Special Assistant to Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose on Information, Youth, Sports and Culture, Mr. Lanre Ogunsuyi, in an exclusive chat with SULAIMAN SALAWUDEEN disclosed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers in the last Assembly failed in the bid to unseat the Governor because their cause was “unjust and unpopular”. He also spoke on sundry other issues about the state and the plans of the new administration.
Despite being in the majority and having ample time to prosecute the task, why did the 19 APC lawmakers find it impossible to impeach Governor Fayose.
To me, it was a venture doomed to fail from the outset: immediately after the election, the only leader Ekiti people wanted to see was Governor Ayodele Fayose. His voice was the only one they wanted to hear. What they wanted to read in the papers were positive messages from and about him. Therefore, whoever sought to oppose the people’s Governor in any way must be prepared for war with the people themselves. It was therefore not surprising to see them (the lawmakers) seeking to impeach the governor through underhand means.
They could not come out into the open. They operated throughout in stealth. I want to add that even before October 17, 2014, Fayose’s date with destiny, that legislative house had had far less than 150 plenary sittings in whole three and a half years. In each year, they were expected to have 180 minimum plenary sittings. You can see they were not focused even from the outset. They learned nothing, they were drifting. When we came in, they became challenged by the magnitude of seriousness that we brought into governance and the popularity we enjoyed. Their first reaction was to adjourn for one month. They did this in fears. And when we induced them to come back, they quickly adjourned again.
This time, sine die, after collecting gratification. Soon after, they left the state and remained out of tune with the realities on ground. They were really not conversant with the provisions of the law regarding the impeachment of a duly elected government. They came back from their holiday with the sole purpose of removing a duly elected government as an option B to the legal case that was in the Supreme Court. When their party lost the case in the Supreme Court, they became desperate. The substance of the loss was the crash of the political goodwill they had. The Supreme Court pointedly declared that a governor “cannot be impeached from the seedy confines of a hotel or any other place apart from the hallowed chambers of the assembly”. They claim that they had a sitting at a high school and some other time they said they had a sitting within a university premises. Both were patently not known to legislative procedures. These issues raised the resolve of the people to stand with their governor.
How will this triumph shape the plans of the Fayose government for the people?
The triumph of Fayose over the agents of darkness and retrogression is a lesson for all those who care to learn anything. For the new legislators, you cannot go to the assembly with the sole aim of blackmailing and arm-twisting the chief executive. You cannot set impeachment as your agenda. For the governor himself, the lesson is that he should continue to be with the people in thoughts, words and action. The people saw through the lawmakers who have now been impeached by destiny. The best reward for the support of the people would be programmes and policies aimed at improving their lot. People must reflect in every official commitment of government. For the good people of Ekiti, the lesson is that you don’t only vote for an executive of your choice, you also must defend your mandate. This, the people did and did so admirably well.
One of the promises made by Fayose was to provide employment for the teeming youths. How is he planning to do this against the backdrop of dwindling monthly allocation?
If any government cannot device means to provide employment for the people, that is failure. People, I mean those who can work, need to be able to find work to sustain themselves and their family. Period. Fayose, in his maiden inaugural address, spoke about the need to find ways to improve power supply to the state. This, when eventually done, will go a long way to boost production at the local level. Artisans will breathe air of freedom from high costs of diesel and petrol they must incur in trying to power their engine. Again, we know government is the largest employer of labour but it cannot directly engage all unemployed but employable people. This is why other means are being devised like the initiatives about Small and Medium Enterprises. Currently, a sum of 2 bilion naira investment is being provided in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria. The target is to support initiatives, many of them, in the agricultural sector. Other critical areas for consideration under the scheme are trading and research activities around agriculture in the state. We are equally not overlooking needs to restructure curricular across our tertiary institutions to enable graduates to become potential employers of labour and not potential job seekers. In doing this, so many others things will fall in place.
What are the plans of the new administration about the insecurity in the state?
Security is very key and central. No serious administration would toy with such an issue. No meaningful development can happen when lives are insecure. But I must say the insecurity in Ekiti has been a simulated one, even including the kidnappings and the attempted jailbreak. With the crushing defeat suffered in the courts by the APC, it is hoped everyone will be heading towards a new direction of peace and harmony. But some patience on the part of the people will be essential. I must quickly add that the people must also be ready to support government in improving security situation. Elements who engage in acts that are inimical to peaceful living are right there amongst the people. They must be noticed and pointed out to law enforcement agencies. This is equally important.
The last administration promoted an 8-point Agenda. Does Fayose has any agenda at all and how many items are on it if he does?
Fayose has a 6-point Programme of development for Ekiti and its lovely people. This is in line with the declaration of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of year 2000. The first one is Empowerment, which we have tried to actualise, as I said earlier, through the disbursement of SMEs scheme of N2 billion. The beneficiaries are artisans, small businesses owners, young undergraduates, the agric sector, research in the areas of energy, etc. The beneficiaries are in batches and we cannot put a figure to it now. It is an initiative to put the economy back on track as same had been made comatose by the previous administration. For the specific purpose of empowering people, we have also awarded a contract of N1.2 billion to artisans in the area of carpentry for schools. All these come under empowerment. Agriculture and Stomach Infrastructure take central place in the whole effort to reclaim a large chunk of the population from squalor. Government will go fully into the production of certain poultry products which will be made available to people at affordable rates. The Yoruba will say when hunger is removed from a man’s lack, that lack becomes small. Effort will soon begin specifically in the area of directly ensuring people have what to eat. Don’t forget that ours is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. We will source all our contractors here. Any artisan who is ready to work will find enough work to do. Such a person will not go about begging anyone for money. The purpose is to use Ekiti money to feed Ekiti people not take people’s money to Lagos, Ghana, Germany or America. If you are a contractor, return to Ekiti and let us know that you are for the people. You cannot make money here and run back to Lagos every weekend. Make money here and spend the money here. Period. Another point is Education. We have started with a summit. We have met with the teachers, the principals. We have also assigned the education portfolio to no less a person than the Deputy Governor of the state himself. The third item is Science and Technology. We have encouraged people to go into area of alternative energy production. We have trained people to make toiletries through local adaptation. Another is Agriculture. We are working with the federal and global agencies towards production of food. Collaborating in the programmes of YOUWIN, YCAD, working with experts from Zimbabwe and getting more youths into agric. Another point is Security: we are aiming to improve security without compromising peoples’ freedom. The last is Health. Health they say is wealth. A healthy people is a wealthy people. The hospitals will be fortified with requisite drugs and equipment for optimum performance. What we met on ground are hospitals that look very attractive but with no basic equipment or even drugs to offer needy patients. This will change very soon and Ekiti will be made to sing a new song.
Ekiti’s financial fortunes have not always been encouraging, considering how the state rates on the monthly federal allocation ranking. But the people want results, despite. How possible?
This is a good one. Recall that all the stories in the Bible were stories of men with incredible challenges, which they all overcame with the help of God. We are relying on divine intervention and the genuineness of our purpose. We are equally relying on the will of the people and our own determination to work for the upliftment of the state. Where there is a will, they say there is a way. Determination and sheer grit are key in all these. Even, with sufficient quantum of cash but with little political will, nothing will be availed. Fayose is determined to bring joy to the people in spite of nagging cash constraints. Although, currently Ekiti is repaying nearly N25 billion borrowed by the last administration. We don’t want to see that as an impediment but a challenge. Fayose’s administration is already looking beyond the trap set by the last administration. Creativity and focus are the twin attributes of a ready administration. With such a leader like Fayose, Ekiti is set for greater heights in years to come in the areas as here identified.