Fayemi: The emerging vanguard of democracy
Many people were stunned by Kayode Fayemi’s defeat in the 2014 gubernatorial election in Ekiti State. Some could not even figure out why a man who was and still is, an epitome of leadership finesse could be denied a second term by the same people he laboured to serve. While in the saddle, he dispensed with the state’s mean resources in the most austere and pragmatic manner; he led the people with open-mindedness, fulfilled most of his promises and venerated the exalted office of the governor of Ekiti State.
He was loved and appreciated by many for his genial predilection, can-do spirit, and respect for the people, irrespective of political or economic status. This man’s exploits transcended Ekiti State. He deployed his international connections to better the lots of Ekiti State and its people. His performance was in a class of its own with many life-touching innovations. His pioneering efforts in social security for the elderly in the state are legendary. Despite all these accolades and achievements, he lost his re-election bid to an opposition party in 2014; a misstep which caused another setback for Ekiti people and plunged the state into four years of political wilderness.
Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, the governor of Ekiti State did not just become a phenomenon overnight. Providence has prepared him well for whatever role he has come to play now. Whoever is familiar with his political trajectory would agree that the height he has attained and the roles he has come to play in the entrenchment of democratic governance in the country are not achieved by happenstance.
From the knowledge of hindsight, one may conclude that God must have deliberately delayed his inauguration for him to be more appreciated because he returned to acclaim to Ekiti in 2010. He is a harbinger of hope. He recorded several quick-wins because the people were already yearning for good governance.
Fayemi has, over the years, succeeded in igniting light within every dark tunnel that fate brought on his path. In the heat of the June 12 struggle, he was one of the many ‘marked’ men. He took the famous NADECO route and escaped to fight another day. When he left office as Ekiti State governor in 2014, he was appointed as the chairman of the committee that organised the APC presidential primaries which produced President Muhammadu Buhari as the standard-bearer. Thereafter, he was made Minister of Mines and Steel Development. He performed so wonderfully in the ministry that President Buhari could not hide his love for him and openly confessed that it would be difficult to find his replica. He resigned his appointment to contest for gubernatorial seat in Ekiti State.
Ekiti people have tasted two husbands and they know the difference. This necessitated the clamour that Fayemi should kindly come to their rescue for the restoration of values in the state. True to type, Fayemi has since justified the confidence the people reposed in him and already surpassed their expectations within just four months.
The emergence of Fayemi for the second term after the break is apt because he enthroned liberty, progress and freedom which are the cardinal tenets of democracy. Fayemi has come to represent the very epitome of the noble ideals of democracy. He has been put on the pedestal as a true democrat and as a practical representation of the ideological construct which democracy evokes and summarises in that simple definition: government of the people, by the people and for the people.
He was instrumental to the electoral victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, RotimiAkeredolu (SAN) in Ondo State. Also, when all hope was almost lost in Osun State, he rose to the occasion by spearheading a political deal with Iyiola Omisore to secure victory for the party in the supplementary election.
He also extended his reach to Oyo State in the bid to effect a last minute damage control to help the APC, but the state was lost to the opposition. Again, he activated his goodwill and network to suppress the lingering intra-party wrangling that had be-devilled the ruling party in Ondo State. He got the job done by enlisting the support of other political bigwigs in the State and that of Akeredolu to douse the entrenched misgivings among the party faithful. His intervention worked magic as the party won majority seat in the state House of Assembly election. His impacts, footprints and signatures are all over the states in the Southwest and his goodwill and infectious human relations resonate beyond political or ethnic affiliation. He is simply a jolly good fellow.
I had my first close encounter with Fayemi when I was serving at the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) as the commissioner representing Edo, Ekiti and Ondo states. Though we were in different political parties, he visited my office several times to ensure that Ekiti State was not short-changed in the federal civil service recruitments. His passion for the development of his people supersedes every other consideration.
Fayemi may not be loud; his gentle demeanour may erroneously be misconstrued for timidity by those who have been accustomed to the repugnant nature of his predecessor, he surely knows how to get things done without necessarily being noisy about it. He is busy building successful bridges across the human divides and his unrelenting tentacles continue to stretch across the Niger.
Olabimtan writes from Akure, Ondo State.