Parrots have discovered that the then young but successful Ayo embarked on a weekend trip to his state and that singular trip transformed his life to become what is now known as the Ayo Fayose Phenomenon.
Permit us to recount the story exactly as we heard it from our source who, we believe is very close to the Ekiti young man!
“Ayo was a big hustler who drove taxis, commercial buses and did almost everything possible for him to make it in life. By the time he was 31 years old in 2001, he had already made it as a businessman who made so much money selling auto vehicles and other imported hard wares.
“All his life, except for when he traveled overseas, Fayose schooled and lived in Ibadan. On this particular weekend, he made up his mind to embark on a trip to Ado Ekiti to meet up with a young lady, a neighbor (names withheld). Because of his status as a married man, and the status of the lady as a student living with a very strict Jehovah’s Witness father, he could not make headways with the lady in Ibadan.
“Fortunately, the lady schooled in Ado Ekiti. So, he decided to go to Ado to meet up the lady after being invited several times. He was visiting Ado Ekiti as an ‘Ekitiman abroad’.
“This was around 2001. He got to Ekiti, drove into Olujoda Hotel in Ado. It was while at the hotel, I think on a Friday evening while enjoying at the bar that he met a man who said he wanted to buy a water tanker. Of course, Fayose zeroed in to sell to this young man since he had at least 10 of such vehicles inside his warehouse in Ibadan.
“He thus instructed his manager in Ibadan to arrange to bring one to Ado the following day. When the water tanker arrived, the man filled it up with water to ensure that it was not leaking. At the end of the day, the buyer and seller could not agree on a price. Fayose got angry. He proceeded to ask his driver to return the tanker to Ibadan.
“Before embarking on the return trip, Fayose instructed the driver to empty the content in the tank on to the road. This drew the attention of fellow Ekiti men and women who promptly brought out water fetching utensils from everywhere and anywhere.
“This was a shocking experience to the youthful Ayodele. He got more shocked when he saw the long queue of buckets neatly arranged by his compatriots who needed the content of the vehicle so badly.
“Ayo started to ask questions – are you people this water-starved? He got the affirmation. Ayo’s creative brain started working at dizzying pace. There and then, he asked the driver to go fetch more water and give out to Ekiti people – free.
“Before he knew what was happening, and because of the compassion he had for his people, it took him less than a month to increase the number of water tankers he brought into Ekiti. By this time, he was not thinking about jumping into the murky waters of politics.
“Somewhere along the line, he got advised to put inscriptions on the water tankers thus ‘Who Is Ayo Fayose? He Who Gives Water Gives Life’
“All his water tankers got this painted on them. And they serviced virtually all the local governments in Ekiti.
“Trust Ekiti elites, they said he was a ‘foolish young man wasting money and resources’ by giving out water that he was supposed to be selling for free but the masses appreciated him. He was later invited to be part of the Afao Day planning committee.
“As God would have it, some local governments in Ekiti were invaded by snakes and cases of snake bites became rampant. Fayose brought in portacabins on trailers and started a kind of medical outreach. He started taking care of the health of his people. By this time, he knew he had started a career as a politician.
“He continued along this line till it was time to pick a candidate for political parties to contest the gubernatorial seat in the state. Then, Alliance For Democracy’s Niyi Adebayo was the incumbent governor. Ayo decided to join the Peoples Democratic Party.
“Unfortunately for him, he was a nobody with no godfather. The anointed candidate was SK Babalola, the then Special Adviser for President Olusegun Obasanjo on Education.
“You see, SK Babalola got to know about Fayose and summoned him. He told him that he was aware of his popularity adding that he would be duely compensated by the party. He asked Fayose to step down for him being like a son to him.
“Fayose agreed but begged the almighty SK to allow him to be cleared to contest at the primaries so that he would have ‘experience’. SK thought about it and later agreed. That was his greatest mistake.
“This was in 2002. Fayose was thus allowed to partake in the primaries. Then, SK brought all the ‘muscle’ from Abuja. Ayo did not have any muscle. He had to sell the hostel he built at Agbowo in Ibadan. Brought the money to Ekiti and begged his followers and the delegates to manage and bear with him.
“On the day of the primaries in Akure, Fayose, SK and Olowoporoku sat together on the high table while the delegates were casting their votes. Fayose emerged winner. SK got so angry to the extent that he had to elbow Fayose violently and called him a stupid small boy. He stormed out of the venue and returned to Abuja. Fayose was carried shoulder high and his supporters celebrated all over Ekiti State. The report got to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“When SK, who happened to be OBJ’s friend got to Abuja, he told the President that the ‘kangaroo’ primaries must not be allowed to hold water.
“Trust OBJ, he asked Chief Bode George to go on fact finding mission to Ekiti. The President got the feedback that Fayose had taken over the state and that if the party presented any other candidate, PDP would lose.
“This became a ding-dong affair until the day the party was supposed to give out the flag to the party’s flag bearer. A day to that time, SK gave his own designed attire to OBJ to wear in Ekiti the following day. The President took the cloths and came to Ado Ekiti. You know, the protocol was that he would commission some projects done by the incumbent governor, Niyi Adebayo. After this, it was time for him to go to the stadium where the flag would be given to the flag bearer.
“SK and his people ensured that Fayose was relegated to the background. At the Airport in Akure when the president arrived for instance, Ayo was pushed and kept at the background. He was not allowed to meet the president at the airport. Policemen pushed him and punched him so that he would be demoralized. On the way back to Ado from Akure, his vehicle got stuck somehow. He stayed at that point till another vehicle was arranged for him. He still kept his focus.
“Meanwhile, Chief Bode George kept telling the President about how popular Fayose was. On the way to the stadium, the sing-song about Fayose got so intimidating to the extent that the president noticed too. Thus, when it was time for OBJ to change into the uniform (aso ebi) of the candidate to be given the flag, OBJ decided to wear that one belonging to Fayose’s camp.
“When the President mounted the stage and beckoned on Fayose to step forward to be given the party’s flag, he had to push and shove to gain access to the podium because he was lost in the crowd.
“At the end of the day, he got his flag and by May 29, 2003, he was sworn in as the Executive Governor of Ekiti State. Since that time, his popularity and or otherwise (depending on the way one perceives him) has continued to grow. He is a special creature. God has His plans for him. The Fayose phenomenon has started and is still the issue today”.