Senator Ayo Arise represented Ekiti North Senatorial District in the National Assembly between 2007 and 2011 during which time he was Chairman Senate Committee on Privatisation. In this interview with Abdulkareem Olaleye, Arise speaks on his role as the Chairman of the Reconciliation Committee set up by Peoples Democratic Party National Chairman Adamu Mua’zu to broker peace between the party’s governorship candidate in Ekiti State, Mr. Ayo Fayose, and the 12 aggrieved governorship aspirants of the party in the state. He says the party is resolved to wrestle power from incumbent Governor Kayode Fayemi come the governorship election on June 21. Below are excerpts…
On reconciliation of Fayose with the aggrieved aspirants
I have one close political mentor apart from the man that I admire so much, that is President Goodluck Jonathan. I also worked with the Senate President Senator David Mark. I put the matter before them and they told me I should go and support the party’s position and so that was it. Periodically, you have some people that you listen to. You have people that you have a lot of respect for and you have a lot of people in this country with a lot of experience.
Following that, I was at the party’s secretariat where I was asked to head the reconciliation committee for the party and I accepted.
The candidate of the party, Ayo Fayose, understands how close Dayo Adeyeye and I are and first of all I had to talk to Adeyeye. And I told him the position of the party. I can never deceive him. We both agreed that we had no choice unless we wanted to decamp and we agreed that we were going to work for the party. That means working for Ayo Fayose. And of course, in all fairness, Fayose consistently approached me throughout the time he was campaigning and I told him he should just wait and see but I was actually so impressed with his persistence and hardwork and I believe this thing don’t just come easy.
And since I had promised him that I was going to support him, my word is my bond and that is why it was not so difficult and it appeared so easy. I should be the one people should be talking to or convincing, but I had already convinced myself.
I had given this man my word that if he (Fayose) won the primaries that I would support him.
Not yet uhuru for PDP
Well, not one hundred percent victory can be achieved. But from what I have seen in Ekiti, the quantum of the excitement that permeates the air is clear, it’s only somebody who cannot distinguish good from bad that would not realize that PDP is on the move in Ekiti and PDP is coming into the Ekiti State Government House come October 15, 2014.
All of us may not believe in the candidature of Fayose but the grassroots people are now championing the movement and you can easily tell if you are moving on the side of the people.
Ekiti people want new face in Government House
The people are tired of the incumbent Governor Kayode Fayemi and they want to see a new face in the Government House come October 2014 and that new face happens to be Governor Ayo Fayose.
The people have spoken. His hardwork has spoken for him. I want to give it to the people. I keep remembering about ten, sixteen years ago that in a state of Minnesota in the US a wrestler won and became governor overnight. People did not know this because a wrestler just woke up one day not even a boxer that means people have spoken. For us, we might be looking at Fayose but the people are saying this is what we want. He is here and we look at ourselves as may be a little bit more gentlemanly but this is politics. We are not the one deciding. And they have said this is what we want. Everywhere Fayose goes, you can see the multitude and you cannot deny the fact that he is popular. We make it a policy that he should not be going to the campaign ground with many people that he could just go to the wards and see those who are supporting him there. He has surprised even most of the conservatives.
Fayose as PDP project
For me, I’m on the Fayose project because I’m a PDP person. I would go wherever the party goes. Politics is about number. If I had run against Fayose and If we had some of the results the way they came out, I would have immediately congratulated him. You see some people could not understand the game of politics.
The incumbent governor, Kayode Fayemi, is going to leave this year and Fayose is going to be sworn-in. But because I like Fayemi, I will just advise him to save all the money he has acquired because if he spends it on this election, he would be broke. If he looses the election, he would loose everything. I am a politician. I know I can predict the tide. When Senator Olu Adetunbi was winning the election, not after he had won, I realised that this guy was going to win and I called him; “I said Olu, I am not going to challenge you over the election result, go and enjoy the four years.” he was stunned.
I called him at 10 pm on the day of the election. It is on record. We are politicians trying to fashion out the way our people should go. It is not a do-or-die matter. If the people are saying that they no longer like you, it is not so much of a rejection, it is just that they have got another person they prefer.
For me, I have decided to be here. So far this is where my leaders want me to be. And more so, come rain or sunshine, I’m a supporter of President Jonathan. There is no other politician at present, may be in the future, that would do what Jonathan has done for my people. He set up a Federal University in my town. No other Federal University can ever come here again. I told my people that were worried during the last election that because of this that I would lose an election, I said I prefer to lose the election so far I have the Varsity in my town.
People are now enjoying. They are no longer sleeping at 7.00 pm; this place is now lively and a piece of land that used to sell for around N35,000 now sells for about N250,000. So, for me that singular achievement and singular honour the President gave me, come rain or sunshine,I will support him, whatever he wants will be done.
I will leave PDP if President Jonathan leaves
It’s alright we are going to the field. It would be very worrisome to see my friend and I on the field and at loggerheads. Yes, (Segun) Oni is my very good friend for that matter. But I made it clear that I will only leave PDP if Jonathan leaves PDP. There is no reason to keep me out of PDP. You see, this Governor (Fayemi) does not want this Federal University in my town, Oye-Ekiti. So, it makes it a very unique thing. President Jonathan has to stand up to say this is what I want.
Federal University Oye-Ekiti will be an issue in this electioneering campaign
Of course yes it will be an issue because Fayemi met two state universities and he reduced it to one. How do you want to account for that? So, for me, I want to say that the emergence of Fayose, I don’t know if the other governorship aspirants could muster the kind of support across the state that he has garnered. Fayose is on a mission. Everybody knows that I am no fan of his, yes, but we are getting closer to each other by the day. We respect ourselves because of that we have no reason to quarrel. I don’t need his job. All I want is development of Ekiti and my people.
I already have antecedents. To the glory of God, they are saying the man that came to succeed me in the Senate is almost turning out to be the most vibrant APC Senator in the South-west because they looked at the standard I left there. I am happy because of my action. Olu and I have been friends for ages. I said Olu enjoy. In fact, I would have challenged his election because so many things went wrong. And I could have allowed him spend the little amount at his disposal but I said go and enjoy. It is about the truth, it is about integrity, it is about standing by your word and it is about principle.
And I saw Fayose long before the party congress; he challenged me. He said Senator you said if you don’t come out in January, you won’t come out again. I said I still stand by my words. When they asked us to pay money, I have so many reasons for me to pay. Adeyeye, who was my school classmate in secondary school, married my wife’s younger sister, so we are in-laws; we are very, very close. I had no choice than to support him but I said if I run, we control the same structure in Ekiti. If I had enlisted for the governorship, that structure would have split. I said, don’t let us split this structure. I said I don’t have to be governor at all cost, I said enjoy the grace.
We are ready to match Fayemi money for money
I think this is a good question. Forget about Fayemi. He is no longer in government. He is going to leave by October this year. His own is a settled matter. There is nothing he can do again. We are ready to match him money for money, power for power and integrity for integrity.
My people know me. I am from this town, Oye-Ekiti. He (Fayemi) is from the local government. He can never win me here. He knows that. But for the Senate, it is a good possibility depending on the Federal Government and that means if something comes my way, I would be a ranking Senator and that would give me the opportunity to influence one or two things for my state and my people again.