The urgent task before Fayemi in Ekiti

The brown and white envelopes, the strips that once held bundles of notes of various naira denominations and other souvenirs of voter-persuasion infrastructure will now be cleared off polling stations and streets from Ado-Ekiti to Ikere. Another Nigerian election has taken place and, regrettably, not a lot has changed as to whether political parties trust their manifestoes and promises enough to not support them with voter-buying on Election Day.

By most credible accounts, July 14 will go down as one of the most brazen spectacles of shameless trading in votes. Nevertheless, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deemed that Kayode Fayemi, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the contest, satisfied the conditions required by the Constitution and declared him the elected Governor of Ekiti.

We will take that, at least until there is an official contrary opinion should any of the aggrieved losers seek one. Fayemi and co will pay little attention though. Having resigned from his Abuja job in June to seek the Ekiti Government House, there will be one thing on his mind; to reclaim lost time since making way in 2014 for the man he will now replace. In this second coming, Fayemi meets a job description with a more pressing urgency than in his first stint. A friendlier relationship with the Federal Government this time and without the fear of an ouster in a re-election bid, history beckons on Fayemi to provide leadership and service in Ekiti in a way no one has until now.

Peter Ayodele Fayose, for all his bluster, his acumen at watching “like a bat” and his popularity as a “politician of note” who fries garri with women, was unable to deliver on the landslide of goodwill that won him all of the state’s 16 Local Government Areas four years ago. His administration was fundamentally more about challenging and opposing every policy emanating from the Presidency. While that served a vital purpose of putting pressure on the Federal Government to do right, Fayose did too much to equate Ekiti to himself so much that more than a few persons taught he was still in contention for another term in the just concluded polls.

Fayemi, unarguably more measured and circumspect in his mannerisms, is definitely not expected to tow that line of pugnacious personal promotion but that does not mean the bar will be any lower. For starters, he cannot afford to take the time it took for him to be appointed a Minister by Buhari to set up his own cabinet; he will already be on a strong path to becoming a massive disappointment if there are no Commissioners 30 days after he is sworn-in.

Security should, without doubt, be top of Fayemi’s agenda; it is his principal duty as the Governor of the state. He should not blush to be as firm as Fayose has been though we can expect him to word his approach differently. Tensions around the country relating to farmers and herders clashes have not penetrated the state but Ekiti, or any other state, cannot afford laxities regardless of political affiliation. Any change for the worse in Ekiti state’s status as it relates to peace and order will be a marker for assessing Fayemi.

Fayose, the actor-pastor-chief-executive, preached and posed much but His Benignity did not consider it a priority that workers should have their wages when due. For a state whose civil servants are famed for being the anchor and livewire of its economy, the need to clear backlogs of salary arrears and pay those of subsequent months should not be taken lightly. Fayemi may want to reignite the campaign from his first term to plug leakages in the state’s civil service but no legitimate worker should go hungry because he is carrying out a purge.

Above all, Fayemi’s kick for a chance at redemption in Ekiti would have been worthwhile if, by 2022, he has offered the kind of leadership that raises the vision and expectations of the people. If he is a “progressive”, Ekiti people should be able to ask more questions of their government and receive sufficiently transparent answers. Commendably, Ekiti is one of 15 states whose budget can be found online according to a recent analysis in BudgIT’s State of States report. The incoming administration must ensure that budgetary and contracting information in the fountain of knowledge be related to the public to drive a participatory process in which citizens are active players in the development of the state. All forms of progress, economic and political, have their roots in the people’s ability to make demands and contribute to the decisions being made for them.

It is in the best interest of Ekiti for Fayemi to be fully focused on the state’s well being amidst the distractions that are sure to emanate from the 2019 campaign season. Indeed, the atmosphere to perform may become like 2014 should his immediate past boss fail to win re-election next February but that will not be an excuse. There will be no hiding place.

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