Refuting the Theory of ‘Stomach Infrastructure’, By Olusina Akeredolu
I have had the privilege to read the article titled: “Ekiti’s Lessons for Democracy” written by Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, the Premium Time’s Editorial Board Chairman on the just concluded gubernatorial elections in Ekiti State and I disagree with his theory of ‘stomach infrastructure’ therein.
I want to first of all say that some of us who wrote articles in favour of Fayose prior to the elections must have had some guts. This is because many leading Nigerian newspapers including Premium Times and some notable citizen online media bluntly refused to publish them. Maybe they did this because of the way that Fayose unceremoniously left office in 2006 or as a result of the other sundry allegations leveled against him any of which has not been proved before any court of law till date. These newspapers and the online outfits that refused our said articles are in the best position to tell us why.
There is no doubt that Kayode Fayemi enjoys the support of his civil societies’ comrades within the media empire. He also made sure that he dominated all the hard print and online media to the disadvantage of his political opponents. One thing that now gladdens my mind is that despite Fayemi’s monopolised enjoyment of the media at the time, the outcome of the June 21 elections in Ekiti has proved our analysis right that he is not popular among the generality of Ekiti people.
Good that Jibrin Ibrahim acknowledged the fact that Kayode Fayemi was not rigged out but was voted out in theJune 21 elections. Many other observers also attested to this. That is the reason why Fayemi had no choice than to concede defeat. But there are many reasons why he lost in the election. It baffles me how the Nigerian press and all the well-known online media could pretend not to see many of Fayemi’s shortcomings right from the beginning of his tenure up to the time of the gubernatorial election in June 2014. Perhaps comrade’s solidarity has a role to play in Dr Jibrin Ibrahim’s labeling Ekiti state with his theory of ‘stomach infrastructure’ after the election. Some people interpreted this theory to mean that if Fayemi has embarked on policies that could create employment opportunities for many unemployed youth and peasant Ekitis, he would have won the June 21 election.
I told people with such interpretation that they got it wrong. That Dr Jibrin Ibrahim’s theory of ‘stomach infrastructure’ is to covertly portray the present Ekiti people as some valueless characters who sold their future for a temporary gift of rice and cash. Even Fayemi himself said something similar to this in his election result acceptance speech where he said: “Indeed a new sociology of the Ekiti people may have evolved. However, the task of understanding how the outcome of this election has defined us as a people will be that of scholars.” To me, these two statements by the two Drs showed that the result of the June 21 election clearly defined the present Ekiti people as a society that no longer cherish the value they have been known for by accepting from a ‘rouge’ what will temporarily fill their stomach in place of their future.
Adewale Adeoye, a member of an Ekiti forum was so overt to clear my confusion on how to interpret the ‘stomach infrastructure’ theory where he said: “To me, the outcome of that election has brought into sharp focus how deep the cesspool age-long institutional repression, corruption, loss of values have sunk this society, and how this has led to perversion of ethics which has now thrown a once glorious society backward, almost into the stone age” But the three of them got it wrong because feelers from Ekiti had it that the three major contenders in the election induced potential voters with cash and kind and there are pictures which showed rice packages by more than a single political party to that extent. So, it is insultive and unfair to say that the Ekiti people voted out the incumbent governor because of one “rouge’s” largesse to them.
Kayode Fayemi ought to know that he was taking the means of livelihood from the very people he professes to be serving when, in a swoop, he sacked 5,000 poor, rank and file local government employees to spite Fayose and Segun Oni. He ought to know that his action would not only affect the 5,000 people, it also affected all their family members who rely on them to go to school and feed. When ACN’s (now APC) political opponents, 6 of them from Awolumate in 2010 to Foluso Ogundare in November 2013 were being felled one by one under his government just because some people were decamping from ACN, what did he do to stop the violence which continued up to few days to the June 21 election? Why did Fayemi not publicly condemn any of those politically motivated killings? Even if he did not author any of them, his not condemning the dastardly acts or taking any step to stop the violence is an indirect approval of it. His not doing anything to sooth the anger of the victims’ families by visiting any of them is a minus to him and his government. The victims’ friends, families and communities were hurt by the killings and they all waited for the election’s day to show him.
Introduction of the Teachers Needs Development Assessment Tests was another policy summersault of his administration. Many of the teachers have been on that profession when Fayemi probably was still in his early years in the secondary school. You cannot subject people to a computer-age assessment tests they are not used to without first of all giving them training to that effect. His intention was to use the tests as a camouflage to weed many of the teachers from employment. Of course the teachers knew his intention and they resisted that insulting program.
Fayemi had earlier on subjected the school principals in the state to such tests the results of which he used to sack many of them and indirectly demoted many others to the position of vice-principal and to even lower positions when he merged schools. Those people have families and friends and all of them waited for the election date to pay him back. In fact, Fayemi realized his mistakes when he hurriedly reversed many of the policies some days to the election but it was too late. People already knew that policy reversal close to an election was a gimmick and that his second term would be more brutal and so, they decided not to give him that chance.
There are some other reasons why Ekiti people voted Fayemi out like his delay in the payment of students’ scholarship and bursary awards till the week of election. His refusal to pay the 27 % Teachers Pecuniary Allowance (TPA) until very close to election while at the same time he gave priority to donating cars to people of high places.
He reneged in his promise to keep the Ekiti State University tuition fee low when he raised it beyond every reasonable level. I even heard that he saw to the final end of the vestiges of the Odua Textile Industry, Ado Ekiti. Added to all these, Fayemi surrounded himself with very arrogant, unbending and hard-hearted advisers who blindfolded him and fed him with very wrong advices. Their ego would not let them know the time the governor should have reviewed his policies to give it a human face. That was why they would not know that whenever they sang their song: ‘JKF, ko duro s’oke’ (JKF, stay up there), the ordinary Ekiti people were also answering them with ‘e ta ni rubber, ko jabo s’Isan’ (fire a catapult stone at him up there to drop him at Isan, his home town).
Mr. Olusina Akeredolu is the Executive Director of Detainees and Indigent Help Center in Ado Ekiti