By Ayo Alonge ([email protected])

HON Femi Bamisile, a former Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, has his eyes on Governor Ayodele Fayose’s job in 2018. In this interview, he decried the loss of education glory in the state and stressed the need to reclaim it. Excerpts:

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What is your assessment of the Buhari-led government so far?
The president has set goals to the taste of Nigerians and my take is that the president is bent on recovering most of the losses and stolen funds of the country. Everybody knows we can give him a pass mark on that. On security too, what we can see now is pretty better than what we saw in the time past. To change a decayed society, we need trusted hands and so the president is trying to entrust things into the hands of people he could trust.
On the fight against corruption and corruption fight back, what does such ‘drama’ portend for our democracy?
It is expected that when you fight corruption, it wil l fight back. There is nothing we can say other than saying that we are used to people stealing money in government and corruption fighting back does not mean we should stop. The president is a 73-year old man. You ask how many years does he have left on earth compared to the one he has spent? The best he can do is to make sure he cleanses the system before he leaves. Those fighting back are those that have benefited from corrupt manners in this country. For me, I would want to join in the crusade to say that we need to fight on. The crash in dollar is something that would have happened with the last government. We need the political will to drive the system and this won’t happen in a day. We need economy drivers and before we start to criticise, let us wait for another two years and we can start to say he has not performed up to expectation.
On the armsgate, do you share in the opinion of those calling for former President Jonathan to speak up on the matter?
Nobody is above the law. If by any means, the former president has been found wanting, he should be brought to book. Dasuki could not have collected monies on his own without the collaboration of the Minister of Finance, Okonjo-Iweala, and the former president. I am a person that believes in the total rule of law. Thousands of lives have been lost in the northern part of Nigeria.
Some would rather say your party, the APC is dead in Ekiti State, particularly because Governor Ayodele Fayose appears to have a strong grip on the state…
I don’t know what you mean by that. APC is not dead in the state.
You can be sure that many would argue that with you, probably because the governor is always heard and seen, and he seems to be very popular among the people.
Our party is in the opposition and should be a check on the ruling government and that is what our PRO does almost on a daily basis. He addresses issues wrong within the system. What else do you want us to do? Jump on the streets and start fighting? Even when the governor is behaving irrational, that doesn’t means we as a party should join him in doing so. I am a chieftain within the party and I have been moving around the 16 local governments which is about sensitising, energising and re-engineering the party across the local governments. Junketing around the streets and making a noise doesn’t mean we are there. The party will sure take over the helms of affairs in the state, in 2018.
But how possible will that be, going by the stronghold of the present governor on the state?
Yes, he is getting closer to the people but there are some of us who know the game better, in a more civil and civilised manner. I won’t get on the streets and start eating boli (roast plantain) or drinking paraga (local gin) in the name of doing politics because I am a more civil person. I can tell you that the people are no longer with Fayose. The moment people see that you have derailed, they will go back from you.
The introduction of stomach infrastructure is probably what has fetched him so much popularity. Don’t you think so?
It is even an insult to say stomach infrastructure, coming from a state like Ekiti, the Fountain of Knowledge. How do you define that and what is the basis for that? Fayose has injected into the system what we call the ‘clownish’ way of life into democracy and that is why you see a governor go to the House of Representatives, where he should be properly dressed. My State governor went to present the budget in the House of Assembly on T-shirt and jeans. To come into the hallowed chamber where I served as the Speaker of the House, you must be formally dressed. Fayose went into the House with his own gavel. The budget of the state was passed in a space of 25 minutes and it didn’t take another 48 hours before it was signed into law. He has made a mockery of the whole system. For me, he is just a political jester. I want to assure you, without no shadow of doubt, that in 2018, I will be in the helm of affairs and Fayose would be kicked out.
That won’t be easy to do, if you must be sincere with yourself…
I have started my awareness and I have been on the street working. I have been in government and as an opposition, I know what it takes to be in government. Fayose has not done so well the way you people think. It is just propaganda on the pages of papers. He could call the world press conference in a day and tell the world anything.
The complaint has always been that the the state allocation is very low and the IGR not encouraging. Isn’t that the case?
Yes, we are one of the lowest in allocation but coming to government, you must have a blueprints or a game plan. It is not the centre that should be feeding the state, it is the state that should feed the centre and that is true federalism. You should be able to use your IGR to augment. When former Governor Tinubu had an issue with former President Obasanjo, it was never like that. On IGR alone, Lagos is getting over N30b. That doesn’t mean we should over-task our people. We can go back to agriculture and even industrialise our state. As a party, we decided not to go into the local government elections because it would have been a waste of time. Whether you like it or not, Ayo ((Fayose) would write the results out by himself. He has done it before. I can tell you that the chairman of the state INEC is from my place and coincidentally, we bear the same surname. He is a card carrying member of the, PDP.
That’s unheard of for an INEC official to be a card-carrying member of a political party? Why didn’t you blow it out?
The case went to court but it was thrown out. It is the governor that selects whoever he wants. Anybody that had gone into that election would have been wasting money, time and efforts. I am not a green horn in politics. Anybody who underestimates me does it at his own peril.
Don’t you think you might be criticised that you are being over-ambitious, when governorship election in the state is still two over years away?
That is not over over-ambition. It is the process of preparation. To win an election, you need to work hard. Changing the psyche of the people to vote APC is not something that can be done in one day. We are only preparing to win an election and that is why you see us going from ward to ward already.
What is your assessment of governance in Ekiti State at the moment?
The governor will always tell you that the economy is bad and that subvention is so low. I make bold to say that the only structure that is on ground now is a building in form of a library in the name of late former Deputy Governor, Funmilayo Olayinka.
The only thing else that you get is that on Christmas Day, he gives people a fowl and N200, or a little portion of rice. Is that what you define as stomach infrastructure? That is the highest point of deceit that we are experiencing in the state.
What do you, then, hope to do differently?
We want to improve on our state by ensuring that the youth are empowered.
We want to ensure that the influx of people out of the state is addressed. I am not interested in new projects but to embark on the completion of all uncompleted ones.
What else can be done to revamp education in the state, going by the fact that Ekiti is renowned for excellence?
I was engaging a professor recently and he said the same thing. Ekiti has been known for educational excellence but that drive is no longer there. We must have the best hands now and bring back our highly intellectual sons and daughters that are far away.