By Dapo Akinrefon
Governor Kayode Fayemi is in the third year of his stewardship of Ekiti State. His ascension to office in 2010 was upon the affirmation of the courts that he was the winner of the 2007 election. Ahead of the gubernatorial election next year, the governor in this interview in Ado Ekiti, responds to concerns over potential effects of increasing political tension on governance among other issues. Excerpts:
A year to the next governorship election in Ekiti State, to what extent is the jostling affecting governance?
Government is not just about the governor and I think that is something we have to get away from. We still have an authoritarian mindset in Nigeria because of our military past. I’m one governor who is on the road a lot and governance does not suffer when I’m not in Ado – Ekiti. So, the fact that I’m on the road should not mean government is suffering.
I’m spending the entire November, for example, as I normally do every year, touring the communities because we do that in preparation for the budget. So I’m spending 30 days in November going round about 150 communities in Ekiti. So, does that mean government will suffer because I’m not sitting in this office (Governor’s office)? That is governance for me. That is what government is! When I’m with the people I’m governing.
Then you are also campaigning?
I’m not campaigning. I’m preparing for budget 2014. But you know this is not the first time I’m doing this. I do it every November. So, you cannot associate it with campaign. I’m not campaigning.
Are you going to run?
Yes, I will.By Dapo Akinrefon
Your critics are making an issue of your sourcing of bonds for projects?
Their challenge is: What are we going to use to campaign against this man? Since there is nothing to use to campaign against him, and since we are politicians, there must be something. Yes, we may not have anything to take to EFCC or ICPC about him, but we must find something against him. And the best they could find is the bond.
Yes, we went to the bond market. It was public information. We took N20bn bond in December 2011 – meaning about 18 months ago and the projects that we said we were going to use the bond for are specific. They were identified. If you look at the bond book they are listed there. The 10 projects were listed.
You can just google Nigerian Stock Exchange website or the Security and Exchange Commission, you can access the information there. We took N20bn, we were going to do roads, we were going to revive our moribund brick factory at in Ire; we were going to re-develop Ikogosi; we are going to build a Government House; you can see it on the top as you drive around Ekiti and you will see what we are doing there. There is not a single project that we took bond for that is not being implemented. So the issue is not that we took bond, the issue is whether we have worked with the bond.
The last government that ever did anything in this state that you can refer to as concrete – evidence based legacy was the Adebayo government. Adebayo government took a N4bn bond in 2002; Ekiti House in Abuja that was built in 2002 for N700m; we have just done revaluation, and the Ekiti House is now worth N4.7bn. So these are trade offs.
We took N20bn in December 2011 as at today, as I speak to you we have paid N9bn out of that because it is ISPO; it is deducted automatically from our FAC account. The second issue for me, which I think ought to interest our colleagues is: are there obligations that this state had that are not being met because we have taken bond? Are we owing salary? Things that were not done when we didn’t take bond under Fayose and Oni administrations, we are doing now- social security, housing loan, car loan – these were things that were not there before and we have increased salary.
When I became governor the salary in this state was N7,500 minimum wage, we took it to N13,500 and now N19,300 and we have not had a corresponding increase in the FAC allocation to Ekiti.
These are calculations that can be easily done but for mischief makers they would just sell all sorts of silly things about us. Yes, we know he is working but he borrowed money.
Are you worried by the challenge from Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, a member of your party?
As far as I am aware, APC does not even have members yet in Ekiti State. APC membership registration has not taken place.
It is taking place in November. So, we would know if Opeyemi Bamidele is a member of APC in November. So I don’t want you to jump to that conclusion.
What is your relationship with Bamidele and how do you respond to issues of betrayal since he appears to be aggrieved?
To the best of my knowledge, he is my brother and he is representing this organisation, but what you should know is that in politics you don’t even need excuse to have ambition.
What would you blame for the increase in violence in the state in recent times?
You know we politicians are attention seekers by the nature of the business we are in and that is part of the problems.
If you are a politician and you want to impress your political leaders or masters in Abuja, you want to give them the impression that you are the one in charge and you go to Abuja and the people say to you: but there is nothing happening, the place is peaceful there is no problem in Ekiti, how do you think you are going to challenge this man if the place is this quiet?
But I am determined to ensure that we have a peaceful state even if it means bending over backwards to bring in all of the people to agree to a code of conduct – a code of ethics that binds us. Maybe we would call all our elders in Ekiti so that is not seen to be partisan or the governor dictating his position to them. How else do you want to explain a state that had six governors in seven years.
How do you explain that? We have had too many problems here.
Tenure of office
That already tells you the instability we had. When we had the pension law for ex-governors it was only two people that qualified; Niyi Adebayo and Paul Alabi, because they were the only people- governor and deputy governor that completed their tenures of office.
On Peace Corps and the opposition’s fear that it was designed as a parallel police force?
Somebody has asked me recently why are we starting the Peace Corps; is it a back way of starting a state police? And the answer is no. Our Peace Corps is largely community based. Of course I’m an unapologetic federalist. People know my views about multi-level policing. I don’t talk about state police, I talk about multi-level policing, which does not rule out federal police but it makes a distinction between their roles.
There are crimes that are federal and there are state based crimes and it should be clear as to who takes responsibility for what crime. In every federal setting I know around the world this is what happens, and I don’t see any reason why ours should be different. It is interesting times in Ekiti State.