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We didn’t lose in 2018, we were intimidated, says Eleka

By Guardian Nigeria
23 October 2020   |   5:01 pm
Professor Kolapo Olusola Eleka was deputy governor to former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2018 governorship election. In an interview with journalists, Eleka spoke on various issues, including his relationship with his former boss and his thought on 2022. AYODELE AFOLABI reports.

Kolapo Olusola

• I’m not a stooge but uncompromisingly loyal to Fayose

Professor Kolapo Olusola Eleka was deputy governor to former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2018 governorship election. In an interview with journalists, Eleka spoke on various issues, including his relationship with his former boss and his thought on 2022. AYODELE AFOLABI reports.

What is your reaction to the view that you lost the 2018 governorship poll due to inexperience?

THERE are many players, stakeholders in an election: INEC, security agencies, the judiciary and others. You all knew what happened in 2018; the Federal Government’s
security agencies came to intimidate us and they attacked virtually everyone. The governor then was attacked, myself and my family members were attacked. They created fear in the hearts of people. So, if despite all that intimidation and other things, which we cannot mention here, APC was only able to defeat us with 19,000 votes and over 19,000 votes were voided, it simply showed that Eleka was more popular. To say that Eleka lost because of inexperience is totally out of it. We lost due to intimidation by the Federal Government. Many could not come out to vote because of that intimidation. But remember that such will not happen again.

Look at what just happened in Edo; people have now realised that if you want a rebellious person you send an evil messenger against him. That is the axiom now; nobody
wants to fold their hands and wait for the judiciary to install a governor for them.

There are so many gentlemen and reasonable men and women in the judiciary, but, unfortunately, there are also a few people, who won’t do the right thing. Personally, I’m of the opinion that we should allow the will of the people to prevail, and not wait for the judiciary to install a governor. Imagine what happened in Imo State, where a candidate, who the Supreme Court had earlier said was not a candidate of APC, later became the governor and today, people call him ‘Supreme Court governor’.

What kind of practice is that? That is an abnormality.

If I have been in government for four good years at the level of deputy, I would have acquired some experiences. In the past two years since I left government, I have been in constant touch with my people in all local governments. My people still love me and are clamouring that they want me to be their governor. I have learnt a lot and, by God’s grace, we will make use of what we have learnt.

Your opponents have always tagged you ex-governor Fayose’s stooge. How do you respond to this?

Democracy thrives on the oxygen of competitive and healthy opposition among the existing political parties in any society.

Unfortunately, the nature of politics being played by the actors can be malicious and derogatory most times. So, you should not be surprised if someone is tagged a stooge, because of his personal decision to be uncompromisingly loyal to his leader or organisation.

By my training and persuasion, I have been taught to always show gratitude to my benefactor. First, God is the Ultimate Master, the Number one Benefactor. However, He works through men. So, ex-governor Fayose was the man God used for me to attain the position of Ekiti State’s deputy governor between 2014 and 2018 and for being the
candidate of PDP in 2018 gubernatorial election. Hence, I see no wrong in being commit We didn’t lose in 2018, we were intimidated, says Eleka ted, dedicated and loyal to one’s leader and benefactor. Becoming a deputy governor brought me into the office of a steward under a master who was the governor. I already had an instruction from God, the Ultimate Master, to be faithful.

So, why not? As a faithful steward, I’m bound to stay connected with my leader in season and out of season, as long as the first Master permits.

But were you Fayose’s stooge?
Listen, for anyone to say I am a stooge would be highly preposterous. Loyalty is sacrosanct and should not be misconstrued or misinterpreted as stooping. A stooge is a weak or unimportant person, who is compromisingly controlled by a powerful person or organisation. So do I look like a weak or an unimportant person?
For the records, Professor Kolapo Olusola Eleka is not a stooge, but a political mentee to ex-governor Fayose. While I was serving as deputy governor, Fayose directed that I should supervise the ministry of education.

He gave me free hand to plan and implement relevant policies. The excellent results are there for all to see. May I quickly add this: Most followers have their names recorded in the black book of their leaders because of the ungodly struggle for power that actually do not belong to them and for lack of patience.

Please, write that word in capital letters. A follower loses the great virtue of patience and becomes disloyal when he could no more Persevere (P); he is no more Adorable (A) in character; he loses Trustworthiness (T); he is no more Irrepressible (I) by adversity; he loses all Encouragement (E); he is no more Noncompromising (N); he loses Courage (C) and ultimately loses his godly Exemplary (E) status. A stooge will soon lose touch with patience.

There are rumours in some quarters that your relationship with Fayose may have nosedived, that you are no longer his ‘beautiful bride’ for Ekiti 2022 governorship race.

How true is this?
Malicious and derogatory practices in politics are what we experience daily. Nothing between us has nosedived. That assertion is part of the malicious practice within the political space I earlier referred to. My leader, Fayose, and I are not having any issues and nothing between us has nosedived. For the records, I have no issue with any leader in Ekiti State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Of course, there could be disagreements within a political party and this is not peculiar to the
PDP. Other political parties also have their own share of the peculiar crisis.

Interestingly, the reason for this cannot be far from the struggle of power and interest.

In Ekiti PDP, ex-governor Fayose is our leader and we give him all due respect and honour.

Personally, I’m eternally grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to serve under him as deputy governor. He remains my leader.

But some say the leader of your party in the state is Senator Olujimi. Won’t this affect the chances of your party in the state?

There are bound to be disagreements. Crises are not peculiar to PDP. It is an internal challenge of the party. In APC, there are even serious crisis to the point that they are going to expel some chieftains of the party in the state soon. These are challenges that can be resolved and our leaders are already working towards that. PDP in Ekiti will soon bounce back stronger and more united than ever.

What is your future political plan? Will you contest the governorship position again?
By the grace of God, I have intimated our leaders of my intention to contest when the window of opportunity opens again.

However, in all these, may God’s will be done.
How would you assess Fayose’s administration where you served and the current administration of Kayode Fayemi?
Across all sectors in Ekiti State, ex-governor Fayose’s legacy projects speak for themselves: the long, elevated roadway, popularly called the overhead bridge, the Oja Oba Market that was more than 90 per cent completed and sections of which were already allocated to traders before our exit, the Justice Ajakaye High Court Building, Adunni Olayinka Women Centre, the new governor’s office, the transformed Government Technical College, Ado Ekiti, Gifted Academy, Afao-Ekiti; renovation of palaces and many road projects, including the dualisation of Ikere-Ado Road, among others, were all delivered.

Of unique mentioning is the performance
of Ekiti State in the secondary school education sector where I was assigned to superintend. Very simple but focused and target-driven solutions were put in place to address the poor performance of our children in the external WAEC and NECO-conducted Senior School Certificate Examinations. These include the introduction of intervention lectures in English and Mathematics, procurement and free distribution of a compendium of six years past questions to all SS3 students in public and private schools, continuous training of science, arts and commercial subject teachers and a vigorous campaign against examination malpractices.

Hard work and excellence were rewarded among teachers as a way of motivation. Best primary and secondary school teachers were given new cars. Best headteachers and
best performing schools were recognised and rewarded. These proactive measures resulted in history-making and record-breaking performance among Ekiti State candidates in these external examinations.

Worthy of mention also is Ekiti State coming first in NECO SSCE all over the country in 2016 (96.48%), 2017 (85%) and 2018 (90.61%). The performance in WAEC SSCE moved from the undesirable 29% in 2014 to as high as 71.83% in 2017. These are records that no one can deny.

In addition, Ekiti State took the first position in the national YONSPA – Young Nigerian Scientist Presidential Award (Best Science Student), JETS Quiz competition, STAN Science Quiz competition, all in 2016.

Unfortunately, some of these good measures were jettisoned by the present administration in Ekiti State. My recent findings show that Ekiti State has lost its leading position in NECO SSCE by 2019, just a year after all our measures were abandoned by the Fayemi administration and the state is just struggling to remain within the first 10 positions. This is a clear evidence of retrogression. Let me leave Ekiti people to judge the other areas. I have just spoken on the education sector.

What is your assessment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration?

Buhari came in and told Nigerians that he is bringing positive changes, that he wants to fight corruption, secure the nation and improve the economy. But the present
Federal Government under President Buhari is obviously characterised by unprecedented corruption. If you put a man at the head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the man is now being tried for corruption, it means the whole policy has failed. You would recall what happened in the two years of Buhari’s
first tenure. His Secretary to the Federation was booted out because he was alleged to be corrupt. So, wastefulness, rampant disobedience to court orders, sectionalism, high level of insecurity, increasing foreign loan acquisition and lack of focus define this government. Under this government, the economy has gone from bad to worse ever and Nigeria is the world’s poverty capital. The change has turned to chains!

The forthcoming 2022 guber race in the state will be keenly contested. Do you think you have a chance?

There are just two parties, APC and PDP. It is normal for many people to contest for the governorship position. For me, I support Ekiti South agenda. I urge other zones that we should be fair to the south and this is why I am also in support of Ekiti southern agenda. All other senatorial districts have had their share for more than 12 years, but the south has not had any share. It is not that we do not have good products. I am one of them and I am quite capable and there are other good ones, too. So, it is just fair that we give Ekiti South that chance.

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