you are the speaker. I say it again, you are the speaker. I’m saying it with the authority of the governor that the power of the people is greater than those in power. Any attempt to overrun this house will be resisted by the people of the state.”
If you think that the last presidential election campaign broke the record as the most hate-filled in the history of the country, Governor Fayose broke all the records that ever existed about decorum and civility. More than any other politician in the PDP, Fayose came under intense criticism for placing an advert on the front page of a national newspaper suggesting that President Muhammadu Buhari, who was at the time the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), would die in office if elected president.
The advert, which has the photographs of deceased former Nigerian leadersMurtala Muhammed, Sani Abacha, and Umaru Yar’Adua who all died in office, was accompanied with an excerpt from the Bible (Deuteronomy 30:19) and a message which read: “Nigerians be warned! Nigeria…I have set before thee life and death. Therefore, choose life that both thee and thy seed may live.” The import of the message was that Mr. Buhari represented death while his rival, President Goodluck Jonathan represented life.
The said advert had put a huge question mark on Buhari’s picture placed beside the pictures of the late leaders. It then asked its readers: “Will you allow history to repeat itself? Enough of State burials.”
An elderly man, who tried to make sense of the political strategy of the governor, had said: “He reminds me of the story of the tortoise. The tortoise was about to embark on a journey, and his neighbours asked him when he would come back. He told them, ‘Not until I am disgraced.’
But unsure of the fate that awaited him as Buhari turned out the winner of the election, Fayose was among the first set of Nigerians to congratulate him as soon as he was declared the winner. Many discerning minds viewed Fayose’s action as that of a convicted man seeking to make up with his victim in order to get a soft landing.
However, it has since turned out that the presidency is not interested in any witch hunting, especially with Fayose.
Convinced that he might have nothing to fear after all, Fayose has once again found his voice. In recent times, he has come out all guns blazing. He kicked against the selection of his Ondo State counterpart, Olusegun Mimiko, as the chairman of the PDP governors’ forum. And while the dust generated by his feud with Mimiko was yet to clear, he took on the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, seeking to be the deputy chairman of the body.
With President Buhari saying that his cabinet may not be ready until September and Fayose insisting that he must choose the state’s ministerial nominee, the last is certainly yet to be heard of Fayose’s tantrums.