A former governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayo Fayose, in this interview with OLUSOLA FABIYI and FRIDAY OLOKOR, responds to issues arising from his victory at the recent primary election conducted by the Peoples Democratic Party for governorship aspirants in Ekiti State
How would you explain your recent victory at the Ekiti State PDP governorship primary election?
I will say it was ordained by God and I am sincerely happy; nobody can deny the fact I worked, I served, I built the party and was part of the people that sustained the party. Hard work pays and I have always insisted on a free-and-fair primary because a clear conscience fears no fall. I believe there was a good, transparent process and we had a good showing too. Wild jubilation greeted my emergence.
You insisted on a primary while others suggested consensus. What gave you that confidence?
I worked hard and I know the dynamics of this game. I know when to plant and when to harvest. I am a former governor and you can’t take that away from me. I am the first PDP elected governor in Ekiti State. I led the PDP to victory in 2003 by God’s grace. The fact remains that I have a structure and the structure has been continuous. I keep working; I am a grassroots man and I go to the level of the common people and the level of the party people. Don’t forget that as party people, most of us are either in Lagos or Abuja; but the actual politicians are at the grass-roots level. So, I visit them in their huts, farms and I identify with them. With that, I was confident in any transparent process that will emerge. I have never seen in my lifetime where a student will run away from an examination or tell a lecturer, “I don’t want you to test me.” A man who cannot conquer his family cannot conquer his neighbourhood and his street, not to talk of his community. The only way to test a student is examination. The only way politicians test their popularity is to allow them face the electorate within their party and outside their party. A political party may have a good name, but if it has a wrong candidate, it will not win. Not too many new names can win an election. I am telling you the fact. I believe ex-Governor Peter Odili is not a man you can bribe, that is a fact.
But were delegates not bribed?
The issue is that Odili was given a list from Abuja, Odili did not generate the list. There were processes that led to his coming and I am sure it was not the list generated by any aspirant that was brought. It was a list generated by the committee sent to Ekiti that was taken to Abuja. Anybody telling you people were bribed should not be believed because it was showed live on NTA and all Nigerians saw it. We are only calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. If the PDP wants to play games, they will not transmit it live. I want to tell you they are sincerely not indicting me but they are indicting the integrity of the party when they say PDP rigged for Fayose. We all surrendered to contest under the party. I just appeal to my brothers to take a cue from the fact that we may have had our differences but we will still resolve them.
They’ve stated that with you, the PDP would not win the June 21 election…
I still appeal to them, we can say so many things in anger. I said before that (Segun) Oni would not win the rerun but he won. He was governor for one and a half years. When people speak in anger, sometimes they will review what they have said later. I still want to appeal to them. There’s nothing I can do because I am the one carrying the egg. I don’t want to criticise them; I don’t want to abuse them because I don’t know what I will say that will anger them. But what is important is for us to come to the table and discuss. At the table, there is room for a deputy, there is room for senators, and members of the House of Representatives. I want to tell them that four years is a short time. I remember when Segun Oni was being sworn in, I was imagining that the end had come for me. When Kayode Fayemi was sworn in, it looked like forever. There is a room for us to have a reasonable representation in government and the National Assembly. I am assuring them that the Fayose they were afraid of is a better Fayose. He is more mature and more responsive. If you say I’m a bad man, I say I’ve changed. I am appealing to them that I am a changed man. I have seen people leave PDP; even myself, I left. Did I not come back? In other parties, they are like a cult. They will only like to use and dump you. The moment you help them achieve their assignment, they will throw you away like the remains of corn. They should take a cue from me, after leaving PDP, I came back. But for now, we should see reason and not be angry. They can’t be angry forever.
Fayemi has stated that your emergence was influenced by the President. Is it not true?
Is he in PDP? Is he living in Aso Rock? That is a panicky statement, a statement that shows that a drowning man will hold on to anything. How many people defected from the then Action Congress in 2006 when they did their primaries, because of him? He was a product of establishment too. Governor Fayemi has reasons to be afraid, he is a very intelligent man who knows the man that has emerged, Ayo Fayose. He knows the man he is facing, Ayo Fayose. He knows that Ayo Fayose is a very hard nut to crack. He cannot deny the fact that I was part of his emergence. In the political equation of Ekiti State, you can’t wish me away, with all due respect. Fayemi has every reason to be afraid.
But he reportedly said the Presidency went for you because out of all the aspirants, you would be the most violent…
Let’s leave Fayemi out of this matter; I will continue to respect him as my governor.
If you win it, will it be four or eight years?
It’s four years because I have been sworn in once, that is why I tell my brothers that after four years, they will have power. After these four years, I can’t go further. That’s the constitution, you can’t change it and I don’t want to be governor after four years.
What was it that you didn’t do in your first tenure that you want to achieve in your second coming?
It’s not a question of that; the issue is that I am constitutionally allowed to go for two tenures. Secondly, the circumstances of my leaving office are still the issues in Ekiti politics. I am a man to watch out for. All the structures I built are still the only structures in Ekiti today. He must have put asphalt on some of my roads too, but no government has built a new road in the metropolis. Nobody has done anything; Fayemi hasn’t done anything; I want to challenge Fayemi to tell Ekiti people or Nigerians any road started by him with bush clearing, culverts, light drains, sand filling, compacting and so on, until asphalt. He has none. When I was governor, I didn’t borrow a dime to run Ekiti, I didn’t owe any salary arrears. I paid all contractors and I left over N10 billion in the coffers f Ekiti State when I left as governor.
Do you intend to replicate this if you win?
I can’t borrow, I am a prudent man. The borrowing we are talking about, when you over ‘chop’ an establishment, the establishment will be going down while the individual will be going up. That is the problem we have in Ekiti today. The establishment that employs you, when you become their MD, you will be fat but the establishment will be slim due to over-inflation of contracts. When I was governor, contracts were awarded at N30 million per kilometre. Oni’s maximum was less than N50 million. Fayemi is awarding N1bn per kilometre. I stand corrected.
You left government some years ago. How do you intend to raise the money for your campaign?
I will get support, I have goodwill. Don’t forget the fact that once a governor, always a governor, especially when you are a good horse to back, people will back you. A winning horse will get a lot of backers. You will see people putting money and betting on that horse. So, I am the horse that can win an election. I am not exaggerating, Fayemi will be a bad loser. Let me tell you, when I met with (Niyi) Adebayo, nobody gave me a chance. I defeated Adebayo in a landslide. Today, Fayemi is the godson of Adebayo that I defeated, if I can defeat the father, how much more a godson.
The son could be wiser than the father…
Let’s wait till that time. You measure a man by his past. Today, Fayemi has no relationship with teachers and LG staff. In my tenure, there was no strike for one day. People are clamouring for my return. I am not the one requesting. When a woman tastes the house of two men, she will see things differently. By the grace of God, APC will suffer a setback in Ekiti.
We understand that Buruji Kashamu is one of your backers and is likely to put down N1bn for your campaign.
Whatever anybody puts down for my campaign is entirely the business of that person. I don’t go soliciting for funds and forcing money out of anybody’s pocket. Emphatically, I have a lot of respect for Buruji Kashamu. Buruji Kashamu is my friend, he’s a man I respect so much, I care less about the blackmail. I am Buruji’s friend in the public, private and I cannot deny him. What type of character is anyone that when he or she gets to a public square, they start dodging their friend with series of blackmail. You say Buruji Kashamu is ‘419’ and a drug baron; yet he is walking on the streets. People say Fayose is a killer or murderer but I am not in any court on murder charges. These are propaganda.
Are you not scared the Economic and Financial Crime Commission case may be used against you?
You are a joker. The President of Kenya was presented by his party as its flagbearer while he was in International Criminal Court. He is now the President of that country and still facing ICC. Don’t you know that in law, a man is adjudged innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction? Mallam Nasir El-Rufai has just been discharged; Dimeji Bankole has just been discharged.
You are not on social media for your campaign, why?
I am not a social media person, I am a grassroots politician and I live in the village. I spend 80 per cent of my time in the village. I have not been to Lagos now for more than four weeks. Talking of social media, how many people have telephone in my village? There is no light to charge the telephones most times. Twenty per cent of Nigerians are in the urban city and you see them on Facebook. By 6:00 am, all other people are in the farm. By the time they come back, they are badly tired. You can only trust a man you know. Our governor doesn’t come on the streets, the glasses in his cars are always up. For me, I don’t have air conditions in some of the cars and I walk on the streets.
Are you talking of the past or present?
When I was governor, I ate in the buka, everybody knew and that was why they called me ‘Jule’ governor. It is that my ‘Jule’ style that is helping the party. ‘Jule’ means coming down to the low level. See my mode of dressing, I didn’t build houses in big areas. I live a moderate life, that is why people love me. You can’t take away the fact that Fayose has a good support base.
You worked for Fayemi to emerge; are you regretting working for him?
I have no regret for whatever action I have taken. Situations at particular times call for particular actions. Whatever we have done, we just learn from it and move forward.
What is your relationship with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo?
Let me tell you once again, I don’t want to discuss Obasanjo. He is a statesman, I respect him for what he is and I will continue to respect him. A man who talks too much about all issues will get into many troubles. For me, Obasanjo has done his bit as former President of this country. We appreciate him for that; for me, I am a young man. I am looking for my survival and I want to survive. Obasanjo is not from Ekiti. When I become governor, I will go and greet him. When (Olusegun) Mimiko became governor, he went to greet him.
Have you been in contact with him?
That is not your business.
What about the insinuations that the elite and traditional rulers in Ekiti are against you?
I want to tell you that 80 per cent of traditional rulers in Ekiti State are with me. Let us watch.
Do you have plans to visit other aspirants?
I have been calling them. When something is still hot, you hold it gently. I know our leaders will soon call all of us, they will soon resolve this matter.
I am still appealing to them on behalf of the suffering masses and the PDP; they are all educated and desire to be governor. But one of us has to be. I am appealing to them that we should not throw the baby and the bath water away.
How were you able to defeat the likes of Caleb Olubolade, despite his being in government as minister?
Olubolade is my brother and I don’t want to talk about individuals. Nobody will lose out, there is enough to go round. Let us sheathe our swords and come together because the President must equally win. In this coming 2015, Ekiti State is a major pointer.
But the President has not said he will be running?
The PDP will have a flag bearer.
Has it ever crossed your mind that you may lose the election?
Whenever God speaks through my wife, it will never go unaccomplished. God spoke to her through the the Holy Spirit. So I believe whatever she says.
Did she prophesy you won’t finish your first tenure?
I won’t say more than that. But for me, I will leave everything in the hands of God.
Can you precisely predict the outcome of the election?
I can’t say anything now because before you say anything now, they will say you have written the outcome of the election. My own is that Fayemi and APC are not on ground in Ekiti anymore. Everything in Nigeria will point to the Ekiti election on that day. In a one-man-one vote exercise, I will defeat Fayemi and if I don’t defeat Fayemi, they should not give me any appointment. For me, PDP outnumbers APC in Ekiti State. APC is a party that doesn’t accept new people and if you don’t accept people, how will you increase your strength? PDP people don’t defect; when I left PDP, most people didn’t follow me. They stayed there, even if they are suffering there, they will manage.
There is a case in court that you are not a member of the PDP…
That is not true, but I don’t want to join issues with anybody.
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