Segun Ayobolu Struts and Wobbles On Ekiti Elections, By Olayinka Oyebode
Reading Segun Ayobolu’s “researched piece” on Ekiti June 21 election, which is essentially a diatribe against Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi titled : “Further Thoughts on Ekiti Polls” in his back page column in The Nation Newspapers last Saturday, one must extend deep sympathies to Ayobolu as he toiled laboriously, employing all the lies he could muster and expired beer parlour gist, to deconstruct Governor Fayemi and find justification for the highly controversial loss of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the election.
Placed side by side with his first opinion article on Ekiti election published by the newspaper a week earlier, one cannot but wonder what has changed (within the space of a week) in Governor Fayemi’s personality, politics and record of achievements in office as well as the inter play of forces that marred the fairness of the election and, of course, its highly suspicious outcome? In taking it further, one may also ask what has changed in Ayobolu’s mindset, sense of value, judgement and decency? For, at best, his July 5th article is nothing but a cocktail of outright lies, mischievous innuendoes, outbursts of personal animosity and very crude and shallow inferences and conclusions.
While one may not necessarily query Ayobolu’s license as a columnist to reach a conclusion that suits his fancy or his decision to portray himself as a hack writer in his desperate bid to re-write history, one can at least set the record straight for the sake of the newspaper’s teeming population of readers and the general public who could be misguided by the discredited article.
For the avoidance of doubt, nothing could be farther from the truth than Ayobolu’s claim that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Candidate , now Governor-elect, Mr Ayodele Fayose would have won the June 21 election with or without the security onslaught on APC members. A thorough investigation of the events preceding the June 21 election and the election proper, especially the controversy trailing the ballot materials would have guided the writer. Ayobolu’s conclusion that the outcome of the election was a rejection of Governor Fayemi and not APC is rather unfortunate, especially coming from someone who ordinarily should know better.
Perhaps in Ayobolu’s haste to crucify Governor Fayemi, he alluded that the Governor lost his ward to Fayose. The truth is that in spite of the “abracadabra” (the more you look the less you see) nature of the election, the Governor still won his unit and ward. The result as released by INEC is as follows: Unit 09: APC (Fayemi) – 167; PDP (Fayose) – 1; LP (Bamidele) – 0.
For the ISAN/ILAFON/ILEMESO Ward : APC (Fayemi) – 2,022 and PDP (Fayose) – 261; LP (Bamidele)- 06. It becomes worrisome where Mr Ayobolu got his own version of the result, which he tried, howbeit crudely, to rationalise by claiming that the people of Isan were unhappy that the Fayemi administration did not do anything for the town.
Aside the fact that the town, like any other community in Ekiti State, got its own fair share of the commonwealth in form of free medical health, free education, youth empowerment, school renovation, social security for elderly citizens and community empowerment programmes, the newly established College of Agriculture is located in Isan Ekiti. The N750 million project with modern facilities is built on an expanse of land in the community.
Ayobolu’s suggestion that the Wife of the Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi had a university in Ghana, is perhaps the unkindest cut of all. While the first family had on numerous occasions debunked the allegations and challenged anyone to come up with facts- name and location of the university, it is unbelievable that a writer would join the bandwagon of such a criminal allegation without stopping to ask a few pertinent questions such as the name of the institution, its location and principal officers. Mr Ayobolu, in his bid to give credence to the lie said the Governor had remained silent over the matter, therefore, his conclusion was that the allegation was true. This, he wrote in order to justify his claims that the Governor only succeeded in empowering a few of his cronies while he left others in abject poverty. Sadly, Ayobolu’s Ghana University tale falls into the same mould of the now expired mudslinging of the Opeyemi Bamidele-led Labour Party. Need we ask Ayobolu his source of information again ?
Not satisfied with the Ghana University allegation, Ayobolu went a step further to claim that Governor Fayemi “had built an imposing country home in Isan in his first year while most of the people remained immersed in poverty”. This is a lie from the pit of hell. The Fayemis’ country home has been built before he became Governor. Indeed, the Isan country home was part of the assets declared by the Governor in his Code of Conduct Bureau asset declaration deposed to at the Registry of the State High Court, Ado-Ekiti, on November 15, 2010 barely a month after assuming office. Details of the asset declaration were also published in some national dailies on December 19th, 2010.
In Ayobolu’s assertion, Governor Fayemi- his friend- became inaccessible immediately he assumed office and that the “brilliant, humble and unassuming Fayemi” was later “turned by power to haughty, hubristic governor, almost contemptuous of his party and people”. Then he was never Fayemi’s friend, for this is exact opposite of what Fayemi represents. Ayobolu also claimed that in the course of his “investigation”, a legislator told him he could not access the Governor.
Well, I can tell you of countless ordinary citizens that access the governor direct daily on his telephone and email address which are well publicised and who can access him at home, in the office or at social or official functions, depending on the approach they so wish to take. Others have their days with the Governor during his regular interface with interest groups or the town hall meetings he holds across the 132 communities yearly and which has become a benchmark for participatory democracy in the country, where communities have rare opportunities to juxtapose their developmental priorities for the year with that of government and make ample contributions to budget planning.
Quite embarrassing to truth and all that is decent is Ayobolu’s attempt to demonise a former Governor of the state, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, whom he tried to portray as the cankerworm that destroyed Governor Fayemi’s moral fibre and political base through his insatiable appetite. There is no denying the fact that Ex-Governor Adebayo as a former governor of the state and a respected leader of the party is accorded much respect by the government the same way other noted leaders of the party are well treated. But Ayobolu went off the track by stating that Otunba Adebayo nominated two commissioners into the cabinet and had his 22 years old son as a Special Adviser on Diaspora Matters, in addition to five other cousins of his manning strategic positions.
A click on the state website is all Ayobolu needed to have done to get the list of Commissioners and Special Advisers in the government as well as their telephone contacts. As a matter of fact, the position of Special Adviser on Diaspora Matter does not exist in the state. It only exists in the fickle imagination of the writer. What we have is a Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Diaspora. His name is Mr Femi Adefolaju from Ire Ekiti.
If legal luminary and renowned Ekiti Brand Ambassador, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN) is accorded respect as an Ekiti icon and an entrepreneur extraordinaire who has impacted positively on the socio-economic development of the state, what is Ayobolu’s problem with that? Baba Afe, as he is fondly called, remains the highest employer of labour in Ekiti State today with his thriving private university- Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti and other business concerns. His philanthropic gestures also cut across the country. He surely has a right to his own opinion.
Ayobolu’s attempt to bring in the personality of APC leader and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to the picture is a crude attempt at manipulation. His claims that Asiwaju was kept at arm’s length by the Governor in preference for other “godfathers” is most ridiculous and needless. The Governor never for once shy away from acknowledging the role played by Asiwaju Tinubu in the actualisation of the mandate as well as his support for the government and his re-election bid.
Blaming Fayemi for the exit of Hon Opeyemi Bamidele from APC is most appalling. It shows Ayobolu’s shallow knowledge of politics. May be Ayobolu needs to be reminded of the number of serving commissioners that left the Asiwaju Tinubu’s administration when the lot fell on Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) as the governorship candidate of the party in the run off to the 2007 election in Lagos State. As a matter of fact, the then Deputy Governor, Mr Femi Pedro left the party as part of the fallout. It is also on record that the late Engr Funsho Williams left the Alliance for Democracy (AD) after Asiwaju Tinubu emerged as the preferred candidate of AD for the 1999 election. The question is: were there genuine efforts by the Governor and other leaders of the party to prevail on Hon Bamidele not to leave the party when he did? The answer is YES! But the efforts failed, it was like squeezing water out of stone. Thus, it was more of a collective failure.
Considered most unfortunate is Ayobolu’s deliberate efforts to adduce several reasons for APC loss in Ekiti and blaming it strictly on Fayemi, while exciting himself with the fact that the Osun election would be a walk over. If Ayobolu, with his training and exposure in politics and government could boldly declare that all was well with the Ekiti election at a point the party was set to challenge the outcome, then he is of all men most pitiable. The danger in Ayobolu’s attempt to crucify “his friend” is that he might just be unwittingly strengthening the hands of the very enemy they ought to fight collectively. Like the kietergard’s theatre where the actor shouted “fire”, whereupon the audience clapped and shouted “bravo”, Ayobolu and many of his likes seem not to recognise the warnings that the Ekiti election portend.
On a final note, Ayobolu’s allusion to the fact that he never asked nor got a bottle of coke from the government of Dr Kayode Fayemi is not only laughable, it is pettiness in its worst form. More than anything, it reduced his postulation to the joke of a national circus. And like an online commentator put it rather succinctly, may be the basis of the jaundiced write up was the refusal or inability of the Governor to offer the writer a bottle of coke. This he can choose to have now before power changes hand on October 16th. He may also choose to have it through the new kid on the block.
With his pen dripping with venom, Ayobolu’s piece is a classic case of a writer who needs urgent help. His analysis shows his disdain for rigorous research which is sine qua non to an informed commentary. Even though he claimed to have written a lot based on principle, his piece is not only in bad taste, it depicts a man in a hurry to sacrifice principle, truth and justice on the luciferian altar of exigency. A malicious fiction like his helps neither the writer nor the society.
Oyebode is Chief Press Secretary to Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.