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Fayemi: 57 Garlands For A Bridge Builder



Fayemi: 57 Garlands For A Bridge Builder

By Olayinka Oyebode

Jos, the capital of Plateau State played host to an unusual gathering of top government functionaries and frontline religious and community leaders on September 6, last year. These included the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Co-chairmen of Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar, and Rev Samson Ayokunle; Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Governor Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto, Governor Sani Bello of Niger and Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, who was the host of the peace building meeting convened to resolve the ethno religious crisis that had threatened the peace in the North Central State. The meeting was frank and decisive as the SGF who represented President Mohammad Buhari at the parley hinted on the Federal Government’s commitment to resolving the crisis.
The second half of the meeting featured presentations by leaders of the various religious and ethnic groups. An octogenarian Islamic cleric, Imam Abdulahi Abubakar from Barkin Ladi Local Government, spiced up his presentation by recapping how Governor Kayode Fayemi awarded him a honorary doctorate degree of the Ekiti State University in recognition of his peace initiatives in the northern state some years ago. The celebrated cleric who is a chief Imam in his mosque had saved the lives of over 200 Tivs who were Christians by hiding them in his mosque and feeding them throughout the period of the crisis. Imam Abubakar told the cheering audience to appreciate the governor for his gesture: “I have never met the governor before. I was invited by the university for the award, I hope I can use this opportunity to thank the governor for recognising my little effort”, the octogenarian cleric said as he made his way to the high table to have a handshake with Dr Fayemi.

Instances abound of Dr Fayemi’s bridge building and peace -making efforts aimed at ensuring amicable resolution of knotty issues of socio-political, economic and ethno religious significance and in the process stabilising the Nigerian society and giving peace a chance to take a firm root. Indeed, effort at building bridges and salvaging situations remains a familiar pastime of Kayode Fayemi, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, who has his signature in many fence- mending efforts across the length and breadth of the country and beyond.

Fayemi: A bridge Builder

Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

Fayemi’s penchant for peaceful resolution of conflict as a precursor to development made him come up with policies that addressed some inequalities and lop-sidedness in the mining sector during his stint as Minister of Mines and Steel Development between 2015 and 2018. Key among these was the win-win approach he engineered to address the contentious issue of land ownership. Through the right mix of policy, advocacy and consultation with critical stakeholders the exclusive right of the Federal Government to minerals and mining was retained, but a creative way to enable the 36 states to benefit from the resources in their domain was charted, while the host communities also get their deserved compensation.

READ ALSO: Fayemi Commiserates With Chief Press Secretary Oyebode Over Father’s Death

It is generally believed that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum under Governor Fayemi’s chairmanship has become a vehicle for bridge-building and peace initiatives. What with many interventions on issues bordering on workers welfare, women and children, sharing formula of the commonwealth as well as ethno-religious crisis. Back home in Ekiti where he holds sway as the “Ilufemiloye”, (the people’s governor), his bridge-building efforts have made the adherents of the various religions live together in harmony. Opposition parties are also able to ventilate divergent views on state matters and hold political activities without any fear of molestation. His administration is reputable for effective handling of knotty traditional and chieftaincy issues through alternative conflict resolution methods. His annual meeting with communities for their input into the state’s annual budget preparation has been applauded by development partners and international donor agencies as a good model for development.

The Collins English Dictionary defines a bridge builder as a person who attempts to connect or reconcile opposing parties. Fayemi, in his bridge building efforts, creates relationships that cut across the lines of conflict, helps to forge ties across borders, cultures, religions, power bloc. He establishes relationships, improves communication, and builds trust between conflicting people and groups which helps opposing groups of people to understand each other or behave well towards each other.

Former External Affairs Minister, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, remarked on Fayemi’s bridge-building efforts during a lecture marking the 60th anniversary of the Nigeria Institute for International Affairs (NIIA) in Lagos recently, and urged him not to relent. “The country needs this type of interventions at this critical period. And I am happy you are one of the respected voices preaching peace.”.

And like Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century, said: “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” For Fayemi, going where there seems to be no path is a familiar pastime. And leaving a trail- an impact, a legacy comes to him naturally. He combines integrity, creativity and sincerity with passion for excellence and development. JKF stated this much in one of his books: “Reclaiming The Trust”. He admits that what he has brought into governance is the kind of trust that is based on and compels competence, openness, concern and reliability. “Trust is a public good; we cannot do great things collectively without trust. But trust has to be earned” he stresses.

READ ALSO: Jonathan, Fayemi, Abike-Dabiri, Odinkalu Others For Honours At Maiden Freedom of Information Awards

The Ekiti State governor had emerged on the peace building scene at the beginning of the Fourth Republic when he served as Technical Adviser to the Justice Chukwudifu Oputa- led Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission Panel that looked into cases of human rights abuses under the then military regime. Prior to that time, he had joined forces with an army of pro-democracy agitators outside the shores of the land, working for the revalidation of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election won by the late Chief Moshood Abiola.

As Dr Fayemi turns 57 today, the question is no longer about what he is capable of doing as a leader, peace maker and bridge builder. He has been able to demonstrate his capability as an imaginative, innovative and exemplary leader. Instead, the question will be about what he would not do as a leader as many have come to believe that his past adequately prepared him for the present and the future.

Born on February 9, 1965, John Kayode Fayemi received his first degree in History and Politics from the University of Lagos in 1985, a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), in 1987 and a doctorate in War Studies from the King’s College, University of London, UK in 1993. His research and policy development interests include: Natural Resource Governance, Democratisation, Constitutionalism, Security Sector Governance, Civil-Military Relations and Regionalism in the Global Context.

Dr. Fayemi was the founding director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), a research and training institute dedicated to the study and promotion of democratisation, peace-building and human security in Africa. As a central figure in the coalition of civil society actors that resisted oppressive military rule in Nigeria in the early 1990s, he was central to the founding and running of opposition radio stations while in exile. Dr. Fayemi is a prominent member of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and chaired the party’s National Convention Planning Committee that produced the Presidential Candidate for the 2015 general election and now President. He also served as the Director, Policy Research and Strategy of the APC Presidential Campaign Council.

READ ALSO: No Need Dying For Nigeria’s Problems We Can Resolve By Dialogue – Fayemi

He was inaugurated as Governor of Ekiti State on October 16, 2010 and was named Minister of Mines and Steel Development in 2015. During his tenure as minister, he also chaired the governing board of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

However, he resigned his ministerial position in 2018 to contest the governorship of Ekiti State. He won and was inaugurated as governor for the second term on October 16, 2018. His colleagues unanimously elected him Chairman of the NGF in May 2019.
Dr Fayemi is married to Erelu Bisi Fayemi, the renowned women’s and children’s rights advocate, international development specialist, writer and social entrepreneur; and they are blessed with a son.

In the words of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo “It is not life that matters but the courage you bring to it.” Dr Fayemi, as a firm believer in the philosophy of the great leader, brings courage, resilience and tact to bear on every task the same way he drives his public service with great vision, working with imagination, insight, and boldness, his eyes fixed on the horizon, not just on the near at hand but the big picture and thinking strategically.

Regarded as a consummate intellectual in government, Fayemi’s strength lies in his ability to initiate and pursue peace processes to logical conclusion and finding creative ways to ensure every peaceful step taken yields dividends in form of sustainable development.

Today, I join millions of admirers to present 57 garlands to this exceptional leader, reliable mediator, bridge builder, change agent, thinker and innovator as he takes the fifty-seventh step in his untiring service to our dear state and country. The journey is just about to begin.

• Oyebode is Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Ekiti State.


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Death At Dawn, Rebirth At Dusk 



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola




Twilight-zone, Afterlife, What-Mays, and Whatnots;

Questions that transcend mortal thoughts.

Uncertainties plucked by the hands of certainty

pondering life beyond the galaxy.


Philosophies, religions, and sciences; 

Ancient lenses to dissect and ponder.

Beliefs, opinions, and standpoints in their multiplicities;

Scalpels that open the heart of certain death

Blazing free the skins of uncertainty.


Science, a nobility I revere,

But it stammers answering to the afterlife.

For science is knowledge and knowledge from experience 

But the dead neither speak, nor take records.


Their journeys, ordeals, triumphs or woes?

No one bears witness.

But as dead, we must all be witnesses;

witnesses that testify not.

So, for now, we survive the knowledge of death.



On my Agbàlàgbà head lies my Ọ́kpụ́ Ágwụ́

With eagle feathers, rare and honorable

Adorning it for three scores, a decade, and some more days.

I had flipped my Kente given by the Gaa

And danced to crescendos from Gàngàn drums


I have been celebrated and celebrating 

For the miracles, I have worked with pen, paper, keyboard, and brain

I have taken the tales we tell in my village square beyond the Atlantic

Changed the songs that disdain us into appraisals

I have called my brothers not to point to our fathers’ house with their left hands


I have honed Africa and beyond

To answer the calls of the people’s need

I have reached the thinkable and done the unthinkable

So, I danced and keep dancing. 


Suddenly, I felt a touch on my host?

Electrifying my hand, leg, brain, and my whole

Telling me that my jur from the Dinka people awaits me.

That my hourglass tells of crossing the bar.


I thought I knew what it was like,

But my grasping convictions of approaching jur were perceptions

Just surviving the death of the knowledge of death

So, arms wide open ready to abound


What was there to fear?

No catacomb of secrets

No palm oil-drenched white garments

I have taken many to my gourmet

To feast and to see.


What was there not to fear?

With medicine men and women,

Syringes, lights, water, ECG, Oximeters, voices, and touches

Hovering around me like a sacred etutu

Making conversations with me and beyond


I was thrown into a pool of reminiscence

one leg and a part of me were already in the boat

It beckoned but I heard another. 


A loud voice like my mother’s.

Who takes a journey without locking his home?

Who takes the jur with unpatched palm fronds on his hut?

While the thunder rages up the sky?

The walls are broken and Balogun journeys?

So, I left the sea to clear the cobwebs and light up the night lamb.


The past few weeks have opened new lights of understanding to me. I now see the world from different hills and have helped to reach new resolutions. I know I have written about “transitioning to nothingness,” but my emphasis was on the “nothingness” with lesser attention on “transitioning.” I think we need to continue to ask questions. Philosophies, religion, sociology, psychology, science, and other ramifications are mere perceptions and we are uncertain. The transitioning occurs when death becomes an angel to hug not a beast to fear. We do not know what it entails but one must always endeavor to go with clean hands. 

My recovery from an illness may have offered me a fresh opportunity to shout some more, point to societal needs, and settle unfinished businesses. No, not those caused by my personal undoing, but rather those of the people who would be left unguided, and for matters untold about life, society, and individuals. I can say I have passed through the lessons of tantra transfiguration, to use an elegant phrase that I recently came across, to move from secular to sacred activism. No one survives death because of its finality, but when it seems that you did, it is a renewed quest, offering a new purpose.

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Professors On INEC’s Will (3)



Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof. Tony Afejuku

By Tony Afejuku

The debate has progressed well so far. Our professors, whose strokes have centred on their fellow professor’s manned INEC have tried as best as they could not to confine their impressions solely to the prism of subjectivity. Even when their impressions seem to be subjective, they still make allowance for contrary views, for opposing views. This obviously gives clarity, objectivity and logic to the subject at hand. Is the will of INEC of a professor minder and mincer of words’ control the will of the people or of the masses? On whose side are the Professors who are as concerned as almost everybody is with what is going – or with what has gone on – primarily about our Presidential 2023 elections? Our Professors who are debating the subject constitute the courageous and prophetic Nigerian voices of our day. Their authentic and responsible thoughts are not restricted to the local or regional. They are also not confined to electoral duties and responsibilities expected of the umpire and the will that belongs elsewhere. The truth about the quality of leadership about our country and elsewhere is also told in the debate of the literati.

Professor (Mrs.) Razinatu Mohamed in her submission, in her salvo-cum-explosion actually, drew attention to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s explosive explosion in the presidency. If Professor Osinbajo had provided the right vice-presidential leadership there would not have been the need for him to explode as he did as per a viral video Professor Razinatu Mohamed referred her fellow debaters to. “What has he been doing in the eight years of their administration? Irritated my foot; he is complicit.” Not done, Professor Razinatu drew attention to the kind of leaders that Nigeria and Africa need: “Leaders that understand the rudiments of modern socio-economic development and systems; Leaders that understand the crux of requirements for economic growth. Leaders that could demonstrate to the rest of the world that just as the world needs Africa, African countries need the world in a symbiotic relationship and partnership context where assistance becomes a dual role…..” 

Razinata’s concern is clear. Nothing in Nigeria will climb out of its hollow hole. In fact, the will of the people will remain hollow so long as a hollow mincer and minder is in charge of its electoral affairs. 

Professor Da Sylva perhaps responds better to Professor Razinatu Mohamed’s algebraic stroke. “Unfortunately, Nigeria’s democracy is trapped in its primordial self-made ethnic and religious sentiments and so, standards, merit, competence and pedigrees are measured by their curious divides of religion and ethnic inclinations. Until we all come to realize that heavens help those who help themselves, Nigeria ain’t going no-where – meeen!” 

    But below is Professor Da Sylva’s sledge hammer response to Professor Razinatu Mohamed’s Osinbajo hammer blow:

“Prof Osinbajo’s office demands he does what he did. Besides, it shows maturity and spirit of sportsmanship on his part. Every loser in a game “healthily” contested, is naturally expected to do the same. The only difference which again shows Osinbajo’s magnanimity is that in this context, the contest under reference was neither healthy nor just. The umpire seemed compromised and merely worked to a prepared answer. Yet the gentleman did the needful. I guess, brothers and sisters, that we should put all that behind us, and work for our common good, and the wellbeing of the country, provided the mythical Aso cabal will let the President-elect be, and let the masses be, and as such, they should not create any cause for us to think otherwise, lest they provoke our sense of patriotism to take appropriate action! I guess that those were the reading or feelings of the dirty-minded Aso Villa cabal. People that kill with sword never wish that any folk should pass a sword over their heads, a wise saying goes in Yoruba. The human principalities simply suspected that should they allow PMB to give the VP the intended latitude, they might not be able to control him. I remember on his return from London, he commended the efforts of his VP while he was away. He said he would still continue acting while he would still have some more rest at home. The following day everything changed, PMB decided to take charge as the President. I suspected some back door politics was playing out. My co-debaters, quite naturally, you’ll agree with me that, it is not over-ambition or sheer opportunism as you might insinuate for any deputy in an office to aspire to the next higher office, in a legitimate manner, there is nothing really unusual about it, and it would amount to killing a mosquito with a sledge hammer, should Oshinbajo be crucified for that, if at all. And as for his wishing Buhari’s non-recovery, I think that, again, like my Sister R, is a little unkind and not fair to the gentleman who I know to be a servant of God. He knows as much as I do, by our true Christian orientation and Biblical injunctions that, should he ever wish Buhari’s death or wish him any form of misfortune in those trying periods of the President, God Almighty who we serve would deal mercilessly and ruthlessly with him. That is what Psalm 41:1-13 is all about. So rule that out, because it is not, and could never be in his character. I can vouch for him. Rather, I saw him in those times that he acted for his principal, as someone zealous and appreciative of the trust his principal invested in him, and as such he tried to do his very best to merit the trust and the opportunity! I know and I am also sure that this is what an IBK, or a Razinat, would have done too had they found themselves in a similar situation! It does not amount to wishing one’s principal any evil, not at all. Not everyone can be like Chief Obafemi Awolowo who resigned his position under Gowon when the regime became financially reckless shortly after the civil war. Awolowo also gave very profound argumentation to justify convincingly his actions. He also turned down some other appointments including the “49 Wise Men of the Constitution Drafting Committee.” Oshinbajo couldn’t have resigned, normally, and naturally his principal, PMB should have supported him as a capable successor, but again, the President’s ethnic and religious bigotry took the better part of the President. Besides, PMB’s mind was long poisoned against his VP, a clean job by the Aso Villa cabal. IBK, Lady R, until the faceless cabal is permanently silenced the wheel of Nigeria might continue to go round in a circle, and to nowhere in particular”.

And Professor IBK takes the floor: “Prof. DAO, yours is a powerfully convincing submission, at least in a large measure. Now I am willing to hold a slightly different opinion about Osinbajo. Yet, I cannot fathom why he chose to run against Tinubu, days or weeks after the latter had begun his campaign in the party primaries. There’s much we don’t know about why OSBJ decided to run against BAT. Nothing is wrong with that politically but a little problematic from an Ethical or, at least Moral, point of view. Osinbajo did a poor job of it and came out a distant 4th in the primaries. I think he didn’t read the situation correctly and was probably misled by some cabal of sorts. Either way Osinbajo made a politically fatal error in this regard. Perhaps he must have sensed, or was told, that BAT was not the anointed candidate, or that BAT would be crippled by some ill-health or a medical condition. I remember the party’s screening committee publicly recommending that only younger contestants would be recommended to the NWC or such. Clearly there was an attempt to sideline BAT. Whatever the explanation, Osinbajo make the error in his campaign of promising to be more Buhari than Buhari. A man despised by whole sections of the northern population, a man whose reputation for laziness and incompetence was on the ascendant. Anyway, all is now history and Osinbajo has not given a good account of himself in this particular case. Prof DAO, I think your concept of the Trickster should account for Osinbajo’s situation here. FULL DISCLOSURE: a very close family member of mine was drafted to head Osinbajo’s campaign effort in Kano. We discussed extensively about Osinbajo’s pledge to carry on with Buhari’s policies. There was bewilderment and shock within the members. A week later half of the membership resigned on account of Osinbajo’s increasing identification with Buhari’s policies. Many mistakenly thought that Osinbajo was Buhari’s anointed one! I could go on…”

Interestingly interesting and intriguingly intriguing, dear, dearly dear readers: this debate.

To be terminated by the columnist-terminator and terminator-columnist next week after Professor Olu Obafemi’s summation of the debate he presided over.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

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With Us, Not For US



Barrister Ijeoma Fynecountry

By Ijeoma Fynecountry

The 21st of March of every year is international day for the celebration of persons living with down syndrome. The advocacy and push for communal and political recognition of the basic fundamental rights for persons living with various types of disabilities, particularly intellectual disability, just as enjoyed by their peers who do not have any form of challenge – physical or intellectual has recorded a substantial success around the globe, especially in more developed climes. 

While the same cannot be said of the situation in Africa and Nigeria in particular, scanty breakthroughs have also been seen over the years, with the consistent and dogged efforts by some specialized organizations such as Down syndrome Foundation, Nigeria (DSFN).

The theme for this year’s celebration is “With us, Not for us”. This theme is apt particularly in the current era where the push for inclusion has taken a center stage in the campaign worldwide. While it is comforting to know that people, government and communities alike are now becoming more empathetic to the plight of persons living with disability, it is also necessary and most important that their rights as human beings deserving of not just empathy but actual concrete benefits accruable to other citizens without disability, is massively taken into consideration and actually provided for.

Therefore, it is not enough for the government to map out and create as in Lagos state and few other states, sections in the public schools to admit children or persons with intellectual disability, it is necessary to adequately equip these special schools with the needed “specialized” manpower, infrastructural and educational aids to attain the targeted educational goals for these persons. Likewise in the provision of better healthcare, economic, social needs of persons with disability etc.

Persons with intellectual disability do not just need to be specifically educated in accordance with his or her type of disability, but MUST also necessarily be able to aspire to or expect to be employed according to his or her learned ability. That way, a full right, befitting of a person, be him a person with disability or not, is assured. For what is the need of going through a learning process, acquiring a specialized knowledge about a craft or handiwork and eventually still not being given the opportunity of gaining employment as supposed, not due to lack of knowledge but for having a disability? No human being should be subjected to such. Our government should do better. The society at large should do better.

The theme for this year is enjoining all stakeholders – the government, communities, corporate organizations, religious bodies/organizations, individuals to open up their hearts, and recognize the very urgent and important need to help in the actualization of these basic human needs, rights of persons living with intellectual disability as we are all human. No human rights or needs should be prioritized over the other no matter the state of their health, mental and physical capacity. Stand with us by taking actual intentional steps towards uplifting and elevating the humanness of persons living with disability. It is not enough to say that you are for persons living with disability, your specific, intentional, targeted actions toward ensuring the practical applicability of these rights matters.

Fynecontryis a Lagos-based legal practitioner and the legal resource person for the Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria.


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