Last Friday, I wrote an addendum on this page on “Four Factors For Fayemi” in which I briefly discussed the possibility of Dr Kayode Fayemi winning the Ekiti Governorship election slated for the following day on the grounds of his education, achievements, attitude and perception. As I was not naïve of the Nigerian political environment, I added a caveat on predicating the success factors on “other things being equal”, adding that “in our politics of the belly, things are never equal and party affiliation, with access to resources and the use of force, is a game-changer.”
It eventually happened that the election had come and gone with the preferred candidate, Mr Ayodele Fayose, winning. Despite the deployment of over “30,000 security officials in the rather small 6353 sq. km of Ekiti State” which looked an over-kill and the “clear evidence of intimidation and arrest of certain APC officials”, as Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, Chairman, Editorial Board of the “Daily Trust” newspapers, who was there to monitor the events, put it, it was glaring that the Ekiti people had made their choice and the choice is Mr Fayose.
A grass roots man that connects easily with the masses, Mr Fayose understood well “the politics of the belly” (Ken Saro-Wiwa actually called it “bellytics”) that I hinted at and a vast majority of the electorate who trooped out to vote last weekend supported him. The voters were reported to have complained on the election day that “Ona lo mi ko, ko ko inu” (meaning, he was building roads/ infrastructure, he was not building the stomach) and they cast their votes to the man who gave them bags of rice at this auspicious time that the holy month of fasting is approaching.
What is more important about the outcome of the Ekiti election is that, to paraphrase Governor Raji Fashola’s assessment of Mr Segun Odegbami in his Foreword to Odegbami’s book, “Me, Football and More” (2013), Dr Fayemi was big before the election in my eyes and he remains even bigger after it, despite his loss. We should give it to him: Dr Fayemi is an icon of democracy and a quintessence of politics without bitterness. Nigeria sorely and surely needs more people like him.
Dr Fayemi’s attitude of conceding defeat and congratulating the Governor-elect, Mr Ayodele Fayose, is the most important achievement of our democracy so far, I think. It is a tonic to our polity that in these troubling times, our democracy is capable of throwing up a man of Fayemi’s temperament and demeanour. He is the man of the moment and our politicians and leaders have a lot to learn from him that politics is not, and elections should not be, a do-or-die affair.
The outgoing Governor of Ekiti State is a paradigm shift for Nigerian politics and I suggest a national honour be conferred on him, among other rewards he deserves, so that others will be encouraged to toe his line. As it is said in Malawi, “success in life largely depends on how you handle your failures”. Fayemi’s concession speech is a breath of fresh air and the biggest “transformation” that has happened to our politics so far.
In other words, if anyone has ever immediately snatched victory from the jaw of failure in Nigerian politics, as far as I know, Dr Fayemi is the man because he is more popular, more beloved and more respected across the country and beyond than he was before the election. I wish him more success in his future endeavours and he remains my man for emerging the poster boy of our democracy.
As much as one admires Dr Fayemi, one also respects the Governor-elect for responding in kind and not being exultant. Mr Ayo Fayose is magnanimous in victory and he should be roundly commended. His promise to build on the foundation laid by Dr Fayemi is re-assuring. The two of them should continue to work together.
By and large, the people of Ekiti as represented by Fayemi and Fayose are the winners as they have set the pace for Nigeria and Nigerians. If all our political actors can build on the Ekiti scenario, then we will be able to send George Orwell away, in a manner of speaking. The well-acclaimed author of the “Animal Farm” had written in his 1946 essay, “Politics and the English Language” that “politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia” and we seem to have imbibed it as a philosophy in Nigeria.
But now, we can talk of a new political philosophy borne out of ethical renaissance that faults Orwell. Please step out, Orwell: politics does not have to be a mass of lies; it does not have to do with evasions, folly or hatred or schizophrenia. With the spirit of the duo of Fayemi and Fayose, there is peace in Ekiti and there is no hatred, relatively speaking. The leaders have demonstrated there is nothing to fight about and that is the way to go.
So, step out and go away, Orwell; come on stage, Fayemi!
FIFA: FASTING IS FOR ALLAH
Not minding the bombing in Abuja two days ago and several other atrocities being perpetrated across the country by public enemies, Nigerians are upbeat because the Super Eagles preyed on Argentina. At least, the victory still gives us something to cheer about and be proud of. A solid victory over the land of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi is fantabulous.
However, FIFA is not all about football. Muslims should be aware that FIFA is also “Fasting Is For Allah” now and the holy month of fasting should not be spent on watching adults running on the pitch after some round leather. The month is here with us and we should use it maximally for its original purpose.
According to a release signed two days ago by the Secretary-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Prof. Is-haq O. Oloyede, Muslims should look out for the moon as from today and communicate to the leadership of the Ummah, beginning from the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar. If the crescent is sighted today, Prof. Oloyede says, fasting begins tomorrow. “However, if the crescent is not sighted on Friday, the Tarawih prayer should be observed on Saturday, the 28th of June, for the commencement of Ramadan on the 29th of June whether or not it is sighted on that Saturday if not, we complete Sha’baan tomorrow and Ramadhan begins on Sunday.”
FIFA (Fasting Is For Allah) in Ramadhan! You are welcome, Ramadhan!