Pulse Opinion: Can Fayemi return as Ekiti Governor?

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Can Fayemi return as Ekiti Governor?

Solid minerals minister Kayode Fayemi wants to return as governor of Ekiti. If he loses, he'll have eggs on his face for a long time to come.

President Buhari’s minister of solid minerals, John Kayode Fayemi, is carefully plotting his way back to Ekiti government house—the same house from where he was chased by Governor Ayodele Fayose back in June of 2014.

The build up to the Ekiti governorship election slated for July 14, 2018, promises to be an interesting one.

Incumbent Governor Fayose isn’t running again because the constitution bars him from seeking a 3rd term. However he is backing a candidate to succeed him. That means Fayose is seriously invested in the process of who becomes his successor.

Fayose’s candidate is his deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka, who tells everyone who cares to listen that he looks up to Fayose “my mentor and leader”.

 

Fayemi, who was Ekiti governor from October 16, 2010 to October 15, 2014, was brutally flogged at the ballot by Fayose.

Fayose won all 16 local governments in Ekiti to emerge governor—no small feat considering that he won against incumbent Fayemi. It takes a whole lot to defeat an incumbent in a Nigerian election contest.

Federal power

After the defeat, Fayemi wasted no time conceding—an act that was hailed across the land as sportsmanly and gentlemanly.

A year later, Fayemi was appointed minister in the Buhari cabinet and we all thought he wouldn’t return to run as governor ever again after a humiliating defeat last time out. But here we are.

On Saturday, April 14, 2018, Fayemi took over Ado Ekiti and told the surging crowd on the streets that he forgot something in government house that only he can retrieve.

 

“We will use local, state and federal power to take over Ekiti from a rapacious government being run by brigands in Ekiti”, Fayemi blared.

“Those of us who travel out of Ekiti, we are being insulted, assaulted and mocked on a daily basis by people asking why the Ekiti they thought was well read, refined and exposed could make a character like Ayodele Fayose their Governor”, Fayemi railed.

Fayemi has even promised to jail Fayose when he returns as Governor.

No stroll in the park

But it won’t be a stroll back in the park for the APC backed Fayemi and he knows this. Fayose won’t want Fayemi to succeed him for obvious reasons and he will do everything legally and illegally possible to stop Fayemi dead in his tracks.

On paper, Fayose’s Eleka should be no match for Fayemi but this won’t be a straight, simple fight between Fayemi and Eleka. There is more to this election contest than meets the eye.

 

Fayemi and the APC would have to be at their thuggish worst to stop the PDP candidate from handing Fayemi another trouncing. To beat Fayose and the PDP at their own game would mean Fayemi becoming who he isn’t. And at this point, he’s got no choice.

Civil servants

Back in 2014, voters said they helped in booting out Fayemi because he wasn’t good to civil servants. On the stomp ground last Saturday, Fayemi fought back the school of thought that says he is an elitist politician who doesn’t know what it means to connect with the grassroots.

“They said teachers didn’t like Fayemi. During my time, education was free up to SS3. I paid rural allowance to teachers, Core Subjects’ Allowance, paid scholarship and bursary, paid for WAEC and NECO, but all these have been stopped by a government that has no interest in social investment.

“Today, I can boldly say that there is no town I get to out of the 133 towns and villages in our dear State where I will not point to five projects. If I have not done their road, I would have built schools, or renovated their hospital. But today, nothing is happening”, Fayemi said.

 

To watch Fayemi at his campaign rally last Saturday was to behold a man who looks like he’s picked up a lesson or two in the art of galvanizing his base and working a crowd, since he was dispatched to the wilderness by his conqueror.

Still looking cerebral, urbane and gentlemanly, it was a meaner Fayemi who warned Fayose that he should start preparing for jail after July.

Some say Fayose won in 2014 through voter intimidation and with plenty of help from the military whose Commander-in-Chief was a PDP president. I have been told that if Musiliu Obanikoro and the then Defence chiefs didn’t see the Ekiti election like a territory to be conquered; jackboots and all, Fayemi wouldn’t have been so trounced by the opposition.

But that is neither here nor there, today. Hindsight is 50:50. What we do know is that Fayose brutally flogged Fayemi in 2014. End of.

Last chance salon

This is Fayemi’s last chance to reclaim his pride of place as a worthy politician. To go from Abuja back to Ekiti means that Fayemi is risking it all. If he gets beat by Fayose again, he’ll never return and his reputation as a politician capable of getting out the votes, would have been forever shattered.

 

If he wins, Fayemi would have restored some pride for himself, the APC and his team. By going back to fight as a governor when you are a minister could only be seen as a step down or a downgrade if you are served humble pies by the same man who loves serving them hot and nasty to you.

July 2018 could well be Fayemi’s last political battle and he’s no tabula rasa not to know that. This is all he’s worked for on the line.

Eku Ipalemo gbo gbo Ekiti.