All Progressive Congress (APC) chieftain Femi Odere, in this interview with EMMANUEL OLADESU and MUSA ODOshIMOKHE, explains the challenges before Ekiti State Governor-elect Kayode Fayemi and why voters in the Fountain of Knowledge need re-orientation.
What is your assessment of the Ekiti State governorship election?
It was a referendum on the part of the electorate, as regards who they prefered to steer the ship of state in the next dispensation. Fayose’s negative governance style which bordered on things like stomach infrastructure played up to a point in the election. But, people now realise that it is not the best alternative to good governance in terms of development. They have seen how other Southwest states developed in terms of infrastructure and in term of the so-called stomach infrastructure. Stomach infrastructure means you empower people, create the enabling environment for people, to actually stand on their own. So, it is like the adage of that says when you teach people how to fish, they fish for the rest of their lives. Whereas if you give people fish they just eat it for one or two days. So, Fayose has been giving people fish that only lasted 24 hours. That went for so long and they needed somebody to teach them how to fish and this was actually how Fayemi started in his first term. He tried to teach people how to fish with the several programme that he came up with. That is how the election in Ekiti should be looked at.
People said that a lot of vote buying characterised the exercise and that no party was particularly exempted…
I can only talk from the point of view of what I know and not what I don’t know and I am not sure if you actually saw a few pictures that actually went viral on the issue. Immediately after that election, there was this guy with the PDP vest and handing over wads of N1000 notes to voters. He handed over money to the electorate who were actually out to cast their votes. So in term of that, there was vote buying on the part of PDP. There has not been anything like that on the part of APC posted on the internet. I will not say that vote buying did not exist, but who perpetuated vote buying, it was more on the part of PDP than any other party.
What are the lessons of the Ekiti election to the political class?
I will say that one of the first lessons that I believe that the political class should learn is that, we must field candidates who know their onions. Parties must field candidates that are anchored and connected with the grassroots. They must field candidate that are with the party and not those off the party. Once they are able to do this, the acrimony and negative tendencies that characterised party politics, in this part of the world will be reduced to the barest minimum.
In terms of security, let us don’t deceive ourselves that our politics and the players for the most part are still much in the bottom rung of the political pitch. This is unfortunately responsible for the violence on our politics and it is the unfortunate facts of life. If the story that was painted about Ekiti State had been acted, we would be talking of a different thing entirely by now. The man, who is still the governor, is already known to be violent prone and there are several evidences of brigandage that characterise the ascendancy of power in our politics. When you now know the kind of characters that you are dealing with, you have to take preemptive measure. The security that was sent to Ekiti was to protect lives; otherwise many lives would have been lost because of the nature of the man. Even at that, on the day of the election, calls were still coming in to the situation room about how the PDP hawks were still threatening Ekiti people. You can only imagine what could have happened if the security was not adequately put in place. So, if you know that a state is prone to violence, it is in order to send as much security personnel as possible, to prevent violence.
What are the challenges that will confront Fayemi in the governance of Ekiti?
Without laying any claim to the intrigues of governance or things like that, I will say the challenges are prone to two. We have the economic challenge because of both internal and external indebtedness, to the tone of N90 billion. And we are talking about a state that does not have oil, factories, industries, where substantial internally generated revenue can be derived. So, to be saddle with N90 billion not to talk of the fact that civil servants in all cadre like teachers, employees in government, pensioners and all of that who are being owed up to six months. The economic challenge has been excruciating, but again I will not say nothing is impossible if there is the will. We have a man who is coming on board, a tested hand in terms of prudent management of resources, someone who has the international connection. He is a man who is known to face challenges. Therefore, if you can face the planning and strategy, you can surmount any problem. At the end of the day, it will not matter how much the problem posed. The second challenge is changing the people psyche. It must change the narrative; it must have a new paradigm because Ekiti is famed as the mountain of knowledge. It has the highest educated people across the federation and it allowed this man Fayose to hoodwink their thinking. The challenge is how do change the thinking of a people that are used to be given N1000 by him, see the importance of governor who eats Amala and takes alcohol with them in the open places. To me, that is the real challenge, so that whatever that has been destroyed can be rebuild within 18 months. What cannot be undone within a short time is changing the psyche of the people to be in conformity with what they are known for and that is intellect and intelligence. They must be galvanized to actually be able to dissect issues that will aid the growth of Ekiti.
What is President Muhammadu Buhari not doing well that he should focus between now and 2019?
The security situation is what I will want him to focus on right now. Now that he has said that most of these killings are being perpetuated by politicians. There was a time the army made pronouncement that the Boko Haram knew some individuals that are actually sponsoring them. As long as that is true and it is still true up till today, it goes a long way to say that the killings has political undertone. He should really take that very seriously because a life lost is one too many. Regardless of excuses and reasons involved, Nigerians should not lose their lives when they are not at war.
The President is losing friends instead of gaining…
Who are these friends that the president is losing? Who are those friends that he should be gaining which he is not gaining? Let us put it in proper perspective, if you have a president who told the world that he was going to tackle the economy, tackle the Boko Haram and promised to fight corruption before it kills us. So, let us also discuss from what we know on ourselves and leave what we don’t know. What we know is that corruption is at the centre of everything in Nigeria. The point of that corruption happened to be from the political class. So, you don’t expect these people to fold their arms, when you have a president who have such an enormous power to deal with corruption. To me, that is the point we much look because it is no longer business as usual. So, the people that who are going to stay with the APC, are the people that are going to subscribe to the ideology of tackling corruption.
What are your expectations about 2019 election?
I want to say that Buhari is going to win. But if you say the fight is going to be easy as that of 2015, I will say no. We have started seeing the manifestations of the fact that the fight is not going to be easy. This man is the only politician in the history of the country that has not been tainted with corruption even when he hold all the lucrative positions that he had held in the past.