Ekiti is a land of honour. The enduring characteristics of the people are hard work, loyalty, integrity. and fanatical opposition to any form of injustice. Their nightmare started in 2003 with PDP’s subversion of these cherished values. The coming election is therefore between forces of darkness that is determined to bring back the nightmare we experienced between 2003 and 2010, and forces of light which Fayemi’s administration represents.
Let us remember where the rain started beating us. As a people who never play Brutus, Ekitis don’t betray friends and benefactors. To them honour is everything. In contemporary times, two of our illustrious sons used by forces of darkness retraced their steps and demonstrated they were, above everything else, men of honour. In 1983, NPN capitalized on the bitterness expressed by marginalized restive Ekitis who although constituted over 50% of the population of the old Ondo State but allocated only a third of available distributive resources, to sponsor an ambitious Akin Omoboriowo to undermine Governor Adekunle Ajasin his boss. He was subsequently awarded a stolen mandate in the 1983 election. The Ekitis who believe you cannot build justice on injustice denounced his action and rejected him. But it is on record that as a man of honour, Omoboriowo rejected a ministerial appointment offer by NPN and died a poor man in his son’s rented apartment in Lagos. Ex-Governor Segun Oni who was used to prolong our nightmare for almost four years, has according to Governor Fayemi, chosen honour in spite of opportunity to cut deals as a former governor with the presidency’ and like other PDP members make billions to build palaces among the peoples’ squalor. Oni was said to have unconditionally opted to support Fayemi in order to produce the leadership our children can look up to as role models.
The often mischievous ‘sociological explanation’ for what many other Nigerians consider as a ‘strange behaviour’ of the Ekitis by my colleagues in the Department of Sociology here at the University of Lagos is that the Ekiti people are poor and they can as well say the truth since they cannot fall below poverty. Conversely they say the Egbas are rich and have sworn never to be in the rain again (apology to Chinua Achebe). Thus inarguably illustrious men in their own rights such as Dr Majekodunmi who was used by the Balewa government to legimise illegalities in the old West, an Ernest Shonekan used by Babangida to subvert MKO Abiola’s victory and an Obasanjo who has behaved without grace after becoming the greatest beneficiary of an injustice done to Abiola who would have been treated with contempt by Ekitis were celebrated as icons.
But this probably explains why Obasanjo who was celebrated for act of treachery back home showed such disdain for the Ekitis and their cherished values through his imposition of an ill-equipped Ayo Fayose on the peace loving people of Ekiti. He was to become the scourge of the people as violence took over an otherwise peaceful land with prominent and highly educated indigenes and traditional rulers capriciously assassinated.
Even after the impeachment of Fayose, Obasanjo who always want to play God thought he knew what was best for Ekiti. He exploited the intra party feud within Alliance for Democracy (AD), brought in General Olurin from Egba to ensure decamping aggrieved members of AD were rigged into office as PDP senators and members of the House of Representatives and Segun Oni as governor. When a rerun was ordered by the court following persistent protest by the people, another of Obasanjo’s confidants, Madam Ayoka was brought in from Abeokuta to conduct a rerun election that had been programmed to fail. It was the Appeal Court that finally put an end to a prolonged nightmare by restoring Fayemi’s stolen mandate.
Now, it is this nightmare that President Jonathan and those Obasanjo described as ‘criminal elements that have taken over PDP in the South-west’ intend to bring back. We must ask ourselves why Ayo Fayose with his antecedents, current disabilities including record of impeachment and pending criminal charges hanging on his neck in the court, is the only credible candidate PDP identified among a motley of about 20 aspirants. Obviously for the president and PDP, this election is not about agenda, it is about who is best suited to reenact the era of Fayose. And Fayose with his temperament, disposition and empty bravado is the only one who fits that bill.
President Jonathan and PDP do not give a damn. That probably explains why they didn’t give a damn about performance in picking a man whose tenure was an unmitigated disaster to face an high achieving sitting Governor Fayemi who has received accolades from home and abroad for the faithful implementation of his eight-point programme in the last three and half years. Honours have come from his grateful Ekiti compatriots who gave him the title of “Ilufemiloye” for faithful adherence to promises made. Independent and credible voices have scored him high. Akin Oyebode, who we all know calls a spade a spade says he has done well. Chief Afe Babaloa, a PDP sympathizer and the chairman of a group Obasanjo used to recruit Segun Oni as governor has since praised Fayemi for his achievements.
Endorsements for Fayemi on the basis of his performance have come from those we all know will never hawk praises to undeserving elements. Professor Tunde Fagbenle, Professor Segun Gbadegesin, and Professor Olatunji Dare who writing on Fayemi phenomena says “under Fayemi, Ekiti is thriving in ways it has never known; there, transformation is not a slogan; it is a lived reality,” asserting that “Unless it is too far gone in its delusion, the PDP must know that it cannot win a free and fair election in Ekiti, much less with a candidate who has nothing to offer.”
Mohammed Haruna, a veteran columnist you can hardly be faulted on facts even when it involves his religion and Hausa/Fulani, his weak points, predicted that despite the desperation of PDP , “Fayemi will retain his job in a free and fair election because for a state with such a meager revenue allocation (N3 billion month compared to Balyelsa’s N24 billion) it is a miracle that Fayemi had been able to achieve most of what he promised nearly four years ago, especially in the areas of education, infrastructural development and social security”.
Even outsiders like Ikechi Emenike has also observed that “While Fayemi speaks of and works towards a future of transparency, good governance and prosperity, Ayo Fayose evokes retrogression, a fall-back to the bad old days of brigandage the intelligent citizens of Ekiti would rather forget” adding that “Try as they may, it is hard to see how the people of the Land of Honour will not queue behind a man who has been so faithful to his promises, come June 21”.
Similarly another outsider, Phil Aragbada has called our attention to what he described as “Fayemi’s palpable empathy for the grassroots, his proximity to the rural dwellers , evinced by his novel State Assisted Community Projects Initiative acronym-ed SACPI in contradistinction to one of his opponent’s ‘Boli and guguru’ –roasted plantain and groundnut eating shenanigans”.
I have always thought one doesn’t need to say the obvious. But the Fayemi has embarked on vigorous campaign in the media and romped through 132 Ekiti towns saying the obvious because his opponents who are yet to unveil their agenda nine days to election are busy spreading messages of fear and hate. As the people of land of honour file out to vote on June 21, we must remember the battle is against detractors who have nothing but disdain for our values; that we are up against those who by our standards are half-literates but now insist their standard is good enough for us; that those who, for a pot of porridge, subvert the truth fraudulently proclaiming 14 to be greater than 16, cannot be role model for our children. Let us remember those who betray friends, their party leaders and their benefactors will betray the people. Never again must we allow our land of honour be desecrated by those to whom honour means nothing.
By Jide Oluwajuyitan
This article was first published in The Nation on June 12, 2014.
Last modified: June 12, 2014