By Sunday Aikuirawo Aniyi, Ph.D.
The election of Dr Kayode Fayemi on July 14, 2018 was a watershed in every sense. Political comeback is not really an uncommon occurrence in the political history of nations and a people but the re-election of Dr John Kayode Fayemi, four years after losing election in the most dramatic and shocking manner, will go down in history as one of the most phenomena in every sense of the word.
Not many people gave him a pinch of chance when the rumor of his intention for re-election broke. In his ever calculative and strategic actions, he kept both his foes and friends guessing until the last moment when it was mature to throw his hat to the ring. The moment he declared his intention to contest the Ekiti gubernatorial poll under the banner of APC, the whole foundation and firmament of the Ekiti political calculus that existed before then had a seismic disruption that left many simply bewildered. His ach-rivals went on the most virulent, violent and vile vituperation. But he kept his eyes on the ball while the rest punched the winds.
One of the reasons there was an exhilarating and cacophonous voice against his winning the primary election was the unfounded belief that the governor-elect was unelectable; as they indulged in the false assumption that he was deeply loathed by the electorate, and thus could not win election. At a point it became one versus thirty-one as the other candidates virtually united to ensure anyone else except Kayode Fayemi was acceptable. But majority of the party delegates thought otherwise. They rightly identified the kind of the battle ahead and properly diagnosed the strategy and the needed personnel to deliver success to the party. On July 14, when the ballots were counted, John Kayode Fayemi won 12 local governments of the 16 and polled 197,459 votes. Many observers have explained the return of Fayemi as some divine arrangement that was beyond human comprehension. He was not given a chance by most analysts. Many core supporters were not sure he could win, they just tacked on for some reason apart from conviction.
There is no doubt that Ekiti is in a very deep, if not an abyss of economic stagnation and political disorientation. There is a very corrosive mindset that has enthroned a very cynical disposition to intellection and the very basis of philosophical foundation for the calibration of public governance. Sadly, highly educated people have become hypnotized to the offensive trivialization of governmental administration. There is a general casualization of policies and a preponderance of governmental actions as some placatory catharsis. Folk heroism that appeals to the primitive instinct of the poor has become the standard of measuring governmental intervention. The concept of rules as the rail for social transformation is now seen as a form of sadism, or lack of pragmatic intelligence, as opportunistic and convenient exigencies have become the standard.
There is hardly any argument about the fact that the regime of anomie that is winding up in Ekiti was one of the most barren and unimaginative in ideation. There is no elevated ideas beyond streetwiseness for cheap popularity. Some loads of showmanship without substance. Thus, the state is left prostrate in economic barrenness. As at now, there is a zero economic agenda being implemented, even for some pretentious reasons. The Ayo Fayose regime did not just care about expanding the economic base of the state. He just focused on eye-mark physical projects that could support electoral propaganda. He had no job creation initiative, no matter how symbolic; no investment drive, no agriculture policy nor any effort to improve on the tourism potential of the state. Consequently, the state remains abjectly poor and in serious financial anemia. There is general hopelessness, despondence and disillusionment everywhere. A situation which now puts the incoming administration under an impossible pressure.
As Dr Kayode Fayemi starts another regime, he needs to focus his attention on some things that are critical to the future of Ekiti and that will ultimately define his administration. These areas are those areas he scored low in the first coming. He scored high on policy and programme management but took thing for granted in managing the politics and the sentiments of a highly sensitive people as Ekiti people (which can be sometimes petty).
To start with, he has to have a productive and proactive strategy to manage the labour movement in Ekiti. Labour leaders generally become more restive and expressive when the progressives are in charge. They exploit the democratic credentials of the progressive to engage in endless agitations which they never did in the past. The workers always have higher expectations when the progressive are in charge. What they dare not ask for during Fayose, they will indulge themselves now that a Fayemi is in charge. The governor must have a direct line of interaction with the labour movement and create interactive platforms to directly engage the workers.
Another area the governor must take more than a passing interest is his information and communication management. There is no doubt that in his coming, Dr. Fayemi took a thin interest in political communication even though he did well in strategic communication. The ideal thing in a developing milieu is to have an effective socio-economic mobilization infrastructure that is well calibrated and energized. The model that wins is to vertically divide the structure of government into two broad areas: Agency of Works and Agency of Words. Unfortunately, the ministry of information is often seen as a ministry for its sake. Those appointed there are hardly self-motivated as they consider their posting as one to a barren or non-juicy place. Budget support is low and the esteem of the ministry too.
But, a wise government must have a communication infrastructure to effectively communicate its success and challenges. This, unfortunately, is often left till another election season when all honest and dishonest communications become propaganda. Thus, what should have been a testimonial becomes misunderstood. The governor should have a mix of public, political and crisis communication professionals, as well as media relations and PR experts to manage his communication strategy. In fact, the governor must consider the creation of Office of Policy and Public Communication with the mandate to research, gather propaganda intelligence and development effective communication strategies accordingly. There is the need to vigorously rebrand the state both for the internal and external publics. The minds of the citizenry need to be re-educated to appreciate the purpose and process government. The people’s expectation must be managed through an equilibrium works and words.
As we welcome Fayemi for a resounding and eventful successes, may his reign bring peace and tranquility to Ekiti state.
Dr. Sunday Aikuirawo Aniyi writes from Erinmope-Ekiti and can be reached on email@example.com