In these interviews with SAM NWAOKO, the Special Assistant to Governor Ayodele Fayose on Public Communications and New Media, Lere, speak on the political situation in Ekiti State.
THERE have been protests and counter protests in the state over sundry issues. How would you describe what you did against the recent protests in the state?
There were demonstrations of the hatred of All Progressives Congress (APC) for the people of Ekiti State. The APC gathered about 200 people from across the states and hurriedly took photographs for their usual, well-known media advantage and in about 25 to 30 minutes, they were done. With the photos all over the social media, it became the talk of the town that Ado Ekiti was locked down and things like that. But this was a false message. There was nothing like Ado Ekiti being locked down but cynics would still not agree.
However, the rally that was staged by the people of Ekiti State in solidarity with Governor Ayodele Fayose, on Friday (the day after) was supposed to have been held on Thursday. They got to know about it and quickly ran to the police for a permit. So, they got to the police before us. Be that as it may, what we had on that day was not a protest but a rally by private sector unions in Ekiti. All of them came together as one body: Photographers, beer sellers, commercial drivers unions, traders, artisans, tailors, hairdressers and so many others, even hunters. All of them came together in solidarity with Governor Fayose.
How do we now describe the solidarity without the toga of a sponsored outing, because that was what was said by a section of the people?
One of the problems with our friends in the APC is that they see themselves as the only wise people. They portray themselves as the only ones that have the interest of the people at heart. By lying that thousands of people were paid, are they also not saying that the less than 200 people that they had gathered the day before were paid? While I leave that as their problem, let me explain that it would be out of place for a taxi driver, who would probably make a minimum of N3,000 in a day to be told to leave his job and join a rally. For how much? I know of people who couldn’t get a place to eat on that day because the food vendors were all in the rally. If they didn’t love the governor or have interest in the programme, they wouldn’t have left their businesses for a solidarity rally for Fayose.
By way of advice, our friends in APC should purge themselves of the arrogance that whatever that is not coming from them is not real and is not good or be taken seriously.
What do you think is the cause of all these rallies and protests?
It is simple. Those who have been in this state for a number of years know that these elements in the APC, the moment they lose power, they begin to cause trouble in the state. Chief Niyi Adebayo of AD (Alliance for Democracy) was a governor here and for four years, no one caused trouble for him. 2003, Ayò Fayose waged war against him; the same people waged war until they collapsed his government. They want to say ‘okay we don’t like, how can this person Ayò Fayose that has only HND and he cannot be traced to any professor or anybody in that mould.’ Then what do we say about Chief Segun Oni, who is an engineer? He was elected governor on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2007. I worked with him for three and a half years. The same elements waged war against him until they collapsed his government. After Segun Oni, Dr. Kayode Fayemi of APC became governor in 2010 and ran his four years peacefully. The only thing PDP did during the period was call the attention of the public to things they were not going right and what they should do by way of alternative suggestions. I recall that when the Fayemi government was going for the loans that have now put Ekiti in perpetual financial crisis, we cried out against it and it is on record that we raised our voice in a civil way. We made our position known for four years.
But the moment Ayò Fayose won an election in 2014, crisis started. The first thing they did was to say that they would prevent him from assuming office. They wanted to make history by denying someone that won election the right to be sworn-in and in the process, Chief Omolafe Aderiye was murdered. When that failed, the next thing was that ‘we will impeach him within two months’. They even said that they would remove him and his deputy at the same time. We wondered what offence they would list against a governor that wasn’t even three months in office yet. This was because they had the numerical advantage in the Ekiti State House of Assembly then. We went through that for about seven months during which a life was also lost. The next stage was ‘we have taken over government in Abuja, we are now in charge of the Federal Government’. They even sounded like President Muhammadu Buhari would wake up one morning and just announce that Fayose has been removed as the governor of Ekiti State. It never occurred to them that we are in a democracy in which things must be done in accordance with the law. They went as far as Kaduna to testify at a military panel that the 2014 election was militarised and that it wasn’t a fair contest. Their plan was that the report of that panel would be taken to the Supreme Court, where they had earlier lost in their election petition, for the court to reverse itself. When that failed, they resorted to the current House of Assembly members by calling them and offering them money to compromise and impeach Governor Fayose. When those ones did not budge, they got the DSS to invade the Assembly and they arrested some of them. Afolabi Akanni was detained for 18 days without a charge and up till today, he was not told why he was arrested and detained.
So, you can see a pattern. This is a road we have travelled before. Now they are telling us that they would cause a state of emergency to be declared in Ekiti. We are still wondering how and why because in Borno, Boko Haram is still killing people; in Benue, Fulanis are still invading communities and killing people; Niger Delta Avengers are bombing and destroying pipelines in the South-South states and yet, there is no emergency in those states. We are wondering what the justification of emergency would be in Ekiti. We are aware that they are planning another protest and their plans are to bring in people from neighbouring states and cause trouble. They don’t remember that you need two-thirds of the Senate to confirm emergency and that the maximum period is six months.
Are you not over-simplifying the issues by saying all these protests and so on are because all they want is to get at Fayose?
Not at all, because these are really the issues. They simply want to precipitate crisis and chaos, which they think would call for emergency to be declared in Ekiti. The ultimate aim is to collapse the government of Governor Ayò Fayose like they did in 2006. But as I have said several times, 2006 is different from 2014. Some of us that were involved in that 2006 arrangement are now here and we know all their game plan. When they’re taking one step, we would have taken about three steps ahead of them.
What would you now say of the allegations of misgovernance and financial impropriety levelled against the governor?
All those are part of the game plan to perpetually keep their voluble members and keep portraying Ekiti and Governor Fayose in a bad light. We all know what misgovernance is and we saw a perfect example when the APC ran the state for just four years. We are in a debt that we will have to pay till 2036 in this state. Today, Ekiti State Universal Basic Education Board cannot access the Universal Basic Education Commission’s (UBEC’s) grant because we have been blacklisted. We have not benefitted for four years now and through that, the state has missed about N3.2 billion. When they are talking about misgovernance, the EFCC has not said that Ekiti money was stolen, what they are talking about is that ‘Governor Fayose got money from Dasuki to fund his election.’ They are not saying that an amount of money belonging to Ekiti State is missing and we suspect that it was stolen by Fayose. What they are saying is that N4.7 billion from the office of the National Security Adviser was given to Fayose through [Senator Musiliu] Obanikoro. If Ayò Fayose was to collect money from the Federal Government under Jonathan to fund his election, are we saying that he didn’t have sufficient access to the president at that time so much that he would need an Obanikoro as intermediary? So, as they have been saying, it is for Obanikoro to collect such money, change it to naira, fly it to Akure and then arrange a bullion van, which takes it to Zenith Bank for Fayose. Some things are just not commonsensical. If Fayose had such capacity to get such an amount, why wouldn’t he do all those by himself? Why take the money to the bank in Akure when he could have taken it to his home in Afao?
Well, the governor has said he got money from Zenith Bank to fund his election and the bank has not denied the statement or say that the governor lied. So far, no one has accused Governor Fayose of mismanaging or stealing Ekiti money. Governor Fayose has come out to categorically say that he did not collect any money from Dasuki. If they said they found money in his account, are they saying he couldn’t have received money from friends to fund his election? Would he return the gifts after the election when he didn’t use them? Some things don’t just add up.
So, what would you now say the EFCC is doing? Are you saying the agency is not doing its job?
I say it with all sense of responsibility that what the EFCC is doing is purely a witch hunt. It is a witch-hunt not just of Fayose but people that belong to the PDP. Among others, we have read reports of how the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, bought two houses in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. When Nigerians raised their voice, even the government defended him, saying he bought his houses through savings. This is curious, because when his legitimate earnings are viewed, the defence makes no sense.
For instance, we have written several petitions to the EFCC concerning the looting of this state by the APC government of Dr Fayemi. The government had written, various groups had also written but the EFCC has not done anything about the petitions. From our own end here, it is clear to us that EFCC is on a pure political persecution. It is simply interpreted to mean that as the lone voice of opposition in the country, they want to silence that voice. They did the same thing to Senator Ben Murray Bruce when they said he was indebted and they sealed his business premises. There are people on that AMCON list whose debts are much more than that of Senator Bruce but they didn’t go after those ones. It is purely a witch-hunt of the vocal opposition.
So what do you now say the opposition in the state should do?
They should let peace reign. It is the job of the opposition to criticise and they should do so with alternative suggestions. We should also learn from events around us, like the resignation of David Cameron, who didn’t even lose election. If it was in Nigeria, someone would have gone to court and got an injunction restraining him from resigning. Another one would get another injunction restraining him from leaving office. They would go to court and argue that when he leaves, the country would collapse. The APC lost an election that was conducted in Ekiti over two years ago, but they are still battling that election and have refused to give in. I advise them to rather be preparing for 2018 because that’s not too far away. They should offer criticism with suggestions that should put government on its toes. When we criticise Buhari, we offer alternatives. President Buhari threatened military force against the Niger Delta militants; Governor Fayose disagreed and suggested that he should dialogue with them. Government is about concession. When he said he was going to China to take loans, Fayose said he shouldn’t and stated that we don’t need any foreign loans, we even wrote to the government of China. They should stop lies and stop deceiving their supporters and the people. It does us no good. Rather, it is getting people angry and those of us who live here know this. We are based here; we relate with people and know their feelings. They carry rumours and lies to ridiculous levels.
Ekiti people are asking ‘what is wrong with these people’? Must they always cause problems when they are not in power? Are you the only ones that can govern Ekiti? This anger will get to 2018 and then they would lose the election woefully again, and they would start another round of blackmail and mischief. It may interest you to know that they are already losing the election now with many things they do both to their party members and the people of the state. They lost the 2014 election by over 80,000 votes. The 120,000 votes that APC got then is reducing now, because a lot of their people are also not happy. All of them are in Abuja and in Lagos. They are not coming home to galvanise support for their people and they are doing virtually nothing.
Isn’t your government afraid and shaken?
Afraid of what? Shaken by what? Shenanigans? Why should Ayò Fayose be afraid? He knows that all they do is keep making noise. It is only a masquerade that a man hadn’t seen before that could frighten him. We have seen them before. As I said, we are steps ahead of them. No matter how hard they try, this Ayò Fayose government is one established by God and they can never do anything to this government. If they are not careful, these Egyptians should be mindful of running after this Israelite. If they are not careful, they will perish in the Red Sea of Ekiti politics.