APC, Fayose and the Ekiti malaise

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Widely circulated and deeply offensive as Governor Ayo Fayose’s antics and methods are in Ekiti, it is his brutality or his infernal lies, or even his ignorant and cantankerous supporters, that grieve the heart of the judicious. What is in fact most noticeable about that state’s is the near total disintegration of the All Progressives Congress (APC), a morbid process that began once the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the June 2014 governorship poll. Mr Fayose swept into office on the magic carpet of lies, damned lies, fraudulent claims, thuggish disposition, and mindless populism. Indeed, his victory was incontrovertible, and even the several lawsuits filed against him to upturn his election have lost steam. Without doubt, Mr Fayose will sustain his governorship on the same diet of reckless lies, uncouthness and propaganda that have become his stock in trade, not caring a hoot what anyone thinks, and being loved and cherished by the yokels that caress his every word and extravagant posturing.

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The APC did not have to win the state a second time to keep the light of its civilisation burning, but once the state began its precipitous descent into the sewer, it became tempting for patriots to imagine what might have been had the progressives kept their heads and managed their politics fairly imaginatively. Though the embattled national leadership of the PDP appears to regret supporting Mr Fayose for last year’s governorship race, given his intemperate attacks against their persons and leadership, yet only someone with the talent to appeal to the basest and beastliest instincts of the electorate, someone like Mr Fayose, could have won that agonising poll. Whatever pose he strikes, whatever inanity he utters, and whatever braggadocio he exudes, the fact is that he is less of a problem to Ekiti than the confusion that afflicted the APC once the guns fell silent on that sanguinary electoral battlefield.

There is of course nothing fundamentally wrong with losing an election, whether to the wrong person or to the right party. That the APC lost is, therefore, nothing inherently disturbing. What is dismaying is the manner of their retreat from the battlefield. They simply fled once the battle pressed hard against them and the enemy swooped on them, and it did not matter what their ranks were. Generals, troopers and conscripts alike fled ignominiously, without dignity, without class, and without shame. More intriguingly, they have not really stopped fleeing. Three generals, to wit, Kayode Fayemi, Niyi Adebayo and Segun Oni, led the APC army, and they were routed. They were right to observe the unlawful and inordinate use of federal might against the APC, but that excuse was insufficient to explain their loss. And for a brief period they talked of scientific rigging, but even this excuse has lost steam.

Somehow, the generals didn’t quite understand that even if their loss was unwholesomely procured by the PDP using different and dangerous federal artifices, nothing excuses their inability or reluctance to provide strong, concrete and inspiring postwar leadership to their disheartened party supporters. Suffering from shell shock consequent upon Mr Fayose’s incendiary methods, nearly all the lawmakers on the APC platform announced their disinterest in seeking reelection. They followed their generals in that unexampled display of cowardice. Even though some of them offered what passed as plausible and even altruistic explanations, it was apparent none of them was willing to confront Mr Fayose’s brutally effective electioneering in the March and April elections. Consequently, the PDP again swept the polls, from the presidential to the legislative, in such a dramatic and overwhelming manner that had any other election being added to the constipative menu, Mr Fayose would again have rendered the APC absolutely knackered.

To pull the APC’s chestnuts out of the fire, the fleeing generals and their men have splintered into a number of groups in their effort to regroup and fight the rampaging Mr Fayose. There is the so-called mainstream APC led by Jide Awe, the APC state , former governor Fayemi, and his predecessor, Niyi Adebayo. This group is blamed for the ignominious defeat the party suffered in the last polls, including that of 2014, and its leaders are either in self-imposed exile or are seldom seen in the state to organise anything properly describable as opposition to the PDP. A second group within the APC led by Senator Babafemi Ojudu and Ronke Okusanya, a princess from Efon Alaye in Ekiti State, is ambitiously christened Action Group. Not much action has emanated from them, however, nor have they proved capable of even smothering the controversies and rivalries within the party. The third group is led by Opeyemi Bamidele, a one-time defector from the progressives rank to the Labour Party (LP). More popularly known as the Bibire Coalition, the group led by Mr Bamidele has also not found a way to make a dent on the reputation of Mr Fayose.

The three APC groups reflect the confusion and disunity prevalent among the progressives in Ekiti. Not only are they incapable of offering strong or credible opposition to Mr Fayose, they are themselves a study in weakness, lack of courage and lack of wisdom. Their present predicament is a culmination of bad politics right from their Alliance for (AD) days. The frictions and fractures could have been mended, but either hubris or lack of vision has prevented them from mending fences. Having thus fought themselves bitterly for many years, and after being unnerved and inundated by the effects of Mr Bamidele’s defection, they opened themselves up to Mr Fayose’s savage beating. And to claw their way out of the rat hole in which they are consigned, they have resorted to garish media activities, such as advertisements, and general, unsolicited media presence, both of which have proved completely ineffectual.

Mr Fayose’s perverse politics is merely a symptom of the general malaise afflicting Ekiti. Notwithstanding his obnoxious habits and deeply offensive morals, Mr Fayose will in the foreseeable future win any election held in that state. He is doubtless unravelling, for he cannot help being his troublesome, inane and populist self, but the process of his decay is not fast enough for the provincial laggards who admire him to comprehend his intolerably malodorous disposition. This is why both the low ranks and the elite cannot appreciate the implications to their civilisation and democracy of the perversion in the state legislature that has led to the suspension of the constitution. The state’s elite foolishly think they reserve the freedom and the power to curb Mr Fayose whenever they please. They should beware of riding the tiger, as the PDP national leadership is discovering, lest they end up in its stomach.

It was expected that even if the APC was so distracted and immature in their politics, the Ekiti people would sensibly and futuristically draw the line between their detestation of the progressives’ style and the enthronement of an appalling character like Mr Fayose. The malaise is thus complete, and there is no settling who is the preeminent villain in the state. Indeed, between Mr Fayose’s malfeasance, the electorate’s dimwittedness, and the elite’s shortsightedness, the Ekiti tragedy, of which the governor is nothing but the harbinger and human manifestation of gruesome tastes, is complete and implacable.

If that state is to be saved, if Mr Fayose’s buffoonery is to be knocked into a cocked hat, the progressives will have to put their best foot forward. Sadly, there does not appear to exist any altruistic and visionary politician in that state today able to claim and hold the moral high ground. Even if they make do with any of the leaders in the three APC groups active in the state, it will be because the logic of submitting to a flawed leader compels them to unaccustomed abnegation, not because the potential leader possessed the character to offer real, charismatic and intelligent leadership.