18th November, 2013
By Peter Claver Oparah.
Last month, John Kayode Fayemi marked his third year in power as governor of the sleepy state of Ekiti. As has been the fad in the three remarkable years he has presided over the affairs of Ekiti State, it was a harvest of accolades, tributes and confetti for the man I fondly refer to as a long distance runner. It was a rich moment for the man who stands out for his unperturbed, unruffled approach to issues over which many others would have lost their demeanour. His third year anniversary came at the heels of a deliberately provoked political tempest, which aimed at distracting him and luring him prematurely to the battlefield but his traducers miscalculated for they displayed a stark ignorance of what really makes him thick, he suffers distractions gladly while ensuring he doesn’t lose focus in the face of the storm.
Three years after he recovered his purloined mandate, Fayemi has left no one in doubt that he was prepared for the task of taking Ekiti out of the political maelstrom that was its lot prior to his coming. As his coming dislodged the fiends and forces of Hades that made Ekiti their permanent abode prior to his coming, he knew that the best possible way to take the state far away from the radar of these political warfarers was to resuscitate its sectors which were prime victims of the deadly struggle for the control of the state. So he paid no much heed to politics but focused on waking the dead superstructures of the state. Thus, education, healthcare, roads, employment, agriculture, tourism, social welfare formed the keystones of his coming as Ekiti governor. Knowing the multiplier effect these sectors hold to taking Ekiti far from the warlords and knowing how well it will re-direct the focus of both the government and the governed from what hitherto endured in the state, he neither looked back nor flagged as he invested heavily to these critical but dormant sectors in Ekiti.
Governor Fayemi, gifted with the staying power of the long distance runner and with an undergirding philosophy that targets the long run, took his time and worked methodically to first, take Ekiti far away from Hades and then lead it to its natural state of a compact, peaceful and modest state that tends to the needs of its citizens. Because the average Ekiti man is not given to vaunting ambition and treasures his education, it was not difficult for a measured and calculating governor to capture their pressing needs into a template that has today restored the state to its hallowed place as a peaceful and educationally driven state. It was only natural that he succeeded in solidifying the faith of the citizenry in his capacity to go the maximum haul and give them the state of their dream. That faith is paying beautifully off three years on.
The renaissance of Ekiti is all too obvious to those that know the state and its parlous estate before now. The last three years have been the most eventful in the history of the state with the sheer volume of facelift and addition given to its infrastructures; roads, hospitals, schools, tourism, etc. Today, the sleeping state of Ekiti has woken to the reality of a new beginning as the lost mileage that were eaten away as Ekiti regressed into a war zone, have been recovered. Well paved roads cut through all communities in the state, dilapidated ones have been rescued, the schools that were experiencing unabated rot three years ago have had their fortunes reversed with the monumental reconstruction of public schools going on in Ekiti. The dowdy state of public hospitals has been reversed to lead the delivery of effective healthcare for the people of Ekiti.
Those who did not have privileged knowledge of Fayemi may be wondering what magic wand a man that receives one of the lowest monthly allocations from the federation account is deploying to strike such flattering results in Ekiti. Fayemi is the long distance runner who takes his time to study and understand the enormity of the problem before tackling it. Nigerians recall how he never lost his cool during the long time it took for him to recover his stolen mandate. With an unflinching staying power, he was able to program himself for the torturing and long period it took for him to get back his mandate. Perhaps, that was the personal trait that finally disarmed his opponents who miscalculated by thinking that by stretching the problem, obfuscating it to such level they did, visiting persecution and scorched earth policies on him, he will give up his quest to recover his stolen mandate. In governance, he was wont to deploy such strenuous but winning trait to leverage on his effort to lift Ekiti from the puddle where rudderless and arm-based politics took it.
Fayemi is running the last lap of his first term. He is interested in a second term, not only to further the ends of development he had started in Ekiti but also to consolidate on what he had done since 2011. His quest for a second term should be predicated on his first term performance and except in the unlikely situation of reversing the trend of the past three years in this last year of his first term, a re-election should be almost a unanimous walkover for him. That is no good news to his opponents. They cannot build any viable contest with him on the basis of performance. They have no history of performance and their outing in Ekiti between 2003 and 2011 was a woeful blood-felt tragedy every Ekitiman will love to consign to the black chapters of Ekiti history. In frustration therefore, and fired by the unquenchable desire for naked power, his opponents must leverage on the art they know best, violence. They badly need this to make up for what they cannot meet in Fayemi’s superlative performance. They need this to re-install a history of bloodletting and violence they made the central thrust of their years in power. They badly need violence to scramble the peace and tranquility Ekiti had been enjoying since Fayemi came to power. They need it to create a desperately desired leeway to challenge Fayemi and draw him to the muck where their politics naturally thrive.
So, in the instigated political warfare that is creeping into Ekiti State today, we must see the last chance of the fading Ekiti opposition and its dwindling politics at play. No one should be fooled. Self-immolation and intentional self-deprecation is not too mean to adopt, if such art could purchase for them a ground for their wonky challenge. The desire to sow sufficient dread and gloat that Ekiti is threading a familiar path of political violence is all too obvious in what is happening at present. It is real and flows beyond the borders of Ekiti. It is planned under a central masthead that coordinates the loose efforts of disparate but weak political tendencies that are ruled by the desire to sow enough dread and ennui in Ekiti and draw Fayemi out to a battle that will not only sully him but distract his attention at the job and weaken him sufficiently for them to ground their own wobbly political tents.
But I am very sure that Fayemi is imbued with enough tact and intelligence to read through what is happening in Ekiti at present. I am sure he will not allow these desperate politicians to draw him into their well laid battlefield, as they are trying to do. As a long distance runner, I am sure he packs enough capacity to disappoint their expectations that somehow, he will be conscripted to meet them in the mud and spoil all his efforts of the past three years, thereby returning Ekiti to the well-known forte of violent politics, with the attendant boost it gives to unaccountable, unproductive and irresponsible power, from which Ekiti freed itself with the coming of Fayemi in 2011. It is in the realisation of this imperative that the hope for a consolidation of the monumental gains of the last three years and their consolidation rests.
•Oparah wrote from Lagos E-mail: [email protected]