Who is afraid of Fayemi? Asks Akin omo Akin

Misery loves company, rebellion loves music. –  Will Bill, featuring Rachel Pearl (2016)

Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese politician who became the paramount leader of the People’s Republic of China from 1978 until his retirement in 1989. In 1985, Deng was voted Man of the Year by Time Magazine.

In Xiaoping’s home, there is a painting called “Two Cats” by renowned painter Chen Liantao. An inscription in Chinese calligraphy says: “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white; as long as it catches mice, it’s a good cat.”

The South Western part of Nigeria of today is like the then Deng’s China, savoring the post-election victory and needing to consolidate on it in anticipation of harvesting big in 2023.

But as good as this sounds, something seems odd about the anatomy of the proverbial _*Ajao,*_ of the region: Its arms are longer than its legs. 

Already some respected leaders have started gloating over the success and its intended consequences for the Southwest. They believe the gains are meant, not for all, but a few of them. They are not only appropriating the victory, they are also drowning themselves in anger, disparaging some other people’s contributions.

You would think that those disparagers would at least understand and appreciate what others had brought to the table. But, no. Their concern is about their own invincibility, which is now being questioned, so to speak. They fear that any recognition given to others in the bloc would dwarf theirs and can throw up some new stars.

Don’t be surprised therefore if you start hearing disparaging tunes about a Fayemi who is too minnow a politician, yet too ambitious and aspiring to rule the entire Nigeria come 2023. 

The political trajectory of the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi is fast giving those people sleepless nights, being the greatest come back kid in the history of progressives in the Southwestern Nigeria. Those who should appreciate and celebrate him are the same people now dissing him, beating drums of war and expecting Fayemi to dance to it. They are sponsoring known slanderers to sing rebellious songs against the governor.

As the sitting governor, Fayemi in 2014 lost the governorship election to what his traducers called disconnectedness and political immaturity. But today, Fayemi, who was explained away as politically naïve then, has suddenly grown to become a political juggernaut and must be hewed, lest he becomes a threat to the ambition of some people. To do this, some pull-him-down professionals who have long sold their conscience to the devil, have been hired to hack down Fayemi’s reputation, dish out umbrage, which would describe the governor as over-ambitious.

Fayemi is neither an infantile activist nor a rookie politician. He had paid his dues, coming from the school of hard knocks, and this is what he is putting on the table for the benefit of the Southwest and the entire Nigeria. Those who anticipate that he may eventually become the greatest beneficiary of his current bridge-building exercise may be seeing with extra terrestrial eyes, what ordinary eyes cannot see. But no one should attempt to pooh-pooh his contributions to the fence-mending exercise going on in the sub-region. Rather, they should eat the humble pie and join him in the process. After all, it is whatever is available that is worth sharing.

If some Yoruba leaders are at this point beginning to arrogate power to themselves, believing it is served a la carte, then they should start building bridges too and stop playing god. Instigating umbrage against a Fayemi may not be the best strategy. Fayemi, they should know, is not anyone’s headache. He is only being himself and making his strategic expertise available for the benefit of, not only the Yoruba race, but the entire Nigeria by criss-crossing the entire country, bringing messages of peace to the doorsteps of all progressives. If this is seen as building a political nest for himself, then so be it.

Dr. Fayemi returned to relevance in Ekiti State when he beat Ayo Fayose and his crony, Professor Olusola Eleka to emerge as the governor for a second term in 2018. He quickly built on the victory, and in a spate of three months, consolidated his position, led the progressives to win a landslide victory for President  Muhammadu in February 2018 as well as for all who contested for the national and state assembly slots in March. The victory was the best for the progressives in southwest, free of any controversy and the first to be pronounced and commended by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ahead of that of any other state in Nigeria. This may have turned Fayemi to a star boy, who must be watched and checked. His sins: his moves are becoming suspicious. He is getting too close to the President. He is becoming too popular. He must slow down. He must queue behind some leaders….

Not that this matters to Fayemi. A clear conscience, they say, is the greatest armor. If he feels strongly that his bridge-building effort is what his party, the All Progressives Congress, desires at this point, and it is producing the desired result, why must he be deterred? Not even the bite and blow antics of some of his associates should matter to him. After all, his focus and sense of duty have never been in doubt.

Anyone feeling intimidated and uncomfortable by this feat, should come out in the open and voice it, rather than hiding under cloak of jealousy to diss Fayemi. Of course, those who know the truth can easily read between the lines and see them as his traducers.

Simply put, they are paranoid. They are paranoid because the leader of Afenifere, the oldest Awoist alive, Senator Ayo Fasanmi had openly praised Fayemi for his good work. Pa Fasanmi publicly canvassed that the presidency must come to the Southwest in 2023, which settled down well with the disparagers. But for declaring his support for Fayemi, and the latter not publicly turning it down, both Pa Fasanmi and Fayemi have stirred the hornet’s nest, so they must be stung by bees until they repent.

What does it mean to be paranoid in politics?

According to William S. Burroughs, A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on.

Being paranoid, therefore, is an unrealistic distrust of others or a feeling of being persecuted. Extreme degrees may be a sign of mental illness.

Paranoia is an instinct or thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself.  Paranoia is distinct from phobias, which also involve irrational fear, but usually no blame. Making false accusations and the general distrust of others also frequently accompany paranoia. For example, an incident most people would view as an accident or coincidence, a paranoid person might believe was intentional. Paranoia is a central symptom of psychosis.

Paranoia is not strange to politics. It is an underlying theme in political life. While healthy suspicion is invaluable to leaders, extreme cases are disastrous for citizens and nations alike. 

Robert S. Robins and Jerrold M. Post, M.D., experts in political psychology, document and interpret the malign power of paranoia in a variety of contexts in their book, Political Paranoia. According to the two experts, paranoia can be found in political movements like McCarthyism, in organizations like the John Birch Society, in leaders like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Jim Jones, and David Koresh, and among extreme groups that commit violence in the name of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. 

Indeed, Robins and Post show that the paranoid dynamic has been aggressively present in every social disaster of this century. 

Robins and Post describe the paranoid personality, explain why paranoia is part of human evolutionary history, and examine the conditions that must exist before the message of the paranoid takes root in a vulnerable population, leading to mass movements and genocidal violence. 

On a psychological level, studies show Machiavellianism and paranoia are highly correlated with conspiratorial thinking.

Should any Yoruba leader go through all these simply because a Fayemi is doing what he knows how to do best? In Deng’s words, does it really matter if the cat is black or white? I just hope not.


Be the first to comment