THE most important thing about last Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State was the equanimity, grace, humility with which Dr. Kayode Fayemi conceded victory. Such moments are rare in our politics and made all the difference to how both sides received the result.
Dr. Fayemi chose his words and the weight they borne delivered on the type of politics Nigerians want to embrace. Our people are tired of leaders who lead them to war, usually from behind, with the masses as cannon fodders.
We want peace. The first catalyst for peace, contrary to what many propound, is not justice. Utterances of leaders are important, their lives, their examples are the next most important ways of changing society.
Dr. Fayemi conceded victory, called governor-elect Ayodele Peter Fayose, who he addressed as “my brother, congratulating him on his victory”. Action made his words meaningful. Within hours, he was meeting the governor-elect “to discuss the future of our dear state and how we would work together to institute a smooth transition programme. Despite our diverse party affiliations, and regardless of which way we voted on Saturday, we must remember that we are all sons and daughters of Ekiti State. Ekiti is ours to build together.”
In our search for ways of deepening our democracy, we tend to emphasise electoral victories over high note performances like the one that Dr. Fayemi gave. Of course, he noted some infractions but quickly dwelt on important things.
“The incidences of brazen harassment, intimidation and allied infractions on fundamental human rights …in the hands of agents of the state, would be documented and communicated to the appropriate authorities, for the records,” Dr. Fayemi said.
He could have used his office to ensure he had a second term. He did not. The bellicose crowd forget that democratic governments are called to serve the people, by the people, on terms the people dictate.
When would we have politicians who can exit office without a thought about how important a second term is to them? Would they not destroy everything in sight to make the point about their importance to the sustenance of Nigeria?
The new Nigeria we desire is right before us. We cannot ignore examples like Dr. Fayemi’s. His character affected those he led; he inspired them to be peaceful. If he wanted war, Ekiti would have been in turmoil in abundance.
Dr. Fayemi is not only speeches. He is about credentials matching character. He proved there was more to life than being in public office. We need more people who want to serve the people, and who would accept the people’s decision on who serves them.
Nigeria needs people who make the difference – positively.