•The administration has put Ekiti in bondage over N25b bond
Former Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Femi Bamisile, is not happy with the N25 billion bond taken from the Capital Market by Governor Kayode Fayemi’s dministration, saying it has become the financial habit of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to put the state it rules in the bondage of debt without having a clear-cut plans of how to pay. In this interview, he laments that the governor is taxing the people more and wasting the bond on road rehabilitation, which now puts the state in dilemma of how to pay. Excerpts:
What do you think are the effects of the recent governorship election in Ondo State on your party?
Well, we clearly saw that the Labour Party won the governorship election in Ondo State. And without being partisan, I want to clearly say that it was a deserved victory for Olusegun Mimiko. After he was sworn-in as governor in his first term, he hit the ground running. I mean he took virtually every basic electorate along. He took along everybody within the state irrespective of party divide and started working for the interest of the state. And based on the fact that I see him again as a person who knew when he wanted. I will give you a very good example. Look at the health programme… this Abiye “Mother and Child Care” and the way he has been running this programme. In fact, he celebrated the third year anniversary recently, which shows that he knew what he wanted to do when he said he wanted to become the governor and he went for it. So he has hit the ground running.
So for him, the victory of Labour Party is a well-deserved on. And as far as I’m a not a Labour person, I’m a core PDP man and PDP chieftain for that matter, I will want to say that if you look at the way our party performed in the last Ondo gubernatorial election, you will discovered that our party performed tremendously well too. Without being immodest, it clearly shows that, as the result was presented, shows the strength of each party in the state; that is the Labour Party, the PDP and the ACN.
Looking at your state, Ekiti, how do you assess the performance of your government and the possible effects of such performance on 2014 governorship election?
Talking about Ekiti State, I will like to talk about our brother, Governor Kayode Fayemi. I cannot really point out a particular programme he has started. The man has just celebrated two years last month. And I cannot point out a progrmme that he started from the beginning and he has been able to complete by now. Obviously, he has commissioned many projects, projects that were started in the time of Governor Segun Oni. Unfortunate, most have been completed by the former governor. Some of the projects were almost about 80 per cent or 90 per cent completed. And most of these projects are now being commissioned by Fayemi. I want to sincerely give it to him anyway. I’m giving it to him because most governors in the past would just abandon those projects and say they are not his own projects. That is the reason I said I’m giving it to him; at least, for completing those projects and not allow them to become abandoned projects. Government is a continuum as we all know.
However, at least someone who says he wants to become governor of a state must have his own basic programmes. Let me tell you clearly. Aside that, I want to say that the days of ACN in the South West, I think, are over, looking at what happened in Ondo State. At least, looking at this you will know that the days of ACN are over in the South West. With Ekiti State as a case study and what will happen in the next election, I want to sincerely tell you that our people have spoken. You may say is it too early to say that, considering the fact that election is till far? When I say our people have spoken, I’m talking on the context of a people who are homogenous, who speak with one voice. When you hear what our people are saying on the streets, you will realize that they are yearning for a change.
But a lot of internal crisis within the PDP do not show you are prepared enough to tackle ACN in South West?
I really want to appreciate that question because a lot of people have asked me times without number that “How prepared are PDP in Ekiti because Ekiti is prepared for a change?” But I want to clearly tell you that our party, the PDP, under the present executive, is prepared to send the ACN parking, considering the fact that our party is the opposition. You see, the internal rancour that you are seeing in the PDP is not a strange thing. It is a norm in every political party. And a party that is as large as PDP; as we keep saying that the PDP is the biggest party in Africa, you will expect all these things to happen, especially as people are jostling for positions and their future.
I want to, at this junction, tell you that what happened when the ACN was wrestling with the PDP for power during the PDP regime is completely different from what is happening now. As we grow and advance as a people, we change our methodology, our style, skill and ways of doing things. And if you are expecting that it is the same manner with which the ACN took over power from the PDP through the judiciary is how we are going to approach issue, you will be missing it.
For us as a party, we have adopted a very subtle and better strategy now. A lot of you might consider it a “sit-down-look” method, but it is not. One thing I want you to understand is that we can never join issues with the ACN. We are more in close contact with our people in Ekiti State because these are the people who will effect the change we are talking about. We believe strictly in election, which is the basic process that is well known to the constitution.
If that is going to be what we are going to do then we should be more focused at the people, the electorate in Ekiti State who are going to effect the change that we are talking about· It is left to the ACN as a party and those in government now to prove their worth to the whole of Ekiti people. And that is exactly what we expecting them to do. That is exactly what I have been trying to explain to you at the beginning. That there is a different between governance and the way this people are handling their own. To me as a person I will not want you to bother yourself about the rancours within the PDP. Those rancours with time will face out.
How would the EXCO at the state level handle the zoning palaver, which is already becoming a serious issue among those clamouring for it within the party?
Well, let me take the issue from the way it was handled in our nation. There was a time when people from the South South before now kept agitating that they should be allowed to have a taste of governance at the presidential level. Today, the issue has been addressed, at least to some extent. People of the south in Ekiti State have clearly said it. I’m from the south of Ekiti. Today, I’m a member of the state EXCO of the party. But as this question is being directed to me, I don’t want to be selfish about it, so I want to be as objective as I can be. It is clearly stated by the people of the south at every forum; the Southern Forum meeting, the youth meeting, everybody is agitating that the Ekiti South should be given an opportunity to govern this state. It is clear from the history that the Ekiti Central has had two opportunities. The north has had two opportunities. They are presently having second opportunity. My people are now saying that it is time for south to be given governorship opportunity. We the people in the party believe in that too. But it becomes difficult within the party to just take a decision and say it is Ekiti south’s turn because it is not a game for the south alone. You know when it comes to general election, the people from Ekiti north will participate, the central and south will all participate. It is clear that when it comes to matter of election, one third of a state cannot sit down to determine who will be the next governor. It has to be a collective decision. Because of this, I want to advise my people from the south that there are so many ways to kill a rat. We can adopt all these ways by continuing to prepare themselves, agitating from various manners at different fora. But as a party stalwart, like I said, it will be difficult for me to solely.
How will you describe the two years of Governor Fayemi?
I think I spoke about this earlier, but let me be more specific now. Two years of Governor Fayemi has been a show for nothing. I want to again reiterate that the gentleman has been able to complete a part of governance, which is continuity. In other words, irrespective of any government in power, the good projects embarked upon by previous administration must be continued. And he has been able to successfully do that. Aside that, to me as a person, I’ve not seen anything he has done to affect the lives of people to fulfill any of the electoral promises he made to the people during his electioneering campaign; even when he did not win the election that he was taking to court. There were basic electoral campaign promises that he made. I have not seen any of that, two years after being government, now third year is on. As an Ekiti man I’m not yet impressed.
What of all the roads here and there?
My dear brothers, these are basic things; all these he is doing are just resurfacing. I’m surprised that he could claim to have spent the same amount of money he should have spent on new roads on just resurfacing of old roads. These are township roads. Of course, some of them are dilapidated, which needed rehabilitation, but they are not roads that should gulp up to the amount he has spent on them.
In the 2003 elections, PDP won in all the states in the South West, with the exception of Lagos. In 2007 PDP still won in all the states, with the exception of Lagos. Those we lost to ACN in 2010, I mean Ekiti and Osun, are mere judicial victory. If you look at the 2011 elections as well, you will realize that where we lost, that is Ogun and Oyo, it is because of the fact that there were unresolved crisis between our political leaders there. Take Ladoja for instance who went to join the Accord Party. It was not because PDP was not on ground or that we were not in close contact with the people, but because our votes were divided among our leaders who went to other parties. You remember what happened in Ogun as well, which led to the formation of People’s Party of Nigeria there by the PDP governorship aspirant in the then Governor Gbenga Daniel faction of the party? You know, as it is often said, a house that is divided against itself cannot stand. So, those are some of the challenges we faced then.
If you look at the financial status of the state don’t you think this may as well be affecting the performance of the governor?
This is the reason they don’t have to be wasteful when it comes to awarding contracts. They went to take a bond of N25 billion and put Ekiti in bondage of debt. Now, there is no clear-cut way by which the debt would be paid. No governor in Ekiti has ever gone to take bond since the state was created, except the AD (Alliance for Democracy) during Governor Niyi Adebayo’s administration. When Governor Fayose of the PDP came, he paid the N5 billion debts within a period of two years. He never attempted to go for bond. Neither did any other governor got bond since then until when the ACN, which metamorphosed from the AD came under Fayemi and went for N25 billion. I could remember vividly that when Segun Oni wanted to get N5 billion bond, I was the Speaker of the House of Assembly then, and we refused to give him a go-ahead when we could not see reasons why the state should go for bond. We said we will not be part of the people who will commit the future of yet unborn Ekiti indigenes into debt. I don’t understand why the current members of the State House of Assembly who are supposed to be representatives of the people and play the role of check and balance should allow Fayemi to take N25 billion loan for construction of roads. They said it is to allow investors to come to Ekiti.
Look! We had many investors in the past. The Ikogosi tourist centre they are making noise about now. The Iree Block Industry is not a new innovation. Oni started it. All these projects were started when Engr. Segun Oni was governor. He even brought investors for this alternative to petrol called biofuel. There is this basic problem that I have seen here several times. I, as a person, spent most of my adolescent life in the USA. When budgets were being brought to the Assembly we challenged them. We told the governor we are tired of this idea of bringing budget to the Assembly on yearly basis whereby the same roads are being put in a budget every year for the same amount of money. What happened to these roads? Are the roads being taken away after a year? No!
That is why somebody like me, I’ve been living in Lagos now and the toll gate at Lekki Peninsular area, many have gone as far as faulting it, but I see it as a way of generating funds that will increase the IGR (Internally Generated Revenue). We can say the amount of money the state government is getting from people is exorbitant, but it is for them to determine that. But I can assure you that the same roads that have been tarred now, wait for another one and a half year, you will see that they will present budget on same roads. That is why, for me, I don’t believe in this idea of getting bond to tar roads in the name of wooing investors to this state. Fayose constructed many roads without taking bonds. Oni also constructed roads without taking bond. We are worried about all these because the lives of Ekiti people are tied to this bond now.
I am surprised that the Commissioner for Information, Funminiyi Afuye, who was a member of the House of Assembly during my time, could be among those championing going to the capital market to raise money for projects that would not bring any financial return to the state. The people of the state are now asking them what they are using statutory allocations and IGR for.
What baffles me most is the presence of Afuye, the Commissioner for Information in the executive arm government today. He was the leader of the minority, who opposed approving the N5 billion bond, Oni intended to get then when I was the Speaker of the House of Assembly. For him now to be among those who championed the idea of going to the capital market to raise N25 billion bond for projects that would not bring any financial return to the state, shows that the ACN is a party of hypocrites, who will tell you that something is bad, don’t do it and very soon, you will see them doing same thing they condemned. The people of the state are now asking them what they are using statutory allocations and IGR for.
What of the new Government House they are trying to build, of what relevant is that in boosting the economy of Ekiti State and what benefits will that bring to common man who is suffering? Is that how Fayemi is going to eradicate poverty among the poor in Ekiti State?
There is this controversy trailing your academic qualification over whether you attended the Obafemi Awolowo University. What is your response to this?
I’ve said it before but let me say it again that all the accusation the mischievous opponents were carrying about was all fallacy. There is no iota of truth in it. They started with “he said he graduated from the University of Ife (Obafemi Awolowo University), I told everybody that cares to listen that I gained admission to study Political Science in 1983/84 and I left the university in 1986 when my father died. I said this clearly to everybody. I went to Channels TV to say this to the whole world because there is nothing to hide.
They were trying to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. And when they discovered that that could not work, they went further, to say that while I was in school I took some fire extinguishers away. I took the case up and went to court in Ado-Ekiti between 2009 and 2010. The judgment was given in my favour. The newspaper organisation, which published the story was asked to apologise, which it did. And all those things were corrected immediately. For those who do not know me very well, I’m a certified System Analyst. I B.Sc in Business Administration. I’m highly qualified for the position I occupied. I later left for the United Kingdom where I qualified as certified business analyst and later bagged a degree in Business Administration from the University of Ado-Ekiti. Those who peddled the rumour did that when I was the Speaker of the Assembly and they saw me as the person they must target to get at the then governor, Chief Olusegun Oni.