The tug of war between Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose and President Buhari continues with the Governor claiming that the President is technically unfit to better the lot of Nigerians. In an interview in Abuja, he spoke about a wide variety of topics including the National Economic Council retreat which he’d earlier called a mere ‘jamboree’.
Here are excerpts of the interview:
On the National Economic Council, NEC, retreat in Abuja
We all know where the problem is, where the problem is coming from. The reality is that we need a change of attitude. That’s what we need. No matter what you say, the ministers, the governors, some are two-term governors, some are leaders of this country before, like Chief Audu Ogbeh, they know where the problem lies and what they need to do to tackle it.
The attitude of everybody must change; from the President to the last man in government and beyond government. If you want to dispense justice, for instance, you must dispense it equally. If you want to fight corruption, you must fight it equitably. If we are talking about restructuring our economy, the economy is not all about itself. There are other parameters. If you oppress me, I will not be favourably disposed to the programmes you are offering me.
But the moment the president of the country becomes everybody’s father, his agenda and the agenda for the nation will be pushed by all parties and stakeholders. So we have had a lot of these things. We have been through such a gathering (economic retreat) but, at the end of the day, will it not be the same old rhetorics, same strategies? Is it not a diversionary move to make Nigerians think you are working on the economy? Meanwhile, this is a government that was elected almost one year ago, but which doesn’t know what it is doing, doesn’t know what it wants, doesn’t know why it got there; maybe it wanted power but not to put Nigeria on the path of prosperity. So, it is a good idea that we should talk about the economy of the country, but I think the driver should know the direction more than the passengers. But he doesn’t know; he is just fishing. He is fishing for ideas on how to run Nigeria.
With due respect, people may not like the way I am saying it right now, but they have to come to terms with reality. You can’t grow more than your pastor. You can’t grow more than your MD under the same roof. He is limited by old age. He is limited by academic competence and he is limited by exposure. If you can’t grow more than your pastor, what do you offer? Meanwhile, everybody has to look up to the President.
So with his APC family, they ought to have had an economic team, economic master plan for Nigeria. They would have set the direction. There are indicators of an economy. Indicators of an economy will tell you what will happen next year; will tell you that next year, there will be drop in rain for farming and that we must build irrigation. It will tell you, there are going to be issues that could make the economy get gloomy. That is why we have technology. That is why we have advanced information. That is why you have specialists.
The President is the President. He is not the Minister for Finance. He is not the technical adviser. I was reading in the papers where someone said that the ministers of the President are incompetent or something like that, but I am not condemning them. I am only saying that the President himself had two months before being sworn-in. Since he came, the dollar has risen from 200 Naira to almost 400 Naira. I don’t blame him for the drop in oil price, but the fact is that I blame him for not being proactive in finding a solution to those challenges. Second, we should ask the President why Nigerians are suffering under him more than ever before.
Look at electricity tariff. In most cases, people will never get supply of electricity; they get it maybe once a month. Yet, they get what we call estimated bills. The people are so disenchanted. The people are not happy. There was this international body that said findings showed that Nigerians are unhappy more than ever before. Something must be causing all that.
If you look at that last six elections across the federation, APC has not won and it shows people are saying, ‘Have we not missed the road?’ The fact remains that when a disease catches up with you, you will not know until it is about terminating your life. If you look at the violence greeting our elections now, it will amaze you, it will give you concern. Even the worst of (former President) Jonathan, abuse him, say what you want, but he promised there will be free and fair elections and he delivered, even against himself. If this was the kind of violence that greeted Buhari’s election, would he ever be President? No! Nigerians don’t know party, they know their stomach. They know their business. They know their economy. Let’s look back and imagine that so many middle-class businesses are gone.
Look at me with a daughter abroad and somebody says my daughter can’t get maintenance money in dollars anymore. The education of my children has come to a halt after building such a child to year three in the university. This is an indicator of incompetence, a clueless administration. Sometimes, APC people might have clues but the President doesn’t have. He has no clue. You see these things, people are afraid to say it.
On whether his criticisms of the President are personal
Everything I have said is backed by facts and figures. It is not about being critical of this administration. I didn’t start today. I started before the 2015 elections. I told Nigerians not to vote for him (Buhari).
I was a young man of 24, 25 years when Buhari was the Head of State of this country. The Yoruba man will say, ‘If you have taken a medicine that works for you, please give me’. We took a medicine which kills. Anybody that is 40 years old today that voted for Buhari doesn’t know Buhari because, from 1984 to date, it will be 32 years. So, a guy of eight years won’t say he knows Buhari clearly. So, add that eight years to 32 years, that is 40 years, they voted for a man they never knew. So, if you remove people from the age bracket of 18 – 40 and remove the votes from Buhari’s votes, you will know that he couldn’t have won the election. I am not critical of anybody. When APC is talking about me, they say whatever they want to say but I defeated them in all elections even when they call it militarization, even when they say Fayose is controversial; in every battle I will win them. Even when you have overtaken, like after my impeachment, by His grace, they were overtaken again and lambasted by the Supreme Court. There is a difference between a vendetta and the reality on the ground. If I was incompetent, Ekiti people will not vote for me eight years after.
On PDP politics, on allegations that he was responsible for the Chairman of the PDP’s appointment and whether he’s happy with what he’s seen so far
I didn’t work for Sheriff like that. I worked for the truth. I worked for someone I believe has what it takes to lead our party.
Party politics is not book politics. Party politics is being realistic. Life in itself is about being realistic. Sheriff and myself were not close friends and we were not enemies either. We didn’t see often. We were not in and out with each other. We have never been in the same political party, but everybody that came, we engaged them one after the other.
Because of the presentation of Aliyu Amodu Sheriff, I supported him. That is the truth. There was a particular question they asked him; ‘if the party needs N5 million before the governors can be reached, would you still be able to support it? If there is a meeting in Lagos or somewhere else and there is no commercial flight and you have to get there, would you have to call the governors saying, please, borrow me your aircraft or send me some money to get one’.
Secondly, they asked him, ‘This issue of Boko Haram you are being linked with, don’t you think it is going to be against your person in the public domain’ and he said, ‘How can a man be linked to Boko Haram and still be walking around, never charged to any court in Nigeria? And, above all in a way, I am an in-law to Mr. President. He is fighting Boko Haram now. Will he ask himself to marry a Boko Haram person or a relative to Boko Haram?’ These are logical things and I was convinced in my heart and I said, ‘ I will stand by you’ and my yes is my yes and my no is no. If I am with you I am with you and if I have issues against you, I will go there and tell you to your face. And the gentleman has just been there for a few weeks; so what would anybody have done in a party in this period? We have to be realistic. He needs time and, even in his three months, he can only do very little, but it is better than a man who has no clue at all.
On why people were against him when Nominated
Why were people against me when I wanted to be governor of Ekiti State? Because they knew I will defeat them. When you see the lion, you run. Why are people against the lion? Why don’t they keep lions in their houses? Because the lion is the king. They know what you represent. They know who you are. Remember when I wanted to do my primary, there was this consensus idea. About 26 aspirants said they wanted consensus, ‘take one of us’ and I said ‘I want to face all of you’. The Bible says the righteous are as bold as a lion. The whole of the kingdom at that time and all the chiefs of the clans were against Daniel. Does it mean Daniel was wrong? They plotted against Jesus Christ, does it mean Jesus Christ was wrong? That is not a measure of people being against you. When people are against me, I get things done better. It makes things easy for me. It showcases me and makes the whole world know Fayose is there. Our style can’t be the same.
On the speculation that the Chairman wants to elongate his tenure
I don’t know what you mean by elongation. There are constitutional provisions that say your tenure starts from this period to that period, and there is a body that ratifies that which is the NEC and you can’t act outside of NEC’s provisions. But I don’t want to be misquoted. As at today, except there is a zoning, nobody can say you can’t contest an election.
As at today and until an agreeable zoning formula has been reached, you can’t come out and say someone can’t contest. I don’t want to be misquoted. Quote it the way I have said it. What Buruji said and I take exception and I am glad he said it is his opinion? One, there is nobody that anything good will be coming to his zone, if truly he is a leader from that zone, that will be opposed to such a thing. So far, we haven’t zoned it and if we haven’t zoned, the constitution doesn’t bar people from contesting that office. If anybody wants to contest, he can contest, but when the party now meets, takes a position, ratified by NEC, it becomes a law that we all have to obey.
On PDP’s Chances in 2019
What chances do you have to live till tomorrow? A lot of people blabbing today, who told them they will be alive at that time? Who is telling our oppressors that they will be there by tomorrow; that it won’t be me that will be there by that time? You understand, we have seen so many things in this country.
I am the longest serving Nigerian governor. I served in Obasanjo’s administration. I served in Jonathan’s and I am serving in Buhari’s administration now. You see, I am not a small boy that anyone toys around with. You want to try me with impeachment, they have done it before. You want to try me with state of emergency, they have done it before. You want to clamp someone in prison, they have done it before.
I am an experienced man. I am fearless. The reason is that greater is He that is in me than he that is in them. And let me remind you, if they have another person that they will join with Buhari to get more forces, they will bow to this Force here. I am telling you the truth. Power doesn’t come from anywhere. God rules in the affairs of men.
Oppressing, bringing and cutting people down, dropping people, taking their blood on the ground, God is angry. God isn’t happy. How can you be cutting people down? You go to Rivers and kill people, you go to Akwa Ibom and kill people, you go to Bayelsa, you kill people, incarcerate innocent people. God is angry with Buhari. You can’t continue to take the blood of the innocent. Look at my predictions for 2016 for Nigeria, everything has come to pass. This is a different ball game. He that will take me, he that will go against me must first of all defeat God.