By Chika Abanobi, Associate Editor
THERE was a man sent from Isan-Ekiti in Oye Local Government Area of Ekiti State. A well-groomed politician, he once gracefully conceded electoral defeat even when he believed he had been robbed. In doing so, he set a good example to other Nigerian politicians: that, politics, by whatever name you choose to call it, should not be a do-or-die affair. “My ambition,” he said in a newspaper interview, “is not worth the blood of any citizen.”
His name is John Kayode Fayemi. In December 2014, he showed the political stuff he was made of when he successfully conducted a presidential primary without the attendant acrimony. He did not train as a miner. But he made his mark as a man of steel in matters relating to the public good when he served as Minister of Mines and Steel Development. He led a team that brought crucial reforms in natural resource exploitation in our country.
Born on 9 February 1965, Fayemi was educated at Christ’s School Ado Ekiti (1975-1980), received degrees in History, Politics, and International Relations from the Universities of Lagos and Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria before going for his doctorate in War Studies at King’s College, University of London, England. He specialised in civil-military relations.
A two-time governor of Ekiti State (2010-2014), and (2019 till date), he was former Director of the Centre for Democracy & Development, a research and training institution dedicated to the study and promotion of democratic development, peace-building and human security in Africa.
Before his establishment of the centre, he worked as a lecturer, journalist, researcher, and strategy development adviser in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. In addition, he worked as a research fellow at the African Research & Information Bureau in London, UK, as a reporter with The Guardian and City Tempo newspapers, as editor of the political monthly, Nigeria-Now, as a management consultant at Development and Management Consultants and a lecturer at the Police College in Sokoto, Nigeria.
A man’s worth is measured by how he is viewed by both his political friends and ‘enemies’. Only last year, he was invited to commission the Rumuoji International Market built by the Governor Nyesom Wike administration in Rivers State. Governance, he noted on that occasion, is about improving the living standard of the people. In this regard, he added, Wike has worked hard for Rivers people.
In a complex heterogeneous entity that is Nigeria, he has a network of friends and well-wishers across its length and breadth. Seen as a bridge-builder in many political quarters, he was consensually elected Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) by both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governors, last year. That singular act is a great testimony to his wide acceptability across political party lines.