By Rotimi Ojomoyela
The minister of solid mineral resources, Dr. Kayode Fayemi in this interview speaks on his aspiration to return as governor of Ekiti State. Excerpts:
You have been governor in this state before now, and you are currently a Minister of the Federal Republic, why do you want to return?
Yes, you are right, I have been governor here in the state before now, but I feel a profound sense of unfinished business. Unfinished business in the sense that all of what I did in office, have been abandoned to rot, well, maybe some infrastructure have been sustained, at least you can still see some of the street lights, you can still see the Government House on top of the hill, you can still see all of the physical things, particularly our efforts in the areas of human capital development, entrepreneurship, tourism development, Health care have actually been severely damaged.
I will give you a couple of examples to demonstrate what I mean by that, over 40,000 people benefitting from our various social investment scheme have been put out to hang and drowned. The 5,000 that I was paying N5,000 to in the social security scheme, the 10, 000 benefitting from the youth volunteers and empowerment scheme who were being paid N10,000 monthly and being engaged in variety of our youth initiatives, environmental sanitation, teaching in schools, working in the health sectors, all of that were disbanded.
All that we did to better the lives of our people have been eroded in a lot of places, just go to Ikogosi. So if you ask me, yes, I have been governor, I’m not coming out of a sense of ambition, I’m coming out of a sense of duty, out of a profound sense of unfinished business which I believe only a progressive and ideological driven government can deliver as far as the state is concerned.
Don’t you think that the large number of aspirants in your party will cause a crisis?
I think frankly, we have to come to come to terms with the fact that it is a plus actually that the APC ticket is much sought after, it is a positive one. However, it has to be managed carefully, once the primary takes place and a clear winner emerges.
I don’t think the problem you are envisaging would happen actually, where we may run into problem is when it is a close race, and people imagine that some hanky-panky had given one person or the other an edge in the race. But, frankly, I do not think it’s going to be a close race, but that is separate matter. Everyone has a right to run and aspire in political competition. I don’t think we should debar them from doing so.
What is your reaction to claims that the primary is tilted in your favour, because your administration installed the leadership of the party from ward to state level, and that the president has given you his nod?
All manners of brick-backs are going to be thrown, in a race of this nature , I have heard some of these allegations that you have raised, but I’m assuring that when people say that I believe it’s actually an insult to the delegates who are independent minded to the best of my knowledge and who are actively associated with one aspirant or the other.
If you go out in the field, you will see delegates in different camps , so if what you are saying is true, then I shouldn’t be going round the state seeking the support of the delegates, I should just seat in Abuja and wait for the election to happen on May 5th and then I know that they are in my pockets.
I’m not taking any of our delegates for granted, and I’m running on the basis of a record that I established as I governor in this state.
Don’t you think you still have unfinished business in your ministry, especially in the mining sector, where most of the policies you initiated are yet to yield fruits?
Clearly, there is unfinished business in the mining and steel sectors; as a matter of fact, what has happened in the Mining and Steel sectors could be described as foundational.
But the truth of the matter, as much as I love what I’m doing and the mandate the President has saddled me with, I also know that mining is a long-term sector, there is no magic that I’m going to do in the Mines and Steel in the next one year. I have a colleague who I have carried along very closely as Minister in the sector, so, nothing is likely to fundamentally change. He would deepen the activities that have been put in place, and I don’t see why he would not do well in continuing with the work that I have done or that we both jointly presided over in the sector.
Some in your party say the ten-year ban on you may cause your aspiration to end as a wasted effort?
Do you mean the toilet paper…come on! You are far too knowledgeable about these things, and you have a good sense of history of where this is coming from. Yes it used to be a case in this country that you can use an administrative panel report or judicial commission report to orchestrate the ban of a political office holder but that period had since gone, because it became very clear that this was a witch-hunting tool, either in the hand of a federal officer who has used this or that the state level and there is a settled matter by the Supreme Court of Nigeria on this point you are making and that is the Atiku Abubakar vs. Federal Government of Nigeria.
Only a court of record and what is defined as a Court of record in law, a High Court, either at the state or Federal level. So, for anyone to tell you, to the best of my knowledge, I have not even been asked to show up in any court over any allegation and don’t forget, I did not even appear before any panel…
But you were invited…
I was invited but you should also be aware that I challenged that invitation in the court and that case was in court as the panel was sitting, so, I cannot approbate and reprobate, I can’t challenge a matter in court and then go to the same panel to show up thus legitimising the activity of the panel. But I’m not INEC; however, there is a judicial precedence. I have a friend called Rabiu Kwankwaso, who went through this experience, he was governor, he went to become Minister, and when he was about coming back as Governor, the governor of that state brought out a Commission of inquiry report, of course, it was rubbished, and the man became governor.
What is your reaction to claims by the state government that your administration misused the N25 billion bond you obtained?
We took N25billion loan for infrastructural development not for salaries or frivolities and those infrastructural development traverse the length and breadth of the state, the bulk of that money was spent on roads.
We spent about N14 billion out of that N25 billion on roads alone. We revived the Ire burnt bricks that had been moribund for several years before we came into office, it is still there, you can visit the place and see what they were doing there. We also brought back Ikogosi, it became a tourist’s delight, we received many awards, in fact about two Nollywood films were made out of the place. We built the new Government House out of this money. We built the Pavillon, a twelve thousand seat pavilion out of this money. We built a civic centre out of this money, in fact, we calculate what we spent the N25 billion on.
You are running at a time there seems to be disenchantment against the APC, don’t you think this may affect your chances at the poll?
Frankly, I believe we have enough to sell as a government, I’m not just running on the record of my work when I was a governor but on the record of the present Federal Government which I’m playing a prominent role, it is collective responsibility, so I’m not going to shy away from perceived inadequacies.
On very many grounds, I believe the track record of my Boss is worth selling. I’m not saying we have been perfect in all grounds, we also suffer the tyranny of exaggerated expectations, a lot of Nigerians expected much from us, much more than we had listed considering the resources available to the country.