President Muhammadu Buhari has urged former Minister of Mines and Steel Kayode Fayemi to get Ekiti State back for All Progressives Congress (APC).
Buhari spoke yesterday at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where a valedictory session was held in Fayemi’s honour
Fayemi resigned his appointment to run for the Ekiti State governorship election billed for July 14.
At the event, Buhari noted that he was reluctantly allowing Fayemi to go because of his constructive contributions at the FEC meetings.
He said: “As I sat here, I watched every minister that spoke about his contributions. This revealed not only intellect, but when he is given the necessary time to contribute to important memorandum, he made contributions, which shows a commitment to the progress of this government and the country.
“By chance, he was given the portfolio of Solid Minerals and Steel Development and you know that sector was virtually abandoned. During the colonial days, they took what they wanted from us. Tin, columbite and the rest were the priorities until they struck oil somewhere.
“When he went in, he began to deal with both Nigerians and foreigners that were exploiting the lack of commitment of those who are responsible for that sector.”
The president noted how Fayemi tackled the cases of children and women that suffered from the effect of mining in Zamfara State and other parts of the country as well as dealing with the people responsible.
“He only briefed me occasionally, but he was packing them out of the country. With the cooperation of some of his colleagues, he will come here and let me know,” Buhari said.
The President said: “I hope you will get the Ekiti back for the party. The only time I saw the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman was to insist that voters’ education should be emphasised, so that ordinary Nigerians will believe that Nigeria is beginning to respect them…”
Buhari said he was elected as President with the help of technology after losing three times and fighting for his mandate up to the Supreme Court.
He added: “So, we thank technology because with the introduction of PVC and the readers’ card, votes counted. Please go and emphasise this to your constituencies. Let Nigerians be respected that they can vote anybody across any party and at any constituency.
“So, we certainly wish you the best of luck but it will take me sometimes to get a substantive minister and moreso with the 2019 prospects that I have already indicated. But we need a very strong minister, strong in intellect and courage, so as to make sure that both the Nigerian and foreign collaborators of taking away our resources can be checked effectively.
“We thank you very much for your contribution for your country. Goodbye, we will come for the inauguration.”
Six members of the cabinet were selected from the six geopolitical zones to speak on Fayemi.
Minister of Science and Technology Ogbonnaya Onu said Fayemi is both special and unique.
According to him, he played important roles in the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) and creation of the Progressives Governors Forum.
Minister of Interior Abdulraman Dambazzau said: “I found him to be a gentleman and an academic of repute. We became very close during the campaigns. We are going to miss him in this chamber because of his contributions to discussions, which have increased the informed decisions we have taken here.
“I want to wish him success in the campaign and wish he wins the election.”
Minister of Women Affairs Amina Alhassan said Fayemi has repositioned the Ministry of Mines and Steel in line with Buhari’s vision.
She also noted that Fayemi was a gender-friendly minister.
On her part, Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun said: “He is a unique public servant.”
Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi said Fayemi was instrumental to his success as Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum.
Fayemi’s deputy, Minister of State for Mines and Steel Bawa Bwari, said the ministry will greatly miss him.
Minister of Education Adamu Adamu, who was not part of those selected to speak on Fayemi from the six geopolitical zones, told his colleagues that he had something to say against Fayemi.
He complained that Fayemi, who had been very close to him, has now been dodging him since his ambition to get Ekiti governorship seat.
He noted that Fayemi would be more useful at the national level than in Ekiti State.
Adamu later urged his colleagues to support Fayemi to win the Ekiti State governorship election.
Fayemi, who jokingly said he would have to learn how to dodge bullets, said his winning Ekiti State governorship seat would not be a national loss as it will give more opportunity to serve the country and the President better.
He said: “At occasions like this, words normally fail me. But I have to say thank you to Mr. President for the opportunity to serve the people and also for agreeing for me to run for the Ekiti gubernatorial seat.”
The ex-minister also thanked his colleagues for their supports in moving the country forward and the progress made in the past three years.
According to him, he had no regret of been called ‘Buhari’s Boy’, because Buhari stood for transparency and accountability.