Actually, it is a bit unfair to single out Mr Ayodele Fayose, the rigged-into-office governor of Ekiti State (just listen to the hottest audio record in Nigeria, the Ekiti Election Rigging Tape) as the one, within the ruling party’s crowded barracoon of desperate power-mongers, whose recklessness is fast approaching a suicide bomber’s. Who, I ask you, plays second fiddle to another among these intrepid contestants for the prize of Enemy of Democracy No. 1: Fayose; or Call-Me-a-Bastard-if-APC-Survives Doyin Okupe, aka Dr Attack Lion; or Femi Fani-Kayode, whose congenital case of logorrhoea, “excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness,” is his only stock-in-trade; or AIG Joseph Mbu, non-card carrying member of the PDP; or Mujahedeen Asari Dokubo who threatens war if Jonathan loses the election; or National Security Adviser Dasuki, the de facto INEC Chairman; or Mrs Patience Jonathan, who doesn’t need change because she is not a bus conductor, who would have anybody shouting “Change!” stoned, and who knows a thing or two about “brain dead” people; or President Jonathan himself, whose refusal to curb the excesses of his troops and corresponding eagerness to reward high crimes (as in nominating the prime suspect in the criminal subversion of democracy in Ekiti for ministerial reappointment), betrays a clear preference, his public utterances notwithstanding, for a hand-picked interim government over a democratically elected one?
But I pick on Fayose for good reason: with his latest outing, he damns President Jonathan’s government as one founded on impunity. “The heavens will not fall,” Fayose counsels, if the president does what he sorely desires: sack Jega and replace him with a spineless chairman whose first duty would be to cancel the use of permanent voter cards for biometric accreditation before the elections can take place. Doubtless, Fayose would denounce impunity as vehemently as anyone but would not hesitate to recommend blatant illegality. “[T]he president,” says Fayose, “can determine whether or not Jega will go on the mandatory three months terminal leave which should commence on March 8,” and if he so decides, “what can the APC loudmouths do?” No matter, of course, that the INEC chairman is not subject to normal civil service rules and the president is not the Senate.
It seems to me that the PDP is traumatised by the shocking fact of having for once to confront a credible opposition party, especially one they had certified stillborn in its merger-bed. For Jega’s crime, lest we forget, is no more than a commitment, through electronic accreditation, to the elimination of rigging, the great bane of our electoral process. But the wind of change, blowing stronger by the day, has bared the proverbial rump of the fowl for all to see. Consequently, we hear now that to insist on rigging-free elections is to be an agent of the rival party! Makes sense. With all their hopes invested in rigging, the irony is lost on them that they have now conceded the moral high ground to the All Progressives Congress. Go ahead, defy the people, Fayose begs the president. “They boasted before the postponement of the elections that they would go on street protests, but did they do anything? They made noise when Justice Isa Ayo Salami was removed from office as President of the Court of Appeal, what did their noise amount to? Therefore, let me say it categorically that the noise being made by the APC and their agents will amount to nothing because if [you] remove Jega today, [the] heavens will not fall.”
From where does Fayose get this thuggish confidence? From his serial acts of unpunished impunity! Here is what he cleverly refrained from saying: “When the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission charged me with diversion of N860 million intended for a poultry project, did anything come of it? Despite the unending screams of the professional loudmouths about my alleged implication in murder, and my impeachment, did the good people of my state not reward me with another tenure? When I went to the High Court, and in my presence a mob halted the proceedings of a tribunal deciding my eligibility for political office, ransacked the chambers of a senior judge, shredded his robes and books, and manhandled him, did the sword of justice fall upon me? But, Your Excellency, here is the clincher, if you are still unpersuaded. Even with the tape of the rigging operation leaked by that traitor, Capt Koli, and APC and civil society making the usual noises, have you not insisted on reappointing Musiliu Obanikoro as a minister? Have the heavens fallen on you or me yet? Have I not broken a taboo by advertising my wish that your opponent die before the election?”
Fayose’s recklessness is emblematic of the desperation in the ranks of the ruling party. Former president Obasanjo suggests that it has something to do with the fear that Buhari will send many of them to jail. For Fayose, this fear turns to panic that he will be removed from the office that the unanswerable evidence of the Ekiti rigging tape suggests he occupies illegally. To be twice disgraced out of office? That is enough to unhinge a man clinging to power with his bare knuckles. If you desire a speedy end to the 16-year buffoonery and torture Nigeria has had to endure, you can only wish Fayose and his ilk even greater recklessness. And Nigeria a swifter march to March 28!