Published On: Wed, Sep 2nd, 2015

Fayose battles Buhari over lopsided appointments

OLUSESAN LAOYE

Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose is not tired of courting trouble for himself as he is again in the news. This time he is not sparing President Muhammadu Buhari over his lopsided appointments, accusing the President of making himself the President of the North. Fayose argued that what Buhari is doing now is capable of eroding the federal character principle and the unity of the country. He warned Mr. President not to take us back to his era as military head of state.

All his utterances and action have definitely shown his bravery; though it was argued that he sometimes over play them. He was the only vocal Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor, who constantly challenged the candidature of Present Muhammadu Buhari during the elections, as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). That time he was nicknamed and ‘governor big mouth’ but he was undaunted as he kept talking till after the elections when his mentor and former President Goodluck Jonathan lost the election. Fayose being what he is was the first of the PDP leaders to congratulate President Buhari when he saw that Jonathan had accepted defeat.

Thereafter he became a lone voice of the PDP who has been very critical of the government of the APC. What is actually standing him out now is his current outburst about the lopsided appointment made by President Buhari, which is now generating serious heat in the country.

One thing which political observers noticed about Fayose was that at the time when you think he would be consumed, that is when as well he would bounce back to make headlines. Before now, Fayose has been threatened by the APC that wanted to demystified him and whittle down his popularity. He was recently in supremacy fight with one of the strong politicians in the state, who has for a long time been interested in the governorship of the Ekitit State.

The altercation and a good fight put forward by Hon Femi Bamishile rattled governor Fayose, who has been dominating the political space of the state and intimidating the opposition. Bamishile who was known to be a tough man called his bluff when he broke the ranks of the Okada riders in the state, who Fayose relied upon as his back bone. Fayose so much has that strong believe in the Okada riders whom he has always used as his shield any time he wanted to be attacked. When Fayose talk about his people, you can be sure that he was referring to the Okada riders who are his strength.

So, for anyone to want to dislodge them and use the same group of people against him, that person must be looking for a great trouble and only a strong person like Bamishile can dare to embarked on that mission. Bamishile who was regarded as a no-nonsense politicians dared Fayose and what he used against him was to assemble some Okada riders in thousands who were not favourably disposed to him and his style of governance. These sets of people are those who were naturally in love with the APC and one would say with the former governor Kayode Fayemi.

Bamishile who saw the political situation and decided to make a change struck at the time when Fayose was having problem with the party in the state. It was at the period when the executive of the party in the state planned to outwit those said to have been planted in the party by him. What he did was to arrange free fuel for Okada riders and this infuriated governor Fayose, who swooped on the fuel stations where they were collecting free fuel and locked them up. His action generated heat as there were revolts in the state and when the governor saw that it was degenerating to what he could no longer curtail, he called the Okada riders and promised them life assurance. While some of them accepted the offer others said that they were fed up with his style of governance and that they have not benefitted from him since he came to power and that he was only deceiving them.

His battle with the state exco is still on and those who are loyal to him are still finding how they would come back. The present situation in the PDP in Ekiti state has caused sharp division among members and the house can no longer hold.  Also at the same time, Fayose was snubbed by the former speaker of the state who was offered to serve in the state Assembly Commission. The former speaker was one of the state legislators who defected to the PDP from the APC when Fayose became the governor. He was also the arrow head of those who antagonized the 19 APC lawmakers headed by Dr Wale Omirin. The rejection of the appointment was seen as a slap on Fayose and an indication that he was gradually losing control of the state as more events are still expected that would reveal that more people are actually opposed to his government.

Two issues now bothering both the people of the state and Nigerians generally are his castigation of President Buhari over his lopsidedness appointments so far. The notion has been that the President is favouring only people from the Northern parts of the country at the expense of the people from the southern part of the country. This has continued to generate series of reaction which observers believed could heat up the polity. Among those who have come out strongly against President Buhari’s appointment is governor Fayose, who described him as the President of a particular section of the country and not that of Nigeria.

Fayose’s statement angered the presidency and it led to war of words between the two camps. While Fayose described the President as running the country as if he was the president of northern Nigeria only, Mr. Buhari said the governor’s outburst was capable of triggering ethnic clashes among the nation’s communities.

The governor said steps taken by the President since May 29, 2015, when he assumed office, were tainted with ethnic and tribal colouration, adding that it wasn’t in the best interest of the entire people of the country but a section of the country.

But Mr. Buhari responded strongly, denying the allegation, and urging Nigerians to be wary of the antics of Mr. Fayose and the PDP, who he said are bent on regaining what they lost by stoking ‘ethnic and religious fault lines”.

The governor, throughhis Special assistant on public communication, Lere Olayinka, depicted the actions of the President as the “Nothernisation of Nigeria”, noting that the appointments made by Mr. Buhari so far negated the principle of federal character and had taken the unity of Nigeria for granted.

Fayose argued that it was wrong for President Buhari to have made 31 major appointments, with seven coming from the South while 24 were from the North.

“Under Buhari, are people from Southern Nigeria only meant to be hounded and harassed by anti-corruption agencies and the Department of State Security (DSS), while those from the North are meant to enjoy federal government juicy appointments?, Fayose queried.

“Apart from lopsided appointments being made by the President, I am worried that the construction of Lagos-Ibadan expressway has been slowed down while work has stopped on Lokoja-Abuja roads, which are the major roads linking the Southern part of Nigeria with the North.

“Also, we have been told by the Federal Government that the Second Niger Bridge project has been suspended and one is now beginning to remember how Buhari cancelled the Lagos Metroline Project in 1985 at a loss of over $78 million (then) to the Lagos tax payers.”

He maintained that Nigeria could only move forward if there was equity and fairness, highlighting that those who made the country’s constitution and enshrined the principle of Federal Character were mindful of the ethnic diversity of the country.

According to Mr. Fayose, President Buhari’s running of Nigeria as if he is a Northern Nigerian President was not in the interest of the country.

The governor further argued, “They said the President made the appointments on merit and I wish to ask whether there are no competent people in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Southern part of Nigeria, especially South-East where no one has been appointed.

“Are they saying Igbo leader like Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who graduated with a first class honours degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Lagos, is not competent to be appointed as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF)?

“To my mind, these lopsided appointments skewed in favour of the North is a reminder of President Buhari’s tenure as military head of state and I hope the President is not seeing Nigeria of today as that of 1984 because doing so will mean that he has turned himself to a northern president, thereby justifying his notion that those who gave him 97 percent votes must get more benefits than those who gave him five percent votes.”

But responding to Mr. Fayose’s attacks, the Presidency said the governor’s outburst was divisive and threatens the unity of the country.

This argument put forth by Fayose was instantly challenge by the presidency as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said President Buhari had been preoccupied with the revival of the economy, securing the nation and ridding it of corruption.

He said the President would pursue these priorities and would not be distracted by unwarranted criticism.

“Nigerians are smarter than Fayose thinks. The governor’s outbursts are intended to be a trigger for a clash between communities in areas where deliberate attempts had in the past also been made by the PDP to stoke ethnic and religious fault-lines,” he said.

“Our appeal to Nigerians is that they should ignore these tantrums. President Buhari is a healer not a divider.”

He said Nigerians should see the recent appointments as one wave among the many that will come, noting that the next waves would come with thousands of new jobs.

“The President is conscious of the federal character and the requirements of balance in the constitution. He will be guided by the constitution in making his appointments,” Mr. Shehu said.

“Let me say at this stage that mere appeal to ethnic and regional arithmetic will not give back to the PDP what they lost. They seem to be making a dangerous calculation with their recent outbursts.

“The mere appeal to sectional and religious sentiments will not give the party its lost relevance or electability.”

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