Fayemi: The Long Distance Runner Nicks His Diadem


At long last, the long distance runner had his diadem returned to him. After a  gritty struggle that would have ordinarily tasked the man in any Nigerian, Kayode  Fayemi has retrieved his diverted mandate and sent packing the impostors that have  domesticated this heist for close to four years and kept away the rightful owner  from his deserved electoral due. What came to my mind as that great development  unfurled is the age-old saying that truth will eventually catch up with falsehood  even if the later runs for a million years.

We owe this moment as well the creative imbuement it deigns on the country’s badly  managed electoral process to the resilience and the staying power of Kayode Fayemi.  We owe this joyful return to Fayemi’s faith on the process, even in its flawed form,  to do the needful and do justice in a case that is as obvious as it was clear.

Going by the long and enervating process he indulged in retrieving his mandate,  there was no doubt that Fayemi prepared himself for a long distance race when he  decided to throw his hat into the ring for the governorship of Ekiti. There was no  doubt that he was prepared for the sapping and winding bends the contest went but it  is still doubtful if he was prepared for the incredible twists that made this case  drag for nearly four years while an impostor reigned. Yes, given his stoic and  principled persona, Fayemi must have prepared himself for the worse but never did he  fathom that this struggle will stretch him so thin as it had done. This must have  added a sweetening elixir to his present triumph.

As his certain victory was held up and a usurper accredited his just reward in April  2007, he must have placed implicit faith in the judiciary to return that diverted  victory in a matter of months. So when the election tribunal decided to play pranks  with his case in a bid to affirm that stolen mandate, he was still firmly anchored  within the normal run of the contest. He went to the Appeal Tribunal as a normal  reaction to such judicial perfidy which came in an annoying way. The Appeal Tribunal  was to put its wise kens to decide rightly that Fayemi won the majority of the valid  votes cast in that contentious election. But it fell short of declaring him the  winner as it ruled for a supplementary election in a fraction of the state where  PDP’s rigging machine overworked.

As he was entering the make-up election, it was obvious that the game was his. To  his opponents, it was certain that only a high-tech miracle can save the PDP from  rustication. To Nigerians, the mandate was as good as safe in the kitty of the  rightful owner but in a land of thriving electoral impunity, nothing was put beyond  imagination. Knowing its disadvantaged position, going into the re-run polls in  April 2009, the PDP went on a mobilization spree and brought all apparatchiks of  hell to Ekiti State. There were threats, there were intimidations, there were state  sponsored hounds littered all over Ekiti State for that re-run election. But that  was enough to save the PDP from an imminent defeat. As the early results from that  heavily policed and violence-infested make-up election strewed in and as it became  obvious to the PDP that it had to surrender the mandate of Fayemi, they latched up  to the last card-a putrid and malfeasant plot to secure the state at all costs. That  birthed the infamous Ido Osi charade, replete with the desperate attempt to decide  the re-run election with a forged result that was spawn to make up for the shortfall  the PDP was suffering after the collation of the results from over 96 per cent of  the state.

As a shocked and awed nation was left to ponder how low the PDP was able to go to  covet a state, Fayemi headed to the court in a fresh effort to retrieve his mandate.  His opponents, still smarting from their concocted victory, made merry and partied.  They taunted him to abandon the struggle, they intimidated him with bayonets and  cudgels but he remained firm, being a long distance runner that has every faculty to  last him the uncertain distance. As he was fighting to retrieve his mandate, his  opponent was fighting to get rewarded for re-stealing his mandate and a vicious  circle was unleashed to ensure nothing changed in Ekiti.

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The Bukar Harman tribunal was to toe the infamous path of its predecessor, the first  election tribunal in Ekiti as it ignored weighty evidences of electoral fraud, well  documented incidences of violence, intimidation and all other vices, to affirm the  perverted mandate-Ido Osi and all. At this stage, it would have appeared that the  road was closed to Fayemi but he neither dithered nor wavered in fighting on for  what he and millions of Nigerians were convinced was his. He approached the Appeal  Tribunal, buoyed by the split nature of this latest verdict and put up a case anyone  would have ignored at his peril. So at the very last hour, and just few months to  the exploitation of his four years mandate by a usurper, he got his mandate returned  to him in a bitter-sweet manner!

The Appeal Tribunal has served good notice, just at the door of another general  election, that electoral usurpers must start warming up for the final whistle. It  has also redeemed a hefty tar on the image of the judiciary, after the sordid  showing of 2007 and the cases from it. It has through this verdict placed the  judiciary in the right pedestal to face the challenges of 2011. The President of the  Appeal Tribunal and the entire panel takes great credit for this lifting effort to  re-imbue confidence on a process that is taken as malleable and elastic to the  capricious whims of those that access state power through foul means. There is  little doubt that the verdict on Ekiti will greatly inflate the confidence Nigerians  place in the judiciary to tackle the many malfeasances of desperate politicians in  2011.

The people of Ekiti State must take credit for this day for they demonstrated  through stout resistance to injustice, that a determined people will ultimately get  their just reward in due season, if they persist in resisting evil. Their showing  during the macabre and sordid period of the re-run has placed them in courageous  lights to reshape the history of democratic struggle in Nigeria.

But the biggest chunk of credit the present belongs to Kayode Fayemi who has shown  perseverance, resilience and fortitude in the face of the intimidating force of the  state. He has shown what is still possible with the Nigerian judiciary that has been  smeared by the unbridled conduct of most of its members. He is a lesson in stoic  endurance and has uplifted the confidence in the process through his persistence in  the fight for justice. He is a confirmed long distance runner, as I labeled him in  an earlier report and he has shown that patience, discipline and maturity pay in the  long run. He certainly will cut a place in Nigeria’s compilation of good politicians  whose acts and conducts helped sway us from a certain self-induced political doom.

•Peter Claver Oparah wrote from Lagos. E-mail: [email protected]

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