Senator Ayo Arise was elected into the senate in 2007 to represent Ekiti North Senatorial District on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was appointed chairman, Senate committee on privatisation and member of several committees including local and foreign debts, banking, insurance and other financial institutions among others.
Arise, who has since moved to the All Progressives Congress (APC) where he is currently aspiring to become Ekiti State governor, speaks on a variety of issues, APC crises, including his aspiration to govern the state.
The APC is facing major challenges ahead of the coming elections; don’t you think it is capable of jeopardising its chances at the poll?
Well, I think the essence of democracy itself is that there will be competition; people will have choices to make. During election periods, the opposition works hard just as the incumbent does also. The opposition will make noise and because they are not on the hot seat, they are able to point out one, two or three things. It doesn’t mean they will do any better, but they still have to run the incumbent government down, thinking that because of the propaganda people will vote for them.
What I have seen in the case of our country today is that four years is not enough to judge the government. Even if you start tarring a road, a major road, let’s say about 100 kilometres, that itself may take four years. It may even take longer. If people don’t see something from start to finish, the chances of giving credit is very low. It is our responsibility to point it out to those out there that this government has done differently from previous governments. We must as a matter of policy, educate the people more about some of the things we have accomplished in the last three years.
For instance, for the first time in Nigeria, we saw a president who came in and said this and this must stop. That is giving direction and taking immediate action. Without any doubt, this government has faced serious crisis -kidnappings, herdsmen attacks, agitation in the South-south, and Boko Haram menace among others. But this president weakened the activities of Boko Haram substantially. No nation in the world has succeeded in having zero terrorism. There are some things you cannot prevent. How many secondary schools can we guard? That is why I am a serious advocate of state policing. When we have that, we will now begin to understand the complexities of this nation. This is my take.
Don’t you think the fear of state police been a tool in the hands of politicians is real and is the major reason some Nigerians are opposed to it?
The Federal Government is in charge of the police. There has always been that fear that it may be used against political opponents. After all, Jonathan controlled the police; did he successfully overturn the will of the people? If for example, a governor decides to break the law using state police, will he be governor forever? You can rest assured that if we implement our laws, things will begin to change. We should remember that there are some people who are in government and who will get into government who will not misuse power. I have said to people who say that the EFCC is being used against political opponents that ‘look, I am a Nigerian, I live in this country I have not broken the law.’ There are lots of Nigerians in that category. Let us begin to live a life of decency; we should not be making plans for those who are in the system or those who will be there. We should be thinking about the good of our country. Do we need anybody to come and tell us that we need to decentralise? If a local policeman commits a crime, the Federal Police can get him arrested. Once that is done, others will not do it.
So to that extent, I agree with the vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo, that states should operate their own police to stem the tide of kidnappings and herdsmen menace. It will be difficult for the current security agencies to tame the marauding herdsmen and kidnapers because many of them don’t understand the terrain where they are operating. I agree with the establishment of a state police. They can identify the people and when you allow the community to take charge of their own security, they will be determined to fish out criminals. Nigeria is so big that you can’t be controlling security from the centre, it must be decentralised.
What do you make of the admission of President Buhari that Executive/Legislative rift is slowing down governance?
You know the APC is an assembly of people from different backgrounds so there will always be perpetual struggle for relevance. When you look at it, some of those who came with Mr. President from the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), many of them are crying of marginalisation because it is their man that is there. Others are also shouting marginalisation. It is not because it is Buhari. It is because of the way APC was put together. Even the PDP that has been existing for close to 20 years, you hear this faction breaking away, you hear another saying the same. It’s not peculiar to the APC. The only one I feel disturbed about is that the APC is supposed to be controlling the national assembly but I don’t think APC enjoys that privilege. Under the presidential system of government, when the president says, ‘this is where we want to go,’ they all are expected to support, though, there may be two or three dissenting voices when you have a very bad bill.
Why is APC’s case different?
The issue is that we are a very peculiar people. Very peculiar, and unfortunately because the president took ill at the early stage of his government a number of things went wrong, and you know the man is totally an anti-corruption person. If there had been rumours of corruption against him, he would have been facing a serious fight. Yes, the man is slow, but having gone through the experience, I think when the man comes back the second time things will move faster.
Do you see APC winning again?
We may have lost a lot of goodwill but I think Nigerians will understand that we came in at a time of very serious challenges. The good thing is that we have learnt our mistakes, and we are more than ever determined to do better during our second term. You cannot compare our resolve to do things differently. While doing this, there is bound to be mistakes but I can assure you, we will soon recover lost grounds.
Do you think you can emerge as APC governorship candidate for the Ekiti election?
I have a better chance of winning the governorship election ahead of other aspirants in the party. Although I respect former governors, Kayode Fayemi and Segun Oni, I possess the popularity to wrest power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. APC wants to win the coming election at all cost and we need a popular candidate and they know I am the best for the job so that our strategy can work.
The APC knows how important the July 14 governorship election is to members. We need to apply the strategy and we know who is fit to be able to defeat the PDP, and that is me. Both Oni and Fayemi are my good friends. I contested as a senator when Oni vied for the governorship in 2007. The two of them have ruled Ekiti and now it’s my turn. Even if I step down for either of them, I can’t guarantee them more than my own vote at the primary, because the delegates are adults who can take decisions on their own.