EARLIER on this week, students at the Federal University in Oye-Ekiti took to the streets to furiously protest about constant power outages on their two campus and in surrounding host communities.
Sadly, the protest turned violent. Innocent bystanders were terrorised with sticks. A police van was set ablaze and Joseph Okonofua, a student, was killed, while many others were hurt.
Unfortunately for Erelu Bisi Fayemi – wife of Dr Kayode Fayemi, who is Governor of Ekiti and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum – she happened to be touring council areas when this ugly drama was unfolding; and she got caught up in it. Stones were thrown at her convoy. Roadblocks were mounted to halt her progress.
False rumours that may have been initiated and orchestrated by her husband’s political enemies then spread like wildfire as various social media aficionados accused Mrs Fayemi of refusing to address distressed students and instructing her guards to shoot at them.
Here are excerpts from a statement in which Mrs Fayemi answered her critics and reached out to victims of the fracas: “…There are eyewitnesses, photographs and video footage to confirm [what really happened]…I am scandalised and shocked beyond words to hear that I instructed security officers to shoot at students…If I had met a group of protesting students, as a social justice activist myself, I would have listened to their complaints and addressed them. I firmly believe in citizens’ rights to protest…
“…As a mother, my heart bleeds [for the dead youngster]. All these students are my children and…I extend my sincere condolences to the family concerned and wish [the injured] a speedy recovery.”
I’ve known Mrs Fayemi since we ourselves were students, and I can assure anyone who doubts about her integrity that she is not a typical Naija VIP.
She is a truthful, compassionate, down-to-earth woman who has always campaigned for the underprivileged and is incapable of coldly asking anyone to gun down a fellow human being.