By CHIOMA GABRIEL
Gov Ayo Fayose recently marked his 100 days in office. In this interview, he answers questions on the several controversies trailing his return to power, the court cases and allegations of beating up the Ekiti Chief Judge; his face-off with the APC-dominated House of Assembly, the controversial death advert on Buhari and other issues.
Here are excerpts:
My return to power is by God’s grace and it is not correct to say that any controversy trailed it. I won in all the 16 local government areas of the state. The local and international observers who monitored the election attested to the fact that it was free, fair and transparent.
Even my detractors found it extremely difficult to fault my victory and so they resorted to trying to get what they lost in the election through the back door. They did that by bringing in pre-election matters that competent courts of jurisdiction have decided on and threw overboard to the fore.
Also, they failed to secure needless injunctions to stall my inauguration as governor. You can see the desperation on the part of the opposition, which did not want the wish of the people to be respected.
As for the issue of impeachment, there was never a time I was impeached from office, I was forced out by the powers that be then. The Chief Judge of the state then, Justice Kayode Bamisile, set up a committee and it exonerated me. Those who wanted me out at all cost cajoled members of the House of Assembly to appoint their own Chief Judge and set up their kangaroo panel. All the records of this issues are there for all to see.
The then Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Alfa Belgore, who also doubled as the Chairman of the National Judicial Council, faulted Justice Aladejana that the lawmakers chose as their CJ and declared their efforts a nullity. I want to refer you to some paragraphs in the December 19, 2014 judgment by the Ekiti State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, Abuja headed by Hon Justice M I Sirajo particularly on my purported impeachment.
…“Another problem is the panel set up by Justice Jubril Aladejana. There is no reference to the Chief Judge ( Bamisile) or even acting Chief Judge as being the person who set up the panel whose report we are urged to act upon to hold that the 2nd respondent ( Fayose) was not qualified to contest the election. If we cannot look at the finding of guilt returned by the panel without scrutinizing the entire report.
The panel of Investigation which in 2006 found the 2nd respondent guilty of contravention of the Code of Conduct and whose report was accepted by the Ekiti State House of Assembly having not been set up by a Chief Judge was not properly constituted according to law and its report therefore cannot be the basis upon which the second respondent would be disqualified from contesting election into the office of Governor…..after the 2nd respondent was absolved of the allegations, the House of Assembly hoodwinked Justice Aladejana into appointing another panel, an action which led the Chief Justice of Nigeria to write a letter to him warning him of the consequence of his action….The only request for appointment of Investigation Panel, that is exhibit X is dated 5th October 2006. No other such request is brought to our notice by the petitioner. We can therefore safely hold that the panel set up by Justice Aladejana was constituted outside the constitutional time limit, and for that reason, it is null and void.” As you can see, the Tribunal held that I was never impeached.
As for taking revenge, I leave that one to God. I am not going to take any pound of flesh from anybody. Vengeance belongs to God. God has fought for me. Am I not the stone rejected by my detractors and now the pillar of the house?.
They did not want me to return but God has returned me as the first Ekiti politician to be so honoured. I trounced the newspaper that hyperated Kayode Fayemi with 16: 0. I won 158 wards out of 177 wards in the state. I defeated two incumbents twice at two different occasions. I see myself as father of everybody. Don’t forget, this Fayose is different from Fayose of 10 years back.
The chairman of their so-called impeachment panel, I recently inaugurated as a high court judge in the state. A top civil servant in the Ministry of Justice that was also used to illegally smuggled me to Ekiti for the aborted arraignment in January 2008, I appointed Solicitor General of the ministry. I have left my detractors for God to judge.
Why do you want Obasanjo suspended instead of appealing to him over his vituperation on Jonathan?
I don’t have anything personal against Obasanjo. I see him shooting the tyre of the vehicle that is conveying us which is PDP. If the vehicle should have an accident, all of us will be in for it. While he was the president of this country, he was intolerant to criticism from within the party.
Some people lost their positions for criticising his actions. In developed countries like America, you can’t find former presidents openly criticising the incumbent. It is not that they agree with policies or actions of the person in power. They have ways of expressing their positions to the president without the public or the press knowing. Obasanjo is not the only former president in this country.
Why don’t others act like him?. He likes playing to the gallary. It is like you don’t know who Obasanjo is. He has made up his mind about President Goodluck Jonathan and there is no way anyone can pacify him.
Despite all the appeals and meetings with him by various PDP leaders, including President Jonathan, has he changed? No. If a tooth is rotten, it is better it is removed before others get infected as well. Don’t forget, he has one leg in PDP and the second leg in APC. All his boys are in APC.
His attitude is if it is not him, it must not be anybody else. Was he not the one who told us in 2011 that if it is not Jonathan, it cannot be any other person to be president. What has gone wrong between then and now? Jonathan has refused himself to be pocketed by Obasanjo. That is his character. We will not allow him to destroy our vehicle. We should not shy away from saying the truth, people can criticize you, but that should not discourage you.
As it is, your government seems to be at war with APC in the state, would it not be better to broker peace and work in tandem with them to move the state forward?
Let me tell you that the state is moving forward since I came to office despite the various landmines and booby traps the previous APC administration set for us. APC does not have the interest of the state at heart and how can one now see them as people to be used or to cooperate with to move the state forward.
They borrowed N25 billion from the Capital Market, took loans from commercial banks in excess of N31 billion and failed to meet commitments to state workers in the areas of leave bonus, allowances, August and September 2014 salaries to some workers and youth corps members, all these amounted to over N7.8 billion.
They thought they would be able to hold the state down, but that is not the case and it will not be. What they know how to do best is dishing out lies to deceive gullible minds using the press for the propaganda. Nobody in Ekiti cares about what the APC said or what you write in papers about Fayose.
They said I am not popular, that I am a murderer, that I was impeached, that I have EFCC case. I told you people in the press to wait till election day if all they have said about me counts or not. I defeated Fayemi in all the 16 local government areas of the state, that is 16:0, Fayemi only managed to win his ward at Ishan.
I defeated Segun Oni and Niyi Adebayo who are allies of. Fayemi in their words. I won 158 wards out of the 177 wards. Unfortunately, these are the people the APC is parading to win Ekiti and South West in the February election. As far as Ekiti is concerned, by 2016, APC will exist only in name.
The people of Ekiti know that APC people do not mean well for them and are not pinning their hope for progress on the APC. We are not at war with APC or anybody, but we will not allow anybody or group to hold the state by the jugular.
The four year administration of APC in Ekiti was characterised with violence, fraudulence and deceit. Not less than 10 people were killed and these suspects who are APC chieftains and their lawmakers are running away from trial. No one will escape trial, let them leave this planet and go to stay in Jupiter.
The Ekiti House of Assembly is in shambles, do you think you can govern the state with only seven PDP members?
Their is nothing wrong with the House. It has been performing its legislative functions perfectly and the administration of the state is going on smoothly.
After my inauguration in October last year, I held meeting with the APC lawmakers five times almost prostrating so that they cooperate with me to move the state forward. I told them that we should put party aside and let Ekiti come first.
They refused. I did all they requested for, I kicked ball, approved allowances for them. They collected everything and turned their back on me. Do they think I’m a fool? Their masters in Lagos and Abuja told them not to cooperate with me, no problem.
They are now the losers, they adjourned the House and relocated to Lagos so that I don’t send my appointment lists and budget to the house. But the seven PDP members and three of the APC lawmakers hiding behind the curtain to work with us, sat to remove the Speaker and the deputy.
The 10 members have been sitting to conduct business of the House in accordance with the standing order. If they want truce, Adewale Omirin and others should resume as ordinary members of the House. He is no longer the Speaker.
Other members too are free to resume but must be law abiding. Those that are having murder cases hanging on their necks cannot resume without surrendering themselves to the police for court trial. If Omirin still lays claim to that position, he should wait for the court to decide on the matter he took to court. As a matter of fact , nobody or institution can do anything on any matter that is in court.. Ekiti is peaceful, stay for a week in Ekiti and you will see it yourself.
Did you really beat up the state chief judge as alleged?
I did not beat up the state chief judge or any judge. These are blatant lies peddled against me by the opposition, which wanted to appeal to sentiment and emotion of people through needless propaganda having lost woefully in the last June election.
At any rate, all the matters relating to your question are with the NJC and we all await their decision.
Since the presidential campaigns, there have always been fingers pointing at your regime for causing problems in the state and beyond especially with your advertorial on Buhari. Why did you go to that extreme?
I am not saying I am perfect, but people close to me know that I am frank and blunt to a fault. I don’t like hiding behind a finger. The advert is to warn us as a nation to avoid mistakes that we made in the past and which really drove us close to the precipice. The bitter truth that some people may not want to hear is that General Muhammadu Buhari is too old for the assignment some people, for their selfish reasons, want to force on him. I don’t have apology over the advert, it is my personal opinion.
Before the advert, the APC had arranged to fly Buhari out for medical check up. It was even published in a newspapers. But they could not go on with the arrangement because of the advert. Tell me, who is fooling who?. Was it not Obasanjo who said Yar’Adua was hale and hearty in 2007 to rule the country? And the man died mid- way. It is the same Obasanjo that is again branding another old horse. The advert is meant to appeal to sense of reasoning, to avoid pitfall, it is not death wish as my critics termed it.
It was widely reported that you refused to apologise for doing what you did?
Why should I apologise? I have nobody to apologise to over the matter. I only expressed my personal opinion and that is guaranteed under the constitution of Nigeria, our dear country.
This is your second time around in government, what do you hope to achieve at the end of your tenure?
I want to take the state to greater and higher level. I want to restore the glory of the state in education, provide basic facilities for the people to make their lives better. I want to leave the state better than I met it. I want to rank as a great statesman.
You recently marked your hundred days in office, what would you say you have achieved?
We thank God that despite the huge debts left behind by the former APC government and dwindling allocations from the centre, we have not done badly.
We have built a market, Bisi Market in Ado-Ekiti, rehabilitated Matthew Street, also in Ado-Ekiti, bought patrol vans for security agencies, ambulances for our health institutions, tractors and bins for refuse collection. We also did erosion control work in three places in Ado-Ekiti here, we are constructing two new roads, one from Opopogboro down to Afao Road, another from near Pathfinder Hotel down to Iyin Road. We are doing this just as we did the Nova Road during my first term in office to ease traffic congestion in the state capital.
Salaries are paid regularly and we have paid the August salary owed workers by the former government. They also owed them September 2014 salary despite collecting allocations for those months.
We are repositioning education and the health sectors among others. When I was leaving the office in October 2006, I did not leave debt. Of course, I left N10.4bn in the treasury, but Kayode Fayemi left a debt of N84bn for the state. In 2014 alone, he owed a total sum of N7.471bn of unpaid workers salary, subventions, pensions, deductions, and corpers allowances. The Batch C ( 2013). Batch A (2014) and Batch B (2014) are being owed N220, 855, 000 by Fayemi Administration.
I met an empty treasury. But I am trusting God to help the state out of the mess. I am builder created by God. When they destroyed, I build. In 2003, I inherited similar debts arising from unpaid salary arrears, leave bonuses, pensions, bond taken from capital market by Niyi Adebayo Administration. I paid everything, repossessed Ekiti House in Abuja and at OjuOlobun, Lagos for Ekiti. I appeal to Ekiti workers for understanding, soon, the state will be out of the mess.
Where would Ekiti State be in the next 100 days?
By God’s grace, Ekiti State in the next 100 days will be in higher level. Some ongoing projects would have been completed and new ones initiated. Then the tension of the general elections would have gone down.
Did you feel bad when PDP washed its hands off your advertorial on Buhari?
No, I did not. The reason being that I placed the advert in my personal capacity as Mr Peter Ayodele Fayose, a leader of the PDP, and also a citizen of Nigeria who wants the best for her and wishes her well. Moreover, I did not place the advert to receive any commendation from the PDP.