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What is Fayemi’s politics?

By Femi Odere

Even  if you disagree with his politics, one must agree that Dr. Kayode Fayemi is one of the most cerebral politicians of his generation in this dispensation. In terms of performance, he was an outstanding governor of Ekiti State no matter how one interprets the circumstances of his loss to the tempestuous and restless apostle of ‘stomach infrastructure’….It is thus not surprising that in his book, Regaining the Legacy…, Fayemi demonstrates a firm grasp of the theoretical and ideological moorings of progressive governance and policy, which definitely informed his policy choices as governor.”—–Segun Ayobolu, in his column entitled,

     “Why Theory Matters” on Saturday, January 28, 2017.

It must be said here without any equivocation that the responses in whatever guise that often trail Nigeria’s Minister of Solid Minerals and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, on issues of national importance should be welcomed. As one of Nigeria’s most important public figures whose highly visible and important ministerial portfolio is critical to the nation’s economic well-being, he does not allow his office to overwhelm him or dampen his enthusiasm for sharing his knowledge and experience in the public arena. His analysis of the socio-economic and political issues of our time—through his authorship of books and public speaking—one cannot frown at. The fact is that Fayemi is bound to mean different things to different people. But what must not be allowed by those discerning enough to see another emerging political personage in the South West—who may well have issued from the loincloth of the region’s late sage in terms of articulating his beliefs, demonstrating his values and injecting these virtues into his politics—is to weave a narrative around Fayemi that’s not borne out of verifiable facts, but rather some conjectural narrative presented as ‘alternative facts’ without a challenge.

The above epigraph from Segun Ayobolu—who has earned his stripes as one of the few scrupulously cerebral and erudite columnists of his generation, and who has also won my respect and admiration ever since that day he walked into my Chicago office as Tinubu’s Chief Press Secretary—I must admit, became another pointer that an important segment of the nation’s literati is still not convinced that there’s absolutely nothing untoward about Fayemi’s politics. Although one should thank Ayobolu for that generous but still biased ‘grading’—-knowing where he stood on the “Fayemi Question” as recently as a year ago—-his commentary above has once again brought the Fayemi politics to the fore. So, what exactly is Fayemi’s politics?

To those in the progressive fold pointing fingers at his politics even when they’re yet to define in actuality what this is, their seeming discomfort with Fayemi’s politics presupposes that there’s probably something enervating, counter-productive, if not clandestinely sinister in the nature and character of his politics that goes against moral decency, if not against the “omoluwabi” ethos of his geo-political region that we all should be wary of. Fayemi’s political trajectory cannot be said to have started in relative obscurity, save for his brief but equally significant stint in civil society as a political activist. He also did not become a member of the political class—-which is the single most important reason why Olatunji Ololade would want him persecuted and if possible, hanged—-through the ranks that could have subsumed his public records.

For starters, Fayemi happened on the consciousness of the Nigerian public and on the country’s political landscape not as a master-servant whose political portfolio was at the behest of a higher political overlord, but as someone whose political journey started from one of the highest political tickets in the land as the governor of Ekiti State. Therefore, the excuse couldn’t have been made for him that the office prevented him from being at liberty to express himself in accordance with his core values. So, his politics is, from the outset, an open book that can be interrogated and verified in order to see if it meets the subtle but negative connotation being carefully crafted in the minds of the undiscerning public. Since Fayemi’s politics is what seems to be in contest (even when there’s hardly any basis for this) and not his ability to perform impressively and creditably  (even though it took this home truth a fairly long time in coming from certain quarters), his politics, therefore, and his job performance are mutually exclusive. So, what may be wrong (if any) with Fayemi’s politics can only be situated within the context of his position as the chief of state of Ekiti, the interregnum between his governorship portfolio and his current headship of a ministry in the Buhari administration.

Fayemi made his debut on the platform of the country’s only authentic progressive party at a time when it was not only unfashionable to belong to this political enclave because the ‘mainstreaming’ sing-song had such a strong influence even on the progressive class, but at a time that not a few political pundits considered it suicidal for any political greenhorn to anchor his political future on a party that had been deemed as not having any future in the nation’s political arrangement except in its very small corner in the South-West. But Fayemi, unlike many of his contemporaries in politics, maintained faith with the party and stayed true to it through its many transmogrifications even up till today. There’s nowhere on record that Fayemi, as governor, again as characteristic of many of his political contemporaries, sponsored or bankrolled candidates in other political parties to maintain a foothold in these parties in order to remain perpetually politically relevant.

What has now gone down as probably the most highly orchestrated governorship election defeat in the nation’s history was enough for any mere mortal to be so emotionally traumatized and egotistically bruised to have abandoned his party not because of his ‘loss’ of re-election, but because of the relentless amount of blames and criticisms levelled against him not from the opposition and political enemies but from his own party’s hierarchy and opinion moulders. It mattered not that less than 48-hours after the governorship election, some evidence had started to emerge that “photochromic” ballot papers were used by the opposition as a component part of that historical electoral heist.

Yet, Fayemi received these undeserved criticisms with equanimity and stayed true to himself and his party. The December 14, 2014 Presidential convention of the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC) that culminated in Buhari’s emergence as its candidate had been adjudged as the best presidential convention in Nigeria’s democratic history by virtue of its transparency, rancour-free politicking devoid of underhand dealings, and most importantly, the professionalism with which it was handled. The head of the 24-member National Convention Planning Committee of the party then was none other than Dr. John Kayode Fayemi. His subsequent appointment as a minister in the present Buhari government cannot objectively be said to be due to his politics but the exclusive prerogative of his appointer who is President Muhammadu Buhari  himself.

Fayemi’s politics came, once again, into the public arena during the contest for the political  control of Ondo State between his party (APC) and the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party  (PDP). The Ondo State governorship election was probably one of the most bitterly contested elections in Nigeria not between parties but between interests within the same political party.  It was a fight of all against all. Much has been said about the Ondo State governorship, including yours truly, that it’s needless to be repeated here.  But Fayemi maintained relative  neutrality until after the primary. And when the party declared a candidate to fly its flag, he  simply picked up the gauntlet for his party and worked assiduously until the party’s candidate achieved victory at the polls.

Odere writes via femiodere@gmail.com

Even  if you disagree with his politics, one must agree that Dr. Kayode Fayemi is one of the most cerebral politicians of his generation in this dispensation. In terms of performance, he was an outstanding governor of Ekiti State no matter how one interprets the circumstances of his loss to the tempestuous and restless apostle of ‘stomach infrastructure’….It is thus not surprising that in his book, Regaining the Legacy…, Fayemi demonstrates a firm grasp of the theoretical and ideological moorings of progressive governance and policy, which definitely informed his policy choices as governor.”—–Segun Ayobolu, in his column entitled, “Why Theory Matters” on Saturday, January 28, 2017.

It must be said here without any equivocation that the responses in whatever guise that often trail Nigeria’s Minister of Solid Minerals and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, on issues of national importance should be welcomed. As one of Nigeria’s most important public figures whose highly visible and important ministerial portfolio is critical to overwhelm him or dampen his enthusiasm for sharing his knowledge and experience in the public arena. His analysis of the socio-economic and political issues of our time—through his authorship of books and public speaking—one cannot frown at. The fact is that Fayemi is bound to mean different things to different people. But what must not be allowed by those discerning enough to see another emerging political personage in the South West—who may well have issued from the loincloth of the region’s late sage in terms of articulating his beliefs, demonstrating his values and injecting these virtues into his politics—is to weave a narrative around Fayemi that’s not borne out of verifiable facts, but rather some conjectural narrative presented as ‘alternative facts’ without a challenge.

The above epigraph from Segun Ayobolu—who has earned his stripes as one of the few scrupulously cerebral and erudite columnists of his generation, and who has also won my respect and admiration ever since that day he walked into my Chicago office as Tinubu’s Chief Press Secretary—I must admit, became another pointer that an important segment of the nation’s literati are still not convinced that there’s absolutely nothing untoward about Fayemi’s politics. Although one should thank Ayobolu for that generous but still biased ‘grading’—-knowing where was on the “Fayemi Question” as recently as a year ago—-his commentary above has once again brought the Fayemi politics into the fore. So, what exactly is Fayemi’s politics?

To those in the progressive fold pointing fingers at his politics even when they’re yet to define in actuality what this is, their seeming discomfort with Fayemi’s politics presupposes that there’s probably something enervating, counter-productive, if not clandestinely sinister in the nature and character of his politics that goes against moral decency, if not against the “omoluwabi” ethos of his geo-political region that we all should be wary of. Fayemi’s political trajectory cannot be said to have started in relative obscurity, save for his brief but equally significant stint in civil society as a political activist. He also did not become a member of the political class—-which is the single most important reason why Olatunji Ololade would want him persecuted and if possible, hanged—-through the ranks that could have subsumed his public records.

For starters, Fayemi happened on the consciousness of the Nigerian public and on the country’s political landscape not as a master-servant whose political portfolio was at the behest of a higher political overlord, but as someone whose political journey started from one of the highest political tickets in the land as the governor of Ekiti State. Therefore, the excuse couldn’t have been made for him that the office prevented him from being at liberty to express himself in accordance with his core values. So, his politics is, from the outset, an open book that can be interrogated and verified in order to see if it meets the subtle but negative connotation being carefully crafted in the minds of the undiscerning public. Since Fayemi’s politics is what seems to be in contest (even when there’s hardly any basis for this) and not his ability to perform impressively and creditably well (even though it took this home truth a fairly long time in coming from certain quarters), his politics, therefore, and his job performance are mutually exclusive. So, what may be wrong (if any) with Fayemi’s politics can only be situated within the context of his position as the chief of state of Ekiti, the interregnum between his governorship portfolio and his current headship of a ministry in the Buhari administration.

Fayemi made his debut on the platform of the country’s only authentic progressive party at a time when it was not only unfashionable to belong to this political enclave because the ‘mainstreaming’ sing-song had such a strong influence even on the progressive class, but at a time that not a few political pundits considered it suicidal for any political greenhorn to anchor his political future on a party that had been deemed as not having any future in the nation’s political arrangement except in its very small corner in the South-West. But Fayemi, unlike many of his contemporaries in politics, maintained faith with the party and stayed true to it through its many transmogrifications even up till today. There’s nowhere on record that Fayemi, as governor, again as characteristic of many of his political contemporaries, sponsored or bankrolled candidates in other political parties to maintain a foothold in these parties in order to remain perpetually politically relevant.

What has now gone down as probably the most highly orchestrated governorship election defeat in the nation’s history was enough for any mere mortal to be so emotionally traumatized and egotistically bruised to have abandoned his party not because of his ‘loss’ of re-election, but because of the relentless amount of blames and criticisms levelled against him not from the opposition and political enemies but from his own party’s hierarchy and opinion moulders. It mattered not that less than 48-hours after the governorship election, some evidence had started to emerge that “photochromic” ballot papers were used by the opposition as a component part of that historical electoral heist.

Yet, Fayemi received these undeserved criticisms with equanimity and stayed true to himself and his party. The December 14, 2014 Presidential convention of the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC) that culminated in Buhari’s emergence as its candidate had been adjudged as the best presidential convention in Nigeria’s democratic history by virtue of its transparency, rancour-free politicking devoid of underhand dealings, and most importantly, the professionalism with which it was handled. The head of the 24-member National Convention Planning Committee of the party then was none other than Dr. John Kayode Fayemi. His subsequent appointment as a minister in the present Buhari government cannot objectively be said to be due to his politics but the exclusive prerogative of his appointer who is President Muhammadu Buhari  himself.

Fayemi’s politics came, once again, into the public arena during the contest for the political  control of Ondo State between his party (APC) and the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party  (PDP). The Ondo State governorship election was probably one of the most bitterly contested elections in Nigeria not between parties but between interests within the same political party.  It was a fight of all against all. Much has been said about the Ondo State governorship, including yours truly, that it’s needless to be repeated here.  But Fayemi maintained relative  neutrality until after the primary. And when the party declared a candidate to fly its flag, he  simply picked up the gauntlet for his party and worked assiduously until the party’s candidate achieved victory at the polls.

Odere writes via femiodere@gmail.com

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