HOURS after he was returned as the winner of the Ekiti gubernatorial election, Mr. Ayodele Fayose sat down for an interview session with a group of journalists in his family-owned Spotless Hotel, Ado Ekiti. He spoke on his perception of his victory, his plans for the state and the political permutations that would usher his successor in office. Excerpts
BY DAPO AKINREFON
HOW do you see your victory at the polls?
I want to seize this opportunity to appreciate everybody that has made this day possible. I appreciate the leadership of our party, the PDP. I equally want to appreciate the average man in Ekiti that has seen me through my eight years out of governance. I left the Government House on October 16, 2006 and by God’s grace, I will be back in Government House on October 16, 2014.
I owe it all to God and the common man in Ekiti.
It was an uphill task for me to say I want to come back eight years after without their support. I also want to thank the agencies, INEC and the Police that have played active roles in ensuring a free, fair and credible process that has produced me. To the people that contested with me in my party, I want to appreciate and will continue to appreciate them for being magnanimous and giving me the necessary support.
To Governor Kayode Fayemi, my brother Opeyemi Bamidele and other contestants that have conceded and accepted me as their governor, I want to thank them too. I want to assure them that I will work with all of them. The government belongs to all of us.
Four years is a very short time in the life of any administration, I want to let them know that it will be four years of all of us in government. There is no winner, no loser.
Governor Fayemi has called me to concede defeat and I will see him tomorrow (today) hopefully for us to let the public know that we are together irrespective of our past. Ekiti belongs to all of us because a governor has only got a term and tenure but Ekiti will remain forever.
I salute Fayemi’s courage for accepting me and his readiness to allow peace and love reign in our state. I am assuring you that this is Ayo Fayose, who is older, wiser and ready to work with everybody.
Fayemi has conceded defeat, he remains my brother and will forever remain my brother. He has contributed his quota like every other governor that has served and he needs to be given the necessary respect that he deserves.
How were you able to dislodge your opponents to emerge winner of the elections?
It is the Lord’s doing. I want to recall that my removal in 2006 remains a mystery to the common man on the streets but they never left me for a day, they believed in me. I want to equally let you know that I was left with the people without money, eight years in the wilderness.
My charge to every politician is to target the poor people. They will not come and ask you for contracts, all they want is to have their lives improved, to which they believe I have an answer.
I do things a governor is expected to do. For me, I am a grassroots man and because of the way I operate with them, they call me Senior Advocate of the Masses. So, I want to continue that trend, I want to identify with them continuously. I will not leave them. So, the strategy is, when you are voted into power, don’t forget that four years is a short time.
No doubt the expectations from the people will be high this time around. How prepared are you for the task ahead?
My past speaks for me. Some people call me a workaholic but nobody gave me a chance in 2003. They said I am an HND holder and that Ekiti is a state of professors. You do not need to be a professor to know that someone is hungry. You do not need to be a doctor to know that somebody needs support. It is innate for you to show love and kindness towards people. You do not need to be a doctor to know that a road is bad.
I want to tell you that my performance this time will earn me the necessary leadership in Nigeria. If you do good to people, their loyalty will be with you forever. So, I want to do good so that I can remain the leader here, I want to be the Awolowo here.
Awolowo is long dead but nobody has the courage to insult him. I want to be a man like that, that will give my best and earn the respect of my people.
Fayemi has done his best
In terms of performance, I will perform because I have pledged, I have promised and I will live up to my promise.
You and the sitting governor have agreed to work together. This is a new turn in our democracy. In what manner do you hope to work with Governor Fayemi?
Whether the election was won by me in every local government, Fayemi remains my governor until October 16, 2014. Fayemi has done his best but nothing is permanent.
The only thing constant is change. Governor Fayemi cannot say it anywhere that I insulted him in his entire tenure.
The office of a governor is an exalted office and such occupants must be respected in and out of office. For me, Fayemi will remain a respectable Nigerian, a respectable leader in Ekiti and I will do everything possible to give him the pride of place in government.
Though a governor today and a former governor tomorrow, Fayemi is our leader. We have to work and take over from where Fayemi stopped to make sure Ekiti people get the best out of the state.
It is not about Fayemi neither is it about Fayose. It is about the people. I want to say again that politics can destroy a country but love can keep a country together. As a leader, I will show love to all men.
What are your plans for Ekiti?
One of the things I want to do in Ekiti state is the flyovers. I want Ekiti to have a flyover at Fajuyi and Matthew junction where traffic will be controlled steadily. I am going to embark on operation ‘Tar all untarred roads’ in Ado Ekiti, the state capital within two years.
Any second term ambition?
The constitution does not allow me, you cannot take the oath of office three times. I have taken one and I will soon take the second one and will find my way to my house.
Friend or loyalist
Again, I have chosen a deputy governor who I told from the beginning that we will both leave Government House together. I don’t want a deputy governor that will start playing politics behind when I am in government and cause distraction. I do not want that again. My deputy governor is practically here to work with me and look after certain things for me and ensure that we succeed.
Ekiti people will choose their next governor after me, themselves. Choosing or placing your friend or loyalist on the people, will put you and your nominee in trouble. I want Ekiti people to choose whoever they feel should be the governor after me and nobody will expect me to come and impose anyone. I will not choose for Ekiti, I will do my best and go my way.