…Any conspiracy against me will fail
From Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has said that former Minister of State for Defence, Mr. Musiliu Obanikoro’s allegations of giving him money to fund his 2014 gubernatorial election is false. In this interview, the vocal governor opened up on various issues, claiming that the embattled former minister just wanted to use him to get out of the trouble he has found himself in.
You just completed two years in office; looking back, how would you describe the past two years in the face of the myriad of challenges your administration has faced?
Let me start by telling you that I have causes to thank God and I want to appreciate God for being true to His words and sustaining it.
Again, I have always said it. I have never lost a battle, and I’ll never lose any. Day by day, it’s either I’m in the trenches or my enemies keep me in there for me to overcome them. But above all, I’m Peter the rock on which this state is founded by God’s grace.
You want to also acknowledge that it has been a turbulent and harrowing experience in the past two years. It has been from one conspiracy against me to the other and you can equally recall that you cannot take away from me the courage to deal with issues promptly as they come. And I deal with them in line with God’s word. I challenge my challenger in totality of what is fair. And I have been sustained by that. Before I even became governor-elect for the second term, a lot happened, they even wanted to prevent my swearing in. They did everything humanly possible to frustrate the swearing in. All I am telling you today and every other day, is that they would keep trying and they would keep failing.
What about the legal battles they waged, from the lowest to the Supreme Court where I got the ultimate victory and the past purported impeachment plot was totally erased by the court. When your enemies don’t retreat, they are only heading towards pushing you to a level where the victory would be so easy like Joseph whose enemies never retreated until they made him the prime minister. For me, it has been a very rough time, the blackmail of the judiciary, the Dasukigate, threat by DSS, attempt to arrest my House of assembly members, and illegal arrest of one of them and all in which I have come out stronger. Someone said Fayose is a cat with nine lives, I have more than nine lives; mine is indefinite.
Should the APC be blamed for the current economic problem or the man at the helms of affairs?
You see, let me put it this way. If there is a problem, we must blame the leader because he is elected to solve the problem and he must deliver. Leadership though not by one man, the man that got the confidence of the people should be held responsible. He is responsible for both the bad and the good development.
Political realignment in the country is already happening, given the background that the two major parties of APC and PDP are emmeshed in crisis, and some people are believing in some quarters that you are romancing with Tinubu, should we as observers, believe that?
When we get to the bridge, we would cross it. I’m just one of Nigerian political leaders, I can’t tell you how things would turn out. I cannot also tell you that my comments on Tinubu were based on political gains. No. As a nation, we must first of all remember that before we become Nigerians, we were first of all the Yoruba nation. We must equally remember that after an election, governance at all levels becomes the responsibility of all parties. After the elections, leaders of various communities, zones and so on must come together for development and defend their own. I’m never a member of APC, I cannot become their member. I want to say expressly that my comments on Tinubu has nothing to do with politics and God is my witness. I have nothing against anybody. Whether anyone has done the other wrong in anyway doesn’t mean that he (Tinubu) should be sacrificed. If you are giving appointment to anybody in the country now, it will come through APC with the FG. It will still come through a Yoruba man whether from the party or nothing. We are concerned about the Yoruba nation. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whatever you say about him, in politics of the Yoruba nation, he has paid his due. I want to be remembered in Ekiti by next generations for my legacy. Why is Obasanjo giving recognition to past leaders? Why was the daughter of Chief Adesanya given appointment in Obasanjo’s government? Why were the children of Bola Ige appointed, they are from other parties. But the fact is that they belong to the Yoruba nation, and you can’t deny that.
What then is the direction of your party, given its present crisis?
We are hopeful that tomorrow, dry bones will rise again. The PDP that many perceived is dead today is just a sleeping lion and it will rise again. The PDP has structure in every nook and cranny of the nation.
If you tell me, in Kano, there were elections, they say APC got over 2 million vote and no voided votes and just a little for PDP. Come to think of it, you would see that that election was purely arranged. Not long after, the resident electoral officer that conducted that election died in a fire incident in his home; so we were told. We will know the truth when we all see God. They are making PDP to contest against INEC . I tell you the dry bones of PDP will rise again. The party will take over. Even if there would be an emergence of a new political party, we will wait and see before we jump in. But in politics, nothing is impossible.
Just a few days ago, you prevented a continued detention of Femi-Fani Kayode’s wife and 8-month old baby by a bank on EFCC’s order and many have reacted differently to that; some allege the woman had come to see you for help while others hail your action and yet others can’t understand why you did what you did, could you clarify?
There is nothing to clarify; Fani-Kayode is my friend and he remains
my friend. They are entitled to their own opinions. FFK and I talk on daily basis. If his wife comes to me, should she have rather gone to meet her husband’s enemy? The wife has to come to somebody like me.
When we were in crisis, my own wife went to a lot of people and that is nothing if need be. Fani-Kayode of today could be somebody else tomorrow. I don’t want to go to the details on that but my action on the detention is to show the EFCC that you cannot try such nonsense in my state.
Even if they bring the whole guns here, they will kill as many as they want to kill. So, let me say categorically that, EFCC is a lying agency; they disobey, disregard Nigerian constitution and defile the rights of the citizenry. This is unfortunate, it is sad: this is not the concept of the founding fathers of EFCC. The agency was conceptualized to be able to reposition Nigeria economically; investigations should be done like a responsible organization, not running investigations like media trials on the pages of the newspapers, not playing to the gallery like they are doing. They have done this to me before, I’m not perturbed. These are turbulent times, and they will pass. We’ve seen situations like this before. There was a time in Abacha’s regime when you cannot equally talk to your wife; you were so afraid. This is a similar one but it would pass.
Taking that to what Obanikoro allegedly said that you were given about N5.7 billion for the Ekiti guber poll in 2014, do you see that also as merely another media trial?
I wouldn’t want to join issues with EFCC or Obanikoro. But I remembered very well that Obanikoro was firing very serious salvos at the EFCC before now. I remembered all his statements in the press, but this dramatic return, he did not stop at the airport and there was a clear entrance straight to the EFCC custody simply shows that there is a hand of Saul in the voice of Jacob.
I’m used to all these conspiracies and the fact remains that in all these, Jesus is Lord, in all these, victory is sure, in all these, I’ve not lost any battle and I’ll not lose any. Let me believe that Obanikoro did not say all these because whatever you say, you would have to prove it in court. It is not enough to just say it. If he’s saying all these to get out of trouble, it is just a drama of the moment. I know he is looking for ways out of the quagmire as his house was seized, his bank accounts were frozen and all that. May be, my brother and friend, Obanikoro is looking for easy way out so they have to heap everything on Fayose.
I’m used to all these. In the meantime, I am busy as governor of Ekiti delivering good governance to my people. What they wanted during their conspiracy at my first tenure was to stop me politically forever. They didn’t want me to rise politically again; that was what all the first poultry allegation with EFCC in 2006 is all about but I won.
Today, I can adjudge what would happen tomorrow by the victory of yesterday. So, their fear is my rising profile: their fear is that where is this
Fayose going? Don’t you forget that in the Bible, the three wise men who came to greet Jesus Christ and who saw tomorrow about Jesus Christ just as the then King Herod too, saw tomorrow about Jesus Christ and he told the wise men to come back to him and reveal where Jesus was so that he could go and kill him. But the wise men didn’t go back that way. So, they saw my tomorrow and knew that I was rising. I’m going to be among those people that would take over from them. I have a future, I have greatness ahead of me and no greatness comes without a battle and struggle. So, they should keep their gun powder dry, behave like a responsible organization whose strength is in their coded investigation. They should stop messing themselves up. You see, nobody knows what would be the situation in two years time, but when we get to the bride, we would cross it.
Again, if Obanikoro says he gave me such huge money, where did he get it from? Why will he take such huge cash like that? Why will an honourable federal minister of the country be saying that he took cash like this and gave to me? You can now see how EFCC operates, but we will talk about that when we get to court. They are only looking for ways for nexus, to link me at all cost, to destroy me at all cost. It is just like in the Bible when they asked the people should we replace the thief with Jesus for the punishment but the people said no, it is Jesus we want. But at the end, contrary to their thinking that killing Jesus would be the end, Jesus Christ’s ascension has glorified Him; in His name now, all knees bow in heaven and on earth and all tongues confess. So, it’s Fayose that is all they want in all these drama, I hope that by now, they would have released all Obanikoro’s confiscated assets and property.
Let’s also talk about the Cow Marshals, an army of able-bodied men that you are raising to enforce the state’s anti-grazing Law, can you tell us more on this?
Let me first of all take exceptions to the word army, before the opposition takes on it. You see, we are entitled to having enforcers who would enforce the law restricting grazing to a level it won’t bring harm to our people. Laws are not made for mere making, they are made to be obeyed and respected. A lot of people today have lost fortunes to the destructive activities of these herdsmen. When they come, they are usually armed to overpower the farmers. So, what we are doing is to protect these farmers. There are certain restricted areas for grazing where if you graze and your actions are malicious, we’ll take you to court. While we are not against grazing, we want grazing not to affect the economic activities of others.
It is time to restructure Nigeria –Ikedife
…Says Buhari should listen to the people
By Willy Eya
Dr Dozie Ikedife is former President General of Ohaneze, the apex socio-cultural organization of Ndigbo. He believes that there is hunger in the land and that President Muhammadu Buhari should listen to the cries of the people. In this interview, he spoke on a wide range of issues.
Looking at what is happening under President Muhammadu Buhari’s leadership, what are your reflections about Nigeria?
My reflections are simple. One, if you talk to the people on the street, there is a lot of dissatisfaction, there is a lot of anger. There is even a quantum of disappointment. And when majority of people are grumbling, I think one must listen. The grumbling is not coming from only one corner of the country; there is grumbling in the North-west, North-east, North-central, South-west, South-East, and South-South of one type or another. The tones of the grumbling may be different but the underlying cause of these grumbling are comparable or similar. It therefore calls for a second look at the structure we have, a second look at why are people grumbling and a final action taken to assuage the grumbling. It started as a whisper, it is now a shout; now loud and clear. It is not purely because of the economic downturn in the country. That one is a totally different kettle of it. Let me also digress a little by saying that selling all you own is not the solution. We should change our lifestyle.
If you look at all the calls for restructuring, they are coming from mainly the South; most stakeholders from the North are not supporting this issue of restructuring. What do you think is the problem?
No, some people from the North are talking. But if you are comfortable with the structure, why should you want to change it? It is obvious! It is obvious why more of it seems to be coming from the South but there are some northerners, responsible northerners who are in support of restructuring.
You are an elder statesman and in Igbo land, you are a very strong voice. Are you comfortable with what is happening in Igbo land especially with regards to the call for an independent state of Biafra?
Well, we have a saying that an old man was in a meeting and everybody was saying something differently; he got up and said “many men, many mentality”. Many people will say one thing but many approach it from different angles. And perceptions are different. If you and I should get 10 people and then a car passes, you ask all of them independently to write down what they saw or think about the car, four to five will be different. With luck, two people might write the same thing but many will write all kinds of things – some will be talking about the tyres, some about the passengers, and some about the speed, some about the noise. That is why it appears to be difficult.
And if you listen to the real substance of those people talking, they are literally saying the same thing. It is just that there are some areas where there is conflict of ego – somebody could say he should be called the leader of this or the leader of that. But in the long run, they are all talking about one thing and the question one will ask is what in fact does restructuring mean? We have to define what we mean by restructuring and I think that is where the question can appear different to so many people again. Many people are not comfortable with most of the things on the ground now and it has been made worse by upturn or downturn of the economy and the loss of value of the Naira against other hard currencies of the world. It is unfortunate all these things are happening during the time of Buhari and people are blaming him. Whereas some of these things are things he can do nothing about. He cannot with all due respect, dictate the price of oil to the rest of the world. He cannot with all due respect dictate the demands for oil to the rest of the world. People are now moving away from forsil energy to other types of energy, energy source. So, that inevitably led to the downturn in prices; it is not Buhari’s making with all due respect. I don’t think so and people unfortunately are shouting at him, blaming him; thinking he is an angel.
Do you think Biafra is realizable?
Many people think it is realizable. Many people are hoping that it will be realized soon, sooner than later.
But there are those who argue that if they create Biafra today, that the Igbo will even lose more because of what they have invested in the Nigerian project
They certainly have invested a lot in Nigeria project because going way back in the 40s and 60s, the Igbo were the frontrunners in the quest for Nigeria’s independence. Many of their sons went to prison. Some of these people threw themselves into the arena of political campaigning, seeking for Nigeria’s independence. Now, the other consideration which may be advantageous to them is that they have invested extensively part and parcel of their faith, so they have invested even beyond the boundaries of Nigeria. I think today, the Igbo must have houses in Dahomey, Ghana, The Gambia, America, England, Germany, and Kosovo. That they have the independent state of Biafra does not mean that they will be robbed of whatever they have in every other place. They should not! They must not! And there is still freedom of investment. And why don’t we watch materially, from that angle of investment, economic investment, what they will lose. In Nigeria today, look at one of the wealthiest Nigerian, so-called, Dangote – he invested in all parts of Nigeria, he is investing in many parts of Africa. And this is a global world of internet; that means you can invest anywhere. One of the biggest hotels in South America, Brazil is owned by Yoruba group boys. Nobody is taking it away from them.
If you say foreigners will not invest, then you are in trouble. We are still talking about attracting foreigners to come and invest in Nigeria; we are still talking about it. I want to make one point which people seem not to understand. If Biafra becomes independent from Nigeria, you are not going to carve out Biafra and take it and dump it into the Atlantic Ocean, it is still saying we are a state; just that the style of government will be different.
Nobody should be told to forget Biafra because if you lost your father or mother, children, brother during the war, war of annihilation, nobody would tell you to forget that experience. Clear conscience will fail you to forget it. Now, Nigeria should not play a game of the deaf, the dumb and the whatever. When things change, you must recognize the change and adjust. A society is a dynamic living object and when change starts existing, you must recognize them. And after all, the present government came on board on the mantra of change. No condition is ever permanent; the only thing permanent in nature is change. So if the arrangement is no more in comfortable to majority of the people, then it should change and that change means negotiating whatever you call it. United Nations in its wisdom has allowed any indigenous people the right to self-determination. You cannot deny anybody that right.
Now in Nigeria, we practice democracy. Democracy means respect of the opinion of majority of the people; it is not a dictatorship where one man can get up and say let the sun not rise and the sun will not rise, let us maintain this world or that way or that we cannot talk about it. Any issue should be discussed with honesty, with maturity that is essential for progress.