The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi recently organised a retreat for his political appointees. The event featured former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola and ex-Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima. The trio identified good governance as the best way to ensure continuity in government. Victor Ogunje writes on the submissions of the political giants
On Thursday, December 2, 2020, Governor Kayode Fayemi organised a retreat for top government functionaries in Ekiti State to appraise the level of development his government has garnered in the last two years. This he thought would help him in formulating helpful and apposite policies that would make him consolidate on the dividends achieved for the next two years before he bows out.
Since 1999, Ekiti is one state that has defied all odds and permutations in succession plan due to its peculiarities. No political party has been able to maintain any stronghold on the state or rule for eight unbroken years . With the deft position he has taken, the governor seems determined to bring a paradigm shift by defying odds to have a successor installed from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
To corroborate this fact, in the 2003 general elections, Otunba Niyi Adebayo of the then Alliance for Democracy was defeated by an underdog, Mr Ayodele’ Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In a worst scenario, Fayose couldn’t even finish his tenure, as he was impeached in 2006 in a controversial manner.
In the same vein, Chief Segun Oni , who took over from Fayose in 2007 was removed through judicial means in 2010 with Fayemi of the Action Congress of Nigeria ascending the throne.
In a dramatic fashion, Fayose schemed a comeback in 2014 and botched Fayemi’s second term bid. In a manner akin to a payback time, Fayemi also won against all odds in 2018 to mount the saddle as a governor for a second term.
Periscoping the above scenarios, one could easily decipher that Fayemi must be circumspect of the peculiarities of the state and should plan ahead for his succession plan to be successful.
This, the governor seems to have appreciated and started planning ahead to scale the hurdles for his much touted continuity in governance to be entrenched to consolidate the democratic dividends to the populace.
At the retreat, Fayemi brought two experienced former Governors of Lagos, Babatunde Raji Fashola and his counterpart from Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima to speak on the theme: “Finishing Well, Winning Against all Odds.”
Other experts who spoke at the high level retreat were renowned economist, Dr Ayodeji Teriba and Senator Olubummi Adetumbi, who dealt elucidatively with how to achieve impactful and successful tenure and entrench the culture of continuity in a democratic setting.
Fayemi said going by his past political experiences , that it would be foolhardy to take the electorate for granted and that the ‘banana peels’ could only be escaped if he wards off division within his cabinet by disallowing exhibition of covert inordinate political ambitions among appointees and divided loyalty to the policy thrust of government, which rests basically on making lives better for the people.
He added that it was instructive for him to assess how well his government has done in the last two years, so that injecting the culture of continuity through political moves in 2022 would be easier and attainable. He said there was a strongly- established nexus between good governance and continuity , describing the former as a springboard for the latter.
The governor knows the enormity of damage unnecessary cleavages within his cabinet can do to his succession plan and capacity to deliver on his promise. This spurred him to warn members of his cabinet that the next two years are crucial for the administration’s effort at making a difference in the lives of the people as well as building a lasting legacy.
This has made it incumbent on them to remain focused on improving service delivery and actualising the promises made to the people of the state as entrenched in the five pillars of his administration. He also advised those who might be distracted by the pursuit of interests other than the development agenda of the administration to quit honourably.
He branded good governance as a sine -qua- non to the sustenance of progressive governance that would provide the right direction and leadership for the people of state.
According to him, top officials of the government must not allow the collective mission to become impaired by personal pursuit, adding ” where it becomes impossible for anyone to stay in line with the rest of us, those who may want to priotise their next political move above the need to deliver our recurrent mandate would be allowed to seek the permission to excuse themselves so as to have time to focus on their individual ambition.”
Fayemi said: “What we cannot do at this time is to allow division, indiscipline, working at cross purposes to derail the work at hand, there is still a lot to be done in the remaining two years in spite of the many successes we have recorded.”
Governor Fayemi said the retreat, among other things, was held to review, evaluate and reflect on performance in the last two years, devise new strategies for services delivery, align new appointees with the vison and mission of the administration as spelt out in 2019 Iloko Declaration and to review policies in relation to budget, project and programmes.
According to him, the choice of both Fashola and Shettima was made unanimously by the planning committee members who felt Ekiti officials had a lot to gain from the experiences of the two former governors.
The governor too was careful by not mentioning those may likely take the baton from him. Likewise, he refused to speak about his future in politics after governorship, especially the rumoured 2023 presidential ambition that is no longer hidden.
In his highly witty and philosophical presentation, Fashola hailed the idea of mid- term retreat for performance evaluation. He appealed to Nigerian leaders to build their stewardships in the minds of the citizens for them to earn respect and enjoy enduring legacies after tenure.
Fashola posited that Fayemi and his team must focus attention on the cardinal objectives of his administration to earn the respect of Ekiti people.
“Nothing can be more successful than self measurement. I urge all of you to keep the word finishing well in mind. You all agreed on a goal, but the question to ask is that can we finish well ? We must ask ourselves especially those having political ambition who may want to place personal ambitions over collective gains.
“What does success mean ? If the five pillar policy thrust is well achieved, then there is success. keep your focus on the agenda of government . Remember that finishing well would mean that you remember that this government is a product of APC, which believes in propagation of ideals of progressivism, Which means continuous improvement of human conditions.
“This is a step towards finishing well. And when you finish well, you will see the credibility of your government with the people and this makes it compulsory that we must stay connected to the people .
“I am not unmindful of the limited resources, but prioritise the needs of the people. You must do things based on public opinion polls and engagements with the people.
“Take critics as challengers, not enemies. Those who asked you to do more are not ungrateful people. If they ask you to do more, it is a vote of confidence on your person and government.
“Build your stewardship on the minds of the people. How do you react to those that suffered to elect you. How do you react to their messages and calls? Is it with laughter or irritation? All these are issues we must also take into cognisance” .
Sharing his experience as two- term Governor of Lagos State, Fashola charged the political appointees to take ownership of governance and remain focused in delivering the mandate committed to their hands by Ekiti people.
He also urged them to see criticism as necessary ingredient of growth. “When they ask you to do more, see it as a vote of confidence in your ability” he counselled.
Senator Shettima who spoke on ” Making a Choice of Successor”, identified competence, patience, capability, integrity, maturity and acceptability as key factors to be considered in nominating a successor.
The Senator representing Borno Central, Kashim Shettima, appealed to Fayemi to resist the temptation of imposing a successor in 2022, by allowing the system to produce a capable leader after him.
He stated that he was able to lay a solid legacy in Borno State because he never allowed the challenge of Boko Haram insurgency defineq his government or distracted him, saying he perceived it as part of the challenges of leadership.
He appealed to leaders in Nigeria to always place high premium on competence and capability in appointing leaders against other primordial considerations.
In what appears like a rare and enigmatic display of native intelligence during his succession battle in 2019, Kashim stated that: “When I was in Borno State, I ensured that my team was focused and determined. I was monitoring every dime that was being spent in every ministry.
“Apart from that, we must remember how ephemeral our tenure is and the vanity of power as well as the need to treat people with dignity.
“Competence, capability, integrity and maturity and depth of appreciation and acceptability by the general public are better considerations in politics than promordial sentiments.
“In 2019 elections, 21 people wanted to succeed me. They were all close allies , but I understood the politics and allowed the system to produce my successor. Leadership is not about friendship or relation, but about who can deliver and make democracy meaningful”.
In his submission, the Senator representing Ekiti North, Olubunmi Adetumbi, who recalled the milestones achieved between May 2019 when the first retreat was held and this year, said it was heart warming to note that the state is now in the news for the right reasons.
The Senator , who is an economic expert , urged the Ekiti government officials to work towards making the state self sustaining in terms of economic development. This, he said would be achieved by building on current achievements in agriculture and other sectors.
the choice of both Fashola and Shettima was made unanimously by the planning committee members who felt Ekiti officials had a lot to gain from the experiences of the two former governors. The governor too was careful by not mentioning those may likely take the baton from him. Likewise, he refused to speak about his future in politics after governorship, especially the rumoured 2023 presidential ambition that is no longer hidden. In his highly witty and philosophical presentation, Fashola hailed the idea of mid- term retreat for performance evaluation