“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah 6:8
Yours faithfully was in the midst of some non-Ekiti friends recently. They were very sympathetic with the course of the state, brought about by its political malapropism, which ushered in the dishonest administration of Governor Ayodele Fayose. Their ten pence for us was that we would be undone again if the progressives risk presenting a non-starter to confront Fayose or any of his ilk in the coming election.
As usual, they could not stop conjecturing how we got it wrong in 2014 and expressed grave concern that if we refuse to give the next election our best shot, the progressives may be conned once again and Fayose may have a field day. “Never put any prank past Fayose,” one of them bellowed. Another described Fayose as a political con man with bags full of all the antics in this world. He said Fayose may even worm himself into the progressives fold before the next election and choose his successor for them a lackey who would do nothing but his bidding.
The general consensus, however, was that Ekiti people were the worst of it. Either they had chosen the path of apathy or were simply vindictive for no just cause, their action or inaction actually monsterized Fayose and they have forced themselves to face the brutal fact of living in sorrow and pain for four harrowing years. Ekiti has been shortchanged, good governance has eluded them and democracy remains in a slumbering state until Fayose is booted out.
Let us not lay pretences against the fact that Fayose is the person to beat come 2018 Ekiti election. Whether he is contesting personally or he is putting forward a surrogate, we are up against him and we must prove to him that we are capable of uprooting his political root from Ekiti political soil, no matter how firm. He is beatable and only someone who can beat him fair and square should pitch. No one should tell us any tale of how his or her granddad fought a battle in the olden days if you have never confronted the monster yourself, 2018 is not the time to experiment.
Let me confess that I am unapologetically against taking it easy with Fayose and thus would not queue behind any lily-livered aspirant in the progressive fold to prosecute the next election. The only way Ekiti can be wrested off the strangulating claws of Fayose come 2018 is for the progressives to meet him with equal measure and not through any negotiation or trading off. No agreement today, no agreement tomorrow, according to Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
But why should the people of Ekiti, the Fountain of knowledge, the land of integrity and pride, choose to be under a Fayose with all his predictable monkeyshines? The answer is not far-fetched, as Yoruba in their wisdom would say, “Aise dede ara aiye lo nmu ni ranti ara orun.” (It is the untoward behaviour of the living that makes one pine nostalgically after the dead.) This time around, anyone who wants to take on Fayose must be a dyed-in-the-wool Progressive, and not someone who had been oscillating between Progressivism and Conservatism in the past. No, we do not want a flight-by-night Progressive to represent the Progressive fold. If it is not Panadol, it cannot be the same as Panadol. My take is that anyone who had wined and dined with the PDP in the past should not fly the flag of the progressives come 2018. You must be a progressive from the word “Go” and you must remain a progressive beyond 2018. No half measure.
Closely following this position is that anyone who must represent the progressives in 2018 must have been involved in Ekiti politics right from the beginning. We need someone with a deep sense of history of how we had won and lost elections in the past to lead us to the next election. Someone who had needled Fayose in the past can still needle him some more. As an Ekiti adage would say, Gbajugbaju m’egbe re ka gba loju, fikofiko m’egbe re ka fiko lu, ikurupa mo’ri oni kaa ho je…Shoe get size.
As a youth advocate, I am of the candid opinion that the progressives must start weaving their relevance around the youths, with the assurance that from 2018, we would start building an Ekiti with strong values for them. Anyone who wants to run, therefore must go to the battle with the youths, see the youths as the fulcrum of his or her campaign and throw the youths against the opponent by making them see the battle as theirs. After all, Fayose has undoubtedly eroded the values in our youths bringing them to the level of derelicts and desecrating their collective pride.
Our women fair no better in the hands of Fayose. According to Madeleine Albright, democracy without women is impossible. Fayose has raped our women economically and politically, thus making democracy impossible to thrive in Ekiti. He will certainly be leaving them with many scars. The person that the progressives would be queuing behind must earn the trust of our mothers, aunties, sisters and daughters and see them as a strong enough reason for going to war. He/she should fight with them and for them, not against them as Fayose is doing right now.
Another thing that the progressives must take to mind is to guard against disconnect of any form. This perhaps best explains why the majority of the people have been advocating for someone from among them and not someone from outside of them. “We don’t want Ekiti abroad,” is the common refrain today. And they have legitimate reasons to say so. Ekiti must be governed by an Ekiti in truth and spirit. A passionate Ekiti agenda must be to move Ekiti people forward. Every Ekiti man and woman must have a sense of belonging. Every home must be touched with love and not torched by the fire of hatred and vengeance. Anyone saying “Serves them right” to our people for selling their conscience to Fayose (if at all they ever did) is not fit to liberate them. The question on the lips of all at home right now is “What is in it for us?” Anyone who cannot answer this question should shelve his or her ambition for now.
I hate to mention this, but our royal fathers have actually become hen-pecked under Fayose. The governor has defecated on royal stools, baiting kings with banana at will. He would round them up in a room and like a colonial master of old, flash dingy mirrors at them in exchange for their royal pride. This is not the style of progressives. Royalty is a fatherly position and should not be thrown at opponents at will. We need traditional rulers that would be a father to all and not political puns in the hands of anyone. Anyone who must fly the flag of the progressives must restore the pride of royalty, tradition and culture. It is the obas who should summon a governor as their subject and not vice versa. Contrition twines in me, each time I hear that Fayose has summoned the obas. O ma se o!
Development, yes, Ekiti people want it, crave it and deserve it. They want technology, they want good roads and all the bubbly things of life that are dingily available in the metropolis. But, heck no, not at the expense of starving them to death. Ayangbe aja dun, sugbon ki la ma je, k’aja o to gbe? Our people must survive and live a happy life before voyaging and gambolling. They must feed well and not be fed with stories of what the unseen future holds for them. As a matter of fact, anyone who is so futuristic as not to mind the present state of things should not go near our people for votes. Neither do they want to be bribed to vote, they should be convinced to vote that a Messiah has come.
So, who shall the Ekiti Progressives send to breathe life into the state now gasping for breath? The search begins from now, but pretenders, late risers, foreigners, shambolic contenders and people of low esteem, without character should please give way.
Segun Dipe, a journalist and political analyst, writes from Ado Ekiti