“Despite the onerous difficulties involved in my epic struggle for justice, I am resolute in my conviction that Nigeria belongs to those who are prepared to stand up, stand firm and take control of their destinies. Our young democracy can only be enhanced by testing our institutions to their limits. In my case, my successful recourse to the judiciary, protracted though it was, suggested that there are embers of hope for our democracy that have to be stoked by the discipline of committed and focused engagement.” -Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, former Executive Governor of Ekiti State.
We all know the story very well. He was prevailed upon to serve his people, he aspired to the governorship seat of Ekiti State, he threw himself into the ring and ran against the tide, he won the election against the federal might, he was denied victory, he refused to let go his hard-earned victory, he fought the legal battle for three harrowing years, he eventually recovered his stolen mandate and went ahead to serve his people as the most committed governor ever in the history of the state.
Yet we cannot overstate the obvious fact Dr. John Kayode Fayemi’s huge investment in the development of Ekiti State is unmatched. The successful implementation of his 8-Point Agenda is legendary. Not only did they touch on lives, they also conform with the United Nation’s eight characteristics of good governance, namely: consensus oriented, participatory, following the rule of law, effective and efficient, accountable, transparent, responsive and equitable and inclusive.
Fayemi’s composure also conformed with the required qualities of a leading light even though it belies his activist orientation. As an ordinary person, he loves to keep his cool, and therein lays his strength. Keeping one’s cool, no doubt, creates luck because others will respect and gravitate towards you. Meaning you are less likely to have enemies.
A peep through the February 9 Birthday Horoscope revealed some interesting things about the making of John Kayode Fayemi. People born on such a natal day are independent and generous individuals with their unique and at times non-conformist perspective on life. They are shrewd observers of human nature and capable of enormous understanding of others’ problems. Above all, though they are fighters, life may have given them a few knocks, but they have managed to bounce back with resilience, and this winning attitude can lead them to great achievements.
The remarkable ability of people born on February 9 to understand people and situations, even those they have not met themselves, makes them sought after for advice and support. They make great teachers and leaders, and they influence and inspire not so much by technique but by example, showing others through their own actions how to rise above challenges with a winning attitude.
Yet, when it comes to applying the same penetrating insights to their own lives and relationships, they tend to be overly critical, measuring themselves by an impossible higher ideal. It is important for them to learn to be tolerant and supportive of themselves as they are of others. The strong presence of those born on this day can sometimes make people think of them as aggressive, but behind this, they possess soft side that takes rejection and criticism to heart. They also have a tendency to act rashly; they need to remain calm under pressure and not allow their good will to be exploited. Once they are able to regard themselves more positively, and to be less harsh in their self-criticism, they will be able to achieve the high goals they set themselves, in the process becoming an inspirational model to everyone lucky enough to wander cross their path.
People born on February 9 have the charisma to attract people from all walks of life, but they feel happiest with someone whose intelligent matches their own. In a relationship, they are loyal and passionate partners with a clear idea of where the relationship should be heading. They don’t give up easily on a relationship if it starts to flounder, because they believe that with the right attitude, almost any kind of problem can be ironed out.
Fayemi shares such natal day and values with the likes of Max Manus (Man of War), the Norwegian resistance fighter during the World War II, George Hamilton, the 1st Earl of Orkney, who became the first British Field Marshal in history, Alice Walker, the Georgian-born social worker, teacher and lecturer, who took part in the 1960s civil right movement in Mississipi and later won the Pulitzer Prize for her 1982 novel, The Colour Purple, William Henry Harrison, the 9th American President, Mia Farrow, American actress and fashion model who later became UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Humanitarian Activist working prominently in Darfur, Chad, Central American Republic and Luther Martin, American renowned politician.
In the words of Luther Martin, the American political legend and Fayemi’s birthday mate: “When the tempest rages, when the thunders roar, and the lightening blaze around us, it is then that the truly brave man stands firm at his post.” This is where Fayemi takes his stand. Interestingly, both he and Luther Martin embrace the same political ideology. Both share the same trajectory of beginning humbly and soaring to the pinnacle. Martin championed the cause of small states and opposed extensive federal powers. He was a supporter of judicial review; he proposed what became supremacy clause of the American Constitution, without intending it to be an instrument of national supremacy. Unhappy with the result of the convention, Martin became outspoken opponent of the constitution during the ratification contest.
Fayemi’s personal odyssey led him from the place of activism to the place of public service and this informs his sense of democracy as a journey and a struggle. He returned from exile in 1999 with a new understanding that a new place of activism required a more direct engagement at home with the new dispensation. His work focused on building bridges between the government and civil society that would enable the national leadership benefit from the talents and ideas of citizens within and outside the country.
In his conviction that efforts required to reform the system were not necessarily the same as the efforts necessary to transform it, he faced two choices: He could remain on the side-lines with his engagement restricted to a theoretical and low-risk involvement in the unfolding dynamics of power and politics in Nigeria, or become an actor in the political system, attaining a more political understanding of what it takes to effect transformation, and thereby function as an agent of change from within. Like Martin, Fayemi chose the path of service.
Recalling how the seed of aspiring to the exalted position of Ekiti State Governor first dropped in Fayemi’s heart, his amiable wife of equal odyssey, the former First Lady of Ekiti State, Erely Bisi Fayemi hinted in her book: Speaking Above A Whisper, of how her husband had during his 40th Birthday celebration said to her: “People might start thinking that I have political ambition.” And she had answered: “Why not?”
Yes, why not? Less than five years after, the prophetic question was answered.
Happy Birthday, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi,