Stomach Infrastructure: Why Debating the Obvious? By: Funmilola Ajala
First of all, let me start by congratulating Ekiti returnee Governor, Ayodele Fayose, on his triumphant second entry into the Government House in Ado-Ekiti, though not exactly the one he and his family forcefully vacated some eight years ago at the height of a political hurricane which, then, appeared to have but swallow him.
In all fairness, one also needs to extend commendation to ex-governor Kayode Fayemi. As ‘mysterious’ as Fayemi’s failure to elongate his reign beyond just 4 years was and is, to align with the supposition of Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka; the 49-year-old politician deserves more than just a word of kudos for his alien-like political maturity and genteel dedication to elevate the bar in terms of qualitative governance while his reign endured.
The bickering about the debt portfolio he bequeathed to Fayose notwithstanding, hardly can anyone decisively fault Fayemi in relations to the level of visible infrastructural rebirth witnessed in Ekiti during his one-term stint as governor.
Furthermore, one must also appreciate the people of Ekiti for living up to the billing as indeed fountain of knowledge; that, they were able to bring to fore during the contest between Fayemi and Fayose. Unmistakably, a new vocabulary has been added to our political lexicon in what is now known as ‘stomach infrastructure’ or better still ‘stoma-structure’. A reality which seems not lost on Fayose who, among other developments, appointed a “Special Assistant on stomach infrastructure”, soon after taking the oath of office on Thursday, 16th October, 2014; thus appearing to have set – yet – another precedence in our continually dynamic political evolution as a people.
And pronto, Fayemi has decided not to allow the sleeping dog space to snore. He has risen in defence of his achievement in office. While he has viciously engaged his successor in sometimes nauseating debate over the state’s indebtedness under his guide; he also claimed to be in the forefronts of stomach infrastructure as against his portrayal in the contrary by his antagonist(s). Fayemi pointed out – with emphasis – that his numerous social safety programmes were aimed at just what Fayose and his league of loyalists are striving to dubiously paint as epoch-making.
But the poser is: why squabbling over a mere nomenclature whose innuendoes have always dotted our orientation?
If anything, what surfaced from Ekiti electoral contest is the emergence of a formal coinage just to wrap a long-held political behavior. As a matter of practicality, before the advent of Fayose and Fayemi on the political scene; inducing the electorate class with edibles and few mints (naira notes) had always stood out as a fundamental feature of politics in the Nigerian spectrum. Even in Ekiti, it is obvious that Fayose did not enjoy the monopoly in the sharing of rice and beans as Fayemi was also not left out in the thick of action. Perchance, it was a case of who shared more in the end.
For observers of Nigerian contemporary political experiment, they need not scan too deeply to unearth instances where politicians have engaged stomach infrastructure as a mean of driving their affection into people’s mind, especially those occupying the wrong cadre of our social stratification.
Keen political watchers are of the opinion that the late strongman of Ibadan politics, Lamidi Adedibu, was able to maintain his supremacy in the pacesetting state for long neither because of his ideological distinctiveness nor due to his oratory prowess. His Molete abode was a Mecca of some sorts for sundry fellas mainly because of his infamous ‘Amala and Gbegiri’ school of thought. Followers were held spellbound at the sight of free dosage of breakfast and dinner on daily basis, hence canvassing for electoral support in Ibadan becomes nearly futile and incomplete without paying homage to Adedibu armed with notable ‘donations.’
The romance between Nigerian polity and stomach infrastructure is close to no end, even at the moment. Three fully loaded heavy-duty trucks perched at the Peoples Democratic Party’s office in IIorin last weekend, courtesy of Nigeria’s First Lady, Patience Jonathan. The largesse, according to the party, is a “…timely gesture”, which was “…coming at a time they are needed most.”
With the aid of hindsight, one would recall how, in the same Kwara state capital, scores of individuals paid the ultimate sacrifice in the aftermath of a belly pursuit that ended in stampede. This particularly unfortunate event transpired at the Ilofa road residence of Senator Bukola Saraki as his teeming supporters queued to partake in the sharing of stomach infrastructure during Sallah celebrations, in October, 2013.
It is, for the umpteenth time, germane to reaffirm that buying political favour or retaining loyalty with some flesh-nourishing substances dates back to era immemorial. However, it is most condemnable to register that this raging discussion – to start with – is a vibrant index that politicians seem to have graduated in their desperate orchestration of manipulating and outsmarting whoever appears between them and power.
Unfortunately, same can hardly be argued of the gluttonized Talakawas who perpetually find themselves at the mercy of sluggard-infused self-pittance.
In the lead-up to the 2015 general elections, we need to henceforth anticipate augmented supply of branded Ankara fabrics, Garri, Rice, Semovita, Detergent, Beverages – and what have you – from political tricksters who have suddenly appreciated the fact that packageability goes more than a mileage in adding value to their non-existing manifestoes.
So, if anyone still suffers from hesitation; neither Fayemi nor Fayose deserves being solely credited with stomach infrastructure, when all they did was to help christen a phenomenon which actually predates their very earliest understanding of the term ‘politics.’ Here, I rest my pen.
*You can follow Ajala on Twitter: @ajalatravel07
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