Dr. John Olukayode Fayemi, a former governor of Ekiti State and a native of Isan-Ekiti in Oye Local Government of Ekiti State resigned as the Minister of Solid Minerals Development on 30 May 2018, to pursue his ambition of governing Ekiti again on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Now that the 14 July governorship election is inching closer, TheNEWS team, made up of ADEMOLA ADEGBAMIGBE, YOMI OSOBA, GBENRO ADESINA and AYODELE EFUNLA hit the roads in Ekiti with Fayemi who was busy selling himself to the electorate on his vision for the state. Apart from his direct message to the Ekitikete, Fayemi seized the opprtunity TheNEWS offered to explain what he has for the people. Excerpts:
You were once governor of this state. Why do you seek a return?
Yes, you are right. I have governed Ekiti state before now, but I feel a profound sense of unfinished business. Unfinished business in the sense that all that I did in office had gone pear-shaped in the name of politics. May be few infrastructures have been sustained. At least you can still see the street lights. You can still see the Government House on top of the hill and you can still see some of the physical things. But particularly, our efforts in the area of human capital development, entrepreneurship, tourism development, healthcare have actually been severely damaged.
My quest to be governor again is born out of my sheer love and commitment to the well-being of my people. Each time I move round Ekiti, I see the pains on the faces of the 25,000 elderly persons who benefited from our social security scheme, 600 people who were employed into the peace corps, 10,000 volunteers who took N10,000 per month, among others but have been cut off from these safety nets by Fayose. The complaints and agonies of the beneficiaries of many abandoned physical projects and social welfare programs give me sleepless nights.
I will give you a couple of examples to demonstrate what I mean by that. Hundreds of boreholes in public schools are abandoned and not functional for lack of maintenance, over 40,000 people benefiting from our various social investment scheme have been put out to hang and dry. All that we did to better the lives of our people have been eroded in a lot of places, just go to Ikogosi, you will be sorry. Which sensible and reasonable person sees such laudable programs damaged/jettisoned and relax or go to sleep? These people have no clear understanding of how to run public offices. It is not about me or my sympathizers. It is largely about the interest and common good of Ekiti people. I am not an accidental/opportunistic politician. I am a goal getter. Government is a continuum. I inherited a huge magnitude of projects from Governor Segun Oni in 2010, l never abandoned them.
The most painful aspect is workers welfare. This is painful because workers welfare was one of their major premise of campaign back then. Most of our tertiary institutions now run epileptic calendar because of incessant strike. No civil servant in Ekiti state has received salary this year. Ditto, for the pensioners, none of them has received pension in 2018 and gratuity has not been paid for years. Yet the government keeps lying to the public about the financial situation of the state. Things are tight generally in the country no doubt but the problem of Ekiti state is simply misplacement of priority.
Over the past four years, Ekiti has retreated from the progressive values that we espoused in office and our grand ideals of human development. We have seen the entrenchment of the disdain for elders, traditional institutions, legislature, judiciary and all forms of constituted authorities. Without a doubt, Ekiti is in critical need of rescue.
I have been governor and I want to govern Ekiti state again. I’m not coming out of a sense of ambition, I’m coming out of a sense of duty, out of a profound sense of unfinished business which I believe only a progressive and ideological driven government can deliver as far as the state is concerned. I want to be Governor again to restore our dignity and bring succor to the hopeless. Ekiti people are being insulted, assaulted and mocked on a daily basis. We are known for our high level discipline, respect for elders, industry, literacy and wisdom. But what you hear now, “is this how Ekiti people are?” How can people regarded as well-read, refined and exposed make a character like the present governor rule them? That is why it is important for us to reclaim our land and restore our values.
There is this general belief that you are a candidate of Mr. President. What is your response to that?
I cannot deny the fact that I have the blessing of my boss, who is the overall leader of my party. I cannot also detach myself from the government in which I served. I worked for a principal, so it is not possible that I would be out campaigning the way I have been doing without haven gone to him to say “Sir, I am thinking about going back to Ekiti state and I need your blessing for me to pursue my ambition. If you don’t have any objection, I crave your indulgence to go home and repair the damage that has been done in my state.” If seeking and getting his nod and approval makes me his candidate, then I can boldly say to you that I am a candidate of Mr. President.
Truth be told though, anyone who knows President Buhari the way he functions would know that he is not the type that would interfere in a race that is clearly based on clear guidelines and principles. You have seen him demonstrating that consistently, including most recently, the issue of tenure elongation in our party. President Buhari is not the type we have seen within the PDP government, where the president says this is my man, and no one dares him. President Buhari won’t say that. Elections have been held and lost in many states by some APC governorship candidates because Mr. President is a sincere advocate of free and fair election unlike the pretending PDP who couldn’t practice what they preach. The invasion, harassment and manipulation that reigned supreme during governorship election under the watch of the PDP-led federal government are alien to civility and tenets of fair play.
I have the blessing and support of my boss but I can assure you that he is not the type that will manipulate the process to favour his own. He is a strong believer and advocate of free, fair and credible electioneering process. You emerged winner of the primary election of your party. How far have you gone with reconciling with other aspirants?
First of all, permit me to once again express my profound gratitude to Ekitikete for their support for my aspiration and campaign so far. I equally want to use this opportunity to thank all APC leaders and party faithful. The peace and harmony my campaign is enjoying at the moment is because of the cooperation and support of all party leaders and members, especially my fellow aspirants. APC has once again proved to bookmakers that common interest supersedes personal interest. It was easier to reconcile with other aspirants because we all have the same purpose and objective, i.e, to reclaim our honor and restore our values by dislodging the PDP government and jointly prevent the continuity of their shenanigan in Ekiti state.
To the glory of God and massive synergy from fellow aspirants we are making tremendous and consistent progress. Ekiti state APC is today larger and stronger than we were before the primary election. You can see that in the way people from the other side are crossing over. A tree doesn’t make a forest. I owe the success of the process so far to the cooperation, support and guidance of APC national and state leaders and my co-aspirants. They are on the same page with me. They are all solidly behind me to restore the good governance that was cut short in Ekiti state four years ago
Fayose’s style of eating at the local mama put and other pastimes are being copied by many politicians as populist. In fact his deputy, now your opponent, was shown on social media frying akara or sharing bread. What’s your take on this?
They are just mocking the electorate and I cannot engage in such actions. For instance, have you ever heard of my opponent frying akara or sharing bread before now? These individual shamelessly put up this acting because of election; just to fool the people giving the impression that they are one of them and that they can feel their pulse. But some of these actions must be analyzed. How many times did people see Chief Obafemi Awolowo eating boli on the road just to demonstrate that he was a populist or grassroots man? Awolowo was an intellectual not one given to such puerile acts. However his love for his people was unrivalled. I am proud to follow in that footstep.