•Ex-Gov. KAYODE FAYEMI Tells City People
When City People met the outgoing Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, a few days ago, he looked very relaxed. It was as if a big responsibility had been taken off his shoulders. He now lives a quiet life, devoid of sirens. He was all alone in his Lagos home, with minimal aides.
Interestingly, getting him to talk to us wasn’t easy. This is because of his rigorous schedule over the last 8 years, which had seen him traversing the length and breadth of Nigeria to honour engagements and attend meetings. So, he may wake up in Ado Ekiti this morning and by mid-day he is in Ibadan to chair a birthday lecture and by nightfall, he is in Lagos to attend his political party, APC’s stakeholders meeting. And the next morning, he is off to Abuja to meet with the President or to Kaduna to see Gov. El-Rufai, his fellow governor and friend. He was always on the move delivering lectures and policy papers. Don’t forget that he is an academic who found himself in politics & governance.
So, when a few weeks back, City People asked him for a Farewell interview, we knew we were in for a long wait. Will he grant it? Will he not?
Of course, he gave the nod that he would grant us an interview, but he said that will be after he hands over to his successor, Gov. Biodun Oyebanji. A few days ago, signal came that Dr. Kayode Fayemi was ready to talk to us about his new life outside power. He was in Lagos last Tuesday and he was ready to squeeze out a few minutes to City People. As we drove to meet him, to honour the appointment, several questions came to mind. This was definitely not a time for an assessment of his last 8 years in office, which has been generally applauded. What we wanted to know was what next, now that he has left office? How did he cope with the various roles he played whilst in office as Ekiti Governor, Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum, and a big stakeholder in APC? What is his true relationship with his political leader, Tinubu? How does he see the chances of APC in the 2023 General Elections?
These and many more were the questions we wanted to ask him. We did ask. And he replied exhaustively. Dr. Kayode Fayemi is an interviewer’s delight anyday. He understands the issues. He is brilliant.
Now, that he is out of office, how does he feel? And what is next for him…What are we to expect? It was a loaded question. “I will really like to take some time off, from regular political stuff. I need to rest a bit. But I also know that I don’t have the luxury of that.”
“We have a presidential campaign on its way. I am a party man. I am going to be working, alongside my colleagues to ensure that our candidate carries the day in February, 2023. But substantively, what I will really like to do is take time off to reflect on what I have done in the last 16 to 17 years, of coming into partisan politics and the lessons I have learnt and the ideas that I will like to share with both political operatives and the general public about Governance. That is one level. At another level. I am seriously thinking of setting up a policy think tank and a Leadership Training & Mentorship Initiative that will enable me to share some of the lessons I have learnt as a green horn activist, transitioning into the partisan political frame, in a divided society like ours. And how I think others who might want to follow such a trajectory, need to prepare themselves for the challenge of partisan politics and engagement with a variety of stakeholders who also have critical roles to play in deepening our democracy and our governance framework. But in the immediate, I think I will just take some time off to recharge my batteries and get ready for the presidential campaigns”.
The morning of the day he handed over to his successor must have been an emotional one for him. What was the feeling like we asked him. “It was mixed,” he explained. “Relief. It wasn’t like the day I left office in 2014 for example. Relief that Ekiti is in relative safe hands. I don’t envisage the new Governor not doing things in accordance with the State development plan of which he was a part. And I also did not feel that there are things I have forgotten, in the place that I will like to go back to. And I believe that in that instance, my job was done. All I have to do now is advice, when asked, and basically share my own ideas on how to further deepen Ekiti development. I think the overwhelming feeling is one of relief, that I have managed, a lot, against all odds. This is the first time it is happening in Ekiti State, to have a seamless transition from my party to my party. That is significant in an environment like ours where we have had a turn-by-turn exchange of baton of political leadership. And I believe it is in the overall interest of the state, because this is not a governor who will succumb to the drama of wanting to be seen as different, in the things you do when you come to office, when you try and give the impression that the previous government was bad, they did not do things well, that they are corrupt, they are this, they are that. The new governor is somebody who was actually a part of what happened in the last 4 years, he has a better understanding of the context. And like I keep saying, context is always important, of whatever transpired, and he is ready to move from that to the next stage. That is a significant development. That is what a state like Lagos, for example has enjoyed over the last 22, 23 years of our democratic experience. And I think, it is something that Ekiti fully deserves to enjoy. The new governor in Ekiti is discerning and has a better understanding of the machinery of bureaucracy, would not depend on hear say or act on what they tell him. He will know that all they are telling him, by outsiders is all crap. He will say, let us just move on and accelerate our work, rather than be delayed by this distraction because he has independent verifiable information. I think that is an advantage.
We have also managed to put in place a 30 year State development plan that he was part of the making. Atleast he can say this is where we are at, this is where we want to get to in 2026, let me play my own part. The thing is for all of us to play our own part and not remove from the part that has been played by previous administrators. It can only be a strategy of progress. That is what I wish for my state. That is what I wish for the governor in charge.