The Special Assistant to Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, tells GBENRO ADEOYE the All Progressives Congress has no chance of defeating the Peoples Democratic Party in the state even if all 33 APC aspirants could become one candidate
With some bigwigs in the ruling All Progressives Congress interested in Ekiti State governorship. Governor Ayo Fayose and the Peoples Democratic Party in the state must be afraid that their candidate will lose in the election.
Like who and who?
Like the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; and the National Vice Chairman of the APC, Segun Oni; who are both former governors. And then there is Senator Babafemi Ojudu, who is a Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Political Matters.
The reality is the same minister (you are talking about) was defeated in all the 16 local governments in Ekiti State even when he was the sitting governor. So how is it possible for us to now be afraid of him? If it were possible for all the 33 aspirants in the party that have obtained forms to be picked together as candidates, we would defeat all of them. Let them be put together to become one, all of them will be defeated.
Some people have been saying that federal might could play a role in the election since whoever emerges as the candidate of the APC will be supported by the President. Don’t you think this could be the gamechanger?
Unless they are saying they are not going to allow people to vote or that somebody will sit in the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja, write the results and announce them. If it is about bringing in security personnel like they have been boasting about, the police and the military will not force people to vote for someone. If voting will be allowed to take place on July 14, even if Buhari is the INEC Chairman, the APC will lose in this state except they just write the results in Abuja without people voting at the various polling units.
But from what we hear, the APC is on a mission to rescue the state from the Peoples Democratic Party because they feel that Governor Fayose has underperformed and run down the state. How would you respond to that?
People will always say something; they must talk. They have been in office before and people can see the difference between when they were in government and now. Between 2010 and 2014, Ekiti State got N46.4bn from the Excess Crude Account. That is minus the normal allocation. Outside that, the state secured N25bn bond and borrowed N31bn from commercial banks. Everything is close to N100bn. And with that, they cannot point to anything (they did). This is somebody who told us that he planted flowers, but up till now, we cannot see any flower on the streets of Ado-Ekiti. This is somebody who inaugurated Oba Adejuyigbe General Hospital in Ado-Ekiti, which was uncompleted and borrowed money to build a pavilion, which was inaugurated while it was uncompleted. This is somebody who spent over N3bn to build a single government house. They said the 2014 election that brought Fayose in was rigged, so why is it that APC members are now saying that Fayemi does not have electoral value? They say that if he is fielded, it will be very easy for the PDP to defeat him.
But do you know that what some people say is that Fayose only tries to have a populist style of government to win people to his side when truly he gives the people 10 per cent and keeps 90 per cent for himself?
These people must always talk. When they were in government, they elevated themselves to gods; they made themselves to look like they were gods to Ekiti people to the extent that people could not see them then. A lot of them would come to Ekiti on Monday and by Thursday or Friday morning, they were on their way to Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja. These are people that are not known here. I move round in Ekiti and I don’t go about with policemen. I mix with people. When I go to my village, we eat and take drinks together. That is what governance is about. It is not about elevating yourself to gods and behaving as if you are on top and every other person in the state is beneath you. Ayo Fayose is a different kind of governor. He is someone that you can call and he will answer even without knowing you or having your contact. He is someone that you can send SMS to and he will reply and if there is a need for him to call you, he will do so immediately. These are things they cannot do. They think that being a governor means sitting in bulletproof vehicles in which you cannot see their face. And because of that, they say the man is only trying to be a populist. What is governance? Is it not about populism?
People say it is about getting cheap popularity through ‘stomach infrastructure’.
Let me tell you, in Ekiti State today, N1,000 is huge money to a lot of people. There are people who do business with capital that is not more than N2,000, N3,000 or N5,000. At Oja Oba (Oba market), Ado-Ekiti, there are people selling pepper, fish, and so on not worth more than N3,000. When you give them N2,000, you have helped them. Fayose is not the governor of Lagos or Rivers state. You can be the Chairman of Kosofe Local Government Area and be living in Ikoyi, nobody cares, but here, you cannot be the chairman of my local government area and people will not get to see you every day. By 5 am, people are in your house to tell you their problems. The man whose wife has not conceived will also come to see his chairman. Even if the chairman will not be able to do anything about it, he wants the chairman to give him hope and encouragement.
So if the governor goes out to give people N500, know that N500 is a lot of money here. There are people whose monthly salary is about 8,000, so when you give that kind of person N2,000, you have given them what they earn in one week. But in Lagos, that would be nothing.
Ekiti is known to have lots of intellectuals and some of them have described the governor as bad advertisement for the state. What do you think about this?
Does intellectualism put food on your table? If you are a professor and you’re unable to assist someone that needs N200, what is the value of being a professor? There are people that cannot afford to have meals worth N200 in one day. I was born here and I grew up here. While I was growing up, there were times that parents would not have N1. I was brought up eating food without meat unless we went to the farm and killed a rabbit or whatever; that was the only time we ate meat. Then somebody will say you are losing value. Which value? You don’t have money to eat and somebody is telling you about your value. What was Fayemi’s experience? You don’t go about brandishing your PhD in War Studies. Besides, the deputy governor is a professor. Ekiti is the Fountain of Knowledge and many people are professors; now, we have a professor as an aspirant that we are supporting. They go about saying that the elite do not like this government and I’ve asked them a question – what does it mean to be elite? The deputy governor is a professor, the Secretary to the State Government has a PhD, the state’s head of service is a lawyer and also has a PhD and the Chief of Staff to the governor is a lawyer. I can mention names like that.
You have been referring to Fayemi a lot. Do you consider him to be the biggest threat out of the lot interested in the position in the APC?
Even in the APC, the others see him as their threat. The other aspirants are against him and Fayemi is standing alone. So the APC primaries will be Fayemi versus the 32 others. He is the likely candidate of the APC and that is the truth unless they are deceiving themselves. I have been in Ekiti for a very long time so I understand the politics of this state. That is why they are ganging up against him. They are the ones now looking for the White Paper on the probe panel (report on the administration of Fayemi) to be able to stop him. Didn’t they all say the panel was a ‘kangaroo panel’ at the time? So why are they now looking for the White Paper? They said Fayemi was rigged out in 2014, so why are they now saying he does not have electoral value?
Are you aware that some people have also described Fayose’s support for his deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, as an imposition which could affect the chances of the PDP in the election should some members decide not to work for the party?
When you do not benefit from a free gift, you say it is ‘haram’ (wrong). Ask those complaining if they would do so if the governor had been supporting them instead of his deputy? They would have also been celebrating it and mind you, the governor has the right to support somebody. A lot of people will be deceiving others and they would be spending money and that is what the governor is trying to prevent. For a lot of chieftains, four, five people will seek their support and they will be giving all of them hope. But the man has made his position known. In Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu supported his chief of staff. In 2015, he supported Akinwunmi Ambode. In Kwara, Bukola Saraki supported Abdulfatah Ahmed and it is so for other states. And we have been having governors fighting their deputies everywhere. Didn’t Adams Oshiomhole support Godwin Obaseki to become governor and he did it openly? In Imo State, Rochas Okorocha is saying that he is supporting his son-in-law and heaven has not fallen. And in the US, didn’t Barack Obama support Hillary Clinton? So he (Fayose) has the right to support
whoever and that right does not prevent others from exercising their rights? If you are strong enough, mobilise your supporters and defeat the governor’s candidate. That is how it is done. To me, the governor has not committed any crime by saying he is supporting his deputy. He could have supported any other person.
Out of the three senatorial districts in Ekiti State, it is only South that has yet to produce the state governor. Governor Fayose is supporting Prof. Kolapo, who is from the South but do you think he will stand a good chance against the candidates that other parties might present from the North?
I was among the apostles of what was called North – South agenda. It started in 2005. As of that time, the Central had produced Niyi Adebayo, who had spent four years in office and Fayose was in his third year in office, thinking that he would spend eight years. As of that time, it was North and South that had yet to produce a governor and that was what led to that agenda. The agenda was simple; the governor should come from either South or North. It was based on that agenda that the Action Congress of Nigeria picked Fayemi from the North and the PDP also picked Segun Oni from the North. The idea was that after eight years, it would go to the south. Well, Fayose came and it went to him. So with Fayose’s first and second terms and Adebayo’s tenure in office, Central would have spent 12 years. With Oni and Fayemi, North would have about seven and a half years, leaving the South with nothing. We have 16 local government areas- Central has five; North, five and South, six. Some people are saying we should look for competence instead. Yes, so are we also saying that we don’t have competent people in the South? Are you saying that in the APC, they cannot get one person in that part of the state that is competent enough? Out of the aspirants that have shown interest in the APC, I’m aware that about 12 of them are from the South. So are we saying that none of those 12 is competent enough to be the governor of the state? Anyone saying that is also insulting the people of the South Senatorial District of the state. That is why the PDP decided to honour that agreement of 2005/06. The PDP candidate will come from the South because the other two aspirants – Prince Adedayo Adeyeye and Senator Biodun Olujimi are from the South. So whichever way it goes, it will still be the South.
But there have been allegations that the governor plans to rig the primaries and the governorship election in favour of his deputy. What will you say about that?
What is the business of the APC with primaries of the PDP? And we have said it several times; they are the ones boasting that they have federal might and that Buhari is interested specially in Ekiti to take the state from the PDP because Governor Fayose has been critical of his government. They are the ones saying that by October 15, Fayose will go to jail. Ours is that we want a free and fair election, one that will be transparent. Foreign and local observers should come to Ekiti before, during and after the election. People should witness the election and let us also prevail on INEC because Ekiti will be a signal of what to expect next year. If INEC does anything wrong, it will be telling Nigerians that it is bye-bye to democracy in 2019. So if there is anybody that is boasting of rigging, it is those people in the APC. And we are appealing to them not to truncate this democracy and allow it work.
As you said, Fayose has been critical of Buhari’s government and Buhari himself. What will Fayose do after his tenure in office? Will he run away?
One, Governor Fayose is a presidential aspirant in the PDP. He wants to be President, by that time; probably he would have become the presidential candidate of the PDP. I can assure you that if Fayose leaves office on October 16, the following day, he is going to be in the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Whether he is invited or not, he will go there by himself and tell them I am here, is there any question you want to ask me? If there is any question, ask me now and let me answer you. If there is no question, let me go to my house. And that is what will happen. The man is not new to EFCC antics and I want Nigerians to ask this question. Is the EFCC properly constituted? Can the commission function legally because in the Act establishing the EFCC, there is no provision for Acting Chairman? It is a commission that should function with a chairman and other members. Where are the other members? We have one impostor by the name of Ibrahim Magu acting as a sole administrator. It is not done anywhere. The same person was said to be corrupt, according to the Department of State Services. So can corruption be probing corruption? Some people have been recommended for trial, what has happened to them? What has happened to a former Presidential Pension Reform Task Team boss, Abdulrasheed Maina, and others that were found to have stolen money under this government? Again, by law, finances of Ekiti State belong to Ekiti. EFCC cannot probe me for spending money belonging to Ekiti. EFCC has no power to probe me for spending Ekiti State funds. It is a federal agency. We need to begin to educate one another. It is only the House of Assembly here that can authorise the probe of money belonging to Ekiti and I think Nigerians should also begin to know this.
The murder charge against the APC Chairman in the state, Chief Jide Awe, was recently withdrawn and some people have described it as political move by the state governor to patronise or have a deal with the man ahead of the governorship election. Is that true?
Well, when you steal my money and you are arrested and charged to court. After going through trial for about six months, if I then say I’m no longer interested in pursuing the case, what do you think should happen? If the family who suffered the loss comes out to say we are from the same area and we want the matter resolved. They came to beg the governor. Do you expect the governor to insist that the case should go on and become the enemy of the accused and the accuser? The family said the matter should be resolved.
Lagos, Kebbi and Ebonyi governments are supporting rice production and some people have been wondering what Fayose is doing about Igbimo rice with the fertile land in the state. Don’t you think he has failed in that area?
I’m aware that Ekiti State is involved in rice plantation- heavily now. There is also something like a cooperative to encourage agriculture. I am aware that a large expanse of land is cultivated around Oke-Ako and I’m aware that the government is also providing seedlings for major crops to farmers at subsidised rates.