What’s Fayemi’s Interest in Us? (1) By Akogun Tai Oguntayo
This headline appears rhetorical, coming from a new political appointee but behold, it is not. Rather, it is a soul-searching question which I asked myself after seeing the torrents of comments and goodwill messages that greeted my appointment as the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media. There is no doubt that some people will say; “Akogun has come again with his epistle writing,” but after a thorough digest of this piece, many will come to terms with me that it is not out of place.
Within four days of notifying my facebook friends of my appointment, I noticed that over 500 friends had already clicked “LIKE” which goes to say that a lot of people were actually expectant of the good news. Then I asked myself; how will I justify this outpouring of encomiums? What really does the Governor want from me and my other colleagues, the political appointees? What value does he want us to add to this government? What’s really his interest? How will I meet up to the expected standard so as not to disappoint my principal and the multitude of well-wishers on the social media and in my community?
Is this appointment for self aggrandizement or just to reward us as party members? Better still, is it because the Governor wants us to take to the open cyber space pouring encomiums on him and praising him to high heavens for appointing us to serve? Going through the Governor’s antecedents, having worked with him in his first tenure as a Governor, I discovered that what he wants are far from all the aforementioned posers. With all these thoughts flooding my mind, I had to tarry in joining the fray to roll out the drums over my appointment. Hence my decision to go the way of Professor Bolaji Idowu’s statement in his book, African Traditional Religion that; “on the land you know little or nothing about, tread softly, softly.”
I then decided to think aloud about what the workaholic Governor really wants from his political appointees, from party members and from the general public. To make it a quick-read, I have decided to segment this write-up into series by starting with what he wants from political appointees, to be followed later by what he wants from party members or politicians so to say and finally what he wants from the general public or put in a succinct way, what he wants from Nigerians as a whole. Shortly after the announcement of my name among other appointees, many of my professional colleagues in the radio and television contacted me to appear on their stations but I politely declined, wanting to be officially imbued with the rules of engagement. Thank God I did. Two days later, we officially met with the Chief of Staff to the Governor who reeled out to us some of the modus operandi guiding our new offices.
If I choose to write epistles to praise the Governor over my appointment and circulate all over the social media, he deserves it because I was just favoured among the numerous that are party loyalists. However, instead of doing this, I chose to make my appreciation personal to him and our mother-general, Erelu Bisi Fayemi – the brand new Iyalode of Ilafon Ekiti – who has always stood by her husband like the rock of Gibraltar. Considering the sensitivity of my appointment as the image maker of the Governor, I felt that what he wants as a critic himself, is to get the accurate opinion of the populace as well as getting the populace properly oriented about governmental activities rather than constituting an image barrier through sycophancy and unnecessary grandstanding.
Knowing who Governor Kayode Fayemi is, one thing that is sure is that he does not take delight in eye-service, indolence, gossip and notice-me attitudes which, in the Nigeria of today, are wont of many political appointees. The bible says; is there a man who is diligent in his work? He shall stand before kings and not mean men. Fayemi, himself being a diligent person, delights in dedication to service, transparency, sincerity of purpose and genuine loyalty. No wonder it is said that “only the deep can call to the deep”. As appointees, before we can go all out to be ambassadors of this government, we must first and foremost get the interest of our principal clear so that our activities will not be counter-productive. It was the 26th President of the United States of America, Theodore Roosevelt who said; “the best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and enough restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” This is exactly what JKF has done in appointing us into various positions of responsibility, expecting us to deliver without necessarily being monitored. So, the onus lies on us to do that which is expected of us without any conflict of interest.
One thing that is unique this time around is that almost all the appointees are grassroot politicians who, at one time or the other, had either served in the first tenure of Dr Fayemi or vied for one position or the other. Therefore, there is no excuse for us to fail because all eyes are on us to effect that which we had wanted to do if elected in the first instance. Now that the Governor has been magnanimous to bring together all shades of opinions and divergent interests, the onerous task of proving our mettle is now bestowed on us because to whom much is given, much is expected. This time around, there shouldn’t be any complaint of capital flight. Regular attendance of ward meetings and political gatherings should not become herculean tasks having scaled through these huddles in the past four years of Fayose’s misrule before getting to where we are today.
The best form of soliloquizing is speaking to ourselves and impressing ourselves on our various platforms while the general public is unaware of the activities of government. The greatest disservice we can do unto ourselves is to fail in setting agenda to the public on the activities of the government. It will be the height of insincerity to our principal if instead of working together as a team in espirit de corps we begin to backbite, engage in internal bickering and unnecessary envy of one another, Another leader, former President of Egypt, Anwar al-sadat said; ‘there can be hope only for a society which acts as one big family and not as many separate ones.” Even in heaven, there is division of labour how much more of the political circle where the rule is; soldier goes, soldier comes, barrack remains. The worst form of loyalty is to live in a utopian class without being able to intermediate between the governed and the government we serve. All these, we should be mindful of if only to justify the trust reposed in us for this great task of revalidating our values and reclaiming our land. So help us God.
*Akogun Tai Oguntayo is the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media*