The Charm in Being Governor of Governors

Kayode Fayemi
Kayode Fayemi

Nseobong Okon-Ekong writes that the emergence of Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum is a challenge to his skills at rebranding

Commendations have understandably been flowing the way of Dr. Kayode Fayemi following his emergence as chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF).

The Ekiti State governor emerged the consensus of his fellow governors at the election for a new chairman of the group on Wednesday night. Understandably, Fayemi is the governor who has the distinction of having served previously before he failed to win a second term. Last year, he bounced back into reckoning when he won another four-year term as governor of Ekiti State. This must have been one of the strong points that recommended Fayemi.

The consensus on Fayemi came against predictions of a rancorous election to lead the association grouping governors of the two major parties in the country; the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the lone governor of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.

Fayemi’s natural joviality may have been in the consideration of some people paved the way for him to have become the governors’ governor. However, nearly everyone knows that in Nigeria’s slippery and sophisticated political setting, neither friendliness nor sociability is of serious advantage in the hustle for political ascendancy.

So, there is no doubt that the governors would have looked beyond the joy that is reflected in Dr. Fayemi’s natural beam. With their choice of Fayemi, it is a pointer that the governors have purposed to chart a friendly path with the different stakeholders that they have to relate with, including The Presidency. This is not to say that Fayemi can railroad his colleagues into decisions against their individual and collective will. But his disposition is certainly important.

A former journalist, lecturer, security expert and development consultant, Dr. Fayemi’s emergence as chairman of the NGF puts him in position to aggregate the recurring social agitations in the polity for harmonious resolution with the central authorities.

There is no doubt that Nigeria is presently faced with security concerns, a situation that at one time caused his immediate predecessor, Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State to consider abandoning his role as chief security officer of his state. Having Fayemi take over from Yari is a big challenge. With Yari as the Governor of Governors, the NGF, was not considered a serious pressure group. The body could not play its expected role because the man at the helm of its affairs was weighed down with credibility problems.

Remarkably, since Fayemi re-emerged as governor of Ekiti State, he has without much noise sustained the peace in his state even managing the delicate issue of the anti-grazing law championed by his predecessor. A former lecturer on security issues, Dr. Fayemi, is expected to rise to help champion a positive resolution to the security menace by harnessing the issues as provided by fellow governors and working in synergy with federal authorities to change the narrative.

There is no doubt that the security issue is likely to be a major consideration for all those enthused with the emergence of the Ekiti governor as chairman of the NGF. However, those who know his antecedents alongside his wife in the development sector will be stimulated to observe how the NGF during his time will approach the country’s developmental challenges.

In that direction, the governor would be expected to rekindle the NGF’s peer review mechanism that a few years ago became a central thrust for competitive development among the states in the country. Arguably, Fayemi will engender in his colleagues a sense of developmental competition.

It is unfortunate that in the last few years as politics took a central position in the NGF that the peer review mechanism among the governors took backstage. With Fayemi on the saddle, those who had wished for the sustenance of the programme will be definitely hoping to see a revival in one way or the other.

It is against this background of expectations that commendations for the governors as a whole have continued to flow. Remarkably, congratulations have come from across the political divide in the country, indicative of Dr. Fayemi’s good position to act as a mediator in terms of political bickering.

Among the first to congratulate him was Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the deputy president of the Senate, a major leader of the PDP. This is a loud testimony to the personality of Fayemi, his acceptability and ability to build bridges across partisan lines.

“Congratulations to His Excellency, Governor #Kayode #Fayemi and His Excellency, Governor #Aminu #Tambuwal on their election as new Chairman and Deputy Chairman, respectively, of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum, #NGF. “Their emergence as leaders of the influential body at a time of serious economic and security challenges like this is a call to an exacting service, but they’re equal to the task.

I also congratulate the NGF for the smooth and unanimous choice of leadership. I wish both leaders a successful tenure and divine guidance. All the best.”

The APC in a statement on Thursday also congratulated Fayemi on his emergence in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu saying:

“The NGF’s unanimous election of Fayemi to lead the Forum till 2021 is indeed a right choice judging by Fayemi’s proven record of progressive leadership and experience as a development expert, minister, governor, among other endeavours.

“Since its establishment, the non-partisan Nigeria Governors’ Forum has been a strategic partner in deepening democracy and entrenching good governance in the country. We are confident that the NGF under Fayemi’s leadership will continue in this best practice by cooperating and supporting the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration in delivering on the Change Agenda for Nigerians, particularly as the country gears up for the next four year of the administration’s renewed mandate.

“The APC wishes Fayemi a very successful and impactful tenure and look forward to cordial relationship between the NGF and the President Buhari-led APC administration. This undoubtedly will ensure the successful implementation of the Next Level plans for our collective progress as a country.”

One of the most profound words of commendation came from a political associate of the governor’s, Dr Olusegun Osinkolu who served as the director-general of the 2019 Buhari/Osinbajo Campaign.

In a statement on Thursday, he urged the governor to use his new platform to address the issues and contentions in the land.

“Governor Fayemi must be a vociferous voice against injustice in the land. He must place high premium on the benefit accruing to Nigerians rather than personal political pursuit for history to be fair to him.

“He should also be circumspect of the fact that those profiting from the deeply entrenched lopsidedness in our nation always loved to weaken the forum and throws it into crisis.

“Our dear governor must be conscious of this and prepare had to ensure a more cohesive body that can deliver democracy dividends to the Nigerian citizens.”

Dr. Fayemi’s job has indeed been well cut for him; the polity is waiting for him to act his role. How he is able to rebrand the NGF and lift the reputation of the group to attract more respect is one of the immediate challenges he has to tackle with a resolute determination.