Since he returned to power in 2014, Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose has been swimming from one controversy to the other. The image of being an â€œattention seekerâ€ was deliberately weaved around him in order to rubbish genuine advocacy and agitations championed by him. Those who detest his guts are not interested in knowing the merits or demerits of his utterances and actions before dismissing Fayose as a â€œnoisemaker.â€ They are not willing to allow reasoning or sense of fairness in judging him. In the media, any opinion that supports Fayoseâ€™s line of thoughts or actions is derided as coming from his â€œpaid writersâ€ or â€œagents.â€
For daring to be the strident voice of opposition in the country, Fayose has been a victim of incessant executive harassments despite his immunity as a sitting governor; yet, his former peers in the federal cabinet who have tons of corruption allegations hanging on their necks are left untouched. Not even investigations have been instituted on the allegations. Beyond that, more than thrice he had raised alarm about deft moves by the â€˜big boysâ€™ in the federal executive to orchestrate his removal through the backdoor.
Regardless of political colouration of whatever happens in Ekiti State, especially as it concerns Governor Fayose, it is simply reasonable to be factual sometimes; and one of such situations is now. I like to start with the fact that the dust raised by the so-called reelection of Governor Fayose is a ruse. I remember Fayose announced publicly shortly after his election in 2014 that both himself and his deputy are quitting the stage at the expiration of their tenure in 2018. That reality remains sacrosanct. The issue came up when Fayose was responding to reports on the state broadcasting stations that some governorship aspirants were already on campaign train to the extent of picking running mates and pledging political appointments to some of their supporters. Fayose mocked the reports, doubting the possibility of any serious aspirant in his camp to have gone that far.
â€œAs we speak, I donâ€™t know which political party platform we are going to run until the coast is clear. Let those running ahead of time relax and wait for the right time. Meanwhile, do they know that they have to allow me finish my tenure before another person can take over? Lest I forget, the Supreme Court had nullified my impeachment as illegal, so, maybe they should please add the remaining seven months of my previous tenure to this one. Then, we are good to go,â€ he sarcastically said. Even an ignoramus knows that Fayose canâ€™t run again. Itâ€™s a joke taken too far.
Another issue is that of the resolved face-off with a section of petroleum products dealers in Ekiti State over stoppage of work on their site and demolition of structures in four petrol stations in Ado Ekiti. The manner in which the petrol dealers went about their protest was seriously suggestive of external interest with political undertone. Facts available to the media indicate that Fayose government was acting rightly. Itâ€™s nearly impossible to embark on restructuring of a city or sanitizing crooked town planning without some structures giving way. When former President Olusegun Obasanjo decided to implement Abuja master plan as executed by the then Federal Capital Territory, FCT, minister, Nasir el-Rufai, several houses including those of the high and the mighty were demolished.
According to the report, all the four affected filling stations have issues which render the building of the gas stations illegal. It was alleged, if not politically calculated, that their strike action was to embarrass and intimidate the state government especially in the week of the state burial of Late General Adeyinka Adebayo, knowing full well that the state will host dignitaries from across the country. Government ordered stoppage of work on four filling stations located at Iworoko Road, Adebayo, and Irona areas of Ado-Ekiti. Only the two in Irona area have gone beyond foundation stage. One was located on water pathway, while the other was almost encroaching into a public primary school. The statement further reads:
â€œThe one in Adebayo area, close to the building housing The Punch and The Guardian offices, is sited in residential area and the tank buried close to the fence of the next building. The landlady of the building housing the newspaper offices, told Governor Ayodele Fayose during a visit to the site that she went to court and obtained injunctions stopping the construction of a filling station in such a place. Findings revealed that the owner, who bought and demolished two residential buildings did not disclose that he was setting up a filling station in the area.
â€The fourth filling station was near the Ureje Stream along Iworoko Road, where the government of Kayode Fayemi demolished some structures following persistent flooding in the area. Also, government stopped work on it while the owner was still sand-filling.
â€œThe fences of three filling stations were pulled down. One of the affected stations is on the slope in Dallimore Street, Ado-Ekiti. The fence was obstructing free flow of water when it rains. Recall that a primary school pupil got drowned in the area in 2013 as a result of flooding. The fence of the station where there was a calamitous fire outbreak early in the year and the fence of a station under construction in Ajilosun area of Ado-Ekiti were also pulled down.
â€œSince 2012, the Ekiti State Government had disallowed a dealer from operating a newly-built filling station at Nova Junction, Adebayo area of Ado-Ekiti. When the owner started work, the management of a primary school nearby wrote a series of petitions to the previous administration which agreed that fuel should not be sold in such a place. The Fayose administration came on board and also saw no reason why the station should operate in such an environment.
â€œDuring the last strike by the oil dealers, officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and leadership of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) visited the state and went round the affected stations. Many were found to be operating without approval; many faulted on being located in inappropriate places; most of them were not insured and they donâ€™t have fire-fighting equipment.
â€œThe fire outbreak at the filling station in Mugbagba area of Ado-Ekiti early in the year, exposed the sorry state of the facilities where some people make millions of naira daily. The owner only insured his products from the depot to the station. No insurance of his premises or possible victims in case of any ugly incident. Over 20 buildings and 35 shops were razed and the dealer was offering victims between N2,500 and N10,000 as compensation. He didnâ€™t have fire-fighting equipment and none of his staff is trained in the handling of fire extinguisher.
â€œFollowing their first industrial action, the government set up a committee to work with the leadership of petrol marketers and assess the situation, but rather than cooperating, the marketers shunned the panel and wrote through their lawyers that they would not appear before the panel.â€
On his part, Chairman of the South-West Zone of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Debo Ahmed, has accused the Ekiti State Government of demolishing filling stations owned by politicians who are not members of the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party, PDP, in the state. He added that the affected filling stations had valid documents and approval to operate. However, the government insisted the owners of the demolished stations contravened town planning laws of the state.
According to a statement by Fayoseâ€™s media aide, Lere Olayinka, â€œHe (Debo Ahmed) should tell Nigerians the owners of petrol stations demolished and the parties they belong to. It is such a puerile argument coming from people who believe they should be worshipped like gods even when they are flagrantly contravening the laws of the state and endangering the lives of the people.â€
Now that the petrol dealersâ€™ issue had been tentatively resolved, letâ€™s wait and see how far this vicious circle of conspiracy and political shenanigans will go before the governorship election next year. Itâ€™s an open secret that every move to discredit Fayose is a ploy to wrestle power from his camp and political party in Ekiti State.
–Michael West, a Media Consultant wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org