Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State in this interview responds to issues pertaining to insecurity in the land, the crisis in the Nigerian Governors Forum, the forthcoming gubernatorial election in his state among others. Excerpt:
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.
In the light of what we have also seen in Rivers State, I can tell you that some of our colleagues, who are opposed to multi-level policing are changing their views now because they could see the blatant abuse of federal police within a local entity simply because somebody is not on their side of the debate. Many of us are setting up alternative security forces in order to protect our people and our environment.
That is what Zamfara State wanted to do that led to the debate at the National Assembly. The governor decided to take the bull by the horn because 48 of his citizens were killed in one day and our police cannot do anything about it. Governors have come to a conclusion that if the police cannot help their states after they have bought uniform, patrol vehicles, bullets, some electronic equipment and Armoured Personnel Carriers, APCs, for the police, they 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.
Yet you agreed to the one percent deduction from your statutory allocations to be funneled to the police?
Not all the governors agreed to the idea. Some governors came out to address the media on it. I have raised it 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. I’m elected by Ekiti people. I cannot subscribe to that deduction without going to my people first. It’s their money.
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?
Our colleagues, who have found themselves defending this albatross round their neck also know that this will come to haunt them. 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.
They have come out to say who voted for whom. Ours (ACN) was clear because we voted in bloc. It was those who joined us that were not clear to Nigerians. And those who did it have come out to say they did it. What is worrisome is the reaction from the other side. We felt Mr. President is the president of all. Our president is not a candidate in the NGF election. He has no interest because he made that very clear to us that he has no interest in the NGF election and I don’t want him to be dragged into this NGF issue because it diminishes the Presidency.
Diminishing the Presidency
The occupant of that office should not be diminished. We must not do anything to diminish the office and the occupant. But, we have been diminished before Nigerians because they don’t 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.
I think the president must find a way to exercise his moral authority on this matter. We must also find a way to meet the president in supporting him to exercise that moral authority because it doesn’t augur well for us, for some people to be hiding or creating the impression that they are the president’s men.
We all are president’s men. We are the president’s governors. So, we are all his men. The president was once a governor, a member of the forum. So, he knows that he must not do anything to denigrate the forum. He must 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?
What will be the basis of that fear? Do you know Fayose very well? Anyway, I try as much as possible not to make any derogatory remarks about my predecessors in office. Do you know Fayose and his antecedents? Let me give you an insight into his character for better understanding. He woke up one day and was on his way to Afao, his home town.
He claimed some people chased him and shot at him while driving along. ACN hierarchy responded that as the party in government in Ekiti State, we are concerned about security of every citizen, we thought ex-governor Fayose ought to have reported this case to the police and if he hasn’t, we hope the Commissioner of Police will take this up because it’s about security of a very important citizen in our state. I insisted that the commissioner of police must follow the case up.
The commissioner replied that the police were in touch with the former governor many times to bring the vehicle and to come and tell us what happened, how it happened? If you know how far Fayose used to draw attention to himself, you must give him credit for his ‘Alawada’ politics.
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!