BY DAPO AKINREFON
Senator Ayo Arise is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ekiti State. In this interview, he commends Governor Kayode Fayemi’s magnanimity in conceding to the winner of the June 21 governorship election in Ekiti, Mr Ayodele Fayose. He also boasts that the development will ensure the PDP winning future elections in the South-west states. Excerpts:
Prior the governorship election in Ekiti state, tension was high as it was believed that violence would characterize the poll. But all went well. What does that say about our electoral system?
Well, I like to say that the Federal Government moved in to maintain law and order, the police was neutral and the people had resolved to have a free and fair election. They came out in droves, voted their conscience and who they wanted in the Government House in Ekiti.
We should be looking more for staggered elections in Nigeria so that there would be adequate security though we can hold the general elections the same day throughout the country. For us, this is a good example, I see prospects in the future that when the atmosphere is conducive, our people will express their choice of preference in governance and that is what we did.
But concerns were raised over the heavy security presence on the day of the election. Do you think it was proper?
It does not matter how small a place is, the concern of everyone is to have a free and fair election. Many of us have had elections under Fayemi. Throughout the 2011 elections, we were under siege by the state police and SARS so much so that during my election (into the Senate), there was intimidation. We were so sure that under a peaceful atmosphere, the people of Ekiti would not want Fayemi.
It does not mean that in the future he cannot come back but the people of Ekiti have expressed their choice willingly and fully. This is the freest election in this country and we have to give kudos to INEC because there was no room for manipulation. Every vote counted and the choice is very clear.
How do see Fayemi’s conceding to defeat?
When I ran the election against Olu Adetunmbi 2011, on the day of the election, I called him to congratulate him. I felt maybe there was something I should have done that I did not do but he certainly acted smarter and he won the election.
So, I called him and congratulated him, he was shocked. I also had to congratulate Fayemi for seizing the opportunity to act like a civilized man because the result of this election is beyond any question.
And so, the most dignified thing for him to do, was to call Fayose early and expressed the fact that he accepted the result of the election.
It is cheaper for him and it will give him a lot of leverage as a civilized person and it is going to save him a lot of money; otherwise, lawyers will just be tossing him up and down; at the end of the day, he will be paying so much money and he would have gotten nothing.
So, I salute him, I salute his courage; I am impressed that he has followed my footstep and that is the way we expect politics to be.
What do you think should be the focus of the governor-elect?
Well, the governor-elect is a product of destiny. He knows God has favored him and I think he would use that opportunity to disabuse the minds of the people.
It is a wonderful opportunity for him because it is not every time that somebody is given a second chance, he has been able to do that. I think he will do a fine job and do the best.
Do you see this development leading to the come back of the PDP in the South-west?
Certainly, we are going to defeat all these actors. We are moving to Osun State next and we are optimistic that we will drive all these people out of the South- west.