Ekiti 2014: When The Opposition Gets Desperate

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For any government which has set the sail for development and progress, especially after a long time of groping in the dark, re-election has never been about such government, but about preserving and sustaining what has been achieved and keeping it away from the grasp of sweet-tongued pretenders and pseudo-democrats. This fact is recognized in advanced democracies as they are well aware that though the destination may not have been reached, a lot of grounds has been covered and to halt that journey would mean to seek new routes which often would require starting from the get-go. This is one of the many problems that have retarded the growth ofNigeria. Though another factor is the misunderstanding of good government policies by the masses who are the beneficiaries. In this regard, African governments have a lot to do to connect with their people in the language that they understand.

More retrogressive is the knack of Nigerian politicians for not seeing anything good in anything good and their propensity for lying barefacedly and the more disgusting and repugnant shameless regularity with which they insist on their ‘fautlessness’ when caught in alie, all because they are well aware that Nigerians are too lazy to cross-check claims and statistics, especially with no accurate database to glean from. In saner climes, one would expect apologies, but Nigerian politicians would rather offer explanations than apologies. It is truism that the job of the opposition is to put the government on its toes by critiquing all its programmes and policies. It is also understandable that every opposition wants to take over government and in the process discrediting tactics would be employed, but certainly not tactics so banal like lying without check and trying to always explain it away when caught red-handed.

This is the attitude and disposition that the opposition in Ekiti State has adopted towards the overwhelming achievements of the Kayode Fayemi administration – a hear-no-good-see-no-good posture. They travel on the 736.715 kilometres of roads constructed by the Fayemi administration and all they ‘see’ are potholes. Ironically, when they were in power and we were daily beset by pothole-riddled roads, unfortunately they ‘saw’ good roads around them. Someone once asked, “Is the opposition blind?” 

When it was one week, one trouble and many like Dr. Ayo Daramola, Tunde Omojola, Ahmed Sadiq, Oba Adeleye Orisagbemi of Ayede, late Provost of the College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti, Dr. Gabriel Olowoyo and students of the institution were mowed down, they ‘saw’ peace. It didn’t matter if it was that of the graveyard. When pro-AC persons were driven and chased round Ifaki-Ekiti with blood-propelling canes, they couldn’t ‘see’ anything other than peace. Hitherto respected fellows suddenly lost their voices because they shared some fraternity with those in government. Those who managed to find theirs became specialists in analyzing evil deeds to the advantage of the locusts in power. Those are the ones who have today become specialists in making every good action, policy and programme of government look bad.

Today, these agents of retrogression have constituted committees of destruction and pretending to be non-partisan, they deliver the lies concocted by their paymasters to the unsuspecting public. You would find them in beer parlors saying Fayemi wants to sack teachers. Ask them how they knew this, they’d respond that the governor said so in some interview. Some of them daily mount commercial motorcycle, telling the okada riders that the governor would soon phase out okada-riding from the state capital. But this is another of their lies to set the government against the people. Driven by desperation at their failure to make a headway, they turn to violence.

Allegations are rife that the PDP in particular plans to use violence to scare voters away from the polling units on election day. Like the leprosy-infested man in the age-long Yoruba adage, the party cannot draw milk, but wouldn’t hesitate upturning that of the man skilled in the art. It is alleged that they plan to start from their congress and thereafter move on to citizens in a bid to scare them and prevent them from voting the Fayemi administration. We saw a sample of this last year when they staged a mini ‘Ogun F’ejeboju’ (festival of blood) at their party secretariat at Ajilosun in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital where the likes of a former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Kola Adefemi were drenched in blood.

Even though it has always appeared as though the only strategy of PDP and its branch Labour Party is violence and heartless concoction of lies, one wonders if there shouldn’t be a line between what is seen and unseen, what is good and bad, progress and retrogression. So far, as clearly seen and attested to by their methods, the lines have become blurred for PDP and Labour Party in Ekiti State. 

I recall the words of Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Awolowo in his inaugural address at a conference of Action Group members in Owo on 28 April, 1951:

“Our enemies and detractors are already at work. They are seeking to dwarf our stature in order to delude the public that they are taller than we are. They are also seeking to divert us from our noble and constructive courses into the barren land of petty strife and fruitless controversy.

“It is…an evidence of weakness and utter demerit, for any group of people to attempt to commend themselves to the public by the negative process of belittling and condemning others.

“It is not an easy matter to resist the temptation of being dragged down the drains of bitter recriminations and press war. But if we are to attain our objects we must resolve to pursue our course unflinchingly without paying the slightest heed ‘to the envious, and the asses that bray’.

“What our people want to know above all things else is not the defect or incapacity of this or that organisation, but the plans and programmes which we have for improving their lot and the relative merits of such plans and programmes…”

“Our line of action is therefore clear. Whilst our enemies and detractors busy themselves with abusing and decrying us, we should direct all the machinery of our publicity towards the propagation of the excellence and the relative superiority of our programmes and the suitability of the men who will be put forward to execute them.”

Not a few ridiculed Awolowo and the Action Group when for the first time in the history of Nigeria it published a manifesto. To the cynic and the myopic, free health and free education were un-attainable. Awolowo forged ahead and seven years later, the number of dispensaries had increased from 200 in 1952 to 365 in 1959, maternity centres had risen from 122 to 239. In the same wise, primary school enrolment increased from 429, 542 in 1952 to 1, 037, 388 in 1959. The number of secondary grammar schools increased from 25 to 139 and the secondary school population stood at 84, 374 as against 6, 775 in 1952 when Chief Awolowo took over.

Just like Awolowo, 24 new primary schools were established by the Kayode Fayemi administration in 2011, less than a year after taking over from a PDP government. An additional 18 were added in 2012, thereby increasing the number to 836. Primary school enrolment increased from 155, 296 in 2010 to 170, 768 in 2013. The same increase attended secondary school enrolment. 183 secondary schools and 836 primary schools were renovated. 33, 000 laptops were distributed free of charge to secondary school students while 18, 000 units were given to teachers. Additional 25, 000 have been supplied and will soon be doled out. The success rate which stood at a ridiculous low of 22 percent in 2010 was 70% in 2013. The level of literacy in the state also moved up within a space of one year period from 67 percent in 2011 to 72.2 per cent in 2012.

Teachers are now given rural allowance while car and housing loans have been restored by the Fayemi administration to serve as an incentive to the teachers. The best among them were rewarded with car gifts last years. And on top of all these, education is free in primary and secondary schools.

The same dexterity is replicated in the health sector where Medicare is free for pregnant women, children under the age of 5, elderly persons, the physically challenged and People Living With HIV/AIDs. In less than one year (October 2010 to July 2011), total attendance, total antenatal clinic attendance and under-5 attendance improved by over 30%. In less than one year elderly citizens accounted 51.15% of registered clients and 42.40% of total facility attendance in the first year of the free health programme. Maternal mortality was 420 per 100,000 live births in 2010, but it dropped to 135 per 100, 000 live births the following year. The total value of drugs dispensed during the same period increased from N11,038,007,77k to N25,926,398.43k due to increase in demand and utilization. Today, Ekiti has the highest life expectancy in Nigeria, the lowest maternal mortality and infant mortality. All general hospitals in the state are being renovated. There is a Cancer Diagnostic and Wellness Centre within the premises of the Teaching Hospital. Besides these, many people not covered under the free health programme have been reached through the free health missions of the Fayemi administration.

All the listed achievements above are just a minute part of the achievements in areas like agriculture, tourism, infrastructure. A visit to Ekiti State would unearth the lies of the opposition which obviously has no other strategy than lies and violence.

As we approach the governorship election of June 21 in Ekiti State, the words of the incumbent, Dr. Kayode Fayemi becomes instructive:

“I take this opportunity to remind all and sundry, particularly those who would be interested in contesting the upcoming election, that the quality of power is defined by the nature of its pursuit. When we mortgage our consciences and values in the pursuit of power, no matter how dignified or admirable our intentions, it costs us bits of our humanity and deprives governance of the moral authority that is its true foundation. We should refrain from inciting our people to violence and other negative tendencies. Ultimately, an anarchic approach in which the contestants for power deploy all means, fair or foul, to win, de-legitimises and de-humanises politics…I urge all our people to join us in appealing to every aspirant not to make their liberty a bondage for Ekiti people. We should all focus on issue-based campaign while we sell our candidacy to our people. I urge all our people to demand of every contestant what he/she can do differently from what my administration has done for you. It is a fact that we have touched all communities in our development drive and these facts – these tangibles – are what we will be campaigning with, not lies, not violence. Ekiti people have a duty to sieve through all promises, all statements, all lies to arrive at the truth and make the best decision that would further galvanise our dear Ekiti State on the already begun journey to lasting development and progress. It behoves us to remember that great nations thrive on age-long adherence to core values, principles, customs and tradition of integrity, honesty and high strength of character. We will continue to drum this up at all fora until we restore our dear state to its age-long position of honour.”

‘Dimeji Daniels is the Spokesperson of the Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation. He writes in from Ado-Ekiti.

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