What does a typical day in the life of a governor look like? Assistant Editor (News) OLUKOREDE YISHAU, who spent a day with Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, whose administration will clock two years in office next Tuesday, writes his experience
Time was 6am. It was Thursday, October 4. John Olukayode Fayemi sprang out of bed. He had had only two hours of sleep. He was expecting a stickler for time in another one hour. As expected, Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua, a former governor of the old Ondo State, came calling. He was led into the inner chamber to meet Fayemi, who has been governor of Ekiti State since November 15, 2010.
Some minutes into their meeting, the Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Dr. Adewale Omirin arrived. He too went into the inner chamber.
Inside the waiting room of the Governor’s Lodge, Fayemi loomed large in a life-size photograph. His infectious smile radiated from a scroll. The inscription on it shows that it was presented to him by the Senate, Staff and Students of the Osun State University, Osogbo after he delivered their second convocation lecture on July 23.
As they were in, the governor’s security aides, including the Aide De Camp (ADC), Adeyanju Ajayi, were getting set for him to begin what turned out to be, perhaps, one of his busiest days in the last two years.
“Oga’ ll soon go out,” one of them announced around 725am. But, it was not until 8.15am that bespectacled Fayemi, Olumilua and Omirin sauntered into the waiting room. His security aides began to jump over one another.
Waiting outside was a metallic black Land Rover Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV). An aide opened the rear door of the car and Fayemi , who was dressed in a blue buba and sokoto, with a pair of black shoes, hopped in. The ADC, dressed in a well-starched mobile police khaki uniform, jumped into seat beside the driver.
The car made its way to the office of the Ekiti State Fire Service, opposite the Governor’s Office, where Fayemi participated in the closing ceremony of a five-week training for newly-recruited fire fighters and paramedics.
Immediately Fayemi got to the venue, he inspected a guard of honour. The National Anthem and Ekiti Anthem were sung, with the governor singing along, his left hand on his chest. The anthems over, the Master of Ceremonies (MC) took the microphone and began heaping praises on the governor, who appeared unmoved by the accolades. He, however, bowed when the MC asked the people to welcome him by clapping their hands.
Around 8. 48am, Fayemi presented prizes to outstanding trainees. It took him 12 minutes to complete the exercise. He was up standing again around 9.10am to see the trainees demonstrate their new-found skills. His speech came around 9.30am, with Ajayi standing some steps behind him after giving a salute and handing over a prepared speech.
By 9.50am, the programme was over. But, the governor’s day was just beginning. He had waiting in his office a team from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), led by its president, Adedoyin Owolabi, the first Ekiti indigene to lead the umbrella body of accountants. They were waiting at the Executive Council Chambers.
Before going to meet the ICAN team, Fayemi went to his expansive office, almost the size of an Olympic stadium, on the second floor- which has corridors, ante-room, a waiting room and the secretary’s office, where security aides ward off intruders. The Governor’s Office was originally meant to be an hotel before former Governor Ayo Fayose’s administration converted it into an office. Fayemi says it must return to original plan.
Mrs. Toyosi Omope, the secretary’s office is next to the governor’s.
He quickly attended to some matters in the office, which has a conference table and swivel chairs. By 10.05am, he made for the EXCO Chamber. The National and Ekiti Anthems were read, with the governor singing along and placing his left hand on his chest.
Fayemi was accompanied to the session by Secretary to the State Government, Ganiyu Owolabi. Introductions over, Owolabi took the microphone. He described Fayemi as his brother, friend and result-oriented personality. He hailed the governor for the infrastructure development in the state, the professionalisation of accounting in the civil service and so on. He also solicited his participation in the institute’s annual conference due for Ado-Ekiti later this year.
Almost all through the time Owolabi was speaking, Fayemi was busy writing on a jotter, with a red biro. When it was his turn to speak, he expressed his delight at the fact that an Ekiti indigene is head of ICAN. He said he has what he considered too many accountants in his administration, joking: “You know they can be difficult for an average politician to deal with when they put on their professional caps.”
He added that accountancy is a profession built on integrity, observing that brilliance without integrity means nothing to him and that intelligence without character would yield next to nothing.
Speaking on why he declared his assets openly the day he was sworn into office, Fayemi described the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) as a shenanigan. According to him, “there is no sense in declaring assets without making it public.” He argued that dictionary meaning of declaration means making public.
After the governor’s extempore speech, Owolabi presented him gifts, including ICAN instructional materials. Some minutes to 11am, the National and Ekiti Anthems signaled the end of the meeting. But, the ICAN team would not let him go without picturesque evidence of their visit. After he shook hands with the entourage—no fewer than 40—he took photographs with them inside the EXCO chamber and outside of the Governor’s Office.
He retired to his office. But not to rest. He had the Public Private Partnership team, made up of Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) and Sir Remi Omotoso, waiting for him. They had come to present a report to him. As he was busy with the team in his office, a security aide eased out a gate-crasher, with Mrs. Omope urging the plain-clothed aide to be civil about it.
Around 11.17, Mrs. Omope asked the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Yinka Oyebode, to invite the Press Crew in. When after some minutes, the crew was nowhere near the office, Mrs. Omope said: “E pe awon press wa (Call in the press). “ Oyebode soon led them in to document the presentation of the report by the Aare Babalola-led team.
At 11.35, when the Babalola team was presenting their report, the Chief of Staff, Yemi Adaramodu, and Special Adviser, Governor’s Office, Biodun Akin-Fasae, went into Mrs. Omope’s office. After Fayemi saw off Babalola and co, he went into his office. Oyebode followed him. He was telling the CPS some people needed his attention.
As he was speaking with Oyebode, his security aides, some commissioners and Special Advisers, including Information Commissioner Funminiyi Afuye and Akin-Fasae, were getting set to accompany him to townhall meetings in Ekiti East and Gbonyi local government areas. Omirin, whose Aisegba hometown was part of the itinerary, was also getting set. A white luxury bus was waiting outside for the team.
A little after mid-day, the governor, Omirin, Afuye, Akin-Fasae, Ajayi and security aides climbed into the bus for the ‘long’ journey to Ekiti East, which shares a boundary with Kogi State. But, as the bus was about leaving the Governor’s Office, Fayemi’s sharp eyes caught side of veteran journalist, Mohammed Haruna, dressed in a light blue buba and sokoto. Bespectacled Haruna was accompanied by another veteran journalist and governorship hopeful in Abia State, Chief Ikechi Emenike.
“That is Mohammed Haruna. He is supposed to be in this bus,” he told the ADC, who jumped down to fetch Haruna and Emenike. Haruna took the space beside Fayemi. Emenike made himself comfortable beside Omirin.
The governor and Haruna started talking and after some minutes, the ace columnist called the governor’s attention to Emenike’s presence. He turned round to greet the man he called ‘Oga Ikechi’. They spoke about Haruna’s column on Ikechi’s failed bid to be Abia State governor and other issues, as the bus glided through the road to Omuo.
It was not until 1.45pm that the bus got to Methodist Primary School, Kota venue of the townhall meeting. There was dancing— and singing— as the governor’s entourage arrived. His party supporters, elderly people, who are beneficiaries of his administration’s social security scheme, and women ran to catch a glimpse of their governor, who was flashing his trademark genial, gap-toothed grin and waving his hand.
There were also placard-bearing groups. One declared: “JKF-Governor of the people”. Another screamed: “Ekamefa Youth Forum supports Gov. John Kayode Fayemi for continuity”.
With the help of his security aides, who managed the crowd, he found his way to the high table and sat on a white seat with the coat of arms on it. As usual, the national and Ekiti anthems were sung to open the meeting. After this, the community presented a list of their needs through a representative, Alhaji Shittu Bello. They asked for water, transformers, modern markets and rural roads to ferry their agricultural produce.
As Bello was reeling off the list, Fayemi was busy taking notes. He spoke extempore around 2.30 pm. He acknowledged Haruna’s and Emenike’s presence. He later pleaded to be allowed to speak to the people in Yoruba. He promised the people that their needs would be accommodated. He also received defectors into the ACN before heading to the next point, Obadore, where the needs placed before him were not significantly different.
But, there was a dramatic twist to the list of needs in Obadore. The old man, who said the opening prayer, was the first to give a hint of this. As he was praying, he kept asking God to ensure that the governor sites a higher institution in the town. After the prayer, Fayemi’s reaction suggested that he was not at home with the request.
So, when he took the podium, he chose to address the issue. As he made to talk, the people interrupted him in a manner that suggested they were pre-empting him. But, he chose to still say his mind. First, he declared that he would not lie to them like an average politician would do.
He said: “ I’ll not lie to you.
I’m not that kind of a politician. Omuo is important to Ekiti because of its closeness to Ondo and Kogi states. It is like a gateway. If the Federal Government is planning a higher institution for Ekiti, Omuo will be considered.”
He was interrupted by clappings. Then, he continued: “The state government has no plan to establish any higher institution, for now. We want to build the ones we have already.”
Soon, Fayemi was out of Obadore. On the way to Aiyekire Local Government, he rubbed his hand with a moisturiser, checked his wristwatch and remarked that the time for a dinner he was billed to have with the ICAN team must be adjusted.
As he was approaching Agbado-Ekiti town, which was not part of the itinerary, he received information that some youths were barricading the road. The ADC informed him that it was a peaceful protest by the youths who wanted him to also stop and address them. An obviously fatigued Fayemi remarked that the town was not on the itinerary. The ADC advised him to step out of the bus, address them and continue on his journey.
As the bus got to the town, the road was heavily barricaded. The crowd was huge. It was more than any in even places where he was billed to stop. Fayemi waived at women and children. Some were singing: “Oju ti PDP (Shame to PDP)”. He spent some minutes with them and found his way back to the bus, which headed straight to Aisegba, the last stop for the day.
By then, it was close to 7pm. The event was rushed. As the team was about leaving for Ado, Omirin excused himself, perhaps to spend some time with his people.
Back at Ado, the ICAN team was at the Lady Jibowu Hall, inside the Governor’s Lodge. Fayemi made for his apartment. Still wearing the same dress, he later emerged with his wife Bisi, who was wearing a silver gown. A Toyota Camry car was waiting for him in front of the apartment. The governor noticed that the car’s exterior was dirty. He complained. Ajayi got a driver to bring another one. The governor and his wife hopped in. Ajayi stayed back, but an orderly wearing a black top and khaki trousers sat with the driver.
The dinner ended around 11pm. But the day was not over yet for the governor. He still had some people waiting for him at the lodge. One of them was a white man, probably Briton. Their meeting lasted about five minutes. There was also a two-man team of guests who looked like Israelis. Then, there was a third team of three, who Mrs. Fayemi supervised the kitchen staff to prepare some meal for.
As the governor was leading out the three-man team about midnight, he said: “No sane person should be governor. But, how do you make real changes in people’s life without being in government? You can be outside and pontificate, but it amounts to nothing, if it does not change lives.”
Through with this team, it was time for him to answer some questions from this reporter.
At a point in the interview, Mrs. Fayemi came in, holding a phone. She said, smiling: “Mo le hale mo eyin woyin. Mo fun yin ni 30 minutes. Oko mi koi ti yoju si mi lati aro. (I can harass you guys. I give you 30 minutes. My husband has not had time for me since morning).”
The session was over by 1am last Friday. Fayemi spoke with a two-man team from The Sun immediately after. As he saw both teams off some minutes after 2am, this reporter advised him: “Go and sleep sir.”
It has been one hell of a day. Time was 2.10am.
This article was first published in The Nation on 9 October, 2012.
Last modified: November 24, 2021