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Fayemi: Ekiti has suffered regression under Fayose

 Fayemi: Ekiti has suffered regression under Fayose
Kayode Fayemi

Former Minister of Mines and Steel Development and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in next month’s governorship election in Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, in this interview after the party’s mega rally in Ado-Ekiti, speaks on his vision for the state if elected governor. FELIX NWANERI reports

Following the rancour that characterised the APC primary, where you emerged as candidate, how far have you gone in your reconciliatory move with other aspirants?

APC has once again proved to bookmakers that common interest supersedes personal interest. It was easier to reconcile with my co-contestants because we all have the same purpose and objective, i.e, to reclaim our honour and restore our values by dislodging the PDP government. 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 agoMany people are asking why do you want to be governor again, having once served the state in that capacity…

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. For instance, hundreds of boreholes in public schools are abandoned and not functional for lack of maintenance, over 40,000 people benefitting 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. No sensible and reasonable person will see such laudable programmes damaged and relax or go to sleep.

These people have no clear understanding of how to run public offices. 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 have received pension in 2018 and gratuity have 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.

It is believed that you are planning to use federal might against the PDP, just like they did to you in 2014.

The events leading to the election of 2014 in Ekiti State negate the principles of a free, fair and credible election. From the militarization of the election to the police attack on our supporters, arrest and detention of our leaders across the state and the use of huge funds to induce voters, the federal authorities skewed everything in favour of the PDP. While we believe that the various security agencies indeed have a role to play in providing the necessary security for the election, we do not see why the whole state should be locked down in a non belligerent situation like an election.There are many questions begging for answers: who ordered the clampdown of the opposition? Who gave the orders to stop Governor Rotimi Amaechi from reaching Ado-Ekiti, as the Army captain who stopped and threatened to shoot him said he was acting under orders from above? Also worth mentioning is the flagrant abuse of national institutions that led to the country’s aviation authorities shutting down airports in Akure and elsewhere on the same day that our party had its last campaign rally in Ado-Ekiti.

This act of impunity was targeted solely at the opposition, and it runs against global standards. Lest we forget, on the same day the helicopter ferrying Governor Adams Oshiomhole from Benin Airport to Akure en route Ekiti for that final rally was prevented from taking off. Airports are never shut without the issuance of a Notice to Airmen.

Again, who gave the orders for the closure of the airports? This is an attestation to the fact that the security operatives were in the state more for a sinister motive than just to provide security for the election. It is a known fact worldwide that dictators and criminals are the worst cowards. They are usually exposed at their weakest point when they are deprived of their weapon of intimidation, harassment and oppression. The current whining of PDP this time didn’t surprise many of us.

However, that is where we are different from them. We are not cowards like them and we cannot play their dirty games. Therefore, on our part, there will be no intimidation, harassment or oppression of opposition and every law abiding individual. We are set to win in a free, fair and credible process.

Should you come back as governor, what would be your areas of priority?

We are bringing on board this time a message of consolation, hope and restoration. Consolation for the tolerance and perseverance of the last four years and hope for speedy restoration of abandoned programs, infrastructures, industries, values, projects and all the good things we lost due to some actions or inactions of the incumbent administration. The business of electing rests with the people of Ekiti State and I believe they are intelligent people who can compare what the situation was when we left office and the way it is now and what the future holds for our children and people.

When they look at what we did in office side by side with what is on ground now, they know the difference.

This coming election is not about me or the APC, but about what is good for Ekitikete; about the future of our teeming unemployed youths, about the abandoned elderly whose social security was cut off, about civil servants that have not received a single salary for the year 2018, about every project that was built with our commonwealth but abandoned to rot away, about pensioners and retirees whose entitlements have not been paid for years, about the 10,000 volunteers that were laid off, about traditional rulers and other constituted authorities that have been cowed and suppressed, about every thoroughbred Ekiti sons and daughters yearning for the restoration of our values and honour, and about the future of Ekiti.

This coming election is a referendum for Ekitikete to either support me to reactivate the good governance that was cut short four years ago or to approve the continuity of the abysmal performance of the current administration. People remember what we did for every single community in Ekiti State.

What we did for teachers, civil servants, the universities and all of the various aspects of our 8-point agenda. People know what we did for infrastructure development, for education in the state, for health care, for agriculture in the state, people have fond memories of what we did within the space of four years we were in office.Despite the electoral result of 2014, you appear very much confident. What gives you the confidence that you will win the election?

Our confidence is in the people. Our people have gone through a lot of pains in the last three and a half years of PDP government in the state and have come to the conclusion that the PDP government is a product of fraud and it is a government that does not care about their welfare. If you asked somebody who has not earned salary in eight months, at least they will tell you that under Fayemi I was not owed. That is, if you take it at such a basic simplistic level. But I do not want us to even take it at that level because that, for me as I said, is not a measure of good governance.

It is just a measure of duty that I have to the people if I pay salaries. Take it from what I have said to you, when I was governor, Ekiti excelled in all the rankings. The World Bank Ease of Doing Business study ranked Ekiti when I was governor as the number five place where you can do business easily in Nigeria, we moved from number 34 to number 5.

I just told you that the kids that entered secondary school when I was governor were the ones who took WASSCE and NECO exams and excelled. So, you do not get that by one year of being in government, so there is no way even though the Fayose administration is trying to claim credit for that. But it is the cumulative effect of work that we did that resulted in what those kids achieved. If you move from that to the DFID assessment of governance, Ekiti was ranked as the state with the most transparent budget when I was governor.

Why was this possible? Because I focused on ensuring that budget is responsive to the yearnings of the people. So, we did not do budget in Ekiti to people, we did it with the people, we ensured that their input was what formed the content of our budget estimate, and we then implemented that accordingly.

If you move to tourism, it is the same approach, People who visited Ikogosi when I was governor can attest to what we did and those are the kind of things that would draw people to our state. Ekiti became a kidnappers den when I left office, so security in the state was compromised, accountability was compromised, government was also compromised because what we had was a one-man show, it was not government of the people by the people for the people. And that compromises democracy. These are the areas that I think would make a difference. APC is a social democratic party, for us, we believe that the only way you can make a difference in governance is to lift up the weak and vulnerable people.

Characters who are governing Ekiti now are not interested in that and that is why the state has suffered so much regression over the last three and half years and that is why we need a corrective measure to grow the economy, improve the development of the state and then bring life to the people more abundant.

What are your plans for youth empowerment and employment?

We are going to restore, reorganize and repackage all the abandoned life changing youth empowerment programs to be more effective and efficient for a much larger number of the youths. Peace Corps, Dagrin, YCAD, Youth Volunteers and others will be resuscitated. My vision is simply to make poverty history in Ekiti state. In order to do that, I believe we need a combination of approaches.

Therefore apart from the aforementioned programs of our government I feel very strongly that one critical sector that we can make poverty history is agribusiness. We are going to maximize our potentials in agriculture and mining as well, and get our youth empowered through various government interventions in these sectors. Job creation and empowerment for the youths have always been a major concern for me and was a cardinal program of my administration. This is an area where we excelled back then.

Ekiti youths are innovative and eager to earn legitimate living if rightly guided and motivated. Government is a continuum in an ideal clime but unfortunately that is not the case in Ekiti state with the present administration. Just like they did with physical projects, all the life changing programs for the youths were also jettisoned.

The greatest disservice to the youths was the cancellation of the youth in agriculture, YCAD scheme. When we were in office we initiated many youth empowerment schemes. One of which was the youth volunteer scheme in which I was paying every young graduate who is out of work the sum of N10,000 monthly to move into specific areas of our work: health, education, environment and all that. We deployed them in variety of places.

It is very similar to what we now call Npower that our government at the federal level is doing and paying N30,000. I believe we need to really improve on that and deal with the demography in a manner that the skill that is required is also what we push in our universities and other higher institutions in the state, particularly our technical colleges.

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