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Ayo Fayose And The Poisonous Advert

Ekiti state Governor Ayodele Fayose

Governor Ayodele Fayose is a character that appears to defy social norms. Defying social norms is not a problem because it encourages debate and promotes engagement with issues as they develop. There is no rule that says somebody is right because you align with public opinion or with the views of the majority. When people defy social norms, they go against what the ‘majority’ sees as right or wrong. This is perception which may be jaundiced. Hence, a deviant is one who does something or engages in an habit condemned by the majority as unwholesome. It is against this background that the likes of Governor Ayodele Fayose can facilitate social change (violent or peaceful) through their utterances and symbolic representations such as what has been called ‘death-wish advert’ published on the front page of national newspapers against the All Progressive Congress Presidential candidate, General Muhammad Buhari. My piece will address the problems with the content of the advert


Fayose’s controversial issues

Fayose did not do anything unusual from what most of us do. In Nigeria, there is spiritual explanation for people’s failures. Usually, we go to Alfas, Imams, and Pastors who give the notion that the source of our problems is tied to somebody. Hence, when we gather in churches and even as expressed in several church programme themes (“breaking the backbone of enemies”; “possess your possession”; “the key to your breakthroughs”), we pray that our enemies should ‘die by fire’ so that we may fulfill our destinies on earth. This is the prayer that gets more voices in the church with the whole space filled with ‘prayer noise’ aimed at killing our enemies. Against this background, Fayose’s advert is only a reflection of what we all do in our religious spaces. The subtle difference in Fayose’s advert is that whereas we pray for the death of our enemies in churches, the enemies are anonymous and mostly unmentioned. That Fayose chose to go to the press with overt pictorial evidence of the perceived political enemy that ‘should die’ is callous, wicked and totally insensitive. And as typical of ‘politrickcians’, he wrongly interpreted Deuteronomy 30 vs 19.

Rather than base my interpretation on the quoted verse, I read the whole chapter with a view to knowing what led to that conclusion. The message in the chapter was predicated on the covenant reviewed by Moses after leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. They (Isrealites) were asked to obey the covenant to serve the Lord and not worship idols. Deviation from this covenant was to bring on them and their generations ruin due to the anger God would visit on them. This was why he asked them to choose between life and death. Verse 15 of the Chapter says “Now Listen! Today I am giving you a choice between prosperity and disaster, between life and death”. However, God still urged them to keep his commands, laws and regulations by walking in his ways. In verse 16, the promise is that whoever follows the covenant will live, and the Lord will bless their land. For me, the most important part of the message here is for Nigerians to choose a good leader who would give them better quality of life. If this will come by change, February is the opportunity God is given us again to make our choices. Whatever person (s) we elect will eventually determine whether Nigeria as presently constituted will be blessed and progress or cursed and retrogress.

Now if Governor Fayose is not sufficiently knowledgeable to appreciate the sensitivity of his message at this time in the history of Nigeria when issues of religion, ethnicity, sectionalism and power become hotly debated, what about his advisers? He who walks with the wise grows wise but a companion of fools suffers harm (Proverbs 13:20). What is the essence of having special advisers on media and public communications who cannot advise their principal rightly? It may not be their fault. The Governor may not be listening to them or they are just YES Sir! special advisers. Whichever way, negligence is condemnable. And if the special advisers were just interested in keeping their jobs, what is the role of the media in ensuring social order? Social responsibility dictates that the press should censor items likely to cause disaffection. I expected the advert clearing house of the papers to consider the unintended consequences of using the advert on the peace and unity of the country. Front page colour advert is huge money and tempting but everything should not be about money.

Let us pray that everything goes fine with the elections and nothing happens to the General. The foolishness of the advertorial is that it has given the ‘enemy’ of Fayose more popularity and sympathy like the type President Goodluck Jonathan enjoyed during the last elections. At that time, the cabal tossed him around, silenced him until the people rose up and fought for him. It was his persecution that shot him to electoral victory not because people thought he could deliver anything called ‘dividends of democracy’. Again why is age 72 a problem to Fayose? In chapter 31 of Deuteronomy which he quoted in his advert, Moses led the Israelites until he was 120 years! At that time he confessed himself that he was no longer able to lead them. Infact, it was God that called Moses that it was time for him to die not any mortal man like Fayose who has now turned himself to death manager. Indeed if Former President Umar Yar’ Adua did not die, would Fayose have the opportunity of supporting Jonathan today? The likes of Murtala Mohammed, Sani Abacha, and Musa Yardua came to intervene in the affairs of Nigeria. No man should undermine their contributions. They served us to usher in social change.

Let Ayodele Fayose know that death is no history. It is a reality. It is a social fact. It is a debt which we all owe. Our lifestyle can predispose us to die early. This is why Fayose will also join those who will benefit from state burial as a former governor when he eventually dies. The serial death advert is poisonous destroying the very fabric that binds us together as a country. People like Fayose have their own children secured somewhere and expose others to ‘death’ due to their unguarded utterances. I do not think that General Buhari is an enemy to Ayo Fayose. But if Fayose is threatened by his candidature, he should be guarded that the teachings of Moses which he alluded to in his advert. In Matthew 5:43-44, we are admonished to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. In that way you will be acting as true children of your father in heaven”. Jesus prayed for those who persecuted him. I know God is all forgiving. Jesus would still have intervened on his (Fayose) behalf saying “father forgive him (Fayose) for he knows what he was doing”. Thus, let all those placing hate adverts and making hate comments be warned! Nigerians will not allow the selfishness of ‘polithiefcians’ and their cronies bring death upon them. That is why a change that will end rein of deaths and hopelessness in Nigeria is desired. But this death-wish advert may be a propeller towards that change.

Oludayo Tade PhD
Department of Sociology
University of Ibadan, Nigeria
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