It is true that John Kayode Fayemi has been declared the winner of the just-concluded Ekiti governorship election; yet, research reveals the ordeal, consistency and doggedness that went into the outcome which came as a surprise to many, especially given that he was contesting against the anointed candidate of an incumbent, Olusola Eleka.
Hailing from Isan-Ekiti in Oye local government area, Fayemi was on February 9, 1965. He attended Christ’s School, Ado Ekiti, the state capital bagged degrees in History, Politics and International Relations from the Universities of Lagos and Ife in Nigeria.
Fayemi also received a doctorate degree in war studies from the University of London, England, majoring in civil-military relations, The Cable reports.
He took over office as state governor of Ekiti in October, 2010, but not without legal battles, with Segun Oni’s victory cancelled by a Kwara state appeal court. In 2014, he sought to contest for the governorship seat in office but was defeated at the election by Ayodele Fayose, the incumbent, who was at the time returning for a second termed.
He was appointed the minister of mines and steel development in 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari, an office he retired from on Wednesday, May 30, 2018, and went ahead to contest the Ekiti governorship election.
His research and policy interests include democratisation, constitutionalism, security sector governance, and regionalism in the global context
Much like Olusola, his key opponent, Fayemi had spent many years in the academic front before eventually venturing into full time politics.
Fayemi is a fellow of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies; University of Ibadan; adjunct professor of security studies at the African Centre for Strategic Studies; National Defense University, Fort McNair, USA. He was also a Visiting Professor in the African Studies Programme at Northwestern University, Evanston, USA in 2004.
He was a director of the Centre for Democracy & Development (CDC), and had worked as a lecturer, researcher and strategy development adviser in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
He was strategy development adviser at London’s City Challenge; research fellow at the African Research & Information Bureau in London, UK, technical expert to ECOWAS on small arms and light weapons and United Nations Economic Commission of Africa on governance issues.
He was also a member of Africa policy advisory panel of the British government, and once chaired the commonwealth human rights initiative's committee of experts on developing guiding principles and mechanisms of constitution making in Commonwealth Africa.
Fayemi’s father was as an information officer in government and that, to a large extent, exposed him to life generally and earned him some level of fame at a tender age.
He reportedly had his first ‘political outing’ at the age of five when he joined in welcoming Yakubu Gowon to Ibadan during the military regime.
According to Femi Orebe, a political analyst, Fayemi’s father had, through his office, also “exposed him at a very early stage in life to newspapers, many of which he read daily, thus imperceptibly learning and internalising lessons in current and public affairs, especially politics that today stand him in good stead as they all combined to shape his career choices.”
Known as one of the leaders of the Nigerian opposition to the military regime, Fayemi was involved in the founding and management of opposition radios such as ‘Radio Kudirat’. His book, Out Of The Shadows: Exile and the Struggle for Freedom & Democracy In Nigeria, has an account of the process and roles he played in the establishment of Radio Kudirat.
He also talked about his struggle for Nigeria’s democracy book in 2005. He said: “Out of the Shadows is a political memoir; it is the story of my own personal development, particularly, it is a story about the exile movement and the struggle for freedom and democracy in Nigeria in the last one decade.
"It tells the story of my role in the opposition movement to military rule, it tells the story of my activities as a shuttle diplomat for the opposition movement.”
Delivering the 2016 convocation lecture of the University of Lagos, Fayemi had commented on his painful journey to emerging a success eventually.
The governor said he did some menial jobs including driving taxis and working as a guard. He was quoted as saying: “Be prepared for surprises and disappointments, because life is bound to hand you a couple of them. The only guarantee you have in this life is what you do for yourselves with the grace God has bestowed on us all.
“What you need to know, however, is that as a UNILAG graduate and a postgraduate student in the United Kingdom, I have driven taxis and worked as a guard, amongst other several menial jobs to survive.’’
In January, the Ekiti state government barred Fayemi from holding public office in the state for at least 10 years.
The government had based its action on the report of the judicial commission of inquiry, which allegedly indicted the former minister of mines and steel development over alleged mismanagement of the state’s finances between October 2010 and 2014.
Accusing his predecessor of mismanaging funds of the state, Fayose had set up a panel to probe his predecessor. Fayemi had shunned all the summons of the panel which he referred to as “kangaroo”.
A study on his journey as minister of mines and steel development would remain incomplete without the mention of his ordeal with lawmakers in the House of Representatives, wherein the two parties failed to reach an agreement concerning the Ajaokuta steel company issue.
While Fayemi stood for the concession of the company, the lawmakers wanted it concluded by the presidency.
The last straw was on March 1 when Fayemi’s absence at a debate organised by the lower legislative chamber had annoyed them, provoking them to declare a vote of no-confidence on him and his minister of state counterpart, Abubakar Bwari .
Fayemi lost his second term bid to Ayodele Fayose during the state governorship election in 2014. Speaking with newsmen, he had talked about how “federal forces” allegedly rigged the election in favour of Fayose, the then candidate of the PDP.
Fayemi said: “The election was not about Ekiti, it was turned to federal forces against APC in the state. We saw the federal forces at play in the election and they were undisguised in their desperation.
"When security agents that are supposed to be neutral for example go round picking party leaders the night before an election and party anchors on the day of election in a coordinated and choreographed manner with no charge levelled against them, clearly you had a predetermined end that you are seeking.”
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com reported that the APC had congratulated Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the party’s candidate, on his election as the Governor of Ekiti state.
In a statement signed by the party’s national publicity secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, APC noted that Dr. Fayemi ran an effective and positive campaign focused on his agenda of rebuilding the economy of the state and returning its lost values of integrity, prudence and decency.
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