Why I’m sure of a second term - Fayemi
is not broken, why fix it?’ The deputy governor has done very well. She did exceedingly well managing the state’s Universal Basic Education Board. My party has a position that the deputy must come from Ado – Ekiti and I cannot go against the position of the party on that. My late deputy was also from Ado – Ekiti as you know. So we just replaced her with another Ado – Ekiti person who happens to be a direct descendant of the monarch here. But that is not what qualifies her for the job. She is more importantly a professor and expert in education administration.
You were in Ondo for Mimiko’s inauguration, does that imply that after the election, you may also extend the hand of fellowship to both Opeyemi and Fayose?
If you know my politics you will know that that is not really exceptional. I’m very friendly with Peter Obi, but I went to campaign for my Party’s candidate - Chris Ngige in Anambra State and I actually called Peter that I was in town to campaign for Chris Ngige. Governor Mimiko is my Egbon in our local parlance here. I’d like to think he is still my friend. For me, there is a whole world of difference between ideological affinity and friendship. I’ve many friends in PDP, one of my closest friend was the PDP gubernatorial aspirant in Edo State before he eventually came back to us and became the Secretary to the State Government and even when he was in PDP and was working with President Obasanjo, it didn’t really affect our friendship. For me, my politics is not politics of bitterness. Opeyemi used to be a good friend, I’m sure you know. He chose to distance himself on account of his ambition and he has every right to be ambitious. Every human being should have ambition but that should not turn him into an enemy. He is therefore my opponent but he is not my enemy. Governor Fayose is my acquaintance and I’m sure if you ask him he would probably tell you the same. I may have my own issues with him, he probably has his own issues with me but he is a former governor of this state and deserves to be respected. For me, I do not think anyone who occupies this seat should do anything to denigrate the office because there is a mystique around the office that we must all protect; whether you are a putative aspirant for the office or you are the occupant, you should not denigrate the position. And you are right, after election is over, governance begins and don’t be surprised if there is any reason for us to come together in the ultimate best interest of Ekiti State and Ekiti people. I’m going to solicit for their assistance and their wise counsel. And besides, Ekiti is unique; we are different from any other state. This is the only monoethnic place you can point to in Nigeria. Even Bayelsa has strands but in Ekiti, we are one stock. We are the same people and we are probably all related in one form or the other in our various 132 communities. In politics, there are no permanent friends and no permanent opponents.
What would be your focus if you get a second term in office?
Three things; agriculture, tourism and the knowledge economy, and let me explain what I mean by that. Clearly, 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 have a 3,000 hectare Ekiti Knowledge Zone in the making. It is probably bigger than the Lekki Free Zone; it is going to be the base for education tourism, medical tourism and ICT outsourcing. We feel that is an area that can give us an edge. Agriculture, understandably because of our own ground but it is expanding and developing the food value chain. We would be focusing on cassava, the revival of our cocoa, rice and oil palm. Three, tourism; we feel that Ekiti can still be the best destination of choice. We talk about what has happened in Cross River but we still feel we are better placed than Cross River because Cross River is much more difficult to get to, particularly Obudu. It is much easier to get to Ikogosi than Obudu. And we are building Ikogosi into a tourism hub to serve our grand vision of making poverty history in our state. So, it is more of consolidation of what we have been doing. But it is going to be driven by how many jobs can be generated from these sectors. It is going to be largely job focused.
The deputy governor has
done very well. She did exceedingly well
managing the state’s Universal Basic Education Board. My party has a position that the deputy must come from Ado – Ekiti and I cannot go against the position of the party on that. My late deputy was also from Ado – Ekiti as you know