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Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Governors’ Forum, Mr. Peter Ayodele Fayose has opened up on why he has recently chosen a warpath with his predecessor and current Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi ahead of 2018 governorship poll in the state.
In this interview with Wole BALOGUN in his office in Ado-Ekiti, Fayose went down memory lane to replay events which eventually pitched him against Fayemi and why there may not be a truce until each has proven his mettle in the tango.
Among others, he revealed that he had supported Fayemi against Segun Oni only to be stabbed in the back when Fayemi became governor of the state.
We learnt that you and former Governor Fayemi used to be close political associates who related as brothers, especially before the 2008 elections that brought in ex-Governor Segun Oni but the relationship has gone sour; what happened that made you part ways?
I never knew Fayemi from the start; that is the truth, and we were never close. But you know politicians, when we need help, when we want to use some people. You behave as if they are important. As a major stakeholder in Ekiti politics, from 2000 when I joined politics, till date, the politics of Ekiti has always revolved round me.
I say that with all sense of humility; you see, for somebody like me who does not have a godfather to come from nowhere and defeat an incumbent who has all it takes is not an easy thing; the party at the time was popular, they were the ones controlling the South-West.
He has all the resources as an incumbent but I still defeated him, that shows that the people are behind me. And I am such a grassroots politician that puts the people first. And that has really helped me to be well-rooted in the politics of Ekiti.
I never knew Fayemi well until I went into exile, because I was a sitting governor. I was not in Action Congress(AC) or Alliance for Democracy(AD).
So, we had no business together but I needed to find a way to avenge the treatment meted out to me by Obasanjo and the PDP. And in politics or in life, the enemy of your enemy is your friend.
So, I had no choice than to work against Segun Oni of PDP then.
It was only Oni and Fayemi that had the legal right to contest because they wanted a re-run. I didn’t have the opportunity to be part of that election so it was an election between the two of them.
And because Ekiti even saw the way I was treated, they were prepared to remove Segun Oni from office with my support.
From exile I wrote to Ekiti people, I still remembered the advertorial where I directed the people to vote for either Kayode Fayemi or Yinka Akerele and they voted for Kayode Fayemi, although no winner was declared then, and when another rerun came, being on ground and as a major stakeholder, I became the bride, everybody needed my support. And I supported Fayemi and he made a lot of promises.
I went to Asiwaju Tinubu, he also made a lot of promises. He swore to me that I would be protected. And I want to recall that there was a meeting, convened by Mimiko with many eminent Ekiti people, where I was urged to support Fayemi. Rauf Aregbesola and I were in the same hotel where I gave all the support to Fayemi.
Fayemi made a lot of promises, he came to my house at Ketu, Lagos and assured me that I would be well treated because he knew that I didn’t support Segun Oni because of the way he was treating me.
But it was a sad news that when Fayemi got to the office as governor, they took a bill to the state House of Assembly that said that all my dues should not be paid because I did not complete my tenure as governor. He did all that, but whatever God says would be, would be.
I thought it was humanly possible and I went to see Fayemi in his office as governor and ex-governor Adebayo walked me out of that office.
I remembered when Fayemi was once being cross-examined in court and they asked him about me, he said I’m not his friend. He said that all the former governors supported him to be governor and as such Fayose had no choice than to support him.
A Yoruba proverb says the eyes that would take you to old age, should not start to bring out water when you are young, so, I found myself in the situation at that time for my tomorrow to be great.
The same set of people that said they won’t let me do a second term, they won’t allow me rise again, are the ones I defeated to return as governor.
So, as I told you, I wasn’t really close to Fayemi. Fayemi would not tell me that at that time he was a politician. He wasn’t a politician. He rode on the shoulders of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu who he has betrayed today.
Who was Fayemi? The good thing is that if they gave Fayemi the opportunity to rule this state, Obama would come and be eating with us in this state.
This is because having given him and Segun Oni the opportunity, Ekiti people have been able to see the difference in me and them. I’m a home-grown politician, I’m not an American-grown politician. We are not English people who laugh in the papers but fight at home, Fayemi has never won any election except for SalamiGate.
If you want to say Fayemi is popular, which election did he win?
We have to say the truth. It was the SalamiGate that brought the likes of Fayemi to become the governor of Ekiti State. And in that only opportunity, he squandered our wealth. It doesn’t matter the protection he is getting from his party at the centre today or the EFCC protecting him, that truth must be told.
As soon as you returned as Governor, you restored all entitlements due Oni, why? And what did you intend to achieve by that act?
This office of a governor is meant to be humane as they always refer to us as your Excellency, a man that has to be a father of all. The things I do in this state, not many politicians or governors would do them.
Let me start from my first tenure, I named Adetiloye Hall after Baba Adetiloye in his lifetime, I named Jibowu Hall after lady Jibowu in her lifetime. I named Deji Fasuan Way, the road that leads to the Government House, in his lifetime, he is still alive.
Professor Aluko, the Accountant General’s office was named after him in his lifetime, he came to commission it.
When I returned for a second term, despite all that Fayemi did to me, I built the Adunni Olayinka Women Centre, named after his deputy. I built that edifice to immortalise the woman who was buried without any dignifying, memorable thing done to honour her.
Fayemi would never do that to anyone; their style is to kill the achievements of others and make no meaning of it.
If you come to the Government House today, all the chalets in the house I have restored with the names in honour of our great leaders such as Omoboriowo, Olomilua, and Bawa and a number of them, just to honour them.
Even the Fayose market that I built, I never named it after myself. The people themselves gave it that name. That goes to say that a leader’s life goes beyond politics. You may not like my face, but you have to live with it.
To your question, by Salami judgment, Segun Oni was to be regarded as to have never governed Ekiti State. That was why Fayemi removed his portrait from the roll of former governors in the Government House. But to God be the glory, I came back as governor and my first duty in Government House was to restore the portrait and his dues.
As a governor, you cannot remove the roads built by Segun Oni, the salaries paid by him and all that because a leader is a leader. It is politics that makes us to say what we want to say sometimes. Everybody must have contributed something at his own time. Most people that criticize us a lot and abuse us, give them the same opportunity to rule, they may not be able to do anything for the people. All I’m trying to say is that the good we do live after us, and it is only good to reward good deeds.
You have alleged that Fayemi wanted to become Ekiti governor through a judicial coup, he has refused to reply your allegation, but denied it and said that he didn’t want to dignify you by reacting, how do you feel about this?
You see, when a thief is caught, or when you catch a man in his evil deeds, he would still want to pose as a white horse without blemish. But the Yoruba would say a wicked man knows his own heart. The wicked knows that he is wicked.
Let me tell you, Fayemi himself knows the truth. He is not the first person I defeated in an election. I defeated his grand father, Niyi Adebayo. It was Niyi Adebayo that brought Fayemi into Ekiti politics. Everybody in Ekiti knows that I am popular. I am not here to celebrate myself.
In any election in Ekiti here, I don’t know where APC would take or win. Let them manipulate every step, they would not get away with it. Fayemi himself knows the truth but if he says I am telling lies, that there is no iota of truth in it, let him continue to deny, he has always been denying. The Bible says there would be no peace for the wicked. I leave him to his conscience but if he has any such agenda as the alleged judicial coup, I know that noble men at the Supreme Court would not allow him to destroy their lives with such things. Have you forgotten that two justices of the Supreme Court said openly that they came to lobby them to reverse my election. Is it that I went to bribe them?
You seem to be fighting Fayemi from all fronts, in the media, and some say through the state Assembly, is it that you are afraid that if you don’t do all these, he might outsmart you in some ways, ahead of 2018?
I don’t want to continue to talk about Fayemi, but I would tell you one thing. When you see a lion, you know it and when a lion sees you, he knows you. The APC knows me, they know that I represent the truth. I am one man whose voice cannot be silenced. I am one person, if you try me, I will give it back to you.
I don’t need to fight Fayemi from all fronts. We have common denominator in Ekiti. Time will tell. There is nothing to fight in him but that does not mean when you see someone who wants to perpetuate evil, you should just fold your arms.
If you leave your linen for a mad man, he would drag it on the floor. So, I am only guiding my car, saying don’t veer into my lane.
Have you seen where judges, noble men like justices of the Supreme court would allow men like that to rubbish them? I have just said to you that two justices of the Supreme Court openly said they came to them to reverse my election but they refused. They attempted it but it didn’t work. Their House of Assembly tried to impeach me in Ekiti but it didn’t also work. The same Fayemi who congratulated me in 2014 election, went back to the tribunal, Appeal and Supreme courts, but I defeated him. He is not a gentleman and I will not fold my arms and allow someone rob me of my mandate freely given by my people of Ekiti.
You seem to have relaxed in criticising the government at the centre, is it that it is now doing better than before?
Not necessarily, you see, the President is sick now. Without doubt also, the President has not been performing his duties. He only comes out to show face when the outcry is much and recoils again, just to calm nerves.
If you say that I have not been criticising, what have they done differently? What has changed? No improvement yet on the economy and lives of the people; has the situation of people changed? No. But sometimes, it is not every time you react, you just sit down and be watching them. But I want to ask you this, even if you accuse someone of stealing, are they still not entitled to fair hearing?
Sometimes, silence is golden. Oppressing people or taking away the rights of Nigerians, in whatever name and guise, is not the best. So, silence for me this time is golden because I want to watch them.