Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State marked the second anniversary of his second term of office with a lot of activities, including the inauguration of numerous infrastructural projects and the flag-off of others. He speaks on the experiences of the past two years and on other issues in this interview by Deputy Editor, Sam Nwaoko:
Your Excellency, we congratulate you on the second anniversary of your second term as Ekiti State governor. Looking back two years, how would you describe it, considering the various activities and challenges that you faced sir?
Let me start by telling you that I have causes to thank God and I want to appreciate God for being true to His words and for sustaining me. I have always said it: I have never lost a battle and I’ll never lose any by the grace of God. Day-by-day, it is either I’m in the trenches or my enemies keep me in the trenches to overcome them. But above all, I am Peter the Rock on which this state is founded, by God’s grace. You want to also acknowledge that it has been a turbulent and harrowing experience. It has been from one conspiracy against me to the other; from one attack to the other. You can equally recall that you cannot take away from me the courage to deal with issues as promptly as they come and I deal with them in line with God’s word. I challenge my challengers in totality of God’s fear and I have been sustained by that.
Even before I became governor-elect for the second term, a lot happened. They even wanted to prevent my swearing-in; they did everything humanly possible to frustrate the swearing-in. All I’m telling you is that they would keep trying and they would keep failing. What about the court issues? They went to the first court, even after congratulating me on the election victory; to the Supreme Court, where the blackmail of impeachment was totally erased and the court lambasted them. When your enemies don’t retreat, they are pushing you to a level where your victory would be meaningful, like Joseph, whose enemies never retreated until they made him the prime minister.
For me, it has been a very eventful two years. It hasn’t been too easy but I’ve always come out victorious, stronger, better. There are the blackmail of the election money by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the ‘Dasukigate’; threat by the Department of State Service (DSS); attempt to arrest members of the state House of Assembly and illegal arrest of one of them and all in which I have come out stronger. Someone said Fayose is a cat with nine lives, but I have more than nine lives; mine is innate indefinite life God has deposited in me.
Now that two years are gone, what would you say has been your achievements in the past two years and what next?
The Bible says when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; when the wicked are there, the people mourn. Ekiti, in the last 20 years, has not come first in any external exams like the National Examination Council (NECO). I took over in 2003 and, from number 35 position, we came to number 7. This time, we were in number 37 when I took over, now we are the first in all the federation. These are non-physical developments. They are innate and control the physical development. They are developments that are true to our name, the “Fountain of Knowledge.” I came with six cardinal points which also include security, infrastructure, agriculture, education, empowerment and all that. I am glad that, today, we have touched all these.
On empowerment, we are giving 10,000 indigent people N5,000 each on monthly basis, as palliatives in a social security scheme, to assist them. I do this because if you want to change the culture of a people, you must equally provide a way for them to earn something to augment what you want to take away from them. If you are taking away bad habits, corruption, cheating and making them to sacrifice certain things, you must give them some other things to act as palliative.
On infrastructure, my achievements dotted all over Ekiti. I have begun a first-of-its-kind fly over in the state. There is also the Oja Oba Market which has been there for over 200 years without renovation. I’m building an ultra-modern one in its place which will be completed next year along with the flyover. There are also several roads in the state and creation of dual-carriageways which I have completed, while many others are under construction. They include the ongoing Ado-Ikere Road and a part of it was lit up; Omuo township, Ikole, Ise, Emure and many more. There are more to come. There are the Petim, The Head, Onala, Awedele roads in Ado Ekiti. Iworoko-Igbemo-Iluomoba Road; the Awo-Ara-Ijero; Iropora to Ijero, Efo and many others. Most of these roads were done in my first term and they are now being rehabilitated.
In the water and agriculture sectors too, we have done well. I think have made myself, my people and my party proud. If a government fails, you must blame the leader. I hardly trade words or put blames on former Governor Kayode Fayemi because I was elected to come and perform and not to trade blames with anybody. If two years after election, I keep blaming Fayemi, that amounts to incompetence. So, to make it more meaningful, I operate like a statesman here. The first building, which I put up at the tomb of the late former deputy governor, the Women Development Centre, I named it after Adunni Olayinka, Fayemi’s late deputy who came from another political party. That’s statesmanship. Things that we do, we do them in honour of Ekiti people. Ekiti comes first in my government, not political parties, because after this office, there would be time for the people to judge and talk about us as leaders of our state.
For the coming two years, morning, they say, shows the day. The fact that I have done the needful for the past two years and my past records that brought me back are there, people knew that I will perform. As I always say, I will not leave any project abandoned. I’ll complete all my projects and I will hand over successfully by God’s grace.
You said when you take something from the people you give them palliatives. Is the lack of this at the federal level your cause for the criticism of the government?
The Federal Government is not doing anything. It is obvious. The fuel price was increased. They overreached the labour leaders; they were arm-twisted and they couldn’t say anything again. The increase in the pump price of fuel is the biggest ever and up till today, there’s nothing to cushion the effects. Today, an average Nigerian is generating his own electricity; sourcing his water and even making his own road. Travelling from here to Lagos, all the federal roads are deplorable. Every responsible government must strike a balance and create a give-back mechanism. None of the promises they made has been fulfilled. It is not that we are attacking them, nobody can say now that they are getting any palliative from the Federal Government. After the petrol price increment, nobody can say this is what the Federal Government has done to cushion the effects. Add the new electricity tariff and other increments to all these. Now, the salary you are earning is like a quarter or one-third of what you were earning before in value, because prices of goods have hit the roofs.
By your assessment sir, is this situation you›ve described an All Progressives Cingress (APC) thing or an issue of the man running the affairs of the country?
Let me put it this way: If there is a problem, we must blame the leader. This is because the leader was voted for. They believe in the leader that he will deliver. And leadership is not about one man, the man that got the mandate and confidence of the people should be held responsible. For me as a person, I take responsibilities for everything: the good and the bad in the state because the people actually believe that I have what it takes to deliver. So, if the Federal Government is not delivering, the leader should be called to question.
In the country today, it is believed that political realignments are already happening. This belief is reinforced by what many has come to interpret as your romance with Senator Bola Tinubu. Also, given that the major political parties, namely APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are enmeshed in crisis. Should Nigerians look out for a new political order?
When we get to the bridge we would cross it. I›m just one of Nigeria’s political leaders. I can›t sit here and tell you that there is a formation of a new political party or there is not. I cannot possibly tell how things would play out in the political arena. But when the time comes, we would all see how things are going.
I cannot also tell you that my comments on Tinubu were based on political gains. No. As a Yoruba nation, we must, first of all, remember that, before we are called Nigerians, we were first members of the Yoruba nation. We always make that mistake. That is why I always say that after an election, governance at all levels becomes the responsibility of all parties. After elections, leaders of various communities, zones and so on must come together to develop and defend their zone. I’m not a member of APC; I will never be a member of APC. I want to say expressly that my comments on Tinubu have nothing to do with politics and God is my witness. I have nothing against anybody, even as records show a lot of wrong things they›ve done to me. Whether anyone has done the other wrong in anyway does not mean that he (Tinubu) should be sacrificed. For instance, if an appointment is coming now, it will come to a Yoruba whether it is coming through APC or PDP is not the question; it will still come through a Yoruba man. What we are saying is not about political parties; it is about the Yoruba nation. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whatever you say about him, in politics of the Yoruba nation, he has paid his due. I want to be remembered in Ekiti by generations for my legacy. Why is that former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other leaders gave recognition to past leaders? Why was the daughter of Chief Abraham Adesanya given an appointment in Obasanjo›s government? Why was Chief Bola Ige appointed? They were from different parties. But the fact is that they are leaders in this zone. You can’t deny that.
What then is the fate of your own PDP, given the fact that it is mired in all sorts of court cases and crises?
Tomorrow, the dry bones will rise again. PDP that is perceived as a dead today is just a sleeping lion; it is a sleeping lion that will rise again. PDP has a structure that has permeated every nook and cranny of this nation. If you tell me, in Kano, there were elections, they say APC got over two million vote and no voided votes and just a little for PDP. Come to think of it, you would see that, that election was purely arranged. Not too long after, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) that conducted that election was killed in a fire incident in his home; so we were told. We will know the truth when we all see God. Today, the story is no longer the same. Rather, they are, today, making PDP to contest against INEC, as was the case in Edo State. So, I know that it cannot continue like this. I tell you, the dry bones of PDP will rise again; the party will take over. Don’t worry. Even if there would be an emergence of a new political party, we will wait and see before we jump in. But in politics, nothing is in possible.
Recently, you stopped EFCC from arresting the wife of Chief Femi Fani-Kayode in Ado Ekiti. It is being insinuated in some quarters that Mrs Fani-Kayode was here to get something from you while others view it as a media stunt. Could you clarify the issue sir?
There is nothing to clarify, Fani-Kayode is my friend and he remains my friend. The people making insinuations are entitled to their own opinions. Femi Fani-Kayode and I talk on daily basis. If his wife comes to me, should she have rather gone to meet her husband›s enemies? The wife has to come to somebody like me. When we were in crisis, my own wife went to a lot of people too. Life is so dynamic. Fani-Kayode of today could be somebody else tomorrow. I don›t want to go to the details of that, but my action on the detention is to show EFCC that you cannot try such nonsense in my state. Even if they bring the whole guns here, they will kill as many as they want to kill. So, let me say clearly that, EFCC is a lying agency. They disobey and disregard the Nigerian constitution and defy the right of the citizenry. This is unfortunate, it is sad. This is not the concept of the founding fathers of EFCC. The agency was conceptualised to be able to reposition Nigeria economically, to save Nigeria from moral decay; not to oppress the rights of Nigerians. Investigations should be done like a responsible organisation, not running investigations on the pages of the newspapers, not media trial, not playing to the gallery like they are doing. They did this to me before, so I›m not perturbed. So, for me, I stand with Fani-Kayode. These are turbulent times. This phase too will pass. We›ve seen situations like this before. There was a time in the late General Sani Abacha›s regimen you could not talk to even your wife; you were so afraid. This is still a similar one but it would pass.
Taking that to what was published that Senator Musiliu Obanikoro allegedly said that you were given about $5.7 million for the Ekiti governorship election in 2014. Do you also see that as merely another media trial?
I wouldn›t want to join issues with EFCC or Obanikoro. But I remembered very well that Obanikoro was firing very serious salvos at the EFCC before now. I remembered all his statements in the press. But this dramatic return; he was not stopped at the airport and there was a clear entrance straight to the EFCC›s office, simply shows that there is a hand of a Esau in the voice of Jacob; there is collaboration. I am used to all these… conspiracy. But the fact remains that in all these, Jesus is Lord; in all these, victory is sure; in all these, I’ve not lost any battle and I’ll not lose any.
Let me believe that Obanikoro did not say all these because whatever you say, you would have to prove it in court. It is not enough to just say it. If he›s saying all these just to get out of trouble, it is just a drama of the moment. I know he is looking for ways out of the quagmire maybe because his house was seized, his bank accounts were frozen and all that. Maybe my brother and friend, Obanikoro, is looking for a way out and so, they have to heap everything on Fayose. I’m used to that.
But in the meantime, I am busy with my job as the governor of Ekiti, delivering good governance to my people. What they wanted during their conspiracy at my first tenure was to stop me from rising politically. They didn›t want me to rise politically again and that was the first poultry allegation with EFCC but I won.
Today, I can adjudge what would happen tomorrow by the victories of yesterday. So, their fear is my rising profile. Their fear is: where is this Fayose going? Don’t forget that in the Bible, the three wise men who came to greet Jesus Christ and who saw the tomorrow of Jesus Christ just as the then King Herod too saw the tomorrow of Jesus Christ and he told the wise men to come back to him and reveal where Jesus was so that he could go and kill him. But the wise men didn’t go back that way. So, they saw my tomorrow and knew that I’m rising; I’m going to be among those people that would take over from them. I have a future; I have greatness ahead of me and no greatness comes without a battle and struggles. So, they should keep their gun powder dry and behave like a responsible organisation, whose strength is in their coded investigation. They should stop messing themselves up. I am not perturbed. You see, nobody knows what would be the situation in two year’s time, but when we get to the bridge, we would cross it.
Again, if Obanikoro says he gave me $5.3million and so on, where did he get it from? Why will he take such huge cash like that? Why will an honourable federal minister of the country be saying that he took cash like this and gave to me? You can now see how EFCC operates, but we will talk about that when we get to court. They are only looking for ways, for nexus, to link me at all cost; to destroy me at all cost. It is just like in the Bible when they asked the people should we replace the thief with Jesus for the punishment but the people said no, it is Jesus we want. But at the end, contrary to their thinking that killing Jesus would be the end, Jesus Christ’s ascension has glorified Him, in His name now, all knees bow in heaven and on earth and all tongues confess. So, this is another one. All they want is Fayose. I hope that by now, they would release all his confiscated assets and property because he is now collaborating with them.
You rose in condemnation of the DSS invasion of the homes of some judges after your friend, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, had foiled their operation in Port Harcourt. There are insinuations, one of which is that the invasion was actually targeted at you and Governor Wike, with the aim said to be attempts to link you to an allegation that you bribed the judges to get victory at the courts. How do you view this?
I›ve never seen it in our history, where judges were intimidated. When judgment does not go your way, then that judge must have collected money. Should APC win everywhere? That is not democracy. Let us come back and look at the situations. Even if you say that I am a thief, are there no procedures to handle it? You have all the intelligence; you have all it takes to prove it; you have access to their bank accounts and all that. This is uncharitable. You are now telling these judges, if you don’t give judgment the way we want, then you are a thief; then, we will remove you. It is taken things too far. But let me tell you, this is not going to stand in the face of God. God is not wicked; He is not man that He would allow these people to continue the way they are doing it.
You›ve not only made a law on grazing, you have also inaugurated a body of Ekiti people to help in enforcing the law. What is the ultimate aim of these action?
We are entitled to having enforcers who would enforce the law restricting grazing to a level it won’t bring harm to our people. Laws are not made for mere making; they are made to be obeyed and respected. A lot of people today have lost fortunes to the destructive activities of these herdsmen; when they come they are usually armed and they overpower the farmers. So, it is our duty to protect these farmers; it is our duty to protect the citizens and their farms. So, what we are doing is that there are certain restricted areas for grazing where, if you graze and your actions are malicious, we take you to court. We want to ensure that things are done properly. While we are not against grazing, we want grazing not to affect the economic activities of others and destroy their future.
Outside Ekiti State, your name reverberates and since the major political parties are in crises, when a new political horizon emerges, you could be a beautiful bride in the new political dispensation. Would you see yourself as a party’s flag bearer in the future?
Flag bearer for what?
Presidential flag bearer…
I cannot be a presidential flag bearer of any party, new or old. A responsible party must know the dynamics. A responsible party, if they want to succeed, must know that these two successions remain the turn of the North. We must not shy away from this arrangement, though it might not be a constitutional thing. Like I said, may be if PDP had respected that, we would not find ourselves where we are today. So it is important not to do the wrong thing. In whatever party we might find ourselves in, we must do the right things and equally give opportunities as there are to all our ethnic divides.
The Ekiti State House of Assembly is in crisis with the suspension of Chief Gboyega Aribisogan. The matter got worse when allegations of suspected murderers, allegedly sponsored by the suspended member, were after them. Has this matter received your attention as the governor and the leader of the party in the state and what intervention do you think would bring normalcy to the House?
We would do our best on it. I have heard about the development and I intend to call a meeting of the party to look into some of these things. But the fact remains that loyalty is key. So, anybody involved in this matter must first of all be prepared to remember that our strength lies in our collective loyalty to leadership. However, if you smack a child with the right hand, you draw him back with the left hand. We will find a way to resolve the matter.
Your wife is with you in public domain. How would you describe her vis-a-vis your relationship?
My wife is an eternal blessing whom God has chosen for me even before I was born and before she was born. My wife remains a pillar of support. My wife remains a guiding angel chosen for me by God who prays without ceasing; who forms prayer bands across the nation because of me. My wife never discusses me with anybody or in public if even I am in the wrong or I am making her unhappy. She would rather tell you that it is too late to fight with me. She has also made it clear to all that ‘my husband has been given to me by God and that there is no any amount of blackmail that can cause disaffection between us’. We have issues like every other home but my wife will never complain. It is such women that can marry very tough men like us. Men like us, if we don’t have such women and their support, we would crumble. I choose to make peace with my wife all the time. Even when I want to do certain things, she will say I shouldn’t do it and I would be adamant but later I won’t do it because she would tell me she stands to lose, she stands to suffer if I’m in trouble. She is such a wonderful woman and she is ever prepared to suffer in my place.
What about the tango between President Muhammadu Buhari and his wife, Aisha?
I don’t want to talk about Buhari and his wife. Every marriage is unique and has its own issues. We should leave them and continue to pray for them. There is no way issues like this would not come up but it is not our business to meddle. I don’t want to join issues in that area at all. I just wish them the best.