Ayodele Fayose, The Man Peter The Rock — Arakunrin Ayoola Faseyi

Peter the rock he is fondly called, Oshoko as he has come to be known as ain’t the only Governor we know but he stands tall in the league of former states executives with his character and personality.

Who is Ayodele Fayose?

That question shouldn’t just ring a bell but the answer to it should be soothing to the ears and eyes.

The 59-year old former Ekiti Governor is a man of many parts. While it can be argued he isn’t perfect (with associated human flaws like any other mortal), his positives largely outweigh the perceived negatives.

Before his foray into the political terrain (which actually shot him up to world consciousness), Peter Ayodele grew up in Oyo State where he attended Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo, Oyo State. After his secondary education, he proceeded to the Polytechnic Ibadan where he studied Biological Sciences/Applied Medical/Biology for his Ordinary National Diploma (OND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) respectively.

After a sojourn in personal business, he launched himself in the political firmament in 2001.

Despite never having previously held political office, he surprised almost everyone when he defeated the incumbent Governor , Niyi Adebayo to become the Ekiti State Governor under the banner of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The state at the time had a severe water crisis and the street smart and Philanthropic Fayose saw a great opportunity in the crisis. He responded it to it by providing water to the entire state for years which greatly endeared him to the people especially the hapless masses as he connected directly with them and identified with the have nots in the time of their need.

Not surprisingly, he pitched his tent with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which was hitherto unknown in the state and nearly single-handedly entrenched it all through the nooks and crannies of the state. He contested against Niyi Adebayo, the incumbent and defeated him convincingly so much so that the latter didn’t bother to contest the outcome at the elections petitions tribunal.

He was sworn in as Ekiti State Governor on May 29, 2003. The Omu-Ekiti born Ayodele showed  glimpse of brilliance in leadership as he steered the ship of the Fountain of Knowledge with an unrivalled style of grassroot politicking. 

His alignment with the people on the streets endeared him to the hearts of many people, most especially the down-trodden.

Unfortunately, his tenure was cut short due to what has now been known as an illegal impeachment on the 16th of October 2006. He was accused of embezzling state funds in a botched poultry project which led to his ouster but pundits opined that it was his opposition to the alleged third term bid of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo that led to his sudden fall from grace.

Left to right; Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Ayodele Fayose and Ben Bruce

While a lot argued that his impeachment was due to face-off and political difference with the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo, others opined that his fall was due to the alleged hostile treatment he meted to the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, a first class monarch.

His ouster from power proved to be temporal as he stood for election in 2014 as the Peoples Democratic Party’s Candidate and defeated the incumbent Governor Kayode Fayemi. He became the first politician to defeat two incumbent Governors.

Ayo Fayose (pictured left) and Kayode Fayemi

On his second stint as Governor, he redefined governance with his ability to synergize with the poor populace and the average man on the street. He was known with the “Stomach Infrastructure” coinage as he not only had his eyes on the ball, he connected to the people in the grassroot by whining and dining with them on many occasions. Some even called him the “ponmo eating governor”. 

The proponent of “Stomach Infrastructure” combined his grassroots popularity to general performance in office and his transformation in the educational sector paid off as Ekiti State was ranked high based on performance in the West African Examination Council (WAEC) rating.

In what he tagged as the “Government of Restoration”, he really made mark in the educational sector as Ekiti State was between 2016 to 2017 ranked the first state in the country in the National Examinations Council (NECO).

He also made a mark in road construction and building as he started and completed so many road projects; notable among them is the Ado-Ekiti bridge. He built local markets, renovated estate roads and so many others. He also touched on other sectors such as health, electricity, water provision and many others.

His Government was truly tagged “Government of the people”.

He became a national icon as the voice of the opposition after the PDP lost the general elections of 2015. He bared his mind fearlessly on burning national issues including the Fulani Herdsmen which was threatening the corporate existence of the country especially the south-west. He ordered the farmers and hunters in the state to arm themselves against the Fulani marauders and led the state house of assembly to pass a law against their presence. He also criticized the policies of Buhari and was the rallying point of the opposition and provided a voice for the voiceless while he was governor of the state popularly known as the ‘Fountain of Knowledge.’

Since leaving office last year, he has been consistent in his clamour for good governance and withdrew his bid at the last minute to contest the nation’s presidential elections in this year’s elections which saw the return of Buhari to power.

It remains to be seen what he will be up to but we are confident that Oshoko means well for Nigeria and he is a committed patriot and nationalist who will go through personal inconveniences for the well being of his people.

Ayoola Faseyi writes from Lagos and Osogbo.

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