Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State in this interview culled from VANGUARD speaks with Political Editor, Emmanuel Aziken, on some burning national issues ranging from insecurity in the land, the crisis in the Nigeria Governors Forum, to the forthcoming gubernatorial election in his state among others.
Do you believe that the introduction of state police could solve the threats of insecurity in the country?
“I am an advocate of multi-level policing. If you bring me (as a policeman) from Ekiti to Zamfara and dump me at Talata-Mafara and give me a gun to protect people; who am I protecting at the place when I don’t have a clue about the language? I see multi-level policing having a key role to play in the country.”
He argued that the ongoing crisis in Rivers State is a clear pointer to how government at the centre can use the federal police to harass perceived opponents adding that his colleagues, who were hitherto not in support of multi-level policing, are now changing their views.
According to Fayemi, that was what led to the decision of Zamfara State government to want to arm the various vigilante groups in the state following the massacre of about 48 citizens of the state in one fell swoop without the police preventing it from happening.
Governor Fayemi argued that if the police cannot help their states after they have been bought uniform, patrol vehicles, bullets, some electronic equipment and Armoured Personnel Carriers, APCs, to help combat crime, the governors will look for alternative way to protect their citizens.
“We (governors) are actually running the police. Many of our colleagues train police personnel even abroad. If we are doing all these, how can someone turn back and talk about federal police? Many of these things are clear distortions of federalism” he stressed.
Yet you agreed to the one percent deduction from your statutory allocations to be funneled to the police?
Governor Fayemi denied being a signatory to the decision, saying he had raised the issue with the chairman of the NGF.
“I wasn’t there when the idea was tabled to governors and I know that some governors, who were there, did indicate they will go to court” he said adding that as the person elected by Ekiti people to protect their interests, he cannot subscribe to the deduction without first seeking the consent of his people because “it’s their money.”
He adds “Do you just sit at one economic council meeting and decide on your own to accept the deduction because they put a paper before you to agree to one per cent deduction from federation revenue? What is the modality for that? Will one per cent deduction from our allocation address Ekiti State security challenges? Who dictates what happens with the one per cent? Is it Abuja or Ekiti? Do I have total control over what the commissioner of police does in my state? Even with what we bought for police; we don’t have total control on them. In this country, we just keep dodging fundamental issues, which are structural.”
As an active insider, what actually happened during the NGF election?
Governor Fayemi berated his colleagues, who he said “have found themselves defending this albatross round their neck” warning it will come to haunt them.
Recalling the events that happened on May 24th when the governors gathered to elect a chairman, Fayemi said, “A lot of them have lost their credibility. First, they said there was no election. When we came out with tape, Nigerians knew that there was an election where the ballot was counted. Before we got to 35 votes being cast and counted, we had three hours of debate on one, consensus. We said at the last meeting we concluded that Okauru (NGF DG) was going to organise the election and whoever wins, becomes our chairman.
“Later, they said we should vote via open ballot, show of our hands; we said we are adults, we were not doing show of hands, we would vote by secret ballot which is recognised in the country’s electoral act. They agreed again. We moved to the issue of agents for the candidates, both candidates agreed on one agent, the DG. We all sat, voted and the agent supervised this.
“They knew the truth that is why it saddens me because those who are against the result of the election are highly respected people. They came back and said there was no voting when every single one of them voted. Of course, you have seen Niger Sate governor’s comment; you have heard Kano, Jigawa, Adamawa and Sokoto governors’ comments on the issue”, who he said have come out to defend their votes for Governor Rotimi Amaechi if Rivers State.
According to him, the Action Congress of Nigeria was clear in its choice of candidate for the position as it voted-in-block for Amaechi but lamented that it was those who joined them, that did not make their stance clear to Nigerians.
Expressing worry at the reaction of the Jang faction, Governor Fayemi said President Goodluck Jonathan should not be patronized on the matter as he was not a candidate in the NGF election nor has interests in the NGF because he made it clear from the beginning.
He warned against dragging the President, who he described as ‘the President of all’, into the NGF issue because “it diminishes the Presidency.”
Diminishing the Presidency
Governor Fayemi insists the office and occupant of the Presidency must not be diminished even though he laments the Governors’ Forum has been diminished in the eyes of Nigerians, who he says cannot “really make a difference between 19 and 16; they just say these governors can’t even hold simple election and they want Nigerians to come and vote in 2015.”
He therefore urged the President to exercise his “moral authority” on the matter and not allow people to hide under his “apron string to undermine the Forum.”
Do you have any fear about the entry of Governor Fayose into the Ekiti gubernatorial contest?
Governor Fayemi, who said he refrains from making derogatory remarks about his predecessors in office, dismissed Ayo Fayose as a formidable opponent and went ahead to cite an example of his antecedents.
Describing Fayose’s brand of politics as ‘Alawada’ politics, Fayemi when a purported attempt was made on the former governor’s life while traveling to Afao, his home town, he took it upon himself to impress it on the state commissioner of police to thoroughly investigate the allegation as his government is very concerned about security of every citizen.
However, he lamented that Fayose refused to co-operate with the police on the matter and was instead drawing attention to himself.
“He has to make sufficient noise to attract Abuja people, so that they will say he is the solution to their problem in Ekiti; you know he calls himself the Architect of modern Ekiti, we shall see!” Governor Fayemi added.