‘Many Of Those I Helped As Governor No Longer Pick My Calls’ – Fayose

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In this interview
with Kunle Oderemi, former governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose, who
turns 52 today, speaks on his relationship with former President Olusegun
Obasanjo, his bid for the 2014 governorship poll in the state, among other
issues. Excerpts: 

AT 52, you must be a totally different personality now,
given your experiences of life, especially after leaving the governorship
seat?  What are some of the things you will probably want to do
differently henceforth?

My
experience in the last six years since I left office has given me an
opportunity to see life better than I saw it the other time. And it is going to
reflect in my actions and inactions when I become governor in 2014. At 52, I am
no more a small boy. I’m not an old man either. But I must be seen to be
impacting positively on people. People must see me as a role model; as a
responsible principled leader. I must equally be seen as a book to be read. I
have fallen one time or the other. There is nothing wrong for a man to fall in
life, but there is so much wrong with a man that has fallen not to rise. So,
I’m working towards rising and I’m indeed rising again.  
Within the ambits
of what God has endowed me with, I have been very supportive of others. And I
know I will get the support of the Ekiti people again to actualise my dream.
Besides, I’m a much better human being, having learnt a lot o lesson. Let me
state here very clearly that when you are in the saddle, the people will always
worship you. They will only appreciate you when you are still on that seat,
because they tend to benefit. I hardly see any friend again; I hardly see one
per cent of the people that God used me for while in office. They don’t even
call me on the phone. If I call, they don’t even pick. So, that is life. But
this has taught me that what God has asked you to do, you should always do
it. 
However, I want to
appreciate my wife, Feyisetan Oluyemi. I  will be indebted to her forever.
There are wives and there are wives, but this one is a strong, reliable and
pious woman that God uses in my life. She is always on her knees fighting my
cause as anybody. So, if what had happened to me should happen to some people,
they would have been under the ground. But I thank God for her life.  
What precisely are some of your regrets?
Let me
put it this way. A space of 10 years in one’s life can make you a different
man. I joined politics in 2000, which makes it exactly 12 years ago. I became
governor nine years ago.  Let me state clearly that even if nobody
offended me, I may have offended some people. But there is a considerable
change in my pattern of life. I have become more matured, forgiving and a
better listener.   I ‘m not getting younger. 
As a governor, you
must take certain drastic steps and measures at a point in time. Whoever I must
have offended, I tender an apology. I’m not a perfect man, not
infallible. 
You are going into the race with what some see as certain grey areas in
your antecedents while in office which they claim  could pose a major
threat to your ambition?   
A man remains innocent until otherwise proved by the law court. All these
things they call grey areas are mere propaganda of some charlatans. The same
Fayose contested the senatorial election after being cleared by INEC. I’m not
afraid of justice. 
How do you hope to overcome the influence of such PDP leaders like former
President Olusegun Obasanjo, as they may not have individually forgotten your
face-off with  them  in the past over some salient issues?
Have
you heard about an issue that can never be resolved? We are not promoters of
enmity in this world. We are for peace. One time or the other, I may have
wronged him. But I have reconciled with him. I have written to him and he has
replied. And I have equally appreciated him for his role in my return. So,
those that are still going about the memories of sour relationship of the past
will be shocked when our glory appears. And don’t forget that I have the
responsibility to make peace with all manner of men. 
Some critics say you lack principle because of your frequent switch from
one political camp to another? Aren’t they justified, going by your actions in
the last two or three years?
I have
never denied that I supported Governor Kayode Fayemi. I am at liberty to take
decisions for myself. I have never jumped from party to party. I have only
moved from PDP to the Labour Party [LP]. It is not only me that moved. Former
Vice President Atiku Abubakar moved and came back. He actually flew the flag of
ACN. I did not fly its flag. So many leaders at different points, can get
aggrieved when the system does not do what it is supposed to do. However, for
one to move from one party to another is even allowed under the constitution of
the country, otherwise nobody would move. So, I’ m not doing anything that
contravenes any provisions of the constitution. 
What is the attraction in PDP as far as you are concerned, as opposition
parties claim the party has not made any meaningful impact on the lives of the
ordinary man since 1999?
You
can win an election. That perception is personal. But what has changed in other
parties/? How many roads have been tarred in states being controlled by other
parties? What miracle have they performed to make them special? Even where
there has been a change of government from one party to another, did manna fall
from heaven? So, it is not about political parties. It is about individual
politicians and the innate ability of an individual to deliver services to the
people as when due. 
 What progress do you think Ekiti has been able to achieve since you
left office six years ago?
 I
have always said that I am a more matured politician, who would not think about
myself first over and above the facts on ground. One, part of the facts on
ground is that we have more than two million citizens in Ekiti. I would rather
allow them to assess the past, the present and shape their future based on
realities on the ground. When I was governor, it was Fayose that was the black
leg in the opinion of my detractors and blackmailers. It was Fayose that was
squandering the wealth of the state. It was Fayose that was killing people, but
today, the song is different. 
The story is
different because the only thing that is constant apart from change, is truth;
it will always come forth and defeat lies, falsehood, evil machinations and
conspiracy over time. I remember clearly that I opened up the state and the
resources then was so small but within the ambits of those resources, I was
able to open up the state. The first ever dual carriage way in the state [up to
the point where it is today] was carried out under my administration. To crown
it all, today everybody goes to the capital market to source billions without
remembering what I did. Despite challenges like the debts that I met on ground,
I was able to pay workers’ salaries that had accumulated for 11 months. 
Without mincing
words, I left about N10.4 billion in the coffers of Ekiti. I am yet to see such
record after my government. That means that I was a  good administrator of
both human and material resources. So, all I am saying is that I cannot list
all I was able to do  in this interview. For the Ekiti people that have
seen all of us from the very stage of the creation of our state to date who
gave them the best of service. 
Then, why do you think that the same people are against your current move
to return to power through the 2014 governorship election by disrupting your
meetings, meant to put you in good stead ahead the poll?
The
people are not against me. You should not attribute the activities of sponsored
thugs to the good people of Ekiti state. Rather the people are raining curses
on those who are causing the violence and unleashing terror on the citizenry.
In the last two weeks, the thugs would converge on the entry points of each
local government, block roads, wielding machetes and harassing the people
because they know the implication and positive impact of my visits to any local
government. They know that the movement I move round, the political fortunes of
a lot of people who may not be doing well in their various local governments,
will be affected. I want the whole world to know that a lot of people have been
wounded. So, if fayose is not popular, why should they use  thugs to unleash
terror on the people and block roads? They claim Fayose has lost a Senate
election, I agree. 
Whether the
election was manipulated or whether it was true that I lost it, there is
nothing wrong with you trying and trying until you succeed. I was told of an
American president who tried over 12 times but eventually won at the poll to
occupy the White House. 
I have always said
that I want to be governor of Ekiti State again. I have declared an intention
and it will be formalised very soon. I am not somebody who pretends. I am a
grass roots man. I go down to the level of the people. I was not a governor
that would wind up the glass of my car. I was not a governor who could not be
reached or touched by the people. How many people have left offices six, seven
or more years after and still have my kind of clout even in spite of the
circumstances that surrounded my exit? If not for the contrived circumstances I
left office, I should have faded out of Ekiti politics. They still send text
messages around. One body called Ekiti Voices sends text messages, as
propaganda. That is part of the signs of fear. Some alleged that I committed
murder; that my paper was before the governor, who was still keeping it in view
until an auspicious time. 
Why don’t they
prosecute me? Why should the shadow of a man, who left office about six years
ago, be making people jittery? Who is fooling who? Is it a political tool in
their hands to nail me? If anybody wants to arrest me, I am here, always in
Ekiti; I go around my business. All these machinations were as a result of the
clearance given to me by PDP, which is suggestive that I will contest the 2014
election, first in the primaries of my party and my visits to the local
government areas were meant to interact with the party members in preparation
for the primaries.  How does that affect another party or what is the
interest of another party? 
 But the claim in the other camp is that the problem you are going
through is being induced in PDP, your party?
Even
if there is a crisis in my party, the issue is that we know the people
orchestrating the current crime; we know the party they represent; the T-shirts
they put on show where they come from. And let we tell you emphatically that
there is no PDP man that will carry cutlass against anybody. Besides, how does
going to any local government affect PDP or the Action Congress of Nigeria
[ACN] or any other party? How does the freedom of movement of another man
affect a party? They went as far as trying to look for an electoral law that I
cannot move around as other citizens. 
They went to INEC.
They asked the state commissioner of police to gather information from INEC. I
was with him and he was talking about the electoral law and I said ‘Show me the
law. When you are able to provide it, you should juxtapose it  with the
relevant section of the Nigerian constitution, which guarantees the freedom of
association and freedom of movement. The CP is mandated to handle security
matters. He clearly approved all the visits. The OC [Operations] in the state
sent a letter to PDP and I know their antics and so every visit I make, I write
to the party, which puts a covering letter for all aspirants so that it will
not be personalised.
Why do you think the police have not been able to make any arrest over
the matter so far?
We
should ask them. That was why I went to the police headquarters in Abuja
because nobody has the monopoly of violence. We don’t want a situation, where
we will be forced to take laws into our hands. That is why we have asked the
authorities to intervene. These [political intolerance and other crimes] were
the things we jointly and severally condemned in the past. Some of them claimed
that when I was in office, I did not allow them to move. That is not correct
but if it was true, must you live in the past?  Again,  why should a
police man start getting involved in an issue that does not concern him, and if
you have to intervene, you must do it decently, with decorum and based on facts
and figures as well as the laws of the land. Your duty is to protect both the
government and the people, including members of the opposition parties. This is
the essence of democracy. 
 How has such challenge deterred you in the pursuit of your ambition
to return to power through the ballot box?
 How
will it deter me? Don’t you know that I am a man who always remains focused;
who will never look back once he has decided to on a mission ; where I am going
is always my target and nothing else. I am not a Muslim, but in the Islamic
religion, I love something they always say when they bury the dead. As they
turn the face down, the faithful will counsel the body, ‘face where you are
going.’ So, I always face where I am going. I am a man. In those days when we
had elections, we had to fight; I fought. I did not fold my arm and even when
it was serious then that I had to go on the television to say my mind and move
around, I remained myself. They should not forget that the more they are
attacking me now, the more popular I become and it is in their interest to be
wise and civil. 
What should the public expect henceforth if there is a repeat of the
scenario your team experienced during the aborted visits?
Don’t
forget that the society is not about you and I alone. It is about everybody. I
am going to embark on another round of visits to my party members throughout
the council areas. The letters will soon be out. We will send them to the
police. We will notify them and I remember that I have written the CP in Ekiti
state 17 times about threats to my life. 
What action has the CP taken on the petitions?
The
CP, I must confess, has not been fair enough. The police will see thugs
brandishing cutlasses, weapons and in fact, he came to one of the rallies in
Oye local government and had to personally dismantle the blockade erected by
thugs. He saw it himself at Ire-Eekiti. The question is that one of us must be
lying. You are the same person that issued permits and thugs are operating
where you issued permits. When we requested for permit and security, you
granted it. The other party will go and occupy the opposite side of the venue
at 7 am on the day of the approved rally. 
Again, it is the
same people that are moving from one local government to the other. And you
know them.
What excuse did the police offer for not acting on your complaints?
A:I do
not know. I have just told you that he would tell me that some of people told
him that when I was governor, I also curtailed their freedom. But how has that
got to do with the security of lives and property. So, we had to take the
matter to the Inspector General of Police, who saw the documents signed by the
CP himself. Now, I think the authorities have started taking necessary actions;
they have invited them. They have asked our boys to come and confront them.
They brought all the telephones seized by them and people sliced in the head
came. I actually took those boys and their vehicles to the CP before I went to
Abuja to lodge a complaint.  We hope the CP will change or see reasons to
change and he should remember that police job remains what it is. He is not the
first CP in Ekiti. We have had enough CP s in the state and those of them that
messed up realities, we fought them. I am a former governor; I am not a small
boy in the system. We fought them and made the public to see their files. And
we allowed the authorities that posted them to our state to remind them that
they were in the state for purely for police work. How can a CP be denying that
he did not instruct his OC in charge of Operations to sign the letter he sent
to us and he forgot that he himself was copied in the letter.  When he was
writing it, telling me that I was the one causing the problem, he did not
attach the other correspondence. And I wrote back to him, ’you are not the
first to come and you are not going to be the last.’ I have used more senior
CPS, when he was probably an ACP. I was not a small boy in the state. So, the
police must be neutral; they must discharge their duties and allow respect for
themselves. 
Don’t you think the current attempt to heat up the polity in the state is
healthy for genuine development, even as the election is about one and half
years from now?
Let me
tell you that the guilty are afraid. When you have conscience that I devoid of
offence, you have no fear. If fayose is no threat, don’t be afraid. I don’t
have money to travel on endless trips; I’m not the governor. I don’t have money
to pay salaries, in fact, going ahead to say that I’m the one causing problems
in the nine weeks’ strike by local government, I’m the one inciting the
teachers, I’m the one inciting the health workers on strike, I’m the one
inciting those in the judiciary, is most unfortunate. If indeed I’m the one
doing all these, then I have a very intimidating clout and influence. I do not
pay their salaries. So, how many people can I give money to incite? So, I
advise that we should do everything possible to make our people happy, even
somebody doesn’t win an election after his first tenure, he has a name to
protect. He has an image to protect. I have made up my mind that I will never
come out openly to criticize my governor. No! Dr. Kayode Fayemi is my
governor. 

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