When he was farcically rigged out as Governor of Ekiti State four years ago, the perpetrators of that dastardly electoral gangsterism thought that Dr. Kayode Fayemi was finished in Nigerian politics. They have many reasons to think so. Then, the erstwhile ruling party, PDP, was going lyrical with horrific electoral shenanigans on which its claim of dominance of the country’s political space since 1999 rested. Again, in former President Jonathan, the PDP had a mindless Trojan horse whose desire to vanquish the state and put it under his putative thumbs and that of his PDP was legendary. Also, the electoral system was firmly subjected to the crude force of PDP’s bestial gerrymandering as nothing but outright procurement of electoral triumph against its opponents through very foul means satisfied this maniacal craze by PDP. But those that hastily wrote the political obituary of Fayemi based on the putrid outcome of the Ekiti farce of 2014 never took time to study his political history. If they did, they would have known that they were dealing with a veteran long-distance runner who has the energy to last the whole distance they took the electoral system to.
Even with the overt display of chicanery with which the PDP stole Ekiti from him, Fayemi accepted the outcome of the mangled election and handed over to incumbent governor, Ayo Fayose for whom the PDP went beyond all that is decent to snatch Ekiti. Let us recall that a week to the election, Fayemi as the incumbent governor was rudely countermanded publicly by policemen sent to the state by the Jonathan government for the purpose of softening the state for eventual capture. Let us recall that Fayemi’s governor-colleagues from his APC were intercepted on the road and prevented from joining his campaign in Ekiti by soldiers and policemen dedicated for that nasty purpose. Let us recall the shipping of huge caches of cash to Ekiti by different operatives of the PDP federal government for the purpose of rigging the election. Let us recall that virtually all Ekiti APC leaders were placed either on arrest or house arrest on election day to enable PDP an unfettered rigging of the election. However, the dirty and sad trajectories that happened in Ekiti State four years ago were exposed by an army operative who revealed to saharareporters.com the details of the rigging including damning voice recordings that indicted several top echelons of the PDP and the then Jonathan presidency in the audacious rigging out of Fayemi as Ekiti governor four years ago.
But as July 14, the date for a new Ekiti election is approaching, it is not difficult to see that a lot of water has passed under the bridge. PDP is no longer in power. It was defeated soon after they wrought the electoral robbery in Ekiti. The active catalysts of the electoral sham in Ekiti four years ago have been swept down the dustbin of history. The ultimate beneficiary of the farcical election four years ago, Fayose has become a lonely pariah whose conducts and performance as governor have conspired to make him a troubled loner that is more pre-occupied with life after office than nursing a distant hope that he will swing the election to his lackey whom he wants to nudge to power. The boisterous PDP is now like a ghost house. It has become a waning desolate house and its members have deserted it in droves. It is shorn of the firing power with which it manipulated the Ekiti election in 2014. In reverse, the APC which bore the brunt of PDP ruthlessness four years ago is in control of power both at the center and in most of the states. In fact, it controls the entire South West, sans Ekiti and one can touch the eagerness of Ekiti people to shed the unfortunate pariah status PDP levied on them in 2014 and join their regional brothers and a burgeoning national family by July 14.
Very dramatically, the kid off the block is the same Fayemi that was violently shunted off power four years ago. Soon after his defeat, he threw himself wholly into the utmost task to see off the PDP government and enthrone his APC at the center. He was one of the most determined and hardworking soldiers and of course, one of the intellectual egg-heads of that epic historical battle. In fact, unknown to many, the electoral maneuver in Ekiti that saw Fayemi undeservedly out of power, was the catalyst that prodded the APC sweepstake in 2015. I will do more on this in a separate report but suffice it to state that with the crude and bacchanal way PDP prosecuted the Ekiti conquest in 2014, APC leaders, members and supporters were roused to a rude awakening that the ruthless PDP needs to be tackled on all fours and not given any space to maneuver if the party was to dislodge the unscrupulous hitherto ruling party. The Osun governorship contest, which came almost immediately after the Ekiti charade, was good testing ground for APC’s resolve to stop PDP’s crude tactics that was in full display in Ekiti. It spilled over to the general election where APC trumped PDP to take over the control of the country.
Fayemi was to emerge President Buhari’s Minister of Steel and Solid Minerals, which was critical to the new regime’s effort to diversify the economy and enhance the export profile of the country. He was to do this job so well that he polished a moribund and dead sector and brought it to be one of the country’s major revenue earners today. The nation’s exportable mineral resources have quadrupled and new vistas for expansion of the country’s mineral exports are being charted every day; thanks to the innovative and creative input Fayemi brought to that sector. Today, the ministry’s export value has so increased that it rivals the agriculture sector as the main largest new export sectors of the economy, outside crude oil. Fayemi worked so hard and assiduously to bring back to life the nation’s expensive but abandoned steel companies. Today, many of the abandoned steel companies have either been oncessioned, revived or put on the paths of revival. Some, like the Delta Steel Company Aladja, have stared production while the Ajaokuta Steel Company, the nation’s largest steel company that has been left to rot for several decades now is at the concluding stages of pre-concession transactions and will soon be concessioned and switched to life.
With his stellar showing as Minister, it was easy for Fayemi to emerge from a hugely crowded field of APC governorship aspirants to set up what is seen as an exciting match with the same PDP that procured a pyrrhic victory over him four years ago. His defeat in that election, even when the details are known, is still a mystery that tarred the image Ekiti people have promoted for themselves as a land of knowledge. That event still evokes uncomfortable embarrassment to the average Ekiti man till today and the readiness to put the ghost of that mystery can be felt in Ekiti today. Come to think of it, Fayemi, as a governor, performed very well in critical areas that assured the state real progress; infrastructures, human capital development, job creation, poverty alleviation, etc. No one imagined he would be removed in such unexplainable manner as he was. The incoherent effort to explain his defeat to the weird and primitive stomach infrastructure politics which the PDP played, cast more slur on the image of the Ekiti man. These are features the proud Ekiti man is desperate to address and the July 14 election is a veritable medium to do this.
Let us recall the tortuous journey of life Fayemi had gone through. He was among the first grade NADECO activists that fought the military to a standstill and procured for us the present democratic dispensation. He remains famous for the Radio Kudirat initiative that offered a platform for expression against the anti-military struggle. Let us recall the long, arduous journey he embarked on to become governor; how the same PDP stole his mandate and how he went on a long journey to court; going back and forth until the courts ordered a supplementary election he was tipped to win but which was manipulated in a bizarre fashion. He went back to court and re-started the long circuitous journey again, which ended in October 2010 when his stolen mandate was retrieved and he was sworn in as Governor.
Being a patient, long-distance runner, Fayemi has shown that he has the energy to last the distance. His upbringing prepared him for that. His political experiences honed him to go the distance such that his urbane disposition that flows from his upbringing has not deterred him from engaging those that underestimate his staying power in politics. All these have combined to prepare him for the July 14 slugfest and the aftermaths and the way and manner he managed and contained the predicted combustible outcome of the APC primaries suggests that the coming election will be a walkover for him; the crowning glory of his matured politics and the ultimate vindication of the Ekiti man from the filthy dance of four years ago.
All said, July 14 is Fayemi’s show. He has shown through his [public, political life that he deserves the comeuppance of this date. It is a crowning day for the famed long distance runner who has shown that the race of life is not a short put and his second coming will be a deserved reward for his political sagacity and durable political value.
Peter Claver Oparah.