From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Former Minister of Works and National Chairman, Southwest Agenda for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu presidential aspiration codenamed (SWAGA) 2023, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, has said the issue of zoning which is currently dividing Ekiti State along the lines of politics was a strange word that was brought into the state’s politics by Governor Kayode Fayemi in 2006 when he was contesting the governorship seat, urging the governor to admit its existence and do the needful in the 2022 governorship election in the state.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) leader explained why parallel ward and local government executives were inaugurated in Ekiti State. He also spoke on the 2023 presidential aspiration of the former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the security situation in the country and other issues.
You and some prominent members of your group were conspicuously absent at the venue of the recently concluded state congress in Ekiti State, why?
The state congress from my own point of view was illegal, unconstitutional and did not follow the established procedure laid down by the party. According to the constitution of the party, ward congresses were to be conducted and when you conduct ward congresses, each and every member of the party is supposed to come out and elect the executives in each ward and those people who were elected at the ward level constitute the electorate at the next level which is the local government level and the people elected at the local government level and those who had earlier been elected at the ward level will constitute the electorate for the state congress, at the time the state congresses were conducted particularly in the state, these people who claimed to have been elected at the state congress did not show up, they did not conduct any ward congresses. We were the only group that came out en masse to elect executives at the ward level and the video evidence is there. Everybody in the state and country and you as Journalists in the state know that it was only our own group that came out for that congress; the other side were no where to be seen, they simply went into their rooms to write the names, they didn’t participate in the congresses, therefore, those that were purportedly elected at the ward level were not elected; their names were simply written in violation of the party’s constitution and therefore they could not have constituted the electorate for the local government congress and also participate in the state congress. But we made our appeals to the national headquarters of the party, they set up an appeal committee here; we submitted all evidence to them that we were the only ones that actually conducted congresses, they listened to us, they took all the papers, including video evidence and reports from independent agencies but at the end of the day, we heard nothing from the national headquarters. We thought that ordinarily after listening to our appeals, after collating all the evidence, that at least they would make pronouncement on that; nothing happened and the next thing we heard was that they were going to conduct local government congresses. Of course, we didn’t know who were those to constitute the electorate for the local government congresses. We neither saw our names published anywhere nor the names of any group published anywhere. On that day also, they didn’t meet anywhere, they only met in private houses or a group of people in offices; they held no elections, the names had been written maybe weeks ahead and they simply submitted the lists to Abuja and Abuja again accepted those lists from them and these were the people that purportedly conducted state congresses. How do you expect a law abiding citizen like myself who likes to follow the rules and regulations of any organisation I belong to, who likes to abide by the law to go and participate in such an illegality? I couldn’t have been part of it and we were not surprised that other leaders like Senator Ojudu, Senator Tony Adeniyi, Congressman Bimbo Daramola, Oyetunde Ojo and all others also refused to be part of the illegality and that was why when we were inaugurating our own executives, I made it very clear that our executives are the authentic excos in Ekiti, duly elected at the ward level and also at the local government level. They actually came out for the congresses; their names were not written in the corner of any room, they were actually voted for by the people at the congress level; in fact, that is the reason a person like me cannot be part of any illegality.
Your group recently inaugurated factional ward and local government executives in Ekiti; don’t you think this will further deepen the party’s crisis in the state and may likely affect your party’s chances in the 2022 governorship election?
Well, crises and conflicts are part and parcel of the life of any political party; they occur every now and then. What is important is that the party should have a conflict resolution mechanism by which issues can be dealt with from time to time. I am yet to see a demonstration of that capacity on the part of the national executives of the APC. It is not unusual to have this kind of situations but it is left for the party to find a way of resolving the issues, finding a solution that will be acceptable to all concerned, a kind of solution that we can live with. So, we will wait for that. We remain patriotic, loyal members of the APC and we will continue to work for the progress and interest of the party. I believe that before next year’s governorship election, this matter would have been resolved. It is possible and we hope for that.
You said recently that 16 APC governors were already backing Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for president, which means that some APC governors from any of the other regions will make up the 16; how does your political movement wish to contend with the North trying to retain power beyond 2023 and particularly the Southeast clamouring to produce the next president?
Well, I have made my statement, it is for you as investigative journalists to find out who and who are these governors backing Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
I do not see any evidence contrary to what the press has been speculating that the North is desperate to retain power. It is normal in politics for each region to make their own demands, flex a little bit of muscle here and there so that you can get whatever you want. But I do not see any desperate attempt on the part of senior Northern politicians to retain power in that region at all costs because certainly, that is not in the interest of this nation; as you know, there are lots of centrifugal forces pulling the nation apart at this point. What we need now is a leader who can bring everybody together and it is not so surprising that these centrifugal forces have been reached, because some areas of the country felt marginalised, whether it is true or not, what matters is the perception. It is not the reality but the perception. So, if people felt marginalised, you need to give them a sense of belonging in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society like ours. So, I believe that every right thinking Nigerian whether he is from the North or from the South or from the East or from the West will want the stability of this country, will want the unity and progress of this country and therefore will not insist that the presidency must come from his own side at all costs. Politics is a game, let all those who feel qualified come into the arena, throw their hats into the ring and challenge for it, let’s compete and see who will win. The Southwest as part of the South has every right to put forward a candidate for presidency, so also the Southeast, so also the Southsouth. But I think the man who will get it is the person who is able to convince majority of Nigerians particularly those outside of his own geo-political zone that he will be a president for all and that he has the capacity to do the job. So, I am not bothered about that; soon the whole game will be opened for all and our own candidate too will come out and I am very optimistic that Nigerians will see the qualities that we have seen in him and they will also rally round him and support him to become the next president of Nigeria.
You are from Ekiti South and the district has been clamouring to clinch the 2022 governorship ticket, saying since the inception of democracy, it has not produced a governor in the state, what is your comment on this?
The zoning arrangement was not my idea. I did not invent it, neither did I propagate it nor was the first person to propagate it in Ekiti State, but I want to tell you that Kayode Fayemi and his cohorts were the people that started the idea of zoning in Ekiti. Yes! For those who may not know. I was running for governorship in 2006, we were all contesting for the governorship and then Fayemi started what they called the ‘North Agenda’ that it was the turn of the North to produce the next governor of Ekiti State. My question then was, what of the South? Have we produced any governor before? The two governors that we had up to that time were from the central. But they started talking of North Agenda and they went and sold this idea to the party leadership including Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and everybody had the impression that their own district had been marginalised and that it was the turn of the North to produce the governor. Okay, since 2007, what has happened? Segun Oni has been governor from the North, Kayode Fayemi is about winding up his second term and by the time he ends his second term next year, it means that the North would have had 12 years of governing this state, just like the central and the South absolute nothing. Are the people from the South slaves? Are they inferior? Are they not competent? Are the people from the other two zones more educated than those from the South? These are the pretty questions. And so the people who agitated for zoning in 2007 are now shying away from it. It is what I will consider to be the most dubious and dishonest politics we have ever seen. This is what you used to climb to power and you are now trying to deny it. We are going to fight it out. It is not going to work and I am happy that some people in his government are beginning to see that. I saw the article that Prof Aluko wrote recently stating the facts. Look! this is Ekiti, our forefathers did not discriminate against anybody. We are one united state and there must be no
impression created that one side of the state is inferior to the other. That’s not acceptable to us. Already now, in the other party, some of the leading aspirants are from the Central and from the North. People that I know have actually allocated zoning in this state before and now in my own party too, some people are trying to pretend that zoning is not a factor, that it will not work and we are going to prove to them that it will work, because what they are trying to do is to divide Ekiti permanently and to create a first class and the second class citizenship in this state, based on what I wouldn’t know. All of us went to school. We have highly qualified professionals from the South as we have from the North and from the Central. There is no material that you are looking for for governorship that you don’t have in the South too. But over time, 12 years of power in the Central, 12 years of power in the North have created a kind of class differentiation going on in the state in which case people from the North and Central who have benefitted so much in government are beginning to emerge as a class with more financial and material power than those from the South and if we are not careful, they will create a kind of apartheid system in the state and we are going to resist that to the core because the people who championed zoning, who introduced zoning into Ekiti are the ones now trying to deny it. It is not going to work.
How do you react to this that some people are of the opinion that all the three senatorial districts in the state have always been given same level playing field to contest but the Southern district has been unfortunate in clinching the governorship seat?
They used zoning to marginalise some of us in 2006. The playing field has not been level. It has never been the same. They convinced the party leadership that the North was the proper zone for which the governor should come. Then zoning was such a major factor in this state so much so that 90 per cent of those who came out for the governorship were from the North. There were people who were blackmailed to drop their governorship ambition but I refused. I came out because I couldn’t see the sense in it. There has never been any playing field at all. Zoning was what they used then and if it was good then, it should be good now to abide by the zoning principle but they are trying to underplay it by saying zoning is not important, zoning is this, zoning is that. Tell me where in any of the Southwest states that kind of thing is happening. Look at our neighbour Ondo State, in this democratic dispensation, the first governor, Adefarati was from the North, Agagu from the South followed, Mimiko from the Central followed and now back to the North with Akeredolu and I can tell you that already now Ondo State leaders have agreed that the next governor is coming from the South. This is orderly. This is fine because every of the zones has qualified people and you give everybody a sense of belonging; that is what we are saying. The emergence of Kayode Fayemi in the Action Congress (AC) in 2007 and the emergence of Segun Oni in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2007 were purely based on zoning. It was zoning that favoured them; they campaigned on that basis and they sold the idea not only in this state but also to the leadership of their parties.
What is your view of the current security challenges in the country, though, President Muhammadu Buhari recently said insecurity was declining and not rising?
Well, if that was what the President said, I accept it.
But the President’s comment generated some reactions, what do you say to this?
Well, everybody will have their own opinion on the matter but he is my President, so I accept what he has said. May be he has the facts that I don’t have and of course naturally, he will have the facts better than me. But, I want to say that we should keep on working on this issue of security to make the country more secure. The first duty of government is to guarantee the safety of lives and property of the people. That is even the whole reason why there is government at all. Security of lives and property, if any government fails in doing that then the government has failed totally. Because without a secure environment, you can’t even have the opportunity to pursue anything. You can’t live in peace. Families will be destroyed. Communities will be destroyed. Societies will be completely destroyed and economic and social activities will be paralysed. So, security is crucial. It is very important and I wish the President well, I know they are making great efforts; the Tucano aircraft they have just purchased to fight insurgency is a good development. I believe with these greater fire power using technology, they will be able to mitigate it and Nigeria can be secure again. But overall, the root cause of insecurity must be addressed which is the economic hardship that people are facing. The economic hardship is also part of the causes of banditry and insurgency, that also must be addressed if we want to have a holistic solution to this problem. I also want to state that here in Ekiti State, I am concerned about security here. When I was growing up in this state, the house where I lived in Ikere-Ekiti, we don’t even use to close the door to sleep. Whenever we came back from school, we went to play football, did all sorts of games from 2:00pm to 7:00pm and nobody was going to ask of you, because nobody was afraid that his or her child could be kidnapped. People were safe, we could walk around, there was no problem as far as security was concerned. I know it is difficult to return to that era, but at least we must guarantee minimum security for our people. A situation whereby an intending couple was planning to have their wedding ceremony and a week to the wedding, they kidnapped the couple; it was a very bad news. Two Obas have been kidnapped in this state and so many other people have been kidnapped. Some have died. Some have been killed. This is not what we know Ekiti for and we are not happy about it and I want the state government to address this issue. The most important thing is to secure the lives and property of people in this state. People should feel free to come home to their state and when they come home they should not be afraid that somebody is coming to kidnap them or on their way back that something bad will happen or in their homes. Look at the case of Alhaji Akinbami who was kidnapped at the premises of his petrol station. These kind of things scare people away, such things even scare investors, not only investors from outside, even Ekitis in the Diaspora who might want to come and invest at home; they are scared, they begin to fear for their lives and so we must find a solution this problem. The most important thing that the government must guarantee is the security of lives and property of the people and everything should be done to ensure that all our communities are safe to live in, that when people have investments and properties, nobody will go and destroy them or attack them or steal from them. So, I want to implore the state government to double its efforts in the area of security.