During the Yuletide, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, was in his Ishan hometown in Ekiti State, where he feted members of the All Progressives Congress and others. After the revelry, the minister, in this interview with VICTOR SODEHINDE, responded to a wide range of issues, including his celebrated tiff with Governor Ayodele Fayose. Excerpts:
Speculations are rife that you have the intention to contest for the governorship election in 2018. This is an opportunity for you to clear the air; are you running again in 2018?
(Long laugh) It is the stuff of politics for people to speculate, especially as elections draw close. But there is nothing that is happening now that is new. Since I left office in Ekiti in 2014, I’ve always made it a point of duty to host party leaders and members every quarter and we use these gatherings to reflect on the state of the party and the state of the nation. We’ve held these meetings 12 consecutive times.
Of course, based on feedback, we’ve also broadened representation at the meetings. So, the one you’ve witnessed today is very large because all wards, local governments, LCDAs, senatorial and state executives of the party are here, led by our National Deputy Chairman, Engr. Segun Oni, who is from Ekiti, and our state party chairman, Chief Jide Awe. Over 7,000 party chieftains came here today.
I am always unequivocal in my view about him as a misfit, an uncouth political thug and a rabble rouser, who has not learned anything from his previous travails after being thrown out of office in 2006
The bottom-line for us is that we have to ensure that our party is well positioned and strengthened to go into elections. It has nothing to do with a personal ambition or an intention to contest. I believe that is the burden leadership has put on me and I don’t want to shirk that responsibility.
The choice really, for every Ekiti free-born, is either to walk away and avoid Ekiti like a plague (And many have done that, particularly the elite) or, treat Ekiti as a sick child.
We all know how a concerned mother treats a sick child; when a child is sick and the child refuses to take any food and the prescribed drugs, our mothers apply tough love to that child and what is that tough love? In Ekiti, mothers have a way of force-feeding the sick child – blocking his two nostrils, pinning his hands and legs down, before putting the food and drugs in the child’s mouth.
Of course, the child will wail and cry as the mother applies this tough love, but, ultimately, it is for the good of the child because if you agree with me that Ekiti is a sick child, I leave you to speculate about the application of tough love on a sick child. As for contest or no contest, we will cross that bridge when we get there.
Just recently, the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Fayose administration concluded its assignment and submitted a report indicting you on the way you managed the finances of the state, and since then, we have not heard from you.
You know my view about our friend, the alawada-in-chief (comedian-in-chief) in the Government House? I am always unequivocal in my view about him as a misfit, an uncouth political thug and a rabble rouser, who has not learned anything from his previous travails after being thrown out of office in 2006.
So, how do I respond to something I regard as illegal and unconstitutional by a Governor who I have the least regard for? What Ayo Fayose set up was a kangaroo panel with a clear mandate to work to a predetermined answer.
Try and remember the genesis of the panel. His rubber-stamp House of Assembly passed a resolution that he should probe Fayemi over an alleged stealing of N852 million from SUBEB and for giving President Buhari N1.5billion of Ekiti money, because I refused to appear before them. Based on that resolution, he set up the Oyewole panel after I’d gone to court to challenge the shenanigan in the assembly.
If you had followed the Ayo Fayose story, he believes that (I am) the only one in this state who can clip his boisterous wings and he wants to do everything to embarrass me in the hope or expectation that I will come crawling to beg him. Unfortunately for him, he has chosen the wrong target this time. He started by denying me my entitlements as prescribed by law as a former Governor of this state. I didn’t even bat an eyelid, neither did I ask him to pay.
Even all my political appointees, who served the state with distinction were denied their severance claims and entitlements and he tried to use the payment as a bait to lure some of them to his side.
Again, he failed; no appointee of mine left APC to join him. So, a panel which started with the so-called N852 million that Fayemi stole from SUBEB fell flat as it could not even sustain the lie that any money was missing, especially after the bank, Access Bank, told his panel the bank took back their money because government did not fulfill the terms and conditions attached to the loan after I left office. They also informed all and sundry that it was the Fayose administration that took the N71 million interest rate that accrued. By the time the joke of a panel completed its hatchet job, what Fayemi stole had shifted from N852 million to 17 buses and he also mismanaged the bond, and must explain N2.6 billion?
At the risk of being immodest, everyone in this country knows that I’m an advocate of transparency and accountability in public office. I’d be happy to explain anything that is unclear after leaving over 500-page, painstakingly detailed hand-over note on my stewardship but not to an administration that has no interest in seeking the truth.
Without prompting, I declared my assets publicly when I became Ekiti Governor and did when I left office. There is nothing that I have by way of assets that I cannot defend.
And as President Buhari’s pointsman at NEITI who also chairs the inter-agencies task force on anti-corruption, I have a duty, indeed a responsibility, not to do anything to bring his name or mine into disrepute. Now, tell me: is Fayose a serious human being? I’m told he’s now cooking up a White Paper that he can shop around with a view to getting me banned from public office. Can you imagine? What a joker? Anyway, the less said, the better on the panel. We will see who would end up in jail in Nigeria between Ayo Fayose and I. You see me in Ekiti all the time, I walk around Ekiti freely. We shall see if Ayo Fayose will be able to walk freely after October 16, 2018.
some of us had immunity before and we are walking the streets of Ekiti today without immunity. But I know people who will not walk the streets of Ekiti the day they stop being governor of this state. We will all be here and will see what will happen
Fayose used to say that people should ask you the benefits your position as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has attracted to the state. So, what’s your reaction?
The trouble with Ayo Fayose is that every time he opens his mouth, he exhibits an unbelievable level of ignorance, which underscores why our state is in the doldrums.
I have told the whole world what I have used my office to benefit Ekiti and to benefit the whole of Nigeria not once, not twice. I am Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; I am not Minister for Ekiti State affairs. Governors who love their people and want progress for their states know how they get things for their states.
For his information, I’m responsible for mineral resources development in 36 states and the contiguous water bodies offshore. But yes, I’m also the representative of Ekiti in the Federal Executive Council and what I have done with the position is tangible, measurable and clear and for his information, it is better than what was done for our state in the previous 16 years when PDP was in the saddle in the centre. And I must confess that his irresponsible behaviour and crass incompetence have made things more difficult for our state and prevented her from even more benefits from the Federal Government.
But to come back to what we have done. Take for example, the federal secretariat. For the last 16 years, Ekiti has been trying desperately to have a major federal secretariat here where all the federal institutions will operate from. I went on inspection yesterday to check how far work had gone in the Federal Secretariat (under construction) and I am pleased with the progress being made. That project was awarded under this (Buhari) administration and I knew how it was awarded. I don’t want to claim credit for anything but I knew what I had to do to ensure that the Minister (in charge) not only awarded it but awarded it to a competent company run by Ekiti indigenes.
That is one. Number two, (former) Governor Rotimi Amaechi has never stopped telling people why he had to extend the rail to Ekiti State, which was not in the original standard guage rail plan put together by the PDP.
Ekiti was not factored into the plan done by the Jonathan administration or the Obasanjo administration before it. The only time Ekiti State found its way into the federal rail project is under this administration and I went to meet the President and pleaded with Minister Amaechi that the rail should be extended to our state.
You have heard of N-Power; nearly 4,000 Ekiti indigenes are beneficiaries of N-Power as we speak and if we wait for another two months, over 12,000 Ekiti citizens will be beneficiaries of N-Power. That is an initiative that is akin to our own Youth Volunteer Scheme, just like the Social Security benefit, which we are paying at the federal level now, is similar to our Social Security scheme in Ekiti. I know what the families of those young men and women who are now getting N30,000 monthly on account of N-power are saying about President Buhari. Ekiti public servants are being owed from six to eight months salaries; N-Power beneficiaries got their December salary on 22nd of December.
I am talking broadly now; let me come down to mining. The Nigerian Geological Surveys Agency has just completed a comprehensive survey of kaolin in Ekiti and the result is very promising.
The next phase is to move into production. We are commencing the exploration of bauxite, lithium and feldspar and we are pulling together all the small-scale miners in Ekiti to enable them benefit from the recently launched N5 billion support fund placed in the Bank of Industry. The Central Bank that has been languishing for years is almost completed. I was there yesterday, ditto the youth in agriculture scheme is being expanded at the federal level.
When people open their mouth and say the Federal Government has not done anything and the person who has the temerity to say this to people in Ekiti collects every month, Budget Support Fund, Bailout Funds, Paris Club release, in addition to the Federal Allocation to which the state is entitled, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that this is more a celebration of
I’ve not mentioned the Ecological Funds he collected, the refunds on the roads that I did, which have now gone through the Federal Executive Council or the Central Bank’s N2.2 billion SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) fund; and he can stand before people to say all sorts of rubbish. I know he believes that lying is what has given him success in politics since he believes Ekiti people are ignorant and gullible. Somebody who has zero integrity can open his mouth and talk; a man who could steal from his own pocket- look at what he did with the delegates’ funds at their recent convention. And a shameless man like that is still talking?
No wonder, nobody came out for his local government (election) charade because Ekiti people are fed up with this man! I see it daily; they come to me saying, ‘what can you do to help us to get rid of this man.’ I say to them he has four years and he has immunity but immunity is not permanent, some of us had immunity before and we are walking the streets of Ekiti today without immunity. But I know people who will not walk the streets of Ekiti the day they stop being governor of this state. We will all be here and will see what