Metaphorically speaking, the forthcoming governorship election in Ekiti State can be likened to the historic Kiriji/Ekiti Parapo war of 1870-1886. Indeed the electoral contest slated for July 14 offers the Ekitis a new paradigm shift against the background of their present social, economic and political situation. A quick recall of the history of the Ekitis vividly reminds of the gallantry of their ancestors during the eponymous inter-tribal conflict tagged the Ekiti Parapo wars. The wars, which ended all the wars in Yorubaland was unarguably the last and most protracted military campaign that plagued the Yoruba nation.
As history reveals, Kiriji war broke out because of the unacceptable policies and maladministration, which the Ibadan hegemons established on the Ekiti people after the formerâ€™s significant role in the 1840 Osogbo war and her victory over the Ijayes in 1862 which indisputably pronounced her as the competent successor of the old Oyo Empire as the head of Yorubaland. Then, Ibadan hegemons had stationed its administrators, otherwise known and popularly referred to as Ajeles, in other parts of Yorubaland, especially in Ekiti and Ijesha, which upset the two towns who were not ready, like any other towns to accept Ibadan as the Yoruba head.
Indeed, the last straw that broke the camelâ€™s back was the suppressive and obnoxious ways the Ajeles manhandled the Ekitis and the Ijeshas. These and many other aspects of tyrannical rules compelled the two groups to wage a 16 year war of attrition against the Ibadan political suzzainrarity. Again, the Ekiti people have today found themselves more or less in the same historical conjunction. While they are not confronted by the Ibadan hegemons this time round, they are no doubt entangled in the gripping hold of a re-incarnated protÃ©gÃ©, Mr. Peter Ayodele Fayose, who though an indigene of the state had his early childhood and adolescent tutelage and upbringing in the ancient city of Ibadan. By all standards, Mr. Peter Ayodele Fayose, current governor of Ekiti state, has since he assumed the leadership of Ekiti state left no one in doubt that he is governing a conquered race.
Anyone who is familiar with the character traits of the average Ekiti will readily confirm that Fayose, whose four years of agonizing second term ends October this year has high disdain for the â€˜Omoluabiâ€™ culture of the Ekitis. The focal point of his administrative policy, which is the ridiculous â€œstomach infrastructureâ€ is nothing but a mere mesmerisation of the social condition of the people and a grand conspiracy to deceitfully impoverish the Ekiti people. Indeed, the past three and a half years of Fayoseâ€™s mis-governance and mal-administration have poignantly and painfully revealed the folly and foibles of the Fayose phenomenon. It is a naked truth that in the last four years of this deceitful government, there are neither clear-cut policy direction nor a well-articulated welfare programmes for the people. While the state failed to carry out any meaningful developmental projects in all the sixteen local governments, the government of ayodele Fayose has enforced a tyrannical regime of multiple taxations in the drive to increase internally generated revenue. Before he assumed power in the state, the monthly internally generated revenue under the innovative and creative leadership of then governor John Kayode Fayemi was N600million. The government of JKF graduated the IGR of Ekiti from the paltry sum of N60million when he assumed office.
At every point in time, JKF would make public announcement about the geometric growth in the stateâ€™s internally generated revenue. However, since Fayose, aka Oshokomole took over, he has jettisoned this transparent approach to governance. Not only has he dubiously expanded the tax net, he has continued to keep the total monthly internally generated revenue a guarded secret. When recently the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) challenged the outgoing Fayose to a public debate on Ekiti finances, especially on the IGR generated over the years and its uses, the recalcitrant incumbent boasted that nobody could summon him to disclose information on Ekiti finances aside from the State House of Assembly, which he argued has the mandate to exercise oversight over him. What a disdainful and an inglorious way to treat the people.
This sentiment is further complicated by the fact that the resources of the state have not been prudently managed over time by this administration. How would anyone with the right sense of value commit a whopping sum of seventeen billion naira (N17Bn) to constructing a one kilometer fly in Ado-Ekiti, a state where there are low vehicular traffic on a daily basis? The contract which Nigerian society of Engineers have accessed should not have gulped more than four-Billion (N4Bn) was also commissioned with Fayose spending Six Hundred Million Naira (N600m) on jamborees and festivities on the day of the commissioning. Realizing that he might not be remembered for anything tangible in his second term, Fayose hurriedly went into frenzy, demolishing houses in Ado-Ekiti with a view to building an ultra-modern market.
After the initial braggadocio, which is peculiarly Fayoseâ€™s, work has since stopped on the new market construction as those whose houses were demolished continue to sulk and count their losses. It is the same fate that befell farmers in Kajola village, an outskirt settlement in Ado-Ekiti, when two years ago, Ayodele Fayose got into frenzy and declared he wanted to build an airport in Ado Ekiti. He mobilized his bulldozers to site and before anyone knew what was happening, thousands of hectares of Cocoa plantation and farmlands have laid in ruins. Farmers grieved, wept uncontrollably as their fortunes turned to misfortunate under the grim supervision of Governor Fayose and his goons. Till today, nothing has been heard about the still-born airport idea. Yet, the farmers have not been paid their entitlements in terms of compensation while their farms that used to be a source of joy and livelihood have become waste land.
Most pathetic about the mis-governance in Ekiti under Fayose hegemony is the state policy on taxation that includes the pupils and students in its primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. While these students and pupils enjoyed free and qualitative education during the first term tenure of JKF, Fayose, the Oshokomole reversed the trend by subjecting the pupils and indeed the students in its educational institutions to varying degrees of taxation. Workers are made to accept a discounted salary without their consent and all other types of atrocious taxes.
The government of Fayose has arrogantly instituted mediocrity in the state by organizing special WAEC and JAMB centres for the students in its secondary schools. Today, the lowly-educated Oshokomole would boast of how Ekiti schools have moved from the back position on national educational advancement in WAEC results to the front position. In his usual elements, he wonâ€™t be fair enough to admitting to the fact that the state has achieved this â€œinglorious featâ€ through a callously sponsored â€œcheating centresâ€ in the schools by his administration. At the end of the day, the competence and capabilities of this type of school certificate holders can be better imagined than experienced. All of these and a thousand others have been the lot of the Ekitis in the last three and a half years of Governor Fayose. As at the time of writing this report, no fewer than 30 towns, cities and villages in Ekiti have remained perpetually in blinding darkness for the most part of Fayoseâ€™s misrule. Today, unemployment, anger, hunger and disease have hallmarked the life of the Ekiti people.
The emperor in power has succeeded in reducing the people to second-class citizens living on the fringe of existence as they have been completely impoverished. All the laudable social security programmes instituted by JKF in his first term have long been jettisoned. A visit to any community in Ekiti will reveal despondency and hopelessness by the people who were once living in affluence and abundance. What an irony of life? In the past, it is not uncommon to hear an Ekiti man boasting about his fortunes. Today, he has lost all that honour and dignity, no thanks to Governor Ayodele Fayose. I grew up in Ekiti to learn about the inspiring dignity of an Ekiti man who was ready any time any day to call off the bluff of an arrogant neighbor or fellow by saying in the local parlance: â€œmii je loreâ€ meaning literally, I donâ€™t feed from your handâ€ or â€œyou donâ€™t feed meâ€. Today the reverse is the case, courtesy of Fayoseâ€™s wicked contraption called â€œstomach infrastructureâ€. The policy is one inhuman enactment that has emasculated the treasured dignity of an Ekiti. It is a ridiculous creation by Oshokomole to degrade our people and reduce them to faithless beings who could no longer see or discover the latent potentials in themselves as people of great ancestry.
Today, the situation in Ekiti is pathetic. Indeed, what Fayose has done to them is incredibly unforgiveable, and unconscionable. He has committed sins against the Ekiti people who are naturally meek without being weak, arrogant without being rude, fastidious without being crude and resilient without being stupid. Indeed, Governor Ayodele Fayose has in the past few years in the saddle callously altered the value-orientation of the Ekitis through deliberate policies of subjugation and impoverishment that have been deceitfully and inelegantly designed and camouflaged as grassroots politics. It is nothing close to genuine grassroots politicking in any way.
Thankfully, the lies and deceit of recent years have eventually exploded in the face of Fayose as most of his trusted former allies, aides and political appointees have continued to desert him. They have since continued to open up on the many years of deceit and falsehood that characterised his tenure. As they leave in droves, Fayose has been running from pillar to post not knowing how to arrest the tide that may eventually consume him. From the way and manner he has been raising all sorts of alarm, it is crystal clear that Oshokomole is now at his tetherâ€™s end.
Consequently, the Ekitis at home and in the Diaspora should see the forthcoming governorship election as a great opportunity to stop Fayose and his surrogate Deputy Governor, Prof. Olusola Eleka, whom he planned to install as successor. The Ekitis must resolve in one collective breath to put an end to Fayoseâ€™s inglorious influence by voting en masse for Fayemi in the July 14 election. The election should offer all Ekitis the right opportunity for atonement in electing Fayose in the first instance.
While the people did not of their own volition elect him in the true sense of the word, they have actually acquiesced as he mis-governed. Now is the time for Ekiti electorates to reject Fayose and his proxies. They must say never again to the Ajele politics that has reduced them to second- class citizens and allow a collective rescue mission. The reclamation battle should be fought and propagated as Ekiti ancestors successfully routed the Ibadan hegemons during the Kiriji/Ekiti Parapo wars. It is not over until it is over! The time to say â€˜Never againâ€™ is now!
â€“John Ajayi, FNIMN, NGE, is a veteran journalist, social commentator and Publisher/CEO of MARKETING EDGE MAGAZINE, a leading marketing and advertising publication based in Lagos State