By Segun Dipe
“Ekiti has been through a horrible wilderness experience in the past four years. Our reputation as a people has been sullied and we have become the butt of jokes due to the crass ineptitude, loquacious ignorance, and ravenous corruption masquerading as governance in our State during this past administration…” Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, Executive Governor of Ekiti State while delivering his inauguration speech on Tuesday 16 October 2018.
It is very difficult to get through rough times in life, especially when one has left hope and started feeling forlorn for a long time, without believing that it would never come to an end. One of the many things that always ginger people to get through those difficult times, however, is keeping the right mindset, remembering that they have the ability to choose and control their thoughts and their choices for the future.
The people of Ekiti have tasted honey and they have tasted hemlock in the last 8 years. Now, they have ushered Fayemi and his human-faced administrative style back to the seat of government. They not only see him blessed with the gift of the garb, but one who equally walks his talk. Not only did he deliver powerful, punchy speech on the day of his inauguration, he had hardly settled down when he began making the people heave sighs of relief from the anti-people policies of his immediate predecessor, Peter Ayodele Fayose. “Happy days are here again!” they have started saying.
Fayemi doesn’t believe in crass populism. He would choose the right words to assuage the feelings of the people, and would blend it with the right action without scamming them. He combines the hindsight, the insight and the foresight to create an enabling environment for the generality of the people. And he loves to create mantras also. Each speech is delivered to hit the right chord. Each action is delivered to better the lots of the people.
Already Fayemi has promised that his governance agenda would focus on four areas through which he would deliver his promises to the people. The four pillars of his administration, he said, were: Social Investments; Knowledge Economy; Infrastructure and Industrial Development; and Agriculture and Rural Development. And he has commenced their implementation.
Twice in four years, Fayemi had addressed his Ekiti people from two opposing poles. And in those two times, he had spewed words on the marble, words that qualify as mantras. First, he did so in his farewell speech in June 2014 and second in his inauguration while being ushered back to power in October 2018.
When four years ago, Fayemi conceded defeat in a unique manner, promptly inviting the benefactor of the stolen mandate, the candidate of the opposing party, to a meeting and established a tradition of smooth transition in Ekiti State for which the state became a model to the rest of the country, he said: “If indeed this is the will of the Ekiti People, I stand in deference to your will. If the result of the elections is an expression of the voice of our people, we must all heed your voice.”
In the very short and very sharp farewell speech that ushered in Mr. Ayodele Fayose as an accidental governor in June 2014, Dr Fayemi moved the people into a subjunctive mood with those two on-the-marble “ifs.” Some felt he was reeling out his political elegy, but those with discerning minds felt their conscience pricked them and, like Mark Anthony’s oration, they saw the victory of the opposition as contrary to the fact.
Four years after, the people willfully returned Fayemi’s stolen mandate to him with their votes, and he made another speech, this time, with punchier mantra and clearer message to both the initiated and the uninitiated. The sound of “Never Again” resonated ten times across the length and breadth of the Ekiti Parapo Pavilion venue of his inauguration as the 6th executive governor of Ekiti State, and beyond, into the nooks and crannies of the state. The deaf could hear and the blind could see that their governor meant business this time round, just as before.
Fayemi made the people realise how far behind they had been dragged into drudgery by a mean fellow who feigned to be their friend and how far brighter the future still looked, only if they could take it into their hands and partner with him. “Never Again!” Fayemi bellowed, challenging the people to channel their energies into thoughts and actions that would actually benefit their lives today, tomorrow and forever, developing that determination of “never again” to return to their Egypt.
Mantra is like medicine for the soul. When we select a word or series of words to repeat in the form of a mantra, we are affirming it to ourselves and others, allowing its meaning to seep below the surface, into our subconscious, their subconscious, helping to shift negative habits and patterns into positive ones.
“Never Again!” Fayemi bellowed the mantra, again and again and again, for ten good times. Though his fist was not punched in the air, his words were.
According to history, the phrase “Never Again” first appeared on handmade signs put up by inmates at Buchenwald in April, 1945, shortly after the camp had been liberated by U.S. forces. The phrase was however first popularised as a Jewish rallying cry by militant Zionist leader Meir Kahane in his 1972 book “Never Again: A Program for Survival.” The book of a Zionist leader has made this phrase of special meaning to the Jews. The book was about the survival of the Holocaust attempt of the Jews.
But why did Fayemi have to repeat it 10 times? Fine if he did so deliberately. It means every of the “Never Again” he mentioned carries a seed that will soon begin to germinate. If involuntarily, however, some forces must have hijacked the phrase from him, and taken it to a realm far beyond anyone’s comprehension, willing to serve as the go-between Fayemi and the people, to indeed heal the balm of the painful wounds.
With the Number 1 “Never Again,” Fayemi thumped the people to remember where they were coming from, that they owed themselves, and generations coming after them, the duty to work together to ensure that NEVER AGAIN should they be deceived into making such a grievous mistake that had set them back so steeply on the development curve.
With the Number 2 “Never Again,” Fayemi screwed it into the people to ensure that the reins of leadership in Ekiti State must NEVER AGAIN be allowed to fall into the hands of those who do not understand what governance or development is all about.
With the Number 3 “Never Again,” Fayemi admonished the people to NEVER AGAIN give up free and qualitative education for herculean fees and taxes levied on our school children.
With the Number 4 “Never Again,” Fayemi upbraided the people to NEVER AGAIN give up free healthcare and functional hospitals for a total neglect of the health sector.
With the Number 5 “Never Again,” Fayemi cautioned the people to NEVER AGAIN give up integrated infrastructure development for bridges that lead to nowhere.
With the Number 6 “Never Again,” Fayemi reproved the people to NEVER AGAIN give up a burgeoning tourism sector and a revitalised Ikogosi for decrepit structures now overrun by reptiles
With the Number 7 “Never Again,” Fayemi exhorted the people to NEVER AGAIN give up the peace and unity of their State for increased crime rates and general insecurity.
With the Number 8 “Never Again,” Fayemi intreated the people to NEVER AGAIN give up transparent and accountable governance, with the requisite checks and balances of independent Judicial and Legislative arms of government, for draconian one-man shows.
With the Number 9 “Never Again,” Fayemi implored the people to NEVER AGAIN give up their reputation as a honourable and knowledgeable people, to be known as apostles of stomach infrastructure.
With the Number 10 “Never again,” Fayemi assured the people that NEVER AGAIN shall his government, and the ones after him, sacrifice prompt payment of salaries for indulgence in pursuance of projects of minimal benefit to the people.
Perhaps, as a reinforcement, Fayemi thumped one extra NEVER AGAIN as an affirmation of his four-year contract with the people and even beyond. This is the mantra that he wants them to imbibe and measure him with, without listening to the naysayers, who are ever ready to lure them back to their Egypt.
And hasn’t Governor Fayemi started walking his talk already? If you haven’t read the speech yet, try get hold of it and begin to match the words therein, nay, the mantra, with his actions in the coming years. It is a pact.
- Segun Dipe is a Public Affairs analyst