Fayose and His Illiterate Council Chairman
POLSCOPE with Eddy Odivwri [email protected] 08053069356
Perhaps one vital attribute of the Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayo Fayose is that he maintains a close knit with the people, the ordinary people, a virtue he has benefited from in politics.
Three weeks ago, he stretched this virtue to a breaking point when he whimsically appointed a 72-year old illiterate retired carpenter, Mr Joel Olatunde Sebotimi, as the caretaker chairman of Moba Local Government Area in his state.
Since then, I have been struggling to reconcile the rationale behind his action to no avail.
First, it is an affront on the ethos of democracy for a governor to whimsically appoint whomever he likes as the head of the third tier of government whether or not it is on interim basis. Too often, governors treat the local government as a conquered vassal, or a department of Government House. And that is why many governors see the local government chairmen (even when elected) as an extension of their appointees. But it is not. It is fully recognized in the constitution.
The question therefore arises as to why a governor can appoint just anybody to head this arm of government whereas the constitution prescribes that the leaders of the Local Government Councils be elected, not appointed.
Many of the governors keep the heads of the local governments perpetually in interim status so they (governors) can continually oppress the council heads and use them to do their bidding without any whiff of protest. This is wrong.
The appointment of Pa Sebotimi as Council boss, for all intents and purposes is Fayose’s vintage act of playing to the gallery. He merely wants to be seen as having a bonding relationship with the commoners of society.
Just this week, it was reported also that he dashed a physically-challenged cobbler N.5million, yet the state House of Assembly just approved a loan of N19 billion for him to pay salaries and run government.
All it shows is a government run by impulse and a strong desire to appear populist at the expense of economic wisdom and overall interest of the state. If Fayose has a well thought-out development plan for the state, he certainly will not be dashing a roadside shoemaker that sum, and to know that this is a state that is in some financial mess.
I would have had no problem with his famed eating of Amala with Okada riders at Mama Put sheds. In doing that, he curries the favour and support of the “ordinary” citizens. But Fayose crossed the line of political appeal when he unilaterally handed over the headship of a Local Government to an illiterate old man, all in the exercise of his gubernatorial powers. This is nothing but gubernatorial absurdity.
It is bad enough that Fayose chose to appoint a 72-year old man, yet it is doubly curious that he chose to appoint an illiterate to head an entire Local government area in the 21st century. It only betrays his lowly attitude to the serious business of governance and public service. How can an illiterate function in office? Even gatemen in the most antique establishments require to have some level of literacy, let alone a Council Chairman. For God’s sake, we are not in the pre-colonial days. How can this old man read memos, interpret policies and implement council decisions without basic literacy even if it is just for one week?
Interestingly, Fayose appointed the man’s son as his assistant. A family affair? Only in Fayose’s Ekiti will all these happen.
The man himself, in an interview with Tribune Newspaper last weekend confessed that ,”I never went under any teacher. I’ve never been to school, but even if I don’t know the reckoner I should be able to reckon with my brain. So, I didn’t go to school and I must tell you that when we were growing up, it wasn’t that fashionable. However, when I learnt my trade (carpentry), I was able to learn measurements.”’
Alas, this is the same Ekiti said to have the highest number of professors and Ph.D holders in this country, and Fayose’s appointee says in his days, education was not fashionable. Really? How old is Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) who has gone ahead to build a private University in Ekiti State?
Aside the euphoria that trailed the so-called appointment, it is clear that the affairs of the Moba Council will be on pause for as long as the illiterate man remains in office. It is not to say that being literate is an automatic guaranty to credible performance in office. Certainly not. But the fact remains that if fire can consume the tortoise with the iron coat what shall it do to the hen with a feathery gown?
Pray, how shall this illiterate retired carpenter preside over Council meetings? What will be the language of communication at such meetings? He cannot even read the minutes or agenda of the meeting. Gosh!!!! What an abuse of office and privileges!!!
Fayose had tried to justify the appointment of the retired carpenter when he said many top politicians rise to office through the support of people like Pa Sebotimi, and that whether he is literate or not, such persons must be rewarded and encouraged. Correct!
Yes, the man in his interview explained how supportive and fanatical he is about Fayose. How he spends his own money mobilising people for the support of the Ekiti governor. Yes, such a person deserves a reward. But certainly not handing over an arm of government to him, knowing full well that he lacks the knowledge, capacity and competence to run a government. There are many other avenues open to a governor in rewarding his supporters. Not unexpectedly, the old man reckoned that one of his major acts since he assumed office is approving that diesel be bought to power the Council generator which had been without fuel for 17 months.
And lest I forget, didn’t Fayose make a heavy weather of President Buhari’s age during the presidential election campaigns? Didn’t he mock Buhari for being 72 and said that he is the same age with his mother, who was already going senile? And that such a one was not fit to rule? Yet, here he is whimsically picking somebody of the same age with Buhari and worse still, an illiterate, to run an arm of government? Where is the sincerity of purpose?
Aside the issue of age, Fayose had implied in his infamous and ignoble advert (during the campaigns) that leaders from the North west of the country often die in office, adding that Nigeria was tired of having state burials. Buhari won the election to his pain, but he has not stopped his acidic attacks.
I will not worry so much if the criticisms of the Buhari government are altruistic and not powered by banal partisan considerations. But as he continues his kick against the Buhari administration, Fayose more and more cuts the image of a Joseph Goebbels on the lose.