Writing on this page on Monday, April 3, 2017 under the title “Watch out for Ayo Fayose”, I did draw attention to the larger-than-Ekiti image of the Ekiti State Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose. That was a little over a month ago and I was intrigued by certain happenings not only in Ekiti but also all over the country.
It is a well-known fact that Fayose is a second-term governor who, on each of his coming, defeated an incumbent governor. In Nigeria where incumbency factor is near-unassailable, this achievement cannot be taken lightly. In 2003, Fayose defeated the then Alliance for Democracy’s Governor Niyi Adebayo by a wide margin to become governor for the first time on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In 2014, he returned after all the controversies that unceremoniously hounded him out of office to defeat the incumbent Governor Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Fayose won in all of Ekiti’s 16 local governments’ in an election adjudged free and free by local and international observers, including the United States Government.
So comprehensive was Fayose’s defeat of Fayemi that the latter was left with no decent choice than to concede defeat and invite Fayose to the Governor’s Office for a handshake; although, unfortunately, the same Fayemi was to later backtrack from this path of honour.
What has left this writer perplexed is that Fayose’s brand of politics in his second coming has significantly added more verve and panache than what was on display during his first outing. To say that he is a man of the people and a grassroots politician is saying the obvious.
To ascribe much of the landmark development projects dotting Ekiti’s landscape to him is also beyond controversy. Neither has he rested on his oars: What with the first flyover project which is ongoing in the state capital, Ado-Ekiti; the new Oja- Oba modern market; the new High court complex; new Governor’s Office complex; the road dualisation projects ongoing in Ikere, Ilawe and many other local government headquarters in the state? What has got this writer thinking; however, are the new roles that Fayose has taken upon himself, which has transformed him into a leader revered far beyond his state and his South-West political zone.
I did comment here in the article earlier referred to that Fayose has become the voice of the voiceless and the defender of the masses. He is, as it were, the last man standing who is speaking the naked truth to unbridled impunity and audacious autocracy.
Under former President Goodluck Jonathan and PDP rule, an avalanche of pro-democracy and civil society groups and activists battled that government and party to a standstill but since the APC/Muhammadu Buhari ascended the throne, as it were, it is as if all these groups have gone comatose.
Many writers who still venture to write have gone to Afghanistan, as they say, while voices that used to be robust on the side of the people have since joined those on the corridors of power. The ruling APC is divided and fighting internal wars and battles over the sharing of the spoils of office while what should have been the official opposition party, the PDP, has had the misfortune of a Modu Ali Sheriff holding it by the jugular.
In the absence of a credible and organised opposition to the ruling party, Fayose has courageously, even if magisterially, stepped in to fill the void. Without him, only God knows what would have become the fate of the long-suffering masses of this country.
Fayose has been bold and he has taken on a pan-Nigerian outlook, not limiting himself to his own Ekiti backyard or the South-West zone but has been the official spokesperson for every nook and cranny of the entire country. Fayose has trodden on grounds that even angels would fear to tread.
An example was his no-nonsense tackling of the menace of the murderous Fulani herdsmen. He was the first governor to call their bluff and the scantily-concealed threats of their powerful backers by making a law to cut their excesses and put them within the ambits of the law. Before this time, no one had thought this possible.
Fayose’s example and the success of his intervention have, however, emboldened other governors suffering under the yoke of the Fulani herdsmen to follow in the Ekiti governor’s footstep. Another is his damning remarks on the health of Mr. President.
It is on record that Fayose was upbeat in alerting the country ever before the 2015 election about the risk we ran with Buhari. And since his prediction in this regard had been proven right, he had also not stopped in directing our attention at the crippling activities of cabals within the Presidency that are not only distracting and making effective governance impossible with their in-fighting but also endangering our democracy with their determination to hold ailing Buhari hostage and exercise unmerited power and influence through the back door.
Two recent happenings have made me come out to say today that this Fayose is going places! The first is the role he has played in being the voice of those hounded, harassed, and incarcerated by the powers-that-be, be they Sambo Dasuki, El-Zakzacky, Sule Lamido, Aliyu Babangida, Apostle Suleman or judges whose homes were invaded in the dead of night.
Fayose’s interventions know no tribal or geographical boundaries. His identification with Nnamdi Kanu, the victimized Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader has endeared Fayose to the Igbo nation far and wide. When I say that the Igbo appreciate and recognise the advocacy of Fayose to the Igbo cause in general and especially so to the well-being of Kanu, I make bold to say that I speak the mind of most Igbo.
Fayose, without doubt, is sowing good seeds in this regard and in due season, he will reap its reward. He was physically in court with Kanu on the day the IPOB leader was granted bail. Where, if I may ask, were the Igbo governors? We are watching – and we are taking notes.
It is thus not a surprise that Fayose has bagged chieftaincy titles in Igbo land. He has also been made honorary Igbo governor by IPOB. More appreciations from the Igbo to Fayose are in the offing, going by the privileged information at my disposal.
This governor, even though Yoruba, has succeeded where generations of politicians had failed to bring about the much-needed Igbo-Yoruba rapprochement. The long-awaited handshake across the Niger between two of Nigeria’s most important ethnic groups is already taking shape. This is a very great barrier that Fayose is helping to break and there is no way it will not significantly impact the future politics of this country.
I must not close without also drawing attention to the award given to Fayose during the last May Day celebration by the workers in his state, when he was decorated as “Comrade-Governor” by the Ekiti State NLC. This is very instructive.
Fayose’s openness, transparency, and accountability in the way he manages the scarce resources of his state is said to have endeared him to the workers. They have also saluted him for his many pro-workers and pro-masses policies and posturing. Fayose is not just a man to watch out for in the emerging political configurations; he is also a man destined to go places.
• Enegide is a multi-talented writer, author, publisher,and public affairs commentator based in Lagos.