Professor Modupe Adelabu is a former deputy governor of Ekiti State and a prominent leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. In this interview by SAM NWAOKO, she speaks on the efforts to reconcile members of the party and other issues. Excerpts:
Your party, the APC, is embarking on another round of reconciliation after the one your group carried out. Why this new one?
A Yoruba adage says “As long as you have lice or fleas on your clothes, you will continue to have blood stains on your finger nails”. This in saying that, if crisis persists or new ones crop up, there will always be a need for reconciliation. In Ekiti State, the intra party crisis started as far back as 2014 after the party lost the governorship election. The party elders made several attempts to settle the crisis. Although the crisis minimized, it resurfaced during the primary election in Ekiti State (in 2018) in another guise, and it has remained till date. The APC National Peace and Reconciliation Committee of which I was a member was headed by H.E Kashim Shettima. The committee’s principal task was to reconcile members who have grievances arising from the October and November, 2018 governorship, Senate, House of Representatives and state assembly primaries across the region.
By implication, the committee’s mandate included identifying and addressing potential concerns that could threaten the party’s chances for all elective positions ahead of the 2019 general elections. We did our best to touch every State and we invited aggrieved members. Some of them turned up to register their complaints. It should be noted that, in the case of Ekiti State, there were few notable party members that were aggrieved. However, there was strong evidence of aggressive reconciliatory efforts carried out by the state government and the party before our visitation. The governor himself had made personal efforts to reconcile with his co-gubernatorial aspirants. Based on our observation and party member’s agitation, a lot of recommendations were made, that could have minimized the crisis across boards. Some of such recommendations were that the party should continue to dialogue with the aggrieved party members and reach an agreement with them, and the party should encourage continued reconciliation and open communication where necessary. We also recommended at that time that urgent presidential intervention maybe needed to broker peace in the states. For the new reconciliation committee set up by APC, I suggest that they should revisit the report and recommendations of our committee and build up on them, while at the same time make their own enquiries. It is my belief that if majority of our recommendations were accepted and considered, the crisis in APC now would have been easier to handle and minimized. We did our own part but we were not part of the follow up. I therefore recommend that the caretaker committee should take a second look at our report.
The crisis in the Ekiti State chapter of the APC appears to be hydra-headed and has refused to be tamed. What are your thoughts on the matters causing disaffection in the party?
APC in Ekiti State like any other State in the Federation including the federal level is passing through a stage of internal problems and bickering mainly among some of the political leaders. No state in the federation has absolute immunity from intra-political party crisis. The crisis in Ekiti State started after 2014 gubernatorial election. Several efforts were made to nip this in the bud but little success was achieved. Every intra- party crisis is about “who gets what, when and how”. The control of the party structure is the main reason(s) for this crisis. This is politics and it should be expected.
The advice by the national leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu is quite laudable. The governor, Dr Fayemi is not only the governor but the political leader of the state. Consequently, he is not expected to abdicate his responsibility to any external influence or authority. I believe that Dr Fayemi is doing his best to look for solution to this crisis. If he deems it fit invite an external adjudicator outside the state based on consultation with the party’s stakeholder’s and elders in the state I am sure as a peace leader he I making effort towards an early resolution to this crisis which is actually diversionary.
What new measures do you think should be introduced as a means of ensuring stability in the APC in Ekiti State going forward?
We should commend the efforts the party is making to reconcile the aggrieved parties. There is no specific measure that one can suggest to peace making until all communication gaps are closed. The parties involved must come together to agree on way forward. This is the time for round table where all efforts must be made by both leaders in the party and leaders in the state to negotiate a settlement. It should be noted that many wars were not settled in the battle field but on the round table. So I’m once again pleading with our political leaders to come together and find a lasting solution to the crisis in the state. More so, that Ekiti State is a homogenous state and we are one big family. What I observed the ember by foot soldiers and followers of the gladiators. We have seen how one time political enemies later became friends. All the leaders should for now mind their utterances especially in the social media and sheath their sword. Also, they should remember that political pits are not always deeply dug. Political foes today may become friends tomorrow.
How would you describe your experience at the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE)?
My experience as Chairman of NBTTE is very rewarding and interesting. Our council is made of members from various backgrounds especially professionals who have one thing or the other to do with Technical and vocational education. However, we are able to work as a formidable and united team because that is the only way we can move technical and technological education forward in Nigeria. Our main function is to supervise, regulate, and oversee educational programmes offered by technical institutions at secondary, polytechnic, and monotechnic level through n accreditation process. Presently, we have 680 institutions under us. These are made of Polytechnics, Colleges of Health Science, Specialized Institutions, Innovation Enterprise Institutions, (CIEDS), Technical Colleges and Vocational Enterprise Institutions (VEI). The Technical and Technological Education is the engine room of National Development and this has to take a rightful place in Nigeria. Today, Technical, Vocational Education has made a notable mark within the Tertiary Education in Nigeria. The world is moving toward a knowledge driven economy and the place of Science, Technology and Technical education is central to driving the process. Science and Technical Education are transforming the world into a sophisticated global village at a rate beyond comprehension. Nigeria should not be left behind in this global development. Therefore, it gladdens my heart to know that the present Covid-19 has brought out the competence and skills of Nigeria Polytechnics and Monotechnic in many areas such as Fabrication of Ventilators, laboratory Equipment, Auto fumigation systems, etc. So, this is the time for Nigeria government to encourage Technical, Technological and Vocational education. Presently, the NBTE in partnership with the Federal Ministry of education and the Presidency is developing a National Skills Qualification Frame- work (NSQF) which is a system for the Development, Classification and Recognition of Skills, knowledge and competences acquired by individuals irrespective of where and how the training or skills was acquired. This is with the objectives of promoting life-long learning and providing recognition for the learners. The NSQF has scaled the last stage and the body is to be chaired by the Vice President. I want to use this opportunity to call on various governments at all levels in partnership with Private Sector to fund the Polytechnics and Monotechnic and TVE generally, because here lies the future of Nigeria.
Funding is often said to be the bane of education in the country, especially tertiary education. What model would you recommend for governments?
Presently money for funding tertiary education is the responsibility of federal, state and local governments. This is complemented mainly by TETFUND whose main responsibility is to administer and disburse, manage about 2% of education tax to government-owned tertiary institution. As you all know, the future of any country lies in quality of education. A major problem facing education now is underfunding. The way forward really is to once again have a stakeholders meeting of all that are concerned with the education enterprise in Nigeria such as parents, guardians, the civil society, private sector, who have been proactive on national issues and non-governmental agencies to look for a way forward in financing of education in Nigeria. It has become an emergency now that the future of oil revenue is bleak.
How would you describe funding of EKSU as an example? As far as you are concerned, would you say it is well funded? If so, would you say this is a deliberate policy?
Education has primacy of place in Ekiti State. At his first coming in 2010, Education and human capital development was one of his 8 points agenda and even now much attention is given to education. Consequently, the government has also in addition to Primary and Secondary education focused attention on Tertiary Education, Ekiti University in particular. This may appear deliberate because education is our major business and enterprise in Ekiti State and this has not changed. This is hinged on the belief that a good education is the foundation for a productive future.
The new government in Ekiti came with the mantra “restoring our values”, how well would you say this value has been restored considering infrastructure, agriculture, education and the knowledge economy that the state is targeting.
In Ekiti State, the present government is working its talk on “Restoration of Values” in Ekiti State and this cut across all parastatals and agencies. As soon as Dr. Kayode Fayemi assumed office, he set out to turn its campaign promises to reality. The strength of Ekiti person is deeply reinforced in his belief that hard work is the only sure way to success and Dr. Fayemi, being an Ekiti person himself has the ‘can-do’ spirit and does not only say this, but works to manifest it. He restructured governance to provide the enabling environment for a new lease of life and decent living for Ekiti citizens. I believe he has once more given Ekiti State a pride of place in the nation, and once again Ekiti State indigenes anywhere in the world can be proud to say he/she is from Ekiti, unlike what operated in the administration before him. Thus far, governance under JKF has been restructured to give the institutions under it a new lease of life. He has initiated the policy of knowledge economy as key to meaningful development. Ekiti State is the first state to legislate on gender-based violence. Consequently the state has created support and empowerment funds for verified gender-based violence survivors. This is first of its type both in Ekiti and in the federation. The administration has also resuscitated vibrant partnership with the civil society. In the area of justice, many laws have been reviewed, amended and enacted. Workers’ welfare is of primary importance to this administration. Civil servants and teachers can now breathe. Salaries are paid as and when due; part payment of salaries and pension arrears inherited from last administration have also been paid.
In infrastructure, a lot of roads are being constructed. Agbado – Ode, Isinbode – Omuo, Ilupeju-Ire-Igbemo, Igbemo-Ijan road, Oye-Iye – Ikun road, Aramoko – Erinjiyan – Ikogosi roads. Ibuji- Igbaraodo-Ilawe – Ado road. New Ado – Iyin road. A total of 170km of HDPE pipes have been laid in Ado Ekiti metropolis alone which is divided into zones. Rehabilitation work is going on in Ero Dam and hopefully before the end of this year, all things being equal, Ero dam will supply to nine local governments in the state. Similarly, a lot of rehabilitation work is going in Ureje Dam as well as Egbe Dam where the European Union (EU) is working presently as a partner of the state government. Ido-Ile mini water scheme is 100% completed, while that of Oke-Imesi is 80% done. The State is working with Transmission Company of Nigeria to construct 2 Nos of 120 MM 132k substation at Ijesu-Isu and Ilupeju.
The government has also done a lot in rural health centres, which have been rejuvenated and given new lease of life. Some general hospitals in the state which were neglected by the last administration have been rehabilitated immediately Fayemi assumed office. Presently, work is going on in about 8 primary Health Centres while construction of a new comprehensive health centre is on-going around Okela in Ado Ekiti. Free health care is also a State policy for a category of Ekiti citizens. Ekiti State is one of the least states affected by Covid-19 with only two death, 40 discharge and three active cases as of July 7. It is 34th lowest in the country. The response of State government was not only timely but quite appropriate. Ekiti State has established a molecular Diagnosis Laboratory to do Covid-19 tests (and ultimately Infectious Diseases test) and molecular biology research in Ekiti.
In agriculture, there are massive land acquisition and clearing for farming purposes to encourage our teeming youths to take into agriculture. There are such farms in Osin where water melon grows and are doing well. There is also such farm in Gede, Oke-Ado and Orin. The commercial farming programme, Youth in Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD), has been expanded to accommodate and encourage more young farmers in commercial agriculture. Some youth who embraced the YCAD programme which started in 2012 (first tenure of Fayemi) are successful farmers today and have been sustaining the program even when Fayemi was not in office. Recently Ekiti State is partnering with CBN to empower 1000 cassava farmers.
For the education sector, the administration inherited a lot of dilapidated schools in 2014 as a result of total neglect by the last administration. There are many ongoing projects in schools. These include renovation of 348 buildings; construction of 131 new buildings including four mega schools; 171 fencing projects; 200 toilets and boreholes totalling 120. Ekiti primary and secondary schools are undergoing renovation and education is free up to secondary school level while government has paid the WAEC fees of the students and obtained JAMB forms for them. A new tertiary institution, the College of Agriculture and Technology, is also getting ready for accreditation.
As an eminent indigene of Ekiti State, what is your candid assessment of Governor Fayemi’s administration and some other governors that had held sway in the state?
Dr. John Kayode Fayemi can be referred to as a quintessential leader with leadership traits that distinguished him among a lot of past governors in the state. As his former deputy, my experience with him made me conclude that he is a political icon, a team leader, a democrat and a mentor to a lot of people that worked and still are working with him. It is difficult to compare him with some past governors in the state because the basis for comparism is not there. He has sets goals that he feels are achievable within his four years tenure. He is busy working to achieve these goals. This has made him concentrate more on his work than mundane criticism of past administration. Hardly can you see him refer to any past government in particular because this is diversionary and a waste of time. Like Hezekiah in the Bible who was busy building the walls of Jerusalem, Dr Fayemi has a vision before him of building Ekiti State and restoring its values and would not listen to diversions.
As you can see above, this administration has done a lot within two years. Those in Ekiti State are aware of this, even if these achievements are under- reported in the media, the onus is on us, the indigenes and non-indigenes of Ekiti who have seen these to broadcast and tell others within and outside the state. This is what I refer to as “Political Evangelism”, which must be aggressively done by Ekiti people themselves. The projects are verifiable and are not clothed in secrecy neither are they white washed; and the infrastructures are built to last without any panel beating.