Tunde Fagbenle: Setting the record straight on Ekiti

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by Tunde Fagbenle

Last week’s column on my visit to Ekiti State and the good job Governor Kayode Fayemi is doing raised a few eyebrows and drew the ire of one professor aburoof mine abroad, who was virulent in his attack. But the good thing is that an overwhelming majority of readers shared my views and were grateful for bringing to light the ray of hope in our otherwise gloomy horizon.

Here’s the edited version of what the professor wrote. I withheld his name since it was a private mail.

Dear Uncle TF:

I just read your piece on the miracle KF has apparently wrought in Ekiti.

Between us: I find it absolutely disgusting. Your piece is an epitome of exactly the kind of journalism that will ensure that we do not progress as a nation.

I apologise if my language sounds harsh. You know how much I respect you, and where my political sympathies lie with respect to KF himself. That will never change; but yours is the kind of ‘endorsement’ that KF does not need.

If, indeed, he has transformed Ekiti into a little paradise, which I very much doubt, that is his job, and he should be allowed to do it in peace. He should not be praised for it — at least not in the pornographic manner in which you have gone about it.

Uncle TF, It does not matter whether or not you were paid to write it. It’s an abuse of forum and an attack on journalistic impartiality.

Our country, facing a severe crisis, deserves better than this, and you know it.

Respectfully as always,

Name withheld.

To which I then responded:

Ojogbon ati Amoye …

I’m not shocked by your vituperation, in case you think I will be! But, nevertheless, it is appreciated and taken in the spirit I presume you want me to.

Listen, though: you are wrong in thinking I am a ‘journalist’ in the strict sense of it. And I don’t pretend to be one either. So, all this talk about the ‘kind of journalism’ and ‘journalistic impartiality’ is not my cup of tea, for real. I am an opinion writer and one who doesn’t pretend to be value-free.

The greatest columnists the world has seen write their own opinions unabashedly, be it for a cause or in damnation of one. And, in my opinion, the business of a columnist is not to get into some “balancing” rubbish or give a load of “facts and data” like an encyclopaedia.

I write it “the way it is” from my viewpoint and my heart. And I always try to be upfront with my bias or value where and when necessary. I don’t make pretences.

Fundamentally, I’m guided in my writing by my own four-way rule — Is it verifiable truth? Is it free of any inducement? Is the cause deserving of praise or damnation? Is it in the overall public good?

And, coming to praising the Fayemis or Fasholas or Aregbesolas for even what is “his job,” I subscribe to the theory or principle propounded by sociologists (like you) of “positive reinforcement” — which needs no explanation. I think they should be praised for doing their job when doing it well, and lash out at them when and if they fail or disappoint. I have no problem with that.

I’ve gone over the piece and I am happy with it, in all honesty. We need guys like this and they need our praises and encouragement, and not for us to just be finding fault in the belief that that’s the way to “keep them on their toes.”

Professor, lo wa’se se! Agba ‘n’ t’ara mi!

TF

If I should expatiate further, all over the world, people who have excelled in their job that they are “paid” and meant to do still get honoured and praised on occasions, hence you have reputable organisations (and nations) giving awards of “Banker of the Year” “Governor of the Year,” etc.

Some readers have wondered if I really could write differently, considering the fact that I was in Ekiti on the invitation of the governor. The honest truth is that I certainly would not come out speaking falsely, and would not count pedestrian activity — like “boreholes” and “transformers” — as an achievement.

This column started about 16 years ago under the logo Damn It. Of course, I was much younger and was out to just tear and tear and tear, for which I became “Eleke eebu” (a rude person). I have a friend who would say the column is “not sweet” if I am not blasting someone or another.

Then it became All Abroad in Abacha years, and subsequently underwent a couple of other metamorphoses.

That’s my column: Saying It The Way It Is!

Dear Sir,

I read your column in the Sunday PUNCH of December 23, 2012. I must say all you wrote is absolutely the truth. I visited Ekiti State for the second time in many years and I was totally amazed at the level of development I met.

Governor Fayemi has turned the state into a construction yard of sorts. Everywhere I turned to had gravels, sand, tractors and, most importantly, workers, who were seen working on the projects. So, it wasn’t like the usual abandoned projects.

I am so, so, proud of this progressive Nigerian. He is doing a very great job. He is definitely the kind of leader Nigerians are looking for. I urge other non-working governors to please take a drive down to Ekiti State and learn from the master strategist.

—Mesimo ‘Damilare

damilaremesimo@yahoo.com

Dear Egbon,

Compliments of the season to you. I’ve just read your column in the Sunday PUNCH. Nice one; but please, also try to focus on some PDP states. Some of the governors are doing well.

—Femi Alafe-Aluko

femialafealuko@rocketmail.com

Femi,

I welcome information on any such governor of any state, regardless of his party affiliation, who is performing well!

E ku ojo meta.

TF.

Dear Sir,

You are right about the “quiet revolution” going on in Ekiti State. You may not believe it: my wife and I missed the way to my in-law’s compound the last time we visited Ado-Ekiti.

God bless Dr. Fayemi and the team.

—Pastor Paul Kilanko.

Dear Mr. Fagbenle,

Thank you for your write-up on Ekiti State today. I also wish to thank Dr. Fayemi and his team for trying to restore the glory of Ekiti.

The last time I travelled to Ikogosi, I felt the same way you felt. I am a development economist, a retired don of Obafemi Awolowo University. I felt that Fayemi is not only doing Ekiti sons and daughters proud, he is proving that theoretical policies can be made practical. He is proving we don’t have to join them; we can beat them.

More power to your elbows, Governor Fayemi. I am praying for you and your team.

—Dr. (Mrs.) Feyisayo Odejide (nee Bewaji).

Dear TundeFagbenle

Thank you, sir, for your column on Ekiti State. Fayemi must have read all your praises on Aregbesola and wanted you to do the same for him.

Those roads were done before Fayemi came; in fact, he could not maintain Ifaki-Omuo road which I pass regularly to Kabba.

You are a highly respected writer. Please, get away from praise writing.

Prof. Adeniran, Ilorin.


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