By Segun Dipe
“You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you” –Leon Trotsky
What does the phrase “star chamber” mean and why should Fayemi be a metaphor for it? The term star chamber is a pejorative one, and it refers to any secret or closed meeting held by a judicial or executive body, or to a court proceeding that seems grossly unfair or that is used to persecute an individual.
In recent time, traducers have come up against Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, CON, Governor of Ekiti State and Chair of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum. They have been taunting him with unprintable names. In their confused attempt at reducing his worth, they have been exaggerating it. In their futile attempt at disparaging him, they have been garbing him in a royal robe, presenting him as the “be all, end all” of Nigerian politics.
The reason for the above is not far-fetched. The traducers can’t stand the gut and conduct of Fayemi, especially in recent times as he incessantly plays prominent roles in the nation’s politics to justify his position as the NGF chair. Rather than appreciate him for that, they have been reading subterranean meanings to his unbolting pro-policy and bridge-building intentions.
In the imagination of the Fayemi haters and bashers, Fayemi must be tamed; otherwise his “sudden” soar may become a great threat to the ambition of some heavyweight politician. The only way to cut him to size, therefore, is to de-market him by any means possible.
But why should Fayemi be garbed in such a borrowed robe? Why should he be seen as the good, the bad and the ugly face of everything going on in the Nigerian political arena across all the 36 states of the federation plus Abuja, FCT? Did he attain such status overnight? If so, how?
No doubt, the reason for the series of polemics persistently hauled at Fayemi and his leadership style by his traducers is to compel him to confirm or deny their fear that he may eventually throw himself into the ring for the presidential contest, and by so doing affect the chances of an anointed candidate. Yet Fayemi, known for his taciturnity, has refused to go down the arena with his traducers. He would rather concentrate on the job at hand than engage in reckless discourse. By so doing, he is hurting them very badly with his silence.
The aim of this piece is not to speak for Fayemi. It is not to proclaim him innocent or guilty either. And it is not to take up the gauntlet against his real or perceived enemies. Rather, it is to play the devil’s advocate, help the haters search for reasons, if there are, so the world would see why and how Fayemi is being combated and judge for themselves it’s necessity or otherwise. After all, if it is the general assumption that the people should be well-informed, isn’t it also necessary for them to be knowledgeable and wise?
Dissing is allowed in politics. It is a pathological phenomenon that is not solely targeted at Fayemi. More often than not, the intention would be to de-market a suspected threat to an ambition. If his traducers have decided to concentrate on Fayemi this time around, it is because they have seen some qualities in him that are capable of threatening the chance of somebody who they are promoting. It has nothing to do with his personality at all, neither has it anything to do with what he is doing right or wrong. The action is a presumptive one and may not abate too soon.
Fayemi is not a rookie politician. He is not a pushover in political strategies either. He is neither a late comer nor just a professional in politics as some may have erroneously regarded him. He is a thoroughbred politician, whose presence pre-dated the start of the fourth republic. He has served and earned the respect of many top Nigerians since the beginning of the republic. He either consulted or outrightly worked for the presidents in one capacity or the other and across party lines without compromising his progressive ideology.
Presently Fayemi is serving his second term of four years as a State governor, which is the maximum term anyone could serve as governor of a state in Nigeria. As an icing on his cake, he is the current Governor of all governors in the country being the chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum, the first politician from the South West, dead or alive, to have ever held that position, And he has been using that opportunity to criss-cross the length and breadth of the country, brokering peace across borders without any cultural, regional or partyline constraint. He is tested and trusted. So, Fayemi’s credentials are strong enough to intimidate anyone and perhaps give some goose pimples. He is a leader in his own right and a force to reckon with. No one should expect any apology from him for that.
To confirm the substance in him, Fayemi, after serving his first term in power and losing controversially to the opposition party, PDP, the President from the same opposition still went ahead to decorate him with a national honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON). This is one of the highest honours in the land, instituted during the First Nigerian Republic and backed by the National Honors Act No. 5 of 1964. It is conferred upon Nigerians and friends of Nigeria who have rendered service to the benefit of the nation every year. Surely, these qualify Fayemi to take a seat among the top political leaders in the country.
Today, we are inundated with information, but knowledge and wisdom remain as scarce as ever. We are all drowning in the ocean of data, facts and opinions. Propaganda and fake news have taken over the public space and people have conditioned themselves to believing the lies more than the truth, no thanks to the miracle of digital technology. Whereas, what the people need now is not just more information, but more insight, not more data but more perspective, not more opinions but more wisdom. Much of what is called information is actually misinformed, and most opinions fall short of true knowledge, let alone wisdom.
The common view that politics is a dirty game is partially true, but it is not the whole truth. Perhaps, more than in any other arena, politics shows human at their worst and at their best, though we are all too familiar with the worst. Politics, in actual sense accommodates the good, the bad and the ugly. It is a place where ideas and ideals meet concrete reality, and where great deeds mix with base motives and low intrigue. No one can be taught to be a brilliant politician, just as no one can be taught to be a brilliant pianist. Like any skill, you can only be taught some of political skill, may be a lot of it, as some may want to claim the credit, but not everything you need to know to go through the rough political terrain. At some point, you will have to make your own way over what can be referred to as the political storm.
Political advocates are supposed to work on the assumption that politicians are evenly balanced and are only thrown up by circumstances, leaving the followers to decide who to follow as circumstances demand. The plus to this theory is that politicians can have uneven skills and mostly do. So, the job of politicians working on attaining a height is to work at getting better, everyday.
Even in pushing for political growth, there are games of strategy. Maybe there should not be and a queuing system should be employed, but there are individual growth and strategies, not limited to any person. It is along this path that one can understand the likes of Fayemi and the futility of such invectives being hauled at him. It is simply a “Game of Thrones,” nothing more than that.
-Dipe is the Snr. Special Assistant to Gov. Fayemi on Public Communications