LOUD WHISPERS: Disappointing The Naysayers

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi

I am exhausted and my feet hurt. Yesterday I spent nine hours dancing on a truck. Today it was only four and a half hours because I had to catch a flight. It was a Women’s Road show round Ekiti State to promote our candidate for the next Gubernatorial election on June 18th, and an opportunity to introduce his wife to women in the State as well as his female running mate. The Road Shows are just another way to do the popular ‘Door to Door’ campaigns. The fun part of the road shows is the small gifts we throw to people as we drive by.

They are not huge bags of rice or Garri meant to induce voters in ‘Stomach Infrastructure’ fashion. There is some rice, but most of what we give away are token items like salt, sugar, Maggi, matches and so on, for people to remember that they encountered us and that we asked them to come out and vote. Everywhere we go, the pattern is the same. The women rush out wanting to catch some of the gifts, but the young men muscle them to the back and snatch whatever they can. I find it quite symbolic of how many men always find an opportunity to edge women out in all spheres of life, even when women are either in the majority or at least have the same qualifications and put in all the hard work.

Cynical observers might say we are throwing crumbs to people just to induce them to vote in elections. Yes, it is a common political gimmick, but sometimes it is possible to disappoint naysayers.  It is possible to keep political promises and commitments. In 2018, I travelled round Ekiti State on this same roadshow, campaigning for my husband, and in 2019 for the Presidential and National Assembly elections. Four years later, I am proud of what has been accomplished.

The float truck travelled on roads the administration either built from scratch or at least rehabilitated over the past four years. We waved at children in schools built anew or refurbished, same for hospitals.  I saw elderly women waving at us in excitement, and it felt good to know that approximately 1,200 of them across the State are beneficiaries of the Ounje Arugbo program (food for the elderly) that we run. This morning, we drove past the brand-new Elderly People’s Home which will serve as a meeting point for elderly citizens in the State. We drove past many civil servants whose salaries had been paid regularly over the past four years, giving them the respect and dignity they deserve. I saw very few children wandering the streets unlike four years before, thanks to our efforts to keep education free and a determined effort to keep girls in school.

We drove past some of the neighborhood markets that should have been completed during the first term (2010-2014) but were abandoned when the administration ended. Now, the new markets in all the 16 local governments have been completed.  In various communities around the State, there is evidence of investments in the lives of local people in different ways – private and state investments in Agriculture, water, roads, schools, clinics, hospitals, community centers, royal palaces, the list is endless. It is very difficult to keep all political promises, particularly when you are dealing with meagre resources and a COVID/Post-Covid context, but Governor Kayode Fayemi and his team have done a great job, even if I say so myself. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I am confident that what has been achieved by our party so far will encourage citizens to stay on the path of progress and development.

Back to the issue of disappointing naysayers and those who only want to hear the worst things about you. On May 26th, I attended a lecture and dinner event to mark the 60th birthday of the Catholic Bishop of Ekiti State, Most Reverend Bishop Felix Femi Ajakaye. It was also his 35th year as a Priest and the 50th year of the establishment of the Catholic Diocese in Ekiti State. When I was giving my remarks, I spoke about the comments of a young man that I had read online, who said that he does not go to church because he does not trust men of God. I said I did not agree with him, but I understood his sentiments. I said Bishop Felix Ajakaye is a man of God who can be trusted because of his holiness, deep sense of service, compassion and patriotism. It was a very nice event and it was well attended by Catholic Bishops from around the country.

A few days later, someone sent me a ten second video clip, which had me saying, ‘I don’t go to church because I don’t trust men of God’. All the things I said before and after had been edited out. You can imagine my shock and dismay. My media team sent out the full clip of at least three minutes. People of good conscience posted apologies for all the abuse they had heaped on me when they watched the hatchet-job clip. Fingers have been pointed at a well-known cyber stalker of mine who is fond of rushing to his Facebook page with fake news about me and my husband. One day, when God has his time, the scoundrel will get his comeuppance.

A good friend of mine said recently, ‘these political times are when people hurl anything at their enemies, real and imagined and hope something sticks’. I know that lies and character assassination are considered fair weapons of war in political circles. I feel sorry for those who believe they have to dehumanize someone in order to become somebody. You will never become anything good in life if you wake up in the morning and set out to destroy someone’s reputation simply because you need to bring them down a peg or two. I hope emerging leaders and young politicians are listening, reading and watching. Lies and false witness do not make anyone great, it has the opposite effect, it makes you small.

Let me go and soak my feet in warm water. Tomorrow is another day, and these feet need to go places and get things done.  Anyone who is bothered by this is free to drink a hot cup of tea.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She is the First Lady of Ekiti State, and she can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com

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