Monday, 29 September 2014

Between Fayose and Joshua

In the wake of the Ekiti gubernatorial election last July, I was among those who chastised Fayemi for putting physical over stomach infrastructure, as in the case of the expired Thai rice. He was too aloof, an intellectual who didn’t sit down by the roadside and drink pami with the people. I even accused him of lacking ‘common sense’, which I now regret. You can’t be both a democrat and a thug. You can’t, for instance, concede power gracefully, which was what Fayemi did because ‘I am a democrat and the will of the people is the basis of democracy’, and at the same time burn down the opposition party’s headquarters even before assuming power, which was what Fayose did, but only after slapping a high court Judge, such is mindset of the man of the people.
I remember a photograph of Fayose in his post-election press conference with Fayemi. He wore a pair of dark jeans and a red T-shirt with short white sleeves and the legend TOKYO in bold white lettering across his chest. But it was the round, white-rimmed sunglasses which sealed the thuggish impression, more so given that the event was being held indoors. Fayemi, by contrast, who sat across from him on the sofa, was dressed more demurely in the same dark jeans but with a plain white short-sleeve shirt and what seemed like a smile of mild bemusement while his would-be successor addressed the assembled journalists, a microphone in his right hand showing off a white wristband, which completed the ensemble.
Fayose, of course, was already widely known for his thuggish behaviour during his first incarnation between 2003 and 2006. ‘Where is Bode Olowoporoku, I want to kill him, I have immunity,’ he once thundered as he led his merry men to attack the then senator of the federal republic, who had been tipped off by well-wishers and miraculously escaped. Not so fortunate were four students at the College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti who took part in a peaceful demonstration to protest the imposition of a provost and paid with their lives; another was so severely beaten that his leg had to be amputated.
The fact that Fayose was selected to contest at all says much about the equally thuggish nature of PDP itself, which has since declined to comment on his latest outrages, even objecting to Fayemi’s call for the man to be prosecuted outside the state in order to ensure transparency given the complicity of the security forces who stood by during the invasion of the hallowed chamber. One recalls the occasion in 2004 when, piqued by the ‘loss’ of Anambra State, suspected PDP thugs burnt down government offices and two studios of the state-run radio station while the police also stood idly by, causing Chinua Achebe, the celebrated novelist, to reject a national honour on the grounds that the then president, Obasanjo, had turned his state into a ‘lawless fiefdom’. Ironically, it was Obasanjo who was later to call Fayose a ‘bastard’ but his political son had learnt well enough. They have since been reconciled, bastards, like thieves, being without honour.
So the consensus is that Ekiti is also about to be turned into a lawless fiefdom with the full connivance of the presidency. With Ondo now under PDP and Osun recently – and miraculously - spared the same, all eyes are now on Lagos, Ogun and Oyo. It is an open secret that PDP would love to ‘capture’ the troublesome south-west, as they once briefly did under Obasanjo, with Lagos as the jewel in the crown. Whether this ultimately matters is a moot point. As I have argued in previous blogs, one is hard-pressed to see any difference between the ruling party and the so-called ‘opposition’. Impunity is the name of the game, whatever the supposed political colouration of the party concerned, as witness both Jonathan and Fashola rushing to congratulate Pastor Joshua for breaching the building regulations which Fashola had himself earlier vowed to curb: ‘It is our job to ensure that no life is lost where the circumstances are avoidable, therefore, when people do not die of old age, illnesses that sciences can’t treat, rather they died because people cut corners...'
Indeed, the collapse of the building in the extensive compound that is the Synagogue Church of All Nations might usefully be taken as a metaphor for the collapsed state of Nigeria itself. Moreover, as with the victory of Fayose, who was, after all, voted in by the people who already knew of his antecedents but were willing, it seems, to exchange their birthright for bags of expired rice, so it appears that Prophet Joshua’s followers still continue to flock to his house of miracles despite the evidence of his culpability in what can only be described as murder, as I saw for myself when I drove past the place last Sunday. It may very well be that the self-declared man of God can make the blind see and the lame walk, as many insist, but this is as nothing compared to the greater miracle that is their continued belief in one who so casually dismissed the tragedy caused by his own negligence - even as he proved himself unable to raise the dead.
Between Fayose and Joshua, what hope for Nigeria? Both seem to have grasped the gullible, miracle-seeking nature of the Nigerian people who simply refuse to believe in the evidence of their own eyes and thereby collude in their bondage. Democracy is doubtless a good thing, and may even be the solution to our myriad problems, but it is not an imminent possibility so many years after the soldiers returned to the barracks. It might be galling to admit it, but the politicians and pastors who prey upon us have understood us well enough.
© Adewale Maja-Pearce

Adewale Maja-Pearce is the author of several books, including Loyalties
and Other Stories, In My Father's Country, How many miles to Babylon?, A
Mask Dancing, Who's Afraid of Wole Soyinka?, From Khaki to Agbada,
Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa and Other Essays, A Peculiar Tragedy, and
Counting the Cost, as well as the 1998 and 1999 annual reports on human
rights violations in Nigeria. He also edited The Heinemann Book of African
Poetry in English, Wole Soyinka: An Appraisal, Christopher Okigbo:
Collected Poems, The New Gong Book of New Nigerian Short Stories,

and Dream Chasers. The House My Father Built, a memoir, will be
published later this year.

Click here to see Maja-Pearce's page: