FAYEMI: DANCING ON THE GRAVE OF EKITI ANCESTORS
Last week Thursday, I was at the popular Oja-Oba in Ado-Ekiti to do some buying when a locust beans (iru) seller, whom I latter identified to be Madam Febisara said “a doju tini omo ni Fayemi i o” (This Fayemi is putting us to shame). She was talking to her colleague, who had complained of low sales.
It was then that I remembered that by October 16, Dr. Kayode Fayemi would be one year as governor of Ekiti State. My mind also went to how Ekiti was on October 15, 2010 that the judgment of man, which removed Chief Segun Oni as the State governor was delivered by Justice Isa Ayo Salami. My mind went round the towns in Ekiti State, especially Ado-Ekiti, the State capital and all that I could see was demolition of houses and shops. Then I realised how desperate Fayemi must be to convince Ekiti people, especially the likes of Madam Febisara that the liberation of Ekiti (as if Ekiti was in bondage before) and the eldorado that he promised had not been killed by the spoils of office and lack of initiatives about governance.
As I paid for the N200 locust beans that I bought and made to go, Madam Febisara again sarcastically asked her colleague “Su waa ko ja re, ka ya a gba tiketi ka ya a mu o Kiriji l'Adetiloye?” (Won't you pack your goods and let's go and get tickets to be able to see Kiriji War play at Adetiloye?). Then I asked the woman; “Who is showing Kiriji War at Adetiloye?”
“Ogun Kiriji ko, Ogun Agbaye ni” (Not only Kiriji, it is world war), the woman hissed, answered and faced her business.
For the better part of that Thursday, my mind was preoccupied with what Madam Febisara, a mere locust beans seller said about Fayemi. I asked myself several times; who is going to tell Fayemi to his face that he is now being called a doju tini omo by a locust beans seller?
Who would tell the judiciary imposed governor that his Kiriji War stage play does not mean anything to the people whose sources of livelihood had been destroyed?
Then came Monday, September 26, when I read the reaction of the State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the Kiriji War play.
I could not agree less with the party position that the stage play amounted to “dancing naked on the grave of Ekiti ancestors.”
One of such ancestors was Fabunmi Ishola, the one popularly called Fabunmi Oraralada (the one with magical sword). The whole story of Ekitiparapo Liberation War, which culminated into wars like Jalumi, Fejeboju and Kiriji was centred around Fabunmi, a prince from Okemesi-Ekiti. He (Fabunmi) commanded the Ekiti army for years before Ogedengbe Agbogungboro from Ilesha joined the army and Fabunmi relinquished the mantle of leadership to him.
Does it therefore not amount to dancing on the grave of Ekiti ancestors for a play on Kiriji War to be sponsored by Ekiti State government and no representative of the family of Fabunmi was present?
The Owa Ooye of Okemesi, Oba Gbadebo Adedeji, who could not stomach this brazen anomaly complained openly at Adetiloye Hall, venue of the stage play.
While the family of Fabunmi was missing, those of Ogedengbe from Ilesha and Aare Latoosa from Ibadan were duly recognised when the play was staged at Adetiloye Hall, Ado-Ekiti on that Friday. And the only explanation Fayemi's government could give for this glaring insult on such a great son of Ekiti, who with others staked everything, including their lives to free Ekitiland, was that “representatives of the major actors in the war were invited. While the representatives of Ogedengbe, Latoosa and Ogboriefon were present, that of Fabunmi could not make it to the Premiere because his vehicle broke down and he apologised the following day when he joined Ogboriefon, Ogedengbe and Latoosa to have breakfast with the Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.”
Even from this excuse, what can be seen is arrogance on the part of Fayemi and his government. Representative of Fabunmi, around whom the play was built was invited, he could not make it to Adetiloye Hall on the day of the premiere because his vehicle broke down, and he was still the one who had to apologise to the almighty Governor Fayemi?
Perhaps, because Fabunmi's representative was the one who caused the vehicle breakdown so that he could miss the premiere and later had the rare opportunity of apologising to Fayemi?
If representative of the family of Fabunmi, the main actor in the war was not at the premiere, “because his vehicle broke down,” I just wonder whether vehicles of representatives of Oore Okinbaloye of Otun, Ajero Oyinyosoye of Ijero, Aduloju (Ado), Talabose (Ikole), Olomofe Oriti (Ijero), Faboro (Ido), Olugbosun (Oye), Fajembola (Ilupeju), Ologundudu and Anigilaje (Ipao), Agada (Efon), Apapalaso (Ekan), Okeoro (Ire) and several other great Ekiti warriors, who played prominent roles in the war also broke down on their way to Adetiloye Hall last Friday, as they too were not were not present at the venue To further add salt and pepper to the affronts, notable Ekiti born artists were not involved in the play. Even though I do not have anything against the artistes that were brought from Ibadan and Lagos to act in the play, but the poser those who packaged the play must answer is whether there is any sense in a Fabunmi Okemesi, Ogedengbe Ilesha, Aduloju Ado, Oore Okinbaloye of Otun, Ajero Oyinyosoye of Ijero, Talabose Ikole among others speaking Oyo or Ibadan dialect!
Could there have been any semblance of originality in a historical play where characters that are Ekitis and Ijeshas speak Oyo or Ibadan dialect? Definitely, if those who played the role of Ekiti and Ijesha warriors did not speak Ekiti or Ijesha dialect, then what Fayemi brought to Ekiti must have been his own version of Kiriji War that is capable of distorting facts and making mockery of history.
Then of what benefit was even the play, on which N10 million was allegedly taken out of Ekiti State treasury to the people of the State, many of whose sources of livelihood had been destroyed via demolition of houses and shops to pave way for Fayemi's flower planting project? Of what benefit is Kiriji War stage play to the over 5,000 local government workers, Local Council Directors of Administration and Treasurers, permanent secretaries, teachers and other public servants that have been sacked by the Fayemi-led government?
Or of what benefit was the play to the families of those people whose lives have been cut short either directly or indirectly by the Fayemi-led government?
Today in Ekiti, health workers and magistrates are on strike, and Fayemi has not deemed it necessary to address their grievances. Even the State Civil Servants that called off their strike last Friday did so without getting any commitment from the governor as to the implementation of the N18, 000 minimum wage. Roads are bad; water that was flowing on the taps before Fayemi came to power has become a luxury, tuition fees in boarding schools have been increased from N10,500 to N15,500, free laptops that were given to students of boarding schools have been withdrawn, no more scholarships for students, traders now groan under low patronage; and most importantly, the fate of the State owned university, Ekiti State University (EKSU) hangs in the balance with the National University Commission (NUC) yet to approve the change of name from University of Ado-Ekiti (UNAD) to EKSU, yet Fayemi's way of celebrating his one year in office was Kiriji War!
Could the play have done nothing other than to remind the victims of Fayemi's anti-peoples' policies that Ekiti is now being held captive once again by Fayemi, who was born and raised in Ibadan? Well, that might be a way for Fayemi to celebrate his PhD in War Studies.
Most importantly too, as posited by a commentator, isn't it a pity that the same Fayemi, who is among the proponent of unity, peace and integration in the South-west is the one fanning the embers of discord among the sons of Oduduwa by remembering generation which was not born then of the heinous deeds of their fore fathers against each others?
One imagines how the families of Aare Latosa will feel when reminded through a play sponsored by the Ekiti State Government the role the Ekitis played in the circumstances that led to the death of Latosa?
What would be going on in the minds of the descendants of Momodu Jogunomi from Ibadan, who died on his way from the war front if they were seated at Adetiloye Hall last Friday? Or could the people of Okemesi that suffered great human and material loses during the war only to be betrayed by their fellow Ekitis, who reneged on the covenant made before the war, be happy being reminded of this sad experience?
Whichever way one chooses to look at it, Fayemi's sponsorship of Kiriji War stage play at this time amount to nothing other than dancing naked on the grave of Ekiti ancestors just to put some millions of naira in the pockets of his cronies.
Olayinka, a journalist writes from Okemesi-Ekiti.