Peter Ayodele Fayose is one politician in Nigeria that never ceases to amuse me. His seemingly crude political style may be repulsive to many. But this appears to be his magic wand. He entered the political scene, largely unknown, at a time every office seeker would hide under the shadow of the nation’s political heroes, living or dead.
But like a dreamer, Fayose chose to pitch his tent with the harmless but helpless less-privileged indigenes of Ekiti State. Painstaking analysis of activities surrounding his sojourn in and out of the Government House in Ekiti would, however, reveal to the discerning that the ever controversial two time governor could only smell power through this rare method of political mobilisation.
His perceived political rascality would most likely give him knocks at the centre of power but fame with his numerous least privileged fans. That this approach has paid off is saying the obvious. Fayose, a native of Afao-Ekiti, naturally comes across as one of the luckiest politicians in this clime currently.
He has been governor twice in unique circumstances that clearly defy known Nigerian political logic. There were widely circulated cases of corruption and murder firmly tied around his neck during his first coming as Governor.
And after former President Olusegun Obasanjo perfected the exit strategy that would see him rot in jail, he reportedly escaped into exile with the help of senior police officers that ordinarily should have been loyal to their employers (the administration at the time).
Weighty as those allegations were, and with the overwhelming evidence provided by the aggrieved, one would have expected Ekiti indigenes to cast Fayose out for good.
But his return, after a selfimposed one-year exile, was greeted with euphoria and fanfare by the same people. This could only suggest one thing – a touching and uncommon grassroots acceptance.
Yes, the 2014 Ekiti Governorship election, which took him back to a seat he had left for eight years, appeared greatly manipulated, at least to those who monitored the process closely. But the jubilations that followed his ‘landslide’ victory buried negative comments in the stomachs of some of us.
At that time, I wondered what exactly the Ekiti people saw in Fayose that made them prefer him to a refined gentleman, whose policies, though described as elitist, had moved the state to another level, according to observers.
I was, indeed, happy for the Ekiti people when, in October, 2010, the Appeal Court sacked the sitting governor, Olusegun Oni, and declared Kayode Fayemi, now Nigeria’s Minister of Solid Minerals, winner of the re-run governorship election in the state.
I had thought that the unusual combination of articulate and indisputably intelligent Fayemi and his sharp, ever energetic wife, was all the people needed to sing a new song.
Following the trend of events after Fayemi took over, I saw that, though he started on a shaky note, with respect to his people’s socio-political expectations, he got his bearing fast. By sensible standards, therefore, I did not see how Fayose could re-emerge even when some of my friends from Ekiti said all roads at that point in time led to Fayose’s camp.
The outcome of the election proved them right but I was still not convinced that he was re-elected freely and fairly, especially with what appeared to be a deliberate amputation of the magical arms of Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Between that period and now, and especially since former President Goodluck Jonathan lost to President Muhammadu Buhari, Fayose has assumed a more controversial stance.
He has abused everybody, from Obasanjo, “an expired man …who goes to Aso Rock every week to go and beg”, to Buhari, who is running a “once chance” deceitful government and APC leaders, who are acting out boring Nollywood scripts. Not that his acidic tongue is strange to Nigerians. He had dared OBJ where others trembled.
For instance, at a reception for former Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, in 2010, Baba Iyabo had called Fayose a bastard. Instead of swallowing the bitter pill like many would have done, considering OBJ’s perceived influence in the political scene, the Lion of Afao Ekiti turned back and said, “You’re a father of bastards!”
Recently also, he faulted the setting up of the Nigerian Army’s Board of Inquiry to investigate alleged malpractices and involvement of its personnel in the 2014 governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states, saying it was a plot by Buhari to remove him from office. “The very
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