Nigeria Matters

Kayode Fayemi: Diminished Social Capital and pursuit of Indirect Rule

For all intents and purposes, Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress [APC], the incumbent governor of Ekiti State was a good administrator. He built durable roads, constructed modern offices to house government workers and he even came up with social security scheme for old and retired citizens. But on the day for his re-election, Fayemi political career was truncated and trounced by the victory scored by Ayodele Fayose of the People’s Democratic Party [PDP].

The victory by Fayose was almost incredible because he overwhelmingly defeated Governor Fayemi. Political observers and pundits were stunned by the zenith of the defeat; it was immense, staggering, dizzying and gigantic. While the governor-elect Fayose accrued total votes of 203,090, the incumbent governor, Fayemi came at a distant second with 120,433 votes. That was mind-boggling and difficult to assimilate!

The question everybody is asking; what happened? What transpired between the people of Ekiti State and Fayemi? There were many theories and unsolicited answers floating around on why the supposedly good governor was defeated.

One thing has been made clear, there was no hanky panky and there were no election irregularities and no quantifiable shenanigans. It was basically a fair and free election. The voters of Ekiti attested to the fairness of the election and United States Department of State assented.

US Department of State issued a press release on the election attesting on the validity of the outcome:

“The United States commends the people of Ekiti State, Nigeria, who turned out to vote in the June 21 gubernatorial election. U.S. Embassy and international observers assessed that the process was credible and efficient, and that security forces collaborated effectively in providing a safe environment free of major incidents. We congratulate Mr. Ayo Fayose on his election, and commend Governor Fayemi on graciously accepting the results. We urge all parties to accept the outcome as representing the will of Ekiti’s voting public.”

What really brought the imminent fall of Dr. Fayemi was his weak relationship with the people. His limited contact with the populace was misread and deemed elitism. Fayemi mismanaged his social capital by introducing indirect rule that squandered and diminished his political capital.

Indirect rule maybe the closest political terminology that describe the relationship between Fayemi and his citizens. Being the head of government is beyond the provision of social and physical infrastructures. The people and grassroots always desire to feel the organic presence of their leader. The contact with people was limited and that ultimately bankrupted his social capital.

In this case an outsider may not appreciate the people perspective and may characterize them as lacking in appreciation and even not being faithful. But democracy is not perfect and in some cases never come out the way we may like it. But in democracy the people are entitled to elect their leaders in a free and fair election.

Economist magazine, an important British based media was lopsided and elitist on its analysis on the Ekiti election. Economist magazine point of view was grossly patronizing and condescending; it focused and directed its analysis on blaming the people for electing the person they chose – Ayodele Fayose.

The Economist said that the “people plainly prefer the old “politics of the belly”, which keeps them comfortably on the state payroll and hands out cash in return for their votes. “We felt we had the people on our side, but the people themselves made this decision,” an aide to Mr Fayemi mournfully admits. “It is worrisome just how much enlightenment the electorate needs.”

The magazine concluded that:

“Indeed, the election was a clash between appeals to good governance on the one hand and the lure of old-school clientelism and populism on the other. Despite Ekiti having a relatively well-educated electorate, the old ways prevailed. This does not bode well for political reform across the country.”

Many of these political pundits and international media houses including the likes of Economist Magazine did not absolutely comprehend the intricacies of Ekiti politics. The citizens of the state are known for their resolute independence and free mind; and have never elected any of their past governors for second term.

The paucity of vim and vigor in the relationship between Fayemi and the people spelled and culminated his fall. Despite Fayemis’s intellectual infrastructure and pedigree, the populace rejected him at poll for a candidate more like them.

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