Anatomy Of Fayemi’s “Driver Theory” —Dapo Thomas


Kayode Fayemi’s background and training in theoretical constructions came to the fore in one of his promotional interviews, marking his one year in office. In the interview, he was asked why he was involved in partisan politics, he responded: “My involvement in politics… was because I learnt that you can have all the good ideas in Nigeria and proffer solutions, but if you are not the driver, it will be very difficult for you to encourage the driver to take up what you are proffering ….” (The Punch, September 24, 2011).

Put in proper perspective, this statement conveys only one notion: that ideas are better effected only if the initiator engages in politics which Hans Morgenthau has described as the “struggle for power”. I must warn though that the governor was not limiting his proposition to only the public space because a deeper reading of the statement shows that since ideas of development are not the exclusive preserve of the politicians, an extrapolation of this construct into corporate politics is a logical possibility. For the purpose of analysis, we can call it the “Driver Theory”. What then is our working definition?

The ‘Driver Theory’ is a prescriptive ethereal construct, engendered by the failure of our systemic sanity, to facilitate and promote a new orientation in political engineering with the ultimate objective of providing accommodation for all and sundry possessing the panaceas for national growth and development. It is a fantastic addition to the nation’s political philosophy.

I still do not know how the application of this ‘theory’ or even the ‘theory’ itself will be able to meet global standard when it comes to empirical validation. The beauty of it however, is that the governor has located it within the Nigerian political space. Aside from this problem, one of the inadequacies of the proposition is that it assumes that every man of idea(s) possesses the capacity to install himself in power. Or it creates the picture that it is possible for every man of idea(s) to work his way to power. In this country where electoral contest entails the fetish and the messy, we should be very careful not to generate more heat for our polity. For instance, I know that Nigeria is one of the countries in Africa where you need the entreaties and propitiation of the gods and divine intervention to win elections. In other climes, electoral competitions are allowed to go through temporal and systemic processes. Being a beneficiary of both spiritual and judicial providence in power contestation, Fayemi should know that attaining power in Nigeria transcends individual aspirations and desires.

Again, Fayemi’s ‘driver theory’ may animate anarchy through the intensification of electoral contest with candidates exhibiting the tendency for desperation that would eventually result in bitter acrimony. There is nothing wrong in stimulating competition for power but it becomes a call to chaos if we create the impression in the citizens that all their ideas will amount to nothing if they lack the political power to power them to fruition.

Driving (leading) a state or nation demands more than having ideas. It encapsulates the totality of mobility fundamentals. The nation, like a vehicle, is a product of architectural engineering requiring and demanding the pooling of diverging ingenuity and phenomena for its mobility and functionality. Its dynamics most often, are beyond imaginative conjectures and fantasies which is what ideas are until they are practicalised. For a vehicle to function properly, it needs the expertise of the mechanical engineers (in case there is a breakdown), the vulcanisers (if any of the tyres gets punctured), the auto-electrical engineers (in case of electrical malfunction) and even the passengers who may give a helping hand if there is need to push the car to jump-start it.

What this means is that the president and all the governors should avoid monopolising knowledge of governance by listening to the ideas of their cabinet members who are in the same vehicle but unfortunate not to be on the driver’s seat. They should remember that they have not won election to actualise only their own ideas which may just be a fraction of the myriad of others coming from various segments of the society. In addition, they must ensure that those they put in cabinet are men and women who have ideas that can stimulate growth and promote development. I am not against rewarding political associates for services rendered or constituencies delivered but this should not be the only credential to secure cabinet appointment. They must have something to offer the society apart from assisting the governor to win election.

Here in the southwest, for instance, we have had good men who had ideas in power and most of what we are enjoying today are some of their achievements. We have had Obafemi Awolowo, Adekunle Ajasin, Bola Ige, Bisi Akande, Lateef Jakande, Bola Tinubu. And now, we have the newbreed leaders led by Babatunde Fashola, Rauf Aregbesola, Kayode Fayemi, Adams Oshiomole, Segun Mimiko and Ibikunle Amosu.

Fashola has become an institutional template for radical progressivism. He has, through his achievements within a short period, shown and proved to the people of Lagos State in particular and the whole world in general that even though he never nursed any political ambition or showed any desperation for power, the moment the divine thrusted the responsibility on him, he committed himself to using his position to lift our decadent society and advance the cause of cadaverous humanity. He is achieving this by reducing substantially the gap between the rich and the poor with the poor now accessing government deliverables – housing, education, health, etc, – for free or peanuts.

I stake my honour and integrity for Rauf Aregbesola and Kayode Fayemi that the people of their states would smile at the end of their terms. Aregbesola has a pantomimic passion for elevated populism and those of us who know him see him as someone who is in a haste to achieve transformation for the poor. He pursues the cause and the case of the poor with philosophical and aggressive exigency. Fayemi on the other hand is my friend of many years. He has esoteric initiatives for both human and capital development. He abhors with intellectual conviction the idea of human suffering in the midst of plenitude. He is also an impatient and an iconoclastic reformer cum transformer.

I am not too sure if the governor was using the ‘theory’ to explain the synergy/linkage between power and idea transmutation or if it was context–dependent meant to provide justification for his sudden switch from activism to politics. If he meant the former, I do not think he was raising any new issues because ordinarily anyone seeking political power must be a man of idea(s) except we want to strip this universal practice of its normative character. But if he meant the latter, then the ‘theory’ should not be promoted beyond the self–factor. No attempt should be made to use it as a general alibi for the quest for power otherwise, it is a thronging parade to ‘phillipi’.

•Thomas teaches History and International Studies at the Lagos State University.

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