Ayodele Peter Fayose is one man that is undoubtedly not in the good books of the largest opposition political party in Nigeria. This is not only because of the fact that he belongs to the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), but because of the fiery darts that he has overtime attacked the APC with, especially their presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari. Every slightest opportunity afforded Fayose in a political gathering, one can be sure that Gen. Buhari will not escape being mentioned in a debasing manner. The most recent of his attacks was in a gathering of all PDP governors in the country to discuss ways of enhancing and ensuring the victory of the party in the forthcoming polls. The meeting was not intended to serve as an attack on any political party, so I waited patiently for Fayose’s address, thinking he will disappoint me just for that day. Alas! He couldn’t, as Gen. Buhari was the subject of his discourse. By this persistent act, Fayose has made many enemies who have begun to see him as a barking dog. Could that be true? Does his allegation against Gen. Buhari hold any water? Let's briefly analyze some of those allegations.
Notable among his allegation is that at age 73, Gen. Buhari is too old to rule Nigeria. Well, history has it that Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe contested for the number one office in Nigeria in his 70s, so did Obafemi Awolowo. This does not however remove the fact that at age 70 and above, one is obviously tired and his body does not need to be forced into another marathon office work. The Nigerian system recognized this fact, and insisted that one must not reach that year before retiring from active service. That’s best even, as it ensures productivity in public service. As a matter of fact, the reason why people like Gen. Ibrahim Babangida opted out of the presidential contest some years ago was not unconnected with the fact that age was not on his side. Without even going that far, one reason why Gen. Buhari told us that the 2011 election he lost would be his last was because he was certain of the fact that by 2015, he wouldn’t be any younger. If we are to do things the right way in this country, then APC shouldn’t have given Buhari its ticket to contest in this election. Critically analyzing his age issue, one can always decipher sense out of Fayose’s incessant mention of the fact that at 73 years, Buhari is too old to govern Nigeria.
Related with the above, is the health status of Gen. Buhari. While it is true that old age comes with diverse ailments, it cannot be conclusively said that because one is old, then one is definitely a carrier of sicknesses. Gen. Buhari and APC, probably out of a guilty conscience, always shy away from this very fact and deny every single allegation that Buhari is ill at any point in time. Haba! When shall we begin to do things the right way in this country? Since when has it become a crime for a person above the age of 70 to fall ill? So why is Gen. Buhari’s health status not a matter for public consumption? This gives me worry and concern: some life threatening ailment might actually be the reason why the retired General’s associates seem restless each time his health status is under scrutiny. However, where Fayose appear to get it wrong in this regard is his continual linkage of ailment with imminent death. History has shown that between the time that Nigeria’s former President Umaru Yar’adua was flown to Saudi-Arabia and the time he actually died, many healthy and strong Nigerians passed away. So the point is this: life and death is in the hands of God, and the fact that a person is critically ill today is not a guarantee that the person will die tomorrow. Our only worry is when the person is a holder of an office, as he can hardly discharge the functions of his office.
On a last note, Fayose does not see Buhari as a man capable of bringing the change people have been clamouring for. This is because of the people surrounding him, who he believes are more of opportunists. As a matter of fact, he believes that Mr. Bola Tinubu has a grand plan of ousting the Vice-president from power so he could take over, and eventually become the nation’s president. However, considering the educational attainment of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, it becomes untenable why he would agree to be used as Tinubu’s stooge, thus making the allegation very remote to the truth. Notwithstanding this, the fact that a majority of the APC members are a collection of people who were once in PDP, and only left not because PDP has lost any moral virtue but because of their personal ambitions which could not be actualized in PDP, makes the change dream a mirage.
My only grouse with Fayose is that he is not the official mouthpiece of PDP or the presidential campaign organization. His responsibility lies with Ekiti state, where he is the chief servant, as Governor. The implication of this is that his time, energy, and resources (or Ekiti’s resources rather) ought to be channeled for the wellbeing and development of the people that voted him into power. However, he has taken it upon himself to be the “truth professor” who personally feels obliged to guiding Nigerians in the choice of their presidential candidate by raising one allegation after another against the person of Gen. Buhari. If at all there is utmost sincerity in what he does, then truth ought to be the foundation of his criticisms. In any situation where truth is given priority, criticisms are always objective and all-encompassing; but I have never heard him criticize Dr. Jonathan. Is that to say that Jonathan is impeccable? Far from it! He only chose to adopt the campaign strategy with which the opposition is renowned for - calumny. This is a bad omen for the ruling party, which ought to lead by example.
In any case, Fayose has little or nothing to lose irrespective of the candidate that wins the presidential election. He is already a Governor and is not blindly canvassing votes for Dr. Jonathan with any political appointment in view; except of course, a secured political future. Furthermore, since his victory at the polls is a subject of argumentation but he still has support from the presidency, it is only natural for Fayose to throw his full weight behind Mr. President. It is in the light of this that I do not see him as a dog who keeps barking for no justifiable reason, since there are also underlying truths in most of the allegations he has so far posed. How far can he go? We have few days to unlock the answer!