Fayemi: Why Ekiti will reject PDP in this year’s governorship
Former Minister of Mines and Steel Development and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, told MUYIWA ADEYEMI (Southwest Bureau Chief) that the election would be a referendum for Ekiti people to reject the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and bring back prosperity to the state.
Should you come back as governor, what would be your areas of priority?
This time, we are bringing on board a message of consolation, hope and restoration, as well as consolation for the tolerance and perseverance of the last four years and hope for speedy restoration of abandoned programmes, infrastructures, industries, values, projects and all the good things we lost due to some actions or inactions of the current administration.
The business of electing rests with the people of Ekiti State and I believe they are intelligent people who can compare what the situation was when we left office and the way it is now and what the future holds for our children and people. When they look at what we did in office side by side with what is on ground now, they know the difference.
This coming election is not about me or the APC, but about what is good for Ekitikete; about the future of our teeming unemployed youths, about the abandoned elderly, whose social security was cut off, about civil servants that have not received salary since the beginning of 2018, about every project that was built with our commonwealth but abandoned to rot away, about pensioners and retirees whose entitlements have not been paid for years, about the 10,000 volunteers that were laid off, about traditional rulers and other constituted authorities that have been cowed and suppressed, about every thoroughbred Ekiti sons and daughters yearning for the restoration of our values and honour, and about the future of Ekiti.
This coming election is, therefore, a referendum for Ekitikete to either support me to reactivate the good governance that was cut short four years ago, or to approve the continuity of the abysmal performance of current administration.People remember what we did for every single community in Ekiti State. What we did for teachers, civil servants, the universities and all of the various aspects of our eight-point agenda. People know what we did on infrastructure development, for education in the state, for health care and for agriculture. People have fond memories of what we did within the space of four years we were in office.
Our people have experienced what we would call water and oil, and they clearly know the difference. They’ve seen the difference between the time salaries were paid on the 25th of every month without fail and a time when they don’t even know when salary would come.They’ve seen the difference between a government that prioritised the elderly’s welfare and gave them a stipend every month and a government that does not care at all whether they lived or died. They’ve seen the difference between a government that said this is Ekiti; regarded as fountain of knowledge. No more miracle centres here, we would be a product of our own hard work; put a laptop on every student’s desk; made the school atmosphere much more conducive than it has ever been in the state; recruited teachers, doctors, lecturers, and fixed virtually all the roads in the state, as well as start a youth and commercial agriculture programme.
Everywhere you go in Ekiti State, people could point to specific things we did for their towns and communities while in office. Don’t be surprised if you are shown such things as the Kabiyesi’s palace, health centre, motorised boreholes, schools that had not been touched since the days of Awolowo or the five-kilometre roads in every local government area that had never seen asphalt. These might not be tangible to people outside those communities, but these are what these people asked for. The facts are out there to help Ekiti people make the right choice.
Is it true that APC government would ban okada, sack teachers and local government workers?
There is no reason to sack local government workers or any worker for that matter. I believe downsizing is the only option available for the PDP government, because they are short of ideas on how to get themselves out of the self-inflicted quagmire. I have said it repeatedly that people’s welfare is what is paramount to us in APC, and that is what the coming APC government will pursue.
We never had any issue with the okada riders. What we insisted they must do was to comply with safety rules. That is, they should wear their helmet, so as to reduce the level of injury in case of an accident. Similarly, we have no plan of sacking any teacher or local government workers. We never sacked any worker or teacher during our four years in government and I believe we have very cordial relationship with different categories of workers in the state.
In fact, under my watch, the civil service will be strengthened, re-orientated and re-equipped to perform better. Where necessary, we are going to employ more hands to energise the service. All the youth empowerment and employment schemes that were cancelled by current administration will be resuscitated to provide employment and succour to as many youths as possible. Can I be planning all these and be thinking of downsizing at the same time?
The welfare of civil servants was and is still my number one priority. The entire workforce in Ekiti State should ignore the rumour that the incoming APC government is going to downsize. In fact, I am actually coming back because of civil servants. I have been demonised, blackmailed and lied against, all in the name of teachers and civil servants. They lied against me that I hate teachers and that my government will sack workers. If by God’s grace and support of Ekitikete, I become Governor for the second time, no dedicated and committed teacher or civil servant will lose his or her job in Ekiti State. The number one priority of my administration was the payment of salary as at when due. This is going to be our focus again.
What are your plans for youth empowerment and employment?
We are going to restore, reorganise and repackage all the abandoned life-changing youth empowerment programmes to be more effective and efficient for a much larger number of the youths. Peace Corps, Dagrin, YCAD, Youth Volunteers and others will be resuscitated.My vision is simply to make poverty history in Ekiti State. In order to do that, I believe we need a combination of approaches. Therefore, apart from the aforementioned programmes, I feel very strongly that one critical sector where we can make poverty history is agric business. We are going to maximise our potentials in agriculture and mining, and get our youth empowered through various government interventions in these sectors.
Job creation and empowerment for the youths have always been a major concern for me and was a cardinal programme of my administration. This is an area where we excelled back then. Ekiti youths are innovative and eager to earn legitimate living, if rightly guided and motivated. Government is a continuum in an ideal clime, but unfortunately that is not the case in Ekiti State with the present administration. Just like they did with physical projects, all the life-changing programmes for the youths were also jettisoned. The greatest disservice to the youths was the cancellation of the youth in agriculture, YCAD scheme.
When we were in office, we initiated many youth empowerment schemes. One of which was the youth volunteer scheme in which I was paying every young graduate who was out of work N10, 000 monthly to move into specific areas: health, education, environment and all that. We deployed them in different places. It is very similar to what we now call N-power that our government at the federal level is doing and paying N30, 000. I believe we need to really improve on that and deal with the demography in a manner that the required skill is also what we push in our universities and other higher institutions in the state, particularly our technical colleges.
Why do you appear so confident?
Our confidence is in the people, who have gone through a lot of pains in the last three and a half years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government in the state and have come to the conclusion that PDP government is a product of fraud, a government that doesn’t care about their welfare. If you ask somebody who has not received salary in eight months, at least they will tell you that under Fayemi, I was not owed. That is, if you take it at such a basic simplistic level. But I do not want us to even take it at that level because for me, that is not a measure of good governance. Paying salaries is a duty I have to the people. When I was governor, Ekiti excelled in all the rankings.
The World Bank Ease of Doing Business study ranked Ekiti as the number five place you could easily do business in Nigeria, when I was governor. We moved from number 34 to number five. The kids that entered secondary school when I was governor were the ones that took the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and National Examination Council (NECO) exams and excelled. You do not achieve that in one year of being in government; there is just no way, even though the Fayose administration is trying to claim credit for it. But it is the cumulative effect of the work we did that resulted in what those kids achieved.
If you move from that to the Department for International Development (DFID) assessment of governance, Ekiti was ranked as the state with the most transparent budget, when I was governor. Why was this possible? Because I focused on ensuring that the budget is responsive to the people’s yearnings. We did not do budget for the people, we did it with the people. We ensured that their input was what formed the content of our budget estimate, which we then implemented accordingly.
In the area of tourism, we adopted the same approach. People who visited Ikogosi, when I was governor can attest to what we did in that place. Those are the kind of things that would draw people to our state. Ekiti became a kidnappers’ den after I left office. Security in the state was compromised, accountability was compromised, and government was also compromised because what we had was a one-man show. It was not government of the people by the people for the people. And that compromises democracy.
These are the areas I think would make a difference. The All Progressives Congress (APC) is a social democratic party. We believe the only way you can make a difference in governance is to raise the weak and vulnerable. Characters governing Ekiti now are not interested in that, which is why the state has suffered so much regression over the last three and half years, and that is why we need a corrective measure to grow the economy, improve the state’s development and then bring life to the people more abundantly.
Are you not bothered that Fayose’s government may use the White Paper of its administrative panel to get you barred from contesting the election?
The White Paper cannot stop me or anybody for that matter. Yes, it used to be the case in this country that you could use an administrative panel report or a judicial commission report to orchestrate the ban of a political office holder, but that period has since gone, because it became very clear that it was a witch-hunting tool. May I also remind you that there is a settled case by the Supreme Court of Nigeria on this point, which is that of Atiku Abubakar vs. Federal Government of Nigeria, that you cannot use the report of a commission of inquiry or an administrative panel to ban anyone from public office. To the best of my knowledge, I have not even been asked to show up in any court over any allegation.
My brother and friend, Rabiu Kwankwaso also went through the same experience. He was governor, and went on to become minister. When he was about returning as governor, the then Kano State governor brought a commission of inquiry report. Of course, it was rubbished and the man became governor.Though I am not the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), however, there is a judicial precedence. Therefore, I am sure that the so-called White Paper is of no effect. It is a product of shallow minds and is impotent. If anyone has any concrete or verifiable case against me, he or she should prove it in court.
We admit that we borrowed N25bn to be defrayed within three years and records are there at the Debt Management Office (DMO) that Fayemi paid back N14.5bn of the debts, leaving the balance of only N10.5bn before we left office on October 16, 2014. If the official debt figure was N10.5bn, how then did they come about the N35.34bn they claimed to have used to service an outstanding debt of N10.5bn? That means that the state was servicing the debts at an average of N1.1bn monthly for them to have arrived at N35.34bn. They lie shamelessly about anything and everything. Unfortunately for them, the truth about our borrowing and outstanding as at the time we left are in public domain for people to see and make their own judgment. Ekitikete are not fools.
We took N25bn loan for infrastructural development, not for salaries or frivolities. And those infrastructural developments traverse the length and breath of the state. The bulk of that money was spent on roads. When I was governor, the entire road network of this state changed and about 14 roads went into that. We spent about N14bn out of that N25bn on roads alone. These include the road from Ilawe to Erijiyan, the road from Ikogosi to Efon Alaye, the road from Ijero, Ipoti, Iloro, and Ayetoro. The road from Ayetoro, Ewu, Iye, the road from my own side in the North, from Oye, all the way to Moba, including the bridge over Ero dam, and several others.
But we didn’t just stop there. We also revived the Ire burnt bricks that had been moribund for several years, before we came into office. It is still there, you can visit the place and see what they doing there. We also brought back Ikogosi, which became a tourists delight. Based on all this, we received many awards. In fact, about two Nollywood movies were made out of the place.
We also built the new Government House out of the money, as well as a 12, 000-seater pavilion and a civic centre. In fact, if we carefully calculate what that N25bn was spent on, it will be discovered more than N25bn was actually spent. So there is no basis for any accusation.I have been gone for three years before he suddenly remembered that I took a bond. In the first year, there was no enquiry. The same thing during the second and third year, there was no enquiry.
But leaving all this aside, part of what you said I committed as an offence, the people you cited came to the panel of enquiry. Access bank, for example, came to the panel of enquiry and said categorically that there was no missing N835m of Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) that they took their money back because the state did not meet the obligation attached to the matching grant that was lent by the state.It is ridiculous that Fayose and his aides can still be lying and peddling inaccurate debt figures after DMO published the debts taken by Fayose himself in the last three years, which has amounted to N56bn, even though he swore and lied many times that he never borrowed a kobo.
Governor Fayose alleged that you are planning to use federal might against the PDP, just as they allegedly did to you in 2014…
The events leading to the 2014 election in Ekiti State negate the principles of a free, fair and credible election. From militarisation of the election to police attack on our supporters, arrest and detention of our leaders across the state and the use of huge funds to induce voters, the federal authorities skewed everything in favour of PDP.
While we believe that the various security agencies, indeed, have a role to play in providing necessary security for the election, we do not see why the whole state should be locked down in a non-belligerent situation like an election. It is a known fact that dictators and criminals are the worst cowards. They are usually exposed at their weakest point, when they are deprived of their weapon of intimidation, harassment and oppression. PDP’s current whining didn’t surprise many of us. However, that is where we are different from them. We are not cowards like them, and we cannot play their dirty games. On our part, therefore, there will be no intimidation, harassment or oppression of opposition and every law abiding individual. We are set to win in a free, fair and credible process.
How would you rate the current PDP government’s performance in the state?
I will leave Ekitikete to be the judge of that. Every government has its own focus. I went into office with a clear manifesto and agenda, which guided our performance in office. The people’s welfare and overall best interest was our guiding principle. However, that cannot be said of the present administration. Everything about Fayose and his government is all about smokescreen. The more you look the less you see. There was no manifesto then and there is no manifesto now.Every budget of the Fayemi era requested and adopted briefs from every community that make up Ekiti State. For the first time in Nigeria’s history, a governor does not do budget until he has visited communities for their inputs and demands. Can you compare that to a government that was built around the irrational decision of just one man? He came on board with no clear agenda and now they are talking about continuity of same.
I was the only governor in the history of Ekiti State that has continued with the project of his predecessors. Every governor that came after Governor Adebayo had abandoned previous projects, some of which do not resurface again. One thing I did in office was to clear the backlog of past projects. There were roads that were 20 per cent completed, mobilisation fees that were just 10 per cent flagged off and not paid, most of them abandoned the projects. I believe it is not fair; government projects shouldn’t be personal projects. I made sure there was no abandoned project in my era, because money invested on those projects belongs to Ekiti people.
I had the eight point agenda, the road map to Ekiti’s recovery. It was like a mantra. I don’t just stand on my agenda, I also went into communities and discussed objectively with them, asking them their priorities for next year and what they would you like me to do. There is no community in Ekiti State that you would not find six or more projects determined by the people, not imposed on them. It was good governance at its best. We are coming back to build on that and make it better.
Bridges are meant to provide solution and prevent havoc. But what solution is the bridge of that length on a dry land providing for Ekitikete? What havoc is that bridge preventing in the history of motoring in Ado Ekiti? You need to critically look at the bridge from these two angles for you to understand how irrelevant the bridge of that magnitude is to its location. There are many roads within and around Ado Ekiti town that are begging for attention. The final but shrouded cost of that bridge is enough to pay three months salary of the entire workforce of Ekiti State civil service. I would rather toe the recent path of Governor Tambuwal. Just days ago, it was all over the news that Governor Tambuwal of Sokoto State said he cannot jettison his people’s welfare for overhead bridge.
What do you expect from a government that built a bridge, which according to them, is to stop our people don’t have to go to Lagos or Abuja before they see overhead bridge? This implies that the bridge was built without serious consideration for its economic or social value, rather it was built for show. But at what cost and at whose expense? There is nothing exciting or inspiring about the present government.
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