Why I’m sure of a second term - Fayemi Governor John Kayode Fayemi i of Ekiti State, recently spoke with newsmen wsmen on why he seeks a second term erm despite the impression that he has exhausted all his programmes in the current tenure. Excerpts:
I’m not going to stop my focus on education but it is going to be narrowed into the creation of knowledge economy. We have a lot of focus on technological education, on vocational education, on ICT and the knowledge park that we are constructing. We hav
There were reports that APC governors shunned a recent security meeting called by the President on grounds that they were not properly invited...
(Cuts in) We didn’t say we were not properly invited. My brother, Governor Akpabio was the one who said we were not invited. I don’t know what he was talking about. In any case, we have asked the chairman of APC governors to issue a statement. We were invited by the President. The usual text message was sent and signals also came as they normally do for such meetings. Fourteen APC governors were in Abuja on Tuesday night for our meeting and when we were in Imo State Governor’s Lodge for the meeting at about 10pm, we got information that the security council meeting had been stepped down. So, it wasn’t that we were not invited. We were invited and then notified of a postponement. It was a surprise to us that the meeting later held. We were in the hospitals to see victims of the Nyanya bombings; we were in Asokoro, we were also at the National Hospital before we all departed from Abuja since the meeting had been called off. So I don’t know what Governor Akpabio meant by his statement that we were not invited. In any case, if this was a meeting about security, APC states have been the most affected in the North East and our interest should necessarily be keener than those of non-APC states.
The state of emergency declared in three APC states is due for a review. Should the Federal Government consider an extension?
Well, the attitude of APC to the current state of emergency is that it has not produced the result that we would have loved to see. I don’t want to pre-judge what might happen. In any case, there is a process for renewal of emergency rule in the Nigerian Constitution. I’m sure the President would adhere strictly to the provisions of the law as far as this matter is concerned.
You said somewhere that the Ekiti election is a referendum on your performance, can we know what do you mean by that and do you think you will be re-elected?
An election is necessarily a referendum of what an incumbent has done or failed to do in the judgment of the electorate. Somebody running for the first time can only make promises and hope that the people will believe him. As an incumbent, I am running on the record of the public goods that I’ve delivered in every community and constituency. I have been on the campaign trail for over three weeks now and in every place I get to, the people are the ones who reel out what we have done in their communities. It is a much taller order for me in the sense that I must present tangible, palpable, verifiable evidence of what I have done. That is what I have to sell. So, it is a referendum on my performance. It may not be a referendum on the performance of my competitors, except one who was in office in the state and would have to show what he did. Even if he chooses not to talk about that, others would talk about his record in office.
To your second question, ‘have I done enough to earn a second term?’ I ran in 2007 on a platform popularly known as ‘Roadmap to Ekiti Recovery – My 8 Point Agenda.’ At the time, I was very specific about what I was going to do in office. As far back as 2006, when you talk about social security, if you read my inaugural speech, you will find social security benefit to the elderly there. You will see laptop per child there. There is nothing that we have done in this state that we have not picked up from the 8-point agenda. And everyone who is objective can attest to the fulfilment of what we promised Ekiti State people. In the various communities we go to meet people, they speak on that. So I think the answer to your question is yes. My performance has earned me a reason to believe that I would be re-elected. Today a result of one of the polls that we conducted in some communities came to me – one woman they spoke to basically just said: “We like Fayemi. He has done very well. He has fulfilled all his promises. He has not done anything that we don’t like but the issue is that since he has already done everything he promised, he should allow another person come in”. I found that very interesting. But the thing is that we have not actually done everything. There are areas where I would score myself 70 per cent or even 60 per cent. There are still some things to be done.
Seriously speaking, I think we have done reasonably well. Don’t forget that this state is No. 35 on the revenue ladder of the country, people often forget that. And this is a state that gets N3bn a month against N23bn in Bayelsa with a smaller population. So I think it is important to put this in proper perspective. We run a social democratic agenda and it is a progressive government. You will see that in many of the policies that we put in place, we concentrate on how to pull up the weak and the vulnerable in our state. Additionally, we have run a reasonably clean government. So, I think we have done enough to earn a second term. But we are also not unaware that performance itself is not the only factor in an election but it is the most critical success factor for an incumbent.
in the money you get from the federation account, would you say you are comfortable with the federal system practised in Nigeria?
We don’t operate a federal system in Nigeria, or at best we operate a distorted pseudofederal system which does not operate coordinate powers among the federating units but a hierarchical, subordinate powers inherited from our military past. If we operate a federal system, then you will not have things like UBEC and TETFUND which gives people the impression that states are beholden to the Federal government, whereas it is the funds jointly owned in the Federation Account that is being shared. If we run a proper Federal structure, you will not have us here spending our meagre resources in sustaining the police, whilst we have no authority over its activities in the state unless our views coincide with or reinforce the instructions from Abuja. It’s simply a distortion of federal system.
As for the disparities in earnings between Bayelsa, or Rivers and Ekiti, I do not have any problem with it. I’m an advocate of fiscal federalism. So, I do not necessarily have a problem with Rivers State, for instance, earning what comes from its soil. However, in order for us not to undermine the nation, for any federal system to work well, we often need equilibrating mechanisms so that one side is not overwhelmingly rich and other sides of the federation so despicably poor. We have to find a mechanism to balance this and if you look at the Australian and the Canadian Constitutions, even in the American Constitution, you have these mechanisms there. We have them in ours as well but they are exercised in breach rather than in consistency with the law. So, I hope those who are working on this in the national conference will be able to come up with a federalism that is more cooperative than combative because states are being forced into a combative model. We once heard a President say “if you are not for me then you will be punished. Your purse would be depleted and that is what is happening. You have states like Ekiti where we have done several federal roads but are being owed billions. You also have other states that are being owed and have collected all they are being owed. So, you would ask yourself why that happens if there is justice, equity and fairness in our federal system.
One of your programmes that the opposition has not criticised is the digitalisation of income, what is it all about?
You are talking about the Integrated Payroll Biometric System. I don’t know if the opposition has not criticized it. When we started it, they called us all manners of names – that the agenda was to get rid of the civil servants but eventually, you are right, they couldn’t criticise it because the civil servants and the teachers became champions of the electronic payment system and it has saved us a lot of money spent on ghost workers. We are now even trying to use the same system for our Citizen Identity Management System and our social security payment, which is still manual payment and there is still a level of inefficiency and waste that we have detected in the social security payment. But clearly, biometrics is the way to go. If you want to run an efficient government, technology has to play a major role. And that is how we have been able to reduce fraud in the system. We now save an average of N200 million.
Are you likely to pick another running mate or you’ll continue with the current deputy governor?
You know what they say, ‘if it