by Sonala Olumhense
I join all of those who have congratulated Fayose, a man who defied all forecasts and his fragility at the edge of a waiting political burial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to return to the scene of the massive allegations against him.
The defeat of Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State last weekend is not the first time a state governor at the peak of his powers will be defeated. It will not be last.
But it has to be one of those odd occasions when a governor was so comprehensively trounced you are rendered speechless.
Governor Fayemi is a hands-on, conscientious man. I do not even know how he got into politics thing. Perhaps when you have advocated horticulture for so long and then find the chance to lay your hands on the tools, you opt to cut the tree yourself.
As everyone knows, political power did not come with any ease to him. And then for four years he set his hands to the plough. Nobody expected him to be a one-term governor. Until last week.
Fayemi was not defeated by just another candidate, or even a glittering unknown prince galloping in on a golden horse.
He was defeated by Ayo Fayose, a former governor of the state who, in the precincts of conventional wisdom, ought to have been in jail many moons ago on account of the disgraceful record he left behind when the people of Ekiti invested him with power 11 years ago.
As the world knows, however, it is not necessarily the place of the guilty in Nigeria to go to jail, and actual trial of Mr. Fayose for his crimes has barely begun.
Still, you imagined, fortified by conventional wisdom, that the people of Ekiti would have been harbouring dreams of vengeance, and waiting to extract their pound of flesh.
Last Saturday, they did no such thing. If anything, they embraced Mr. Fayose so warmly and so completely they incinerated conventional wisdom.
Instead of the language of conventional wisdom, they lifted Mr. Fayose up on their shoulders and hoisted him up on the throne. The electoral commission did not need to give him a certificate.
The numbers act like a laxative: for every vote an Ekiti voter gave to Fayemi, nearly two others gave theirs to Fayose.
Worse still, for every vote the governor received in Oye, the local council of his origin, Fayose picked up almost 20. And for every vote Fayemi got in Ado, the seat of the government, Mr. Fayose got three.
Independent observers were quick to give the election a stamp of approval. They also went ahead to publish compliments of the electoral commission, the security agencies, and the voters that are unusual in a Nigerian election.
Characteristically, Governor Fayemi himself conceded, swiftly and decisively, providing no self-serving room for doubt or duplicity.
I join all of those who have congratulated Fayose, a man who defied all forecasts and his fragility at the edge of a waiting political burial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to return to the scene of the massive allegations against him. Allegations that led to his impeachment, and include embezzlement, looting and murder.
Widely-cited among those allegations is the murder of five students of the College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti, in March 2004, and another of one Tunde Omojola in May 2005. There are many others that include intimidation and manipulation.
And then Fayose, who first went underground in the heat of battle, re-emerged, fraternizing and frolicking with any political party that would let him through the front gate. He joined the Labour Party, but failed to win a Senate seat. He appeared in the Action Congress of Nigeria, where he called the Peoples Democratic Party names, and worked for Fayemi.
The EFCC turns its head whenever someone mentions economic and financial crime, because those four words, in that order, appear in its name. But Nigerians know the agency lacks the character to confront such crimes in the country. It dances in the dark.
But the EFCC did eventually get something started on Fayose, arraigning him on corruption charges arising from his tenure, a now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t hunt for justice the commission swears is continuing.
Following last week’s election, the EFCC said the hearing, at the High Court in Ado-Ekiti, would continue on July 15.
The question is: how in the world did a man with his record win an election?
Before I confront that query, how did a man with his record, facing various charges in the hands of federal authorities, win his party’s nomination in the first place?
In my view, Fayose’s re-emergence is part of the ongoing negative re-engineering of Nigeria’s political landscape by the current government to give corruption respectability and acceptance.
Some reflections of the principle, or lack of it, include the state pardon granted the convict and ex-governor, Dipreye Alamieyeseigha; the government’s serial failure to honour the reports of its own panels of enquiry; the refusal to permit an open examination of any of its officials facing serious character issues; the president’s refusal to declare his assets; and his recent decision to withdraw the serious money laundering charges against Mohammed Abacha.
The PDP’s decision to allow, indeed encourage, Fayose to contest the party’s primaries and to pick him above others with less combustible resumes, is part of this pattern.
How did the man win the election? I do not know. Ekiti is one of Nigeria’s most enlightened, and I have no doubt that the people chose who they wanted. If the PDP put the distribution of money into play, there is no evidence that the All Progressives Congress did not; indeed there is evidence that both parties put the disbursement of rice into play.
How Fayose persuaded the Ekiti electorate to accept him, a man that for several years they appeared to want behind bars—even if he distributed money—is something that History will explain. I respect the decision of the voters.
But Fayose carries with him his seedy past that will not be diminished by his regaining the governorship. The only problem is whether a government that is defined by negative ethical principles will permit one of its agencies to embarrass a man it has anointed.
In recent times, the PDP and President Jonathan have suffered great reverses in the hands of the opposition, including the ignominy of having several governors decamp. Will they permit the EFCC, an agency they control, to compromise their unexpected triumph in the key state of Ekiti?
I do not think so.
The current administration has implied again and again that character and integrity are unimportant, and last weekend’s vote in Ekiti appears to support that thesis. Will the administration now support a process which suggests it is questioning its entire philosophy?
Again, I do not think so.
As a result, I fully expect the EFCC, because like other federal agencies it is integrity-challenged, to treat the Fayose case with characteristic ineptitude, and do exactly what Abuja dictates. It is not, and has not been a search for accountability; it is just politics.
In the end, Fayemi’s loss of the governorship is less an Ekiti than it is a very deep comment on Nigeria. The monsters are impunity and immunity in a ghostly and ghastly embrace, applauded by their victims.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.