My problem with Fayose
By WILLY EYA
Senator Ayo Arise represented Ekiti North district at the upper chamber of the National Assembly between 2007 and 2011. He believes that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is gradually getting it right even though it recorded some initial mistakes after inauguration. In this interview, he x-rays various issues including why he fell out politically with the Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose.
What is your projection about the APC in the South West? Do you think that the entire zone including Ekiti would come under the party in 2019?
Many factors would determine that. I am from Ekiti for an example. Our people, the way they behave is that once they feel you have done your own part, they want you to give chance for other people to do theirs. It is most likely, from all projections that the APC would win Ekiti in 2018. The only reason I can comfortably say that is because the man that is at the helm of affairs now, Ayo Fayose would not be able to run again by virtue of constitutional limitations. Initially, I thought it was possible for him to run but I now look at it that the likes of Kwankwaso who was totally in charge in Kano would have run if the constitution had allowed him a second time. I am not too certain that Fayose would be able to run again. If he should run, it would be very seriously contested. This is because somehow Fayose has his way in Ekiti. But it is not to say now that he would be able to win because the people too are hungry. I learnt that he is owing almost seven months salary in the state. If that is the truth, it is no magic that he would find it difficult to appeal to people that are hungry. I can conveniently say that in the coming governorship election, the APC would win Ekiti State, all things being equal. And if you look at other states in the South West, I do not know where is left now. All others belong to the APC. In Lagos for instance, I do not know anybody that would come to defeat Ambode. It would not be possible. Many of the APC governors have proved their mettle. Lagos for instance has been very lucky in terms of good governors. If you look at the other states, I think the most difficult election that Osun had was the last one. If the APC was able to win that election, I want to comfortably say that the APC would still win the state. In 2019, I do not see where the PDP would be able to win the South West. This is because it looks like the governors are trying their best. They are dealing with the salary issue which is a major problem of most states. The APC easily won Ondo because of the salary problem and the issue of the primaries of the candidates as well. I do not see any inroads for the PDP in the next election.
Is it right to say that you joined the APC because Fayose frustrated you out of the PDP when he denied you your Senatorial ticket?
I am not a party to jumping from one party to the other, more so, we do not even have any ideological difference. During Obasanjo’s administration, I was given the ticket to run and I won by a landslide. But on this occasion, before I agreed to start speaking on behalf of Fayose, I spoke with my leaders in the PDP and they assured me that I would have my ticket back to the Senate but after that, Fayose had a different idea. It was not denying me the ticket that was my headache but not being able to know where a person stands at every point. That worries me. It is more of the fact that I did not think I could no longer trust Fayose. Once I am not able to trust him, I would not be able to deal with him straight because I do not know how to deceive people. I do not have that in my character. I was not seriously rattled but when I could not trust him, I had to move away from the PDP. At a point, I did not know what else to benefit from the Jonathan administration than following my people unless I just wanted personal money. For me the fact that I could not trust Fayose was why I moved. I was weary of him because of his character. That was why I had to move to APC. But now, we still talk but he knows that if I ask him to do something for me, I would be asking him because I would be having it in my subconscious that he would not do it. That way, I am at home with myself. We do talk and we are very civil to each other. And I think that in all fairness to him, politically his style works for him but the truth is that we are very different people.
What is your take on the statement by one of the Yoruba leaders, Chief Ayo Adebanjo that Yoruba youths are gearing up for Oodua Republic?
You know these are elders and they see more than some of us see. But I think that having the vice president as a Yoruba man, I do not think that we should be at the centre of trying to break down this wall. This is because when you look at it critically, every time we have had the opportunity, I think we have shown that we are neither selfish nor tribalistic. As long as Mr president trusts his vice and using him as much as possible to achieve what they want to achieve for this country, there is no problem. We should stop this sentiment of where a person comes from. What we are all struggling for is an egalitarian society. It was at a time that people felt that Tinubu was being rubbished that people felt bad. I do not think that there is any reason for us at this point in time to start creating Oduduwa Republic. This is because the strength of this country is the population. The strength of America is the population.
What do you make of the impression by some people that President Buhari’s style of governance has engendered so much ethnic division leading to agitations in the country?
When you look at it critically and you look at the structure of our country, there would always be agitations. And that is why people are advocating rotation. The problem is that the purpose of going into governance is not properly defined. Most people, when they get into government, you find out that the institutions are not strong. If the institutions are strong, it would not matter who is at the helm of affairs. Most people who are in positions of authority use them to stupendously enrich themselves. It is not even so much about people enriching their people but themselves. Look at the last government; it certainly favoured the South East more than any tribe. The Yoruba were complaining. They were complaining that they were not considered for appointment and all that. That time, the people from the other side who were benefitting did not feel anything was wrong. The same thing, those especially from the North who are benefitting, they do not see much that is wrong now. So, when you look at it critically, the North has benefitted more than any other part of the country. But I do not think it is enough reasons for ethnic tension. It would have been right if you look at the budget and it is for the North alone without others getting their fair share. The issue of these ethnic feelings would be corrected gradually. We cannot erase it overnight. If we get to that stage where if you steal money, they put you in jail and everybody knows that it is no more an issue of going to the president and getting exonerated. Once we learn to do things normally, all these feelings of ethnicity would go. People would no longer bother about where they come from as long as they do the proper thing. If they want to give you contract, it must be through a transparent process. There should be a process that everybody can participate in and if you are the best person for the job, you get it. But what is going on in Nigeria today, even the transparency that we talk about is more or less a charade. You look at it that until we are able to resolve all these by ourselves, and we crave for the country to grow and we continue to support those who are working in that direction, then you would find out that these ethnic tensions would always continue. If tomorrow, you put a Yoruba man there and he decides to put just Yoruba in power, then you would see that the North would be agitated, the East would be agitated, the South South and so on. When Obasanjo was in power, you found out that truly, those controlling the economy were the Igbo people. But the Yoruba did not carry arms. If you recall, that time, you had Okonjo Iweala, Soludo, Oby Ezekwesili and we can continue to count them in various institutions. Deliberately, there was a need to balance these things in a way. But do not forget that in Obasanjo’s first tenure, the whole of the South West were in another party other than the ruling party that produced him. So, he had very few Yoruba to work with. You know that the South East fully identified with the PDP and in sharing the cake, the people who supported the ruling party more are likely to benefit more also. Look at America today. How many democrats are in Trump’s cabinet? It is almost a universal practice. It is a question of understanding that you cannot eat your cake and have it. Somehow, some things determine political benefits but because of the peculiarity of this country, there should be some elements of balancing in anything you do.