‘PDP infighting in Ekiti is friendly tango’
What does Ekiti State need now in the areas of economic, infrastructure and political development?
TO stimulate the economy and support private sector growth, we need to ensure that infrastructural services are efficient and reliable, from health and education to renewable energy, water, transport, security and the voluntary sector, which government will need to actively develop. We need to prioritise policies and programmes that will help in creating and integrating more stakeholders into the economy to address the problem of structural deficiencies in the system, which has greatly eroded the trust that holds the society together and undermined productivity and public confidence in government and its institutions. We need to tackle the problem of youth unemployment head-on.
The Private Sector Development Strategy (PSDS) needs improvement in the investment climate and growth, particularly the MSMEs, to help create jobs and support equitable distribution of income among more people. We understand the MSMEs can directly help in lowering poverty and integrating women and other marginalized groups into society.
There is infighting in PDP, especially between ex-governor Ayo Fayose and those loyal to Senator Biodun Olujimi, with former governor Sègun Oni in the mix. Is this good for your party?
The infighting you alluded to is a friendly tango, a competition of ideas among people of like minds, and will soon be a thing of the past. The magnanimous and compassionate message of former governor Ayo Fayose in respect of the outcome of the January 27, 2021 court case plus the efforts of many of the party leaders, especially those of Baba (Senator) C.K. Awoyelu, Senator Duro Faseyi, Mr. Yinka Akerele (Ajinde Ekiti), Amb. Toye Olofintuyi, Amb. Dare Bejide, His Excellency Sikiru Lawal, Chief Bola Olu-Ojo and many others have begun to pave way for the long-awaited internal resolution of the disagreement. I have had the privilege of engaging our leader, Fayose, and Senator Biodun Olujimi at different times and one thing that is clear is that the two of them strongly believe in PDP and they want the party to benefit from its numerical strength and capacity for good governance. It is sad and regrettable that their divergent opinions on how the party affairs should be managed degenerated to what it is, but the peaceful resolution, which is imminent, is going to inject new life and stronger bonding in the party ultimately. I am happy to confirm that my relationship with all our leaders and party members have been very cordial.
There are fears the soured relations have weakened the party going forward?
It is erroneous to think that the APC is stronger than the PDP in Ekiti State. The APC has always been on the loud side. Before now, the party prided in its superficial popularity, which it mistook for unqualified acceptance. Most of our members that we lost to them in the past, which was largely borne out of disillusion and anger, are returning to where they rightly belong. Right now, people are very deprived and dissatisfied, and as it seems, nobody can get anything from the present government without ‘belonging’. Their conduct is unambiguously characterised by selective patronage and pseudo-magnanimity. There is no doubt that they are very skilful in raising the hopes of the ordinary man, but Ekiti people have discovered they are deceitful. The APC in Ekiti is not as strong as they want outsiders to believe.
What’s your assessment of democracy in Ekiti State since 1999 both under PDP and APC?
Ekiti has remained a swing state since 1999, alternating between two prominent parties. No political party has been able to stay in power for two consecutive terms. It is only in Ekiti where the power of incumbency has not been able to alter the decisions of the electorate. It is also in Ekiti, ironically, that two out of the elected governors since 1999 have returned for the second term, years after their first exits. Today, another ex-governor is pushing for a comeback to join the league of those who had returned. I think these political developments are attestations of the vibrancy and dynamism of the Ekiti people. The people are relentlessly knowledgeable about their power and the opportunities that democracy offers in terms of their ability to effect a change once they perceive any form of insincerity and incompetence.
However, of the two prominent parties in Ekiti, PDP is believed to be the only party where a ‘nobody’ can become ‘somebody’ because of the opportunities the party offers for people to have a say in the management of the internal affairs of the party. Just like in any genuine political party system, party leaders often make attempts to exert their influence when major decisions are to be made. It is believed generally in Ekiti that the PDP leaders encourage members to have their say and many times they also have their way. The local governments in the state have thrived more under PDP governments with elections conducted as and when due. The opportunities and leverage are not the same in APC and people are well aware of this, especially the youths. All these have made the Peoples Democratic Party the party of choice in Ekiti State.
Moreover, the antecedents of past PDP governments in the state in terms of infrastructural development and people’s welfare offer the party a clear advantage with the electorate and the party is also populated by very strong grassroots people and the party is in the majority.
Since you’re a Diaspora man, how conversant are you with the grassroots?
I am a thoroughbred grassroots Ekiti son. I began my ‘globetrotting’ awareness and acclimatization experience of Ekiti State from my infancy. For my primary school education alone, I covered the entire three Senatorial districts of the state – attending schools in Ilawe-Ekiti, Osi-Ekiti, Igede-Ekiti and Ado-Ekiti; and my secondary education back in Ilawe-Ekiti. Since then, my spirit, tentacles and influence have never left Ekiti State. I have an unquenchable passion for Ekiti State, my homeland. The nature and circumstances of my upbringing simply added spice and ginger to my passion.
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