By Femi Fani-Kayode
People often say that my friend and brother Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state and I are giving the Buhari government a run for their money more than any other duo in the country.
Though he and I come from very different backgrounds and our approach and styles, when confronting issues, are very different they say that we are both deeply committed to our cause, we are both contentious and that we both have the courage of our convictions.
They also say we are both ready to pick up the gauntlet, champion the cause of our party and people and stand our ground when confronted by our adversaries or provoked into any fight.
There is no doubt about the fact that both Fayose and I are similar in some ways. We both draw immense strength from our respective christian testimonies and the power of our faith. We also both have a similar world-view and we both have a fair idea about who the real troublers of our nation, our faith and our people are.
We are both what we are because of what we have been subjected to by the system and the powers that be over the years and because of what we have both suffered and been through in the hands of those we once reverred, worked with and trusted. We are also both praying men who have loved ones and family that are strong in the faith and that pray hard and well.
I agree with the assesment of those that often compare us but there is a small caveat: I regard Fayose as being a populist- a rugged, grassroots leader of the suffering masses and a radical politician whilst I see myself more as a man of letters, a historian, a deep-thinker and a politically-active but cloistered intellectual.
Permit me to make a rather crude analogy and to indulge in a graphic and disturbing metaphor. In our long-drawn and protracted political battle and struggle for power he uses a thick and blunt cudgel to fight our enemies and batter them to death whilst I use a thin and sharp rapier with which I slowly carve them up, slice them to pieces and bleed them into eternity.
He crushes their bones with rage and brutal efficiency whilst I clinically cut them up with ruthless precision. Both methods are equally effective and both achieve their objectives.
Yet whatever our differences may be in terms of style, choice of weapon, method of battle, substance and approach they say that we have both courageously stood up to the Buhari government and that we have both defiantly spoken our minds about what is going on in our country today. Consequently they have described us both as ”lions and warriors”.
This is a very kind of them though, in all fairness, I believe that writers and columnists like Mr. Yinka Odumakin, Professor Femi Aribisala and Mr. Jude Ndukwe, politicians like Governor Seriake Dickson, Governor Olusegun Mimiko and Dr. Sulaiman Olanrewaju Abubakar (the former Minister of National Planning), bloggers like Mr. Deji Adeyanju and Mrs. Aziza Uko, journalists like Mr. Shaka Momodu and Mr. Yemi Adebowale and countless others fall into that “lion” category as well. They have also displayed immense courage. It is not just Ayo Fayose and yours truly.
Some of our friends have also pointed out that all that we said about President Buhari and the APC during the Presidential campaign last year has proved to be prophetic. All these kind words and this rather generous assessment and categorization of both Fayose and I is very encouraging and I appreciate them.
Unlike in other nations where vocal opposition is encouraged and regarded as an essential part of democracy and an effective way of keeping those in power on their toes, when one sticks ones neck out for their country and people and is loud in their opposition to government in this part of the world it is a thankless, unappreciated, lonely and dangerous road.
And sadly, more often than not, one is mocked, shunned, despised, hated, misunderstood, persecuted, maligned, insulted and misrepresented for taking it.
This is especially so when one is dealing with a callous and ruthless government, like we have in our country today. We are being led by a group of people who have a hidden agenda, who hate their perceived enemies and detractors, who are inherently incompetent and who are manifestly unjust.
We are burdened with a government who cannot abide criticism, who are scared of their own shadow, who have no decency or honor and who have failed in all their ways.
We are saddled with a leadership who have offended God and man, who have ruined our nation, who have impoverished our people, who are bereft of ideas and who are hell bent on intimidating the opposition and silencing the voice of truth.
I am touched by the words of those that are encouraging those of us that have chosen to take that road of vocal and virile opposition and this is especially so because I have tremendous respect and affection for Ayo Fayose and I consider him to be one of our brightest rising stars in the south west.
His name is Peter, like the Rock in the Holy Bible, and he cannot be shaken. He is a strong man of faith, a trusted and loyal friend and I am proud to be mentioned in the same breath as him.
Yet it is not me that says, writes and does these things that people find so amazing and courageous but rather He that is in me. It is a gift from God and that gift is known as the Holy Spirit.
He gives us foresight, insight, sensitivity, a word for the season and the ability to endure any form of persecution and hardship and still stand strong.
He gives us the ability to cultivate a firm resolve, to think things through clearly, to wait on Him and to have patience.
He also gives us immense courage, especially when under fire. As a matter of fact the more the fire burns, the more the courage rages. This is what is generally referred to as “Christian fury” and it is a deep and inexplicable mystery.
I am sure that I can speak for Fayose on that too because the same applies to him. It is not he that says and does the things that he says and does but the Holy Spirit of the Living God that is in him.
My brother Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo state, the Iroko of the Western Region, has the same gift even though he is a little more restrained, tempered and gentle.
He is also a devout and practicing Christian and his sense of maturity, wisdom and civility does not make him any less effective. A consummate and experienced politician and leader: he is truly formidable in all his ways.
If any discerning politician sits with Mimiko for ten minutes or more he will know that the Holy Spirit flows through him like water flows through an estuary or a stream.
He is a profoundly good man: a man of power and strength but he couples it with deep compassion and a sense of equity, decency and fairness that is rarely seen in our shores.
Back to Ayo Fayose and yours truly. In all our adventures there is one difference between the Governor of Ekiti state and I which many fail to appreciate. Under our laws, because he is a serving Governor, he has immunity from arrest and prosecution but I do not.
He has the people of Ekiti state solidly behind him to applaud and support his every word and move but I do not. He has the machinery and power of a whole state government and a State House of Assembly to fight for him but I do not.
He has the friendship and support of all his fellow PDP Governors and the party leadership but I do not. Unlike him my defence is purely spiritual yet that is more than enough to guarantee my safety and well-being. That is more than enough to comfort me and give me strength and victory.
I do not have all the physical and constitutional protection that he has and I don’t need it. I only have God yet He is more than enough for me. I only have my faith yet that faith continues to move mountains for me.
I only have the Lord’s sure word and promise yet that sure word and promise is worth more than a thousand armies and all the gold, silver and power in the world because it never fails. I only have His love, His grace, His blessing and His mercy yet it never falters. I am bold, confident and strong because the Lord is with me.