Victor Ogunje dissects a recent appraisal by former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose who poured glowing commendation on Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s outstanding political philosophy. He described him as the greatest builder of men. The vociferous politician castigated governors who have switched political party loyalty after meteoric rise to stardom on the platform of a particular party, while overtly expressing disdain for regional leadership in the Peoples Democratic Party
No one can debunk the fact that Nigerian politics is bitter and acrimonious. Politicians perceive the game as a turf for bullies. The culture of intolerance has permeated the political space to the extent that the ruling and the main opposition parties, as well as, their supporters see nothing good in one another.
Since the advent of pan-Nigerian democracy in 1951 up to the present time, the culture of bitterness has manifested so lucidly and ferociously.
In the First Republic, the ruling Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) and the South-west driven Action Group(AG) were arch enemies. The same scenario manifested in the Second Republic of 1979, when the National Party of Nigeria(NPN) under President Shehu Shagari and the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), propelled by Chief Obafemi Awolowo operated like cat and rat. The enmity also resonated among members creating an atmosphere of arson, maiming and killing.
Under the current regime, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP),have exhibited worse acrimony since the return of democracy in 1999. Friends easily turn into foes while operating on different political platforms, which contravenes democratic norms and the constitutional rights to join a political party of one’s choice.
As bad as this seems, the former Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose has positioned himself as one of those few vocal politicians who are averse to exhibition of enmity against persons in a different political party.
Before he bowed out of government in 2018, Fayose was the most vociferous critic of President Muhammadu Buhari. The former Ekiti Chief executive said he did that to protect democracy and not as a demonstration of hatred against the President, saying he never believed in morbid politics, for it breeds bad blood, conspiracy and death in the system.
Insisting that politics shouldn’t be a game of bitterness, Fayose showered encomium on former Lagos State Governor and the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu describing him as the best builder of men in the South-west and Nigeria, at large. Fayose never minced words as he adopted Tinubu as his leader despite the fact that he belongs to the PDP.
He expressed dismay that some, even within the ranks of the APC in the South-west, who had benefitted from Tinibu’s mentorship and benevolence were plotting with outsiders to dismantle the former Lagos State Governor’s political empire and influence. Fayose succinctly tagged this as an act of desperation and betrayal.
The former Ekiti governor who waxed philosophical said he would never join adversaries within and outside APC to whittle, plummet or shoot down Tinubu’s towering political stature, having done so well to promote younger people in the South-west and across the country politically and economically. Fayose said Tinubu’s detrabilistic mien and disposition has endeared him to many Nigerians and himself and that he deserves respect on this strength, regardless of politics, race, creed and interest.
” I am not championing the course of Senator Tinubu. I am not even in the position to champion his course, but there is no denying the fact that Tinubu is a prominent Yoruba leader, whether in APC or in PDP.
“There is no gainsaying that Fayose, is a also prominent son of Yoruba nation. Likewise, Governors Nyesom Wike, Ifeanyi Okowa, Okezie Ikpeazu, are prominent sons of Southern Nigeria. What I am trying to say is that, we can’t hide their identities and goodwill for political reasons. We can’t deny their contributions. Like other leaders from the North, for example, Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna, they have made different impact not necessarily like that of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
“Tinubu has paid his dues. I have paid my dues. Okowa has paid his dues. Wike has paid his dues. We need to acknowledge them. Balarabe Musa, who was a leader of note and repute, cannot be forgotten in history. For me, Tinubu, has paid his dues, I stand by that. I have not seen Tinubu after the Ekiti election, we have not by any means met even at a function.
“President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated me on my 60th birthday, does it mean we are on the same page politically? No, I have criticized him after that, so I will not sit down in any corner to shoot down Tinubu. I am not a member of APC and I will never be. But I supported Governor Fayemi to be governor by Tinubu’s influence at a time. I stand to say it again, if this politics is not playable again, I will return home and be the husband of my wife and the father of my children.
“Tinubu remains a figure like me, though I am not as powerful as him, but in my own world, I have my own followership who respect me and respect my political views all over the country and beyond. There are so many acknowledging me. That is why it is bad when you are on the other side of another political party, we cannot greet each other. That is not supposed to be the spirit.
“If anybody has not been greeting me and if I passed on, you now start rushing to my house to condole with my family, what manner of character is that? I will behave like that Senator in America, who says this particular President, Donald Trump should not attend his burial, that was Senator MaCain, who said President Trump must not attend his burial.
“The way political parties’ are structured today is not good, where a PDP member would be doing a function and APC would not be able to come. They see the truth like this and they would lie obviously. A good man should be acknowledged, anybody who is doing the right thing should be acknowledged.
” I will not sit down here and shoot Tinubu down, that is not my style and I don’t want to be shot down because I am not in APC. Today, I am waxing stronger, anywhere I go in the public, people in the airport, public areas acknowledge me. It gladdens my heart, because it clearly shows I am making an impact.”
Espousing his views further, the governor counseled those who perceived politics as a do or die game to have a rethink in the interest of the country. He urged politicians to learn how to acknowledge good products in politics and rever them for the country’s democracy to grow meteorically to a higher standard. He warned that plotting against a man who has given so much would erode the culture of mentorship and grooming of younger persons thereby endangering the future of this country.
” I am not holding brief for Tinubu, I cannot advise anybody. I can only say my views. have not seen Tinubu for about four years. What I am saying in effect is that, he has made his mark and the fact remains that shooting him down should not be an option. Okowa, Wike, Udom, Odili, Attah, and the like, they are people that cannot be run down when I am there. A government can’t come and try to rubbish them, you would finish your own and go.
“This Buhari, that people are praising now, they have shot him down many times before, the same people that are eating in his cabinet now . The same people that are calling him mini-god now were calling him tribalist and fanatical Muslim in the past.
” They have said so many things about him. I don’t care about what anybody would say, whether you call me APC, but I won’t be here to shoot down Tinubu, or any Yoruba leader.
” I am not a sectionist, these questions are coming because I am talking about Tinubu. I have just spoken about Balarebe Musa, prominent leaders of the North, the fact remains that, we are in a country where what we will eat is of premium priority to many, they don’t value honour and character.”
Fayose also lampooned some Governors and other political bigwigs who cross carpeting from one party to the other after being promoted to stardom. He said such action was bereft of honour and that he would never be part of it.
The former governor said he was particularly miffed and aghast by Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State’s recent defection from PDP to APC. Fayose rued the action and hinged it on lack of honour on the part of Nigerian politicians .
“I won’t be part of those that will jump ship. If we are fighting in PDP, let us fight it inside PDP. People who have risen to that level and jumping ship are armed robbers, they are people you can never be satisfied in life They are driven by greed and inordinate ambition. I can never do that and I will never do that. I am not satisfied with some things in PDP, but, leaving the party does not equally solve that problem.
“All these things are indicators of the type of leaders we have in our country who are without ideology .Leaders without ideology who go for only what they feel would benefit them. We haven’t seen worst things, we would still see more.
“That is why I say, our politics is sick. Everything in Nigeria is currently sick and is a function of the leadership that we have in the country. His coming to APC was unprincipled. We do not accept the excuses given by the governor.”
About the regionalization of party leadership in the PDP that had been causing a cold war between him and Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State as well as Senator Biodun Olujimi, Fayose maintained pointedly that leadership resides in the states and that going by this, he remains the leader of the party in Ekiti.
Fayose said he never claimed to be leader of the PDP in the South-west in spite of the fact that he was the sole PDP governor in the region between 2014 and 2018. He, however, promised that the conundrum caused by the seeming misunderstanding would be laid to rest in the interest of the PDP.
He said, “There is nothing to worry about. There is no power in the region. If Governor Makinde and I have issues, Nigerians should not worry themselves about that, it is not personal and more so, there is no power in the region. There is no regional government. Every power lies in the states.
“Structures in Ekiti, are different from structures in Oyo, structures in Oyo are different from structures in Lagos, so the regional thing they are emphasizing and overbloating goes to nowhere. There is no regional government, but there is state government.
“I was the one who went to flag off Governor Makinde’s campaign in Ogbomoso. So, what will be my joy is that he makes a success of his administration. I have nothing against him. We have been in this game for a long time. Whether he is backing Olujimi or not, the fact remains that the struggle for the structures of the party in Ekiti, has come and gone, so why do we have to fight over spilled milk?
“We won the congresses, they are in court, if the court says it is Olujimi that is right, we would follow her and if the court says she has no case, they should join us so that we can move the party forward. Let us pursue our interest legitimately in the manner that will create peace in the region. However, when a woman wants to leave you, she will make excuses to justify her action.”
Tinubu has paid his dues. I have paid my dues. Okowa has paid his dues. Wike has paid his dues. We need to acknowledge them. Balarabe Musa, who was a leader of note and repute, cannot be forgotten in history. For me, Tinubu, has paid his dues, I stand by that. I have not seen Tinubu after the Ekiti election, we have not by any means met even at a function. President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated me on my 60th birthday, does it mean we are on the same page politically? No, I have criticized him after that, so I will not sit down in any corner to shoot down Tinubu. I am not a member of APC and I will never be. I supported Governor Fayemi to be governor by Tinubu’s influence at a time