BAMIDELE JOHNSONEkiti Kete, you may not know that I am one of you because of my surname. I hail from Usi in Ido/Osi Local Government Area. Whatever touches you touches me. I share your joys and sorrows. If my brother is in trouble, so am I. On the evidence of the latest developments, my brothers are in trouble, deep trouble. I do not live in Ekiti State, a reason for which some think I am less Ekiti. I have seen people put up an attitude like “I am Ekitier than thou”. It is not a problem for me.
My purpose for writing this, as the heading shows, is to commiserate with all Ekiti, not on the death of an alleged thug and transport unionist in the hands of some other thugs, but on the choice we made at the ballot box. That choice, on past and current evidence, will deliver a lot more grief than we currently feel. The choice is that of Ayo Fayose as governor.
But credit where it is due. You don’t defeat two incumbents without knowing something about politics, particularly the Nigerian variant that is rich in chicanery and impunity. Fayose, our governor-elect, has twice turned over incumbent governors in Ekiti State-despite a moral baggage big enough to fill an aircraft hangar. To claim that Fayose has nothing going for him will be dishonest. The truth is that he has plenty going for him.
His mastery of the language of populism is immense. He is earthy, dogged and possesses a crucial ingredient of politics in these parts: dare-devilry. For ill or for good, Fayose is box office. The last few days have further cemented his box office appeal. Ekiti State, where he is to be sworn in as governor on 16 October, has fizzed with tension and violence for the better part of this week. While campaigning, he claimed that his rough edges have been chiseled away by age. He announced himself as a changed man and sought forgiveness from those he might have offended when he was governor between 2003 and 2006. Of course, nobody, including his most fervent supporters, was duped into believing that he was listening to a reformed character.
Still, we decided we wanted him because connects with us. To the less civil segment of our populace.
To the less civil segment of our society, he is a smash hit. His overwhelming electoral victory provided the proof that we are fascinated by him, his coarse ways notwithstanding. I understand that it is part of the human make-up to be attracted to dangerous things. Bungee jumping is an example of such. Fayose is politics’ equivalent of bungee jumping: exhilarating but very dangerous.
That dangerous part of him has seen the state slide back into anarchy, with a hat-trick of violent incidents straight out of his behavioural manual. Two attacks on the judiciary have provoked a closure of the courts in our state. In the second one, a judge was slapped and his robe torn by a bevy of premium thugs on the entourage of our governor-elect to the venue of an election petition tribunal sitting. The first one targeted the judge, who was handling a suit challenging his eligibility for the election. The judge got lucky, as he was smuggled out of the court premises before he could be relieved of his robe by Fayose’s platoon of miscreants. A day after the second assault, his thugs ran wild, torching buildings, including homes of opponents and the campaign office of the outgoing governor and the secretariat of the All Progressives Congress. We all, including his admirers, fled the streets and hid in our homes. Banks, government offices and other businesses locked their doors. A curfew was subsequently declared. “Stomach infrastructure,” to which his electoral victory was ascribed, looks like it has been replaced by “violence infrastructure” He didn’t care in his first time in office, the reason for which the state slid into lawlessness and, of course, underdevelopment. It will be worse this time. If he didn’t care when he was lawfully eligible for re-election, how much will he care now that he can no longer run for governorship?
That is the tragedy; the reason for which this letter is a necessity. I sympathise with all Ekiti sons and daughters at home and in the Diaspora. We have brought ourselves back into an era of arrogant posturing, coarseness, violence and most likely,yahooyahoo governance. We got duped by a man with a fondness for extravagant get-ups (check out the famous photo in which he wore sunglassess like a hip-hop singer), public maize-eating, okada-riding and other cheap tricks. We have to endure the embarrassment. Fayose will deliver humour aplenty. We, however, will find it as funny as watching our favourite uncle get hopelessly drunk and misbehave at a family reunion. Except something extraordinary happens, we will serve our four-year sentence under him.
Ekiti Kete, accept my condolence in advance.