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30 Jul 2017

Fayose And The London Pictures

Following the frequent comments of Governor Fayose on the negative health status of President Buhari, Shola Oshunkeye weighs in on the implications and the visit of state governors.

There were days in my recent past that I wished I had 48 hours to spend in a day. Last Monday was one of them. After listening to Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State on that evening’s FOCUS ON AFRICA programme on the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, I resolved to rush home to watch it in moving pictures on Channels TV’s prime news at 10 p.m. But the traffic snarl that paralysed the Cantonments area of Accra early that evening and persisted till very late in the night effectively ensured that I did not make it home until well past 11. So, I had to rely solely on the BBC reportage of the event.

I’m talking about the lunch that some APC Governors had with our recuperating President in London earlier that day. I felt nothing but pity for the hitherto smooth-talking Okorocha as he struggled to answer questions from the hard-hitting BBC reporter. Initially, the governor brimmed with enthusiasm as he described how well the lunch went; and how high and bubbling President Muhammadu Buhari’s spirit was. The Governor said the President they dined with was not only his cheerful and jocular self, he was also “fit and good enough for the job.” But Okorocha, who Nnamdi Kanu has been torturing on Radio Biafra lately, conveniently forgot to tell listeners if the President ate with them, and, perhaps, what he took.

Trust nosey parkers; they would never let sleeping dogs lie. Perhaps the stubborn reporter sensed and saw something listeners didn’t see, he probed further: if President Buhari was as fit as the Governor claimed, why was he still in London? If the President was truly good enough to resume work, what was he still doing in London? Consulting with Theresa May? Why was he continuing his second ‘medical vacation’ in seven months? At a pint, the pressure began to tell on Okorocha as he stammered briefly to convince his inquisitive interviewer. First, he said the President may be home in two weeks. Then, he added a caveat: it depends on what the doctors say, you, know, for a man his age…The interview went on and on until Okorocha’s torturer drew the curtain. The governor must have been hugely relieved that the torture had ended.

Even though I was seriously tired when I got home that night, I still decided to surf the net for developments on the story before retiring to bed. I saw the photo of the President apparently at table with his visitors but there was no sumptuous lunch on the table. Only bunches of banana here and there, and glasses filled with what looked like fruit juice. The photo did not look like the type you take when you have just demolished a steaming bowl of tuwo sinkafa or tuwo masara. Perhaps the photo was taken long after lunch had ended and their Excellencies were just chatting. However, the photo offered some relief, even if it was a token. It somewhat assured that though the President may still look very ill, he is very much alive. Two more photos released on Wednesday, one showing the President in an expansive mood with his visitors, and another with him on his feet, welcoming other guests, underscored that.

Still, some people remained unconvinced about the message the photos were designed to purvey: that the President was well enough to return to his beat. Which is the more reason the Presidency ought to have gone a step further by releasing video clips, with sound bites and all, to let Nigerians see and hear their President talk after such a long time. It would have been more reassuring. But that has not happened. In fact, today (July 30, 2017) marks 80 days or 12 weeks that President Buhari has been away from duty. Releasing videos of these very important visits would have been sufficient to nail the naysayers.

Despite that, I believe the few the Presidency has shown are sufficient proof that though still seriously sick, the President didn’t look like somebody struggling in the icy clutches of death. He didn’t look like someone who had just come off life support like Peter Ayodele Fayose, the Ekiti State Governor, would have the world believe. Indeed, the photos are enough to make me look at the controversial Governor straight in the face and ask him: where is the life support?

Since he began his second journey to Ekiti State Government House on October 16, 2014, Fayose has been better known for his vituperations as ‘head’ of the opposition than as a governor working to secure better life for his people. He is more popular for firing poisoned arrows at his real and imaginary political adversaries than providing credible and result-oriented leadership for Ekiti people who erroneously dumped Dr. Kayode Fayemi, his predecessor, for him. When Fayose is not attacking Fayemi, promising to send him to jail, he is hitting hard at Buhari’s jugular, adducing one thousand and one reasons why he thinks every act and policy of his government would fail, no matter how well directed.

In Fayose’s eyes, Buhari never seems to get anything right. In his score sheet, Buhari is an irredeemable failure; a terrible performer who has scored zero upon ten. Even in the President’s health adversity, Fayose has been unsparing. He has said so many things about the President’s health that could have knocked the man dead ten times over if he was a lily-lived person. The Ekiti Governor literally declared the President insensate, maintaining over and again that he was on life support machine. Meaning: the man was gone the moment the machine was switched off.

Well, fresh pictures of the President released last Wednesday didn’t quite indicate a man who was moments away from six feet. Yes, the illness may have taken a toll on Buhari’s, as one of the visiting seven governors reportedly told an online portal, Sahara Reporters, during the week, he didn’t appear like someone about to kick the bucket.

Fayose has neither repudiated his ‘life support’ claim nor apologised to Nigerians for raising false alarm, and to the Buhari Family for embarrassing them and making a mockery of their patriarch’s dire situation. Instead, he threw yet another bombshell. This time, his target is former President Olusegun Obasanjo who, he alleged, used him to crush the presidential ambitions of his Deputy in office, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and former Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi; as well as attack Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, SUN Publisher and two-term Governor of Abia State, among others. The Fayose expose is in the current edition of The Interview magazine. The Governor added the killer by alleging that Obasanjo knelt before the late Libya leader, Moummar Ghaddafi, in Tripoli, and begged him profusely to support his moribund third term ambition.

Well, I’m not Obasanjo’s spokesperson. The Ebora of Owu doesn’t need me or anybody else to fight his battle. But the point I’m making is that, it’s high time Fayose flipped the page and unleashed 90 percent of his energy on fulfilling his campaign promises to the Ekiti people, while using the remaining 10 percent to play politics and pursue his ‘Presidential ambition’. He should let Buhari be for a season and face governance. His time is running out.

Meanwhile, I have eavesdropped somewhere that Governor Fayose plans to run again in 2018. Why not, if not? So long the constitution permits him, I have no qualm with that. Granting, however, that he is eligible to contest one more time, he would need far more credible credentials than he already has to convince Ekiti people to consider him again. And he would do well to know that those credentials do not consist in doling out 5kg packs of rice to people, nor eating booli (roasted plantain) or ponmo (cow skin) with common people on the road, nor riding okada with commercial motorcycle operators on the streets of Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, nor buying oranges (or is it apple) from sultry ladies who expose enough of their cleavage to keep His Excellency’s tongue dripping with whatever.

The one and only key that would re-open the Ekiti State Governor’s Office for Fayose in 2018 is performance. Performance, nothing but performance. Q.E.D.

May God help Your Excellency.

-Written by Shola Oshunkeye

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