From Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose said that controversial judge, Justice Okon Abang should have been sacked and not transferred to another state.
Fayose had petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC), alleging that former governors of Ekiti, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, now Minister of Solid Minerals Development, and Segun Oni were planning to use Justice Abang to carry out an illegitimate ruling which would lead to his impeachment as governor.
He said Justice Abang ought to have been shown the way out of the judiciary when an Appeal Court while ruling on the case between Ondo State governorship hopeful, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) and businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim over who the legally recognised governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was, declared his (Abang) earlier judgment upholding Ibrahim as the party’s candidate, as a fraud.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has alleged that the promotion of over 15,000 workers in the state by your administration is a ruse. How would you respond to this?
Promoting the workers was one of the most heart warming things I did for civil servants in the state; they didn’t even know that I would grant the request for their outstanding promotion from 2012. None of them was promoted by the previous administration, but I promoted 15, 722 civil servants, with financial implication of about N100 million.
The promotion takes effect from March, 2017. I decided on March because we needed to see the allocation coming in January to adequately prepare for it. It takes a stupid leader not to be mindful of his decision, and everybody knows in Ekiti, once I make a promise, I fulfil it.
What about your planned empowerment for women in the state in 2017?
This year will be a great year of empowerment for all Ekiti women. I have come to realize the great importance of women in social development. I realized this through my dear wife. A woman is someone’s sister, mother, grand-mum, wife and sibling.
I have found out that of all women in Nigeria, Ekiti women have largely taken the back seat in contributing to social development. This is owing to the fact that our fathers have relegated our women to the background and treat them as second class citizens in the scheme of things.
So, this year, I’m going to empower all Ekiti women from every sector; the civil service, market women, farmers, teachers, artisans, students, aged and young, educated and illiterate. I am going to reach out to all these women through their various groups and associations in all the communities and offices in the state. I’m empowering all of them with revolving loans for their small and medium scale businesses. Many of these women at the grassroots only need as little as N5000 empowerment to start a small business that would keep them going. I’m launching this programme on March 8, being the Women’s international Day.
Those criticizing me are liars. The APC are running Nigeria today as if they are still looking for votes; they are still running it by propaganda. Recently, they said they gave N5,000 to a number of people in Ekiti and some other states. The FG can only mention the states being controlled by APC because they know those ones would not have the courage to come out and say that they are telling lies about it. The N5,000 stipends have been a programme which former President Jonathan has been doing under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). At that time, the money was paid directly into the bank accounts of individuals. Jonathan started with only six states in Nigeria. It was a World Bank project, but the state only pays counterpart funds. The World Bank looks at truly very poor individuals and use the money to assist them. I have paid the counterpart funding before President Buhari was inaugurated. I paid N96 million to what they called ‘Yes o’, then which was the name the programme bore under Jonathan.
So, the programme has been and is still a World Bank sponsored project. So, it is deceitful for the FG to be parading the project on television as if it was their own. It was called PAP under former President Obasanjo’s administration, Jonathan came and called it Sure-P, while some were under MDGs. They said Jonathan didn’t do anything, but sat inside the train he built and waved at Nigerians as if it was their own project. When there is rainy season, they would shout that electricity has improved but during dry season, the electricity would fade out. When the Buhari government came, they stopped the programme under Sure-P and MDGs and started the same thing in their own way. The World Bank negotiated with FG and paid a counterpart fund of N5 billion to last for a period of two years. The FG is yet to even pay all the N5 billion. Even in the state they claimed to have paid the money, the number they gave is far more than what has been given.
Second, the FG is only giving N5000 for poor families not individuals like I’m doing it. The poor families may consist of eight people; and I wonder how they would share the N5000. We pay our own money directly into the individual’s account number. We don’t give cash to the families; that is not a transparent process. A woman was displaying the cash they gave her on the dailies, are they giving it to somebody to go and deliver at their constituency?
They told us that they would be feeding school pupils and said it would start since last year, but up till now, we have hired some food vendors but nothing has happened. Initially, they promised to feed all the secondary and primary schools. Later they said we can only do up to JSS classes. And later they came and said we should start adding money to the feeding. I didn’t make such promise. They promised that the dollar would become N100 but today, a dollar is almost N500. Today, things are tough and many people are very hungry, tell them in Abuja that many people who voted them into power because of their lofty promises, are very hungry today.
Rather than alleviating the suffering, the FG has increased tariffs on malaria, diabetes and anti-biotic drugs for those who are sick. Many of our children abroad have been forced to come home because many parents can no longer afford to pay their children’s school fees. I received thousands of help on feeding and school fees requests on a daily basis on my phone. The Bible says when the righteous is on the throne, the people rejoice, but if it is the wicked, the people suffer.
Before this time, there was nothing like tribalism, ethnicism or sectionalism. We accepted our brothers and sisters from the North, East and South-South as our own. But today, we have sectarian war in the North; some people are just killing our people like goats. It is not all Muslims that are evil, neither do we have all Christians as saints. There are evil people in all religion; but where some fanatics slaughter people of other religions like fowls as we see them do in Southern Kaduna, it becomes appalling and inhuman.
Following your petition against Justice Abang on the alleged plan to oust you from office through the back door, the NJC has transferred some judges including Justice Abang to other states. What is your reaction to the development?
Ekiti State House of Assembly is the only body, charged with the responsibility of over-sight functions of the governor as recognized by our constitution. As I always say, the members of the state House of Assembly are governors in their own right, while I’m the chief governor. We are very close and work mutually.
The other issue we raised in our letter to the National Judicial Council was that our friends from the opposition in the state were trying to look for a judge to get them a fraudulent judgment against us, but we thank God, they have transferred Abang to Delta State. Maybe it is because Ibori is coming and they want to go and plan against him in Delta. When a Court of Appeal described his ruling as a fraud, he should have been shown the way out and not merely transferred. Abang has no moral ground to sit and decide the fate of anyone as a judge. If we are truly sanitizing the judiciary, the likes of Abang should be taken out of the system.
2018 would soon be here, how prepared is your party for the poll?
I’m somebody that whenever I receive allocation or any money from the FG, I usually invite all the workers’ leaders to a roundtable to discuss on how the money should be used in payment of salaries and emoluments and other things.
I do this so that whenever my enemies spread any falsehood, I usually advise the people to ask the labour leaders in the state and local government area so they can explain to them and let them know that I usually carry them along on how we use the allocations here. I have nothing to hide.
You remember the election that gave me a second term, they were giving people money to vote for them, but the people collected their money and turned back to vote for me. That shows that the people want the good character in a governor.
We are not ungrateful people in Ekiti. Let them bring all their soldiers, police and all that, we will defeat them again. I challenge those accusing me of diverting the Paris Club loan refund to publish their own figures and facts. They are just frustrated people and miscreants. They only want to start telling lies against me because I have been criticizing their masters at the top. (The Sun)