By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Charles Kumolu & Gbenga Oke
Given Governor Ayodele Fayose’s infatuations with President Muhammadu Buhari, it is a surprise to many that the former army general now at the helm of affairs of the country has largely ignored him. Well, not so if the governor’s leading supporters and aides are to be believed. Indeed, if any, the All Progressives Congress, APC, led federal administration is tightening the noose around the Ekiti State governor, some of the partisans of Mr. Fayose told Vanguard during a courtesy visit to Vanguard last weekend.
The quartet including three members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Mr. Segun Aderemi, Deputy Speaker, Dr. Samuel Omotoso, Chairman, House Committee on Health and Chief Gboyega Aribisogan, Chairman, House Committee on Information were joined by the governor’s Special Adviser, Public Communication and New Media, Mr. Lere Olayinka.
They were at Vanguard to draw attention to what they claimed was a covert order by the Department of State Services, DSS to stop the governor from travelling abroad.
Their visit followed newspaper publications penultimate weekend that the DSS had issued a signal to all its formations at exit points out of the country barring Fayose from leaving the country. The reports said that the governor was to be told to report to the Director-General of the DSS should he have any need to leave the country.
The news reports specifically mentioned that two governors, one from the Southwest and the other from the South-South were the targets of the ban. Supporters of Mr. Fayose say he is the one and that the other governor supposedly under the travel restriction is Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State. Both men have the pedigree of being two of the leading hatchet men of the PDP in the run-up to the last general election.
Understandably, the Ekiti State House of Assembly which is wholly dominated by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was quick to denounce the alleged order. The PDP state chapter in Osun State and some other organs of the party have also been up in arms against the perceived order.
So given the fact that there has been no official confirmation of the alleged ban, suggestions to the visiting Ekiti officials to put the claim in the realm of unfounded speculations were surprisingly dismissed. “The same way media men get information that is genuine that is also how a government gets information. The governor has confirmed it that it is directed at his person. The other governor has confirmed it also. They have done their homework.”
Asked if the governor had successfully penetrated into the security apparatus of the presidency, the lawmakers responded thus: “We are politicians and we control the apparatus of government at the state level and federal level. Because we have this kind of structure within the security circles, there is nothing that happens that we don’t know.
The same personnel that work with the Federal Government are those who work with the state. So as a government, we use our advantage to get information. But what we are saying is that even at our level, we have investigated and found out that the APC led federal government is responsible for this because they have made us understand that our governor is an enemy of the state.”
Asserting that their cry was meant to ensure that dictatorship was nipped in the bud, they said: “It could be Ekiti State today; it could be anywhere next time. Look at what happened in the Southeast where people are being killed just because they are protesting and Nigerians are not talking. So we have elected to do this just to let Nigerians know that this country is sick, and we need people of good conscience to out to rescue the country from the brink.
“They should leave Fayose alone; they should allow him to act the way God has sent him to come and act in this country. This story was published in two national dailies, and they have not debunked the report. And if they are keeping silent, we are not doing that because if it is not true, I expect them to debunk it.”
So given the threat would the governor be travelling anytime soon, Mr. Olayinka was specifically asked “The governor will travel outside this country in the next few weeks. He will announce it, and the media will follow him,” he said. Challenged on the basis that there could be a moral reason to keep Governor Fayose from travelling out of the country given his recent caustic attacks on President Buhari, the quartet quickly rebuffed the claim saying that every comment made by Fayose on Buhari was founded on facts and logic.
Attack on Buhari
However, the attack on the president while he was in China on a state visit and the charge by the governor to the Chinese authorities not to honour the administration’s bid for financial leverage on some capital projects was a controversy taken too far for many Nigerians. The Ekiti delegation was, however, unrepentant.
“On the issue of China, we know a lot of Nigerians will be shocked because we deliberated on all these things before we started, we knew quite well that most commentators will be surprised about how a Governor of a state can challenge the Federal Government on the international stage, and the Governor is still going to do more of that,” they said.
Affirming that the assertions of the governor were meant to deepen the country’s democracy, they said: “Opposition is embedded in democracy and it makes democracies strong. The China trip, at a point, they said it was currency swap, everybody was writing about it saying they are transferring our currency to Yuan, how can you do that when even China is keeping its own foreign reserves in Dollars?
That is not wisdom and when they saw the resistance from Ekiti state government demanding that China should give the modalities for the currency swap, they later told us no currency swap, they said it is a loan and somebody later said it not a loan. So you can see how government is talking from both sides of their mouth and to the glory of God, Fayose has done tremendously well, especially with regard to roads with many of the roads done and delivered.”
“We are in a democracy in this country and we are running a federal system of government, Buhari is not superior to the Governor of Ekiti state under the Nigerian constitution, Nigeria is a state, a President is a President while a Governor is a Governor.
If not for this arrangement that we run that all governors will have to run to Abuja to get money, in the United States, states operates independently, you might not even need to see the President throughout your tenure, when running your state.”
Advocating a return to true federalism, they said: “Unfortunately now, those who are advocating true federalism are now in government, those who are advocating state police are now in government, those who are advocating that Nigeria should be restructured, they are no longer talking. Everybody is saying Fayose is talking too much, but majority of the things he has been saying are coming to pass.”