Reign Of Madness In Ekiti And Plateau


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Reign Of Madness In Ekiti And Plateau



Reuben Abati




culled from GUARDIAN, October 14, 2006


Law and order has broken down almost irretrievably for now in Ekiti and Plateau states. I shall start with the former. In the past week, the politics of Ekiti state has moved from the theatre of comedy to tragedy and has now become a theatre of the absurd. The comedy began at the point when it was announced that the Ekiti state House of assembly had resolved, 24 out of the 26 lawmakers to impeach the Governor, Dr. Ayodele Fayose. The initial reaction across the country was that Governor Fayose had it coming. With his problems with the EFCC, the hounding of his aides and associates and his betrayal by a former contractor who chose to sing like a canary before EFCC interrogators, the public was fed with gross details about the affairs of Ekiti state.

The opposition in Ekiti, particularly the large crowd of Ekiti elites who look down on Fayose for his lack of LL. B, Ph.D, Professorship etc. etc.... in a state where if you were to drop a stone from a height, it would land on the head of someone with a double university degree, broke into peals of laughter that resounded from the hills of Ekiti all the way to Abuja. The team of Gubernatorial aspirants in Ekiti who had been wondering how to get rid of Fayose, who to their dismay, seems to have mastered the art of populism and mass psychology, supported those peals with mouth-wide cackles.


They proceeded to organise anti-Fayose rallies on the streets of Ekiti. The media outlined the "sins" of Fayose as defined by the EFCC and the Ekiti legislators. The story sold newspaper copies as circulation figures rose. At that moment it seemed like the end of the road for Fayose. There were insinuations about how it was time to teach him a lesson about his excesses. His enemies and critics could not contain their laughter. They began to dream up strategies for pushing him out of Government House. Previous exertions by the Governor about how he is effectively in charge of the state, and how he could win elections in the state many times over suddenly became comical.


You mean Fayose is not in control of his own House of Assembly? The truth is that he was treated by the same lawmakers whom he once sponsored on a trip abroad and even proposed to send their wives(!) as if he was an alien that had to be banished; indeed no one thought of him as a nemesis arising from the failings of the people of Ekiti themselves. In comedies, there are underlying lessons that must be realised and learnt, upon the cloak of thought, long after the dentitions must have been closed. But before this comedy could be resolved, tragedy set in, and again Fayose was the protagonist. The embattled Governor threw himself into a fit of paroxysms. Fayose must have been looking forward to the elections of 2007 as an occasion for teaching his opponents a lesson or two about power.


But for him, the battle of 2007 arrived seven months earlier and the issue was his survival as Governor of the state. A politician who knows the value of the media and information, Fayose took his battle to the open field and insisted on his innocence, calling on the Living God, insisting that he is a victim in the hands of his enemies. On World Teachers Day, he went to the stadium in Ado Ekiti and addressed teachers imploring them not to allow agents of darkness to remove their Governor. Two teachers were given the gift of cars. All the teachers in the stadium wore the same attire as the Governor. Someone said Fayosse had lost weight. Another observed that he looked unhappy and went on to deplore the do-or-die nature of Nigerian politics. I was struck by the tragic undertones. Here was Fayose who had been one of the most visible Governors representing the Peoples' Democratic Party, but his own party could not save him. Party elders pretended that they were trying to reconcile him and the legislature, but they could not. Here was Fayose whose state was visited twice by President Obasanjo and who was openly commended by the President after an inspection of state projects, but the same Fayose was being hounded by the EFCC which is under the President's control. I recall that at the time in question, the President's letter praising Fayose for his efforts was published in the papers!


Again, here was Fayose who had served the PDP once as Chairman of a panel that was asked to look for a Presidential candidate, but the same party was now shopping for a replacement for him. In his critical hour, it would appear that Fayose was abandoned by those who had wined and dined with him, upon whose support he had previously depended. He is facing his loneliest moment still, and for him it cannot be funny at all. At height of his travails, there were insinuations that his Deputy, Mrs Biodun Olujinmi, was not on his side, but the Madam placed newspaper advertorials pledging her support and loyalty. They have appeared side by side since then. All tragic heroes learn bitter lessons about human nature and circumstances, which they alone can appreciate. In the last two weeks, Fayose must have covered the entire spectrum of the emotional scale: from anger to anxiety to fear, but he has one more line to cross: that of anagnorisis: the point at which he understands the full import of what is happening to him, and gains full awareness of the consequences. Those who may be tempted to laugh at his travails must be prepared to learn their own lessons. ..


But the more important development in the Ekiti saga is the descent into absurdity. The theatre of the absurd is defined by its illogicality and meaninglessness. Ekiti before our very eyes has become a state where anything is possible. Fayose's opponents in the legislature and outside of it want him removed by all means, but they are not prepared to follow the laws of the land or any such thing called due process.. He has been asked to resign. The man has refused. The legislature served an impeachment notice and the state Chief Judge proceeded, in line with the Constitution to set up a panel to investigate the allegations and establish whether there is a prima facie case against the Governor.


Almost immediately, the House of Assembly rejected the panel set up by the CJ claiming that the members are Fayose's loyalists. That panel sat, it was ignored by the anti-Fayose group and it came up with the verdict that the Governor is without sin. The legislators disagreed, and they responded by staging a coup against the judiciary, by purporting to suspend the state Chief Judge. They even went ahead and appointed their own Acting Chief Judge, and a new panel. That new panel has started sitting in open defiance of the law and all known rules of decency. The Chief Justice of the Federation and many lawyers have risen in protest against this brazen violation of the Constitution; the only ones who are supporting the absurdity are those who have a partisan stake in the matter.


But the bigger absurdity is that across the country, it is assumed that what is going on in Ekiti is normal in Nigerian democracy. When you talk about illegality, your attention is drawn to Anambra and Oyo state before now, and the fact that this is politics not law. One fellow in fact argued that he does not know why the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Modibbo Alfa Belgore is commenting on the matter in Ekiti. He was sure that not even the Supreme Court is in a position to protect the rule of law. He argued that we are running a gun-point democracy. If you stay in the line of fire, you'd be dead before you can get a chance to insist on your rights. And can dead men argue about rights? But what no one can deny, it seems, is that the situation in Ekiti has grown to the level of pure madness and anarchy. The Deputy Governor apparently has abandoned her boss, having sent her lawyer to appear before an illegal panel... there is information that the lawmakers are not acting out of any commitment to the common good but that they are playing out a script handed over to them by the EFCC which featured prominently before the new panel, with some witnesses in its custody.. In Ekiti, there is real breakdown at all levels of government: the Executive is in the dock, the legislature is staging a coup against the other arms of government, the judiciary is divided and breaking the law, the people are confused and anxious...Anarchy is the appropriate word.


The madness in Ekiti is matched only by the current absurdity in Plateau state, where eight lawmakers, acting under the influence of the EFCC are threatening to impeach the Governor, Joshua Dariye. When the Nigerian Constitution talks about 2/3rds majority of the legislature for the purpose of impeachment, it does not envisage a House made up of eight members but the full complement of the House in session. But nobody seems to be worried about this. It is strange that there are people in Plateau state who are also determined to remove the governor by illegal means if possible. But Dariye seems to have an advantage over Fayose, There are able-bodied youths in the state who are prepared to defend their Governor's mandate and they attempted to do so two days ago; unfortunately three of them were gunned down! Whoever wants to remove Dariye apparently has no respect for human lives. We run a gun-point democracy where the right to differ and the insistence on it is an open invitation to murder.

I don't want to be misunderstood. I am realistic enough to know that those who want to remove Fayose and Dariye will do so even if the Heavens fall. Nigerian democracy has produced a crop of buccaneers who have no regard for law and order. They are driven only by their goals, and even when there is merit to their position, their lack of decorum and decency destroys their arguments in the long run. The length of their conduct is the desire to win the argument with animal instincts and tactics. An animal in the wild is unconcerned about propriety. One form of illegality is used to eliminate another form of illegality as if we are in the wilderness. So, don't be surprised if you wake up one morning and in Ekiti one group is saying that Fayose is Governor and another group is saying that he is not, and another panel has to be set up to establish which party is right, or if in Plateau and Ekiti, the entire state goes under the knife, with every butcher carving away at the flesh and soul of the state.


So, what do we think?


One, politicians must learn to respect the rule of law.


Two, even when a man is generally believed to be a criminal, guilty beyond redemption, he should still be granted a right to fair hearing. There are allegations against Fayose and Dariye, fine, but those allegations must be proven before any form of conviction.


Three, the tragedy in Ekiti and Plateau is that of the ruling Peoples' Democratic Party. This is a party that has been torn into pieces by internal strife.


Four, what is happening in Ekiti and Plateau again confirms the underdeveloped nature of Nigerian politics. What we have on our hands is jungle democracy, where the animal with the sharpest fangs can hold the entire kingdom to ransom, where the lower animals are not necessarily better, with every animal seeking to rationalise his or her choice by pointing to the failings of others, and thus, creating such cacophony out of which decent men can make no sense other than to wonder and sigh.


Five: the Nigerian judiciary is showing up very badly in the crises. When lawyers and judges break the law, the drift towards anarchy is complete.


Six: the Nigerian people have every reason to be anxious. Our people have a saying: when a drum beats too loudly, it will end up in tatters, its skin will tear into pieces. The drum of Nigerian politics is beating a bit too discordantly; the drum of democracy is sounding like it is torn at the edges.


All the warring personalities are birds of passage: who for example will check the legislature in Ekiti and Plateau? Who will stop the judex from getting compromised by partisan politics? In the Ekiti case, however, only two persons can afford to laugh heartily: Adebisi Omoyeni, former Deputy to Fayose, who jumped before the train derailed, and Niyi Adebayo, Fayose's predecessor in office who must be saying to whoever cares to listen: "serves them right, good for them."


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