Says Ekiti not fertile ground for rigging
EKITI State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who is seeking re-election on the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is confident that he will be re-elected. In this interview, he, among others spoke on why he is confident and why the June 21 polls would be difficult to rig. Excerpts:
BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE
On fears that the election could be rigged
Ekiti is not a very good place to rig election. You can afford to manipulate elections in Anambra because Anambra has a lot of rich people who are even richer than the governor and do not care too much about who governs the State.
In Ekiti, you will discover that everybody is interested in what happens because we have 2.5million potential governors in this state. Every single indigene believes he has what it takes, that he understands government and knows how to govern. And every time election was manipulated in Ekiti, the result was not palatable.
Whether you refer to 1964 – 65 wetie crisis which eventually culminated in the 1966 coup detat – Ekiti was even a stronger zone of resistance than Ijebu where Chief Awolowo hailed from and of course, when you talk of the 1983 election rigging in Ondo State, we all can remember what happened here. And of course, my own recent experience has also demonstrated that our people are far too sensitive to allow external interference in their affairs.
People will make all sorts of claims – they would do this, they would do that but the truth of the matter is – even the PDP admits that this governor has done well but it is about gaining an in-road to the South-West by hook or crook.
Unfortunately for them, the PDP had been in government here for seven and a half years and Ekiti people cannot forget in a hurry what they went through in those years. It was murder, mayhem and crises for the bulk of the period. And don’t forget that for those seven and a half years, there were six governors. So, it was instability galore. That is what would have to be placed side-by-side what happened in our time in office.
Federal might is always going to be a factor in any election, but I can assure you that the peoples’ might is bigger than federal might. So, we have nothing to fear.
What do you mean by the election being a referendum on your performance?
An election is necessarily a referendum of what an incumbent has done or failed to do in the judgment of the electorate. Somebody running for the first time can only make promises and hope that the people will believe his promises. As an incumbent, I am running on the record of the public goods that I’ve delivered in every community and constituency.
I have been on the campaign trail for over three weeks now and in every place I get to, the people are the ones who reel out what we have done in their communities. It is a much taller order for me in the sense that I must present tangible, palpable, verifiable evidence of what I have done. That is what I have to sell. It may not be a referendum of the performance of my competitors.
But even in the case of one of my competitors, the election is a referendum on, who he was when he was in office in the state and what he did. Even if he chooses not to talk about that, others would talk about his record in office. The record will be set straight.
Are you sure you have done enough to guarantee you a second term?
I ran in 2007 on a platform popularly known as the Roadmap to Ekiti Recovery – My 8 Point Agenda. At the time, I was very specific about what I was going to do in office – as far back as 2006. When you talk about social security – if you read my inaugural speech you will find social security benefit to the elderly there. If you read my inaugural speech, you will see laptop per child there.
There is nothing that we have done in this state that we have not picked up from the 8-point agenda. And everyone who is objective can attest to the fulfilment of what we promised Ekiti State people. And in the various communities that we are going to meet people, they speak to that. So the answer to your question is yes. My performance has earned me a reason to believe that I would be re-elected.
We have done reasonably well. Don’t forget that this state is No 35 on the revenue ladder of the country. People often forget that. And this is a state that gets N3bn a month against N23bn in Bayelsa with a smaller population. So I think it is important to put this in proper perspective. We run a social democratic agenda and it is a progressive government.
You will see that in many of the policies that we put in place, we concentrate on how to pull up the weak and the vulnerable in our state. Additionally, we have run a reasonably clean government. So, I think we have done enough to earn a second term. But we are also not unaware that performance itself is not the only factor in an election but it is the most critical success factor for an incumbent.
His focus, if re-elected
Three things: agriculture, tourism and the knowledge economy. Clearly, I’m not going to stop my focus on education but it is going to be narrowed into the creation of knowledge economy. We have a lot of focus on technological education, on vocational education, on ICT and the knowledge park that we are constructing.
We have a 3,000 hectare Ekiti Knowledge Zone in the making. It is probably bigger than the Lekki Free Zone; it is going to be the base for education tourism, medical tourism and ICT outsourcing. We feel that is an area that can give us an edge.
Agriculture, understandably because of our own ground but it is expanding and developing the food value chain. We would be focusing on cassava, the revival of our cocoa, rice and oil palm.
Tourism: we feel that Ekiti can still be the best destination of choice – all of us talk about what has happened in Cross River but we still feel we are better placed than Cross River because Cross River is much more difficult to get to, particularly Obudu.
It is much easier to get to Ikogosi than Obudu. And we are building Ikogosi into a tourism hub to serve our grand vision of making poverty history in our state. So, it is more of consolidation of what we have been doing. But it is going to be driven by how many jobs can be generated from these sectors. It is going to be largely job focused.