Viewpoint by Segun Dipe
The legitimacy of a government and its power to govern a people depend on the people’s consent. It is the responsibility of a duly elected government to perform for the people, much as it is the responsibility of the people to surrender themselves and their belief to the government. It is also the people’s duty to monitor the activities of the political leaders with a view to renewing their mandate for good performance or using constitutional provisions to fire them for non-performance. How far this has been applied recently is another song entirely.
In today’s Nigeria, the public trust in government to do what is right, state or federal, is at an all-time low. Truly, government’s performance is equally poor and declining. The erosion of public trust in government is even made worse by the outgoing Governor of Ekiti State, Peter Ayodele Fayose who has not only criminally raped and despoiled the people, but relished seeing them suffer emotionally and making empty boasts of what he is incapable of achieving.
It is against this run of the tide that Dr. John Kayode Fayemi is mounting the saddle as the sixth elected governor of Ekiti State. Though Fayemi is coming for a second term, with evidence of performance in his first term, having governed the state well between 2010 and 2014, he may still need more than relying on the past achievement to worm himself into the hearts of the people again.
However, both the people of the state and Fayemi would have to eschew mutual suspicion, which is a poison that can take effect without warning, turning the most level-headed men into irrational beings. While no one can stop the people from holding the incoming governor accountable to his campaign promises and development programmes, they must also assure themselves that bad days are gone with the Fayose era and that their condition can only bottom up in Fayemi’s era. Just coming out from the lean years under Fayose may have bruised their emotions so much that they would want to vent their anger on the new governor, but they should also console themselves with the fact that Fayemi will not be worse than Fayose after all.
While the people may need to take Fayemi for his words, he also must be prepared to meet them half way by addressing their immediate needs as soon as he resumes duty, he really must be prepared to put their interest first in his commitment to development visions and programmes.
Trust is an essential ingredient of any relationship. George MacDonald, a Scottish author, poet and Christian minister, puts it succinctly that to be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved. Yogi Bhajan added that to conquer the unknown, you must trust and Pope Francis crowned it by saying that mistrust and mutual suspicion always threaten serenity. Both the people and Fayemi must learn to trust each other, for the absence of trust will put up a wall, and reflect worst traits back at them. For, if either of them withholds trust for any reason, justified or not, the situation is going to result in tension.
There is therefore no gain saying that there must first be some clarity and agreement on what the people really need and what Fayemi can actually give. The people should realise that Fayemi can only make use of available resources to improve their lot. Oftentimes, people forget that the government is not an organisation with resources of its own. Everything the government will give must first be taken from another people or some source, with the people as collateral. In other words, what the people must ask for, and Fayemi must provide, must be those things that are mutually agreed as realistic and available.
What do the people really want? Clearly, they expect their government to provide a clean, transparent and efficient administration, and, as law abiding citizens, provide them with an enabling environment where they can lead their lives with security and dignity. It is also in Fayemi’s style to visit their different wards in every budgeting year, seeking their inputs. But far from it that the people should be treated like strippers this time around. They have been debased enough, now is the time to find the right value for them.
The Number One missing element at the moment is integrity. No doubt, Ekiti people have lost it in the last four years, and will want it back. Fayemi owes them a lot in ensuring that their integrity is restored. Any individual without integrity will only be guided by self-interest, seeking personal and immediate gains, and this should not be the lot of Ekiti as a people in the new dispensation. They must be guided by collective, long term interest, think as a whole and undivided. The governor too must be able to show that integrity is his administration’s watchword by saying what he means and meaning what he says always. No ambiguity.
Happiness has eluded the people. It is not so hard to achieve or so hard to maintain, if the new governor is walking his talk. In the Fayose era, happiness continually eluded the people because they could not understand exactly what to believe or what his next action would be. They just didn’t know their governor that well.
Money, in the true sense of it, has been a scarce commodity among the people in Ekiti. A situation where civil servants are not paid for eight months or more in a state dominated by civil servants speaks volume of how mindless their governor is. Once the civil servants are paid regularly, the money will circulate, and government will be seen as having human face.
Like it or not, freedom was also elusive in the last four years. The people must be free to relate with their governor and vice versa. They must be free to demand for their rights, they must be free to do what is necessary to live a good life without compromising the omoluabi values Ekiti people are known for. And the governor too must be sincere enough not to deny them. He must be prepared to open up on what the correct situation is at any point in time.
Peace is another scarce commodity in Ekiti today. Ekiti must be peaceful all year round for the next four years. Not the peace of graveyard, whereby the people are muscled like those conquered or muzzled like animal. But that of harmonious well-being and freedom from hostile aggression. The peace Ekiti people need in the coming years is for them to be able to resolve their conflicts without violence and work together with the governor to improve the quality of their lives. Everyone should be able to live in safety, without fear or threat of violence, and ensure that no form of violence is tolerated.
Everyone cannot be a politician, but everyone wants to be joyful seeing that their interests are protected. They cannot feel joy in their lives if the conduct of their governor is causing them pain. Fayose failed to realise this much that his people could not be separated from who he was and from what he was doing. They were simply stuck with a governor whose conduct they hated, a governor no one respected.
Trust the people will want to see their governor live a balanced life too. They will want to understand clearly what his top priorities are, and defend and honour those priorities fiercely, every minute of the day. It takes understanding the governor’s non-negotiables -what he would neither compromise nor say “Yes” to- rather than him being unnecessarily diplomatic and toying with their existence. If he can do that, then he will be creating or sustaining balance with the people.
And the people want fulfillment. By this is meant that they would want to utilise their potential in the best possible way without fetters. The people cannot feel fulfilled if they are not living up to what they know is their highest and best potential. It hurts a lot when the people are being forced to settle for something much less than they know, want or deserve.
Both the people and the governor must have confidence in each other. They must feel like both sides have something to offer in the relationship, rather than constantly feeling as if they are not ready and need to still learn more about each other before opening up.
It is a tough world out there, no doubt. But there are many ways Ekiti people can stay true to their gifts and capabilities, and build their confidence again as a people. For that, they need a governor who believes in them without fail and is willing to fight their course always. They equally need to build a tribe of people who will do anything to make their governor succeed.
To crown it all, Ekiti needs stability. The people need to figure out what to do next, to keep them afloat and be a bridge to an enduring future. Their spirit, intelligence, capabilities, gifts and whatever they have to offer must be put to use for the new governor to succeed. They must choose to react positively to whatever comes their way, knowing that their new governor means well for them. That is what will bring stability.
At this point, everyone must be passionate about the success of the new governor to take the state to the next level. Such passion will demand some sacrifice, a high price – the price of wrapping one’s entire entity around a certain direction to ensure that it works out the way it is envisaged. Passion can be tapped and uncorked, for sure, but only when one allows himself/herself to believe that his/her life and work mean something more than merely existing for what to ingest but for the better of all.
If all these are guaranteed, then it is indeed a new era in Ekiti.
-Segun Dipe is a Public Affairs analyst