Hon. Adeoye Aribasoye represents Ikole Constituency 2 in the Ekiti State House of Assembly. In this interview with Sola Popoola, he expressed optimism that Governor Kayode Fayemi will have a robust working relationship with the Governor-elect, Biodun Oyebanji, while also projected that Fayemi will still be relevant in the state and national politics after office. Excerpts.
How do you assess the performance of your party in the last governorship election in Ekiti?
The performance was very stunning and it was as a result of the good performance put up by our amiable governor and leader, Dr Kayode Fayemi in his service to the state. I am not oblivious of the fact that no government can do it all, but the eight years of Governor Fayemi as the governor of Ekiti State were full of blessings and prosperity to the people of our dear state. Within these years, the governor was able to ignite the culture of Omoluabi in the system. He was able to also entrench the fact that governance is a selfless service and not for material acquisition or personal aggrandizement. I was not really surprised that Governor Fayemi broke this long-standing succession jinx and won election back to back for the All Progressives Congress and that will remain in the annals of history.
Was that the only reason for the APC’s victory in the keenly contested election?
No, but it was a major factor that one can’t wish away. Added to this was the quality of the candidate of our party, Biodun Oyebanji. He is a respectable politician and technocrat, who deeply understand the nitty gritty of governance. He had been Special Assistant , Special Adviser , Commissioner and Secretary to the State Government under three dispensations and two governors. So, he is not a naive or a novice in act of governance. Except one is deceiving himself, he was so popular for that election. We thank God that our people saw the need for the consolidation of Governor Fayemi’s legacy for our people, the way it was done in Lagos. I am optimistic that the people will reap the gains because the APC is battle ready to rev the pedal of development immediately Biodun Oyebanji is sworn in on October 16 2022.
In what ways has Governor Fayemi’s government been a blessing to Ekiti?
On October 16, 2022, Governor Kayode Fayemi will officially bow out as the governor of Ekiti State after another four years of highly beneficial reign as the governor. He has been a blessing by his outstanding performance and deft administrative moves.
With him as a governor, our honour, dignity and respect have quickly returned. In 2010 when Governor Fayemi came on board , he hit the ground running through introduction of free and compulsory education at primary and secondary school levels. In the history of this country, Governor Fayemi was the first governor to introduce one computer per student and teacher in public schools. Again, he was the first governor to introduce Social Security Scheme for the elderly, where poor elderstatesmen and women get N5,000 monthly stipend to fight poverty. It was during his first term that robust scholarship was reintroduced to help students from secondary to a PhD level. He also left some legacy projects like the Governor’s Lodge at Oke Ayoba, the Ekiti State Pavillion, massive road infrastructure, Youth in Commercial Agriculture (YCAD), Ekiti Food Bank, Village Kitchen programme, 5kms road per local government, operation renovate all Schools(ORASE), flag off of the construction of Airport, Rural Development programme where a total of N650m was rolled out for community projects across 133 towns, payment of salary and pension and all that. I can go on and on, but let me just cite these as few examples of the blessings I was referring to.
Fayemi is at the twilight of his second term tenure. Can you also say that he has done well the way you claimed he did in his first term?
You could all attest to how things were when he returned in 2018. Salary was not not paid as and when due. It is still a mystery and shock to some that Fayemi has consistently been paying workers’ salaries on monthly basis, as opposed to the time when two months were being combined to pay one month. The government’s monthly IGR was undulating between N400m and N450m,that was what Fayemi met on ground. With critical thinking, Ekiti now rakes in over N800m monthly, with hands on the deck to make it N1.5bn. Prior to 2018, people were being killed and kidnapped . Most disturbing was the increasing gender based violence. Rape, oppression against women and girls were on the increase. But the office of the first lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi has been fighting hard to nip all these in the bud.There are verifiable to show that kidnappers and killers are facing serious resistance in Ekiti.The promulgation of the Gender Based Violence Prohibition Law and the attendant massive conviction of rape and sexual offenders further amplified the submission that Governor Kayode Fayemi had raised the bar and injected gender equality in the system. It is a known fact that poor industrialization has been the bane of development in Ekiti. The economy rests and thrives solely on the monolithic civil service structure. With shrewd planning, Fayemi had revived and revitalised the Ikun Dairy farm. The industry is now producing 10,000 litres of milk daily and 150, 000 litres of milk monthly with 400 cows in stock. His government also attracted over $40m to boost agribusiness in the state. One of the industries attracted to the state planted over 4,000 hectares of cassava, just as other ones were into local rice cultivation and production. The state’s tourism potentials like Arinta Waterfall, Ikogosi warm spring, and Ogun Onire Groove have been given a facelift, to further buffer the hard biting economy and shore up the revenue profile of the state. There is also massive infrastructural development across the state. The completion of the Ekiti Civic Centre in Ado Ekiti, the palatial and ultra-modern Old People’s Home, Ilupeju-Igbemo-Ijan road, Oye- Ayede-Otun road, the Knowledge Zone in Ijan Ekiti, the Oja Oba Market, Aramoko-Erinjiyan road, the flagship Ado-Iyin dual carriageway.Others include the Agbado-Ode-Isinbode-Omuo road, and many others, were landmark achievements that would make Fayemi’s reign too difficult to forget.The biggest of these landmark infrastructures, is the massive Ekiti Agro Allied International Cargo Airport. The project is located in Ago Aduloju, Aso Ayegunle, Ijan and Igbemo expansive land areas of Ekiti. From Ado Ekiti, the state capital, the airport is in the same direction as the Federal Polytechnic and Afe Babalola University. The 3.2km runway airport was constructed with the capacity to accommodate all types of aircraft. When fully completed, the airport will change the character and the socio-economic base of this state completely in terms of job creation, revenue generation, and it is going to make this a special economic zone that that will reshape the economic base of Ekiti State due to its huge economic benefits. The airport is also strategically linked to the knowledge zone at Ijan Ekiti, almost an Aerotropolis with a range of facilities. Governor Fayemi handed over the site of the airport to the main contractor, CCECC Nigeria Limited, to commence the construction of its 3.2-kilometers runway in March 20th. The building of four model schools to make up for the shortfall being experienced in admission to secondary school students is one area that has endeared the governor to the grassroots. The governor also abrogated all manners of obnoxious fees payable by students at the secondary cadre of education so that all the children of school age can have unreayructed access to secondary education.
Do you think he will still be relevant after his tenure?
Absolutely yes. Don’t forget that the governor is one of the most respectable governors on account of his superlative performance . He has done creditably well as a governor and Minister of Mines and Solid Minerals. He has become a powerful force in the politics of this nation and you could attest to how he was welcomed by party members and leaders across the 36 states of the federation when he visited them during his presidential campaign. Let me also clarify this, his stepping down was in the interest of the party and Nigeria. And if you check, the quality of the man he stepped down for really worth it. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is an Icon, not only in Yoruba, but in Nigeria.Governor Fayemi stepping down for him was a masterstroke. Don’t forget that he did drop a hint before the Presidential convention that he would commit himself to Nigerian Agenda with serious concern for the stability of our nation and that he did. He perceived contest as a service to the people and there was nothing to be desperate about in the pursuit of such ambition. Whether we like it or not, he will continue to be relevant on account of his exceptional brilliancy, competency, loyalty to the nation and acceptability across Nigeria.
Do you foresee good working relationship between Governor Fayemi and Biodun Oyebanji?
I have no doubt that the two leaders will work together harmoniously without rancour. It is sad and bad that a governor who struggled hard to work for the emergence of his successor will now become an enemy of the same man. Or people, especially politicians should learn how to manage each other. Since Fayemi became Governor in 2010, I never heard of any quarrel between him and Otunba Niyi Adebayo, the first executive Governor and the leader of the party in the state. Go and check carefully, Governor Fayemi had never claimed to be the leader of the party in Ekiti. He gives Otunba Niyi Adebayo is due respect and this is how it should be. He is not power drunk like others. On this premise, I don’t foresee any crisis between him and Biodun Oyebanji, who is also another humble man.
How do you react to the impression that the First Lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi has imposing influence in goverment and APC politics ?
I can’t deny the fact that our own mother-general, Erelu Bisi Fayemi has a lot of influence in government and this is not because of desperation or out of power drunkiness. The APC members and those in government made her so. She is a great asset. Just take a look at the way she has been waging relentless wars against gender based violence in Ekiti. Look at how she has been promoting women in government and politics. Today, we have four women in the House of Assembly. We also have significant numbers of them as commissioners , Special Advisers and Special Assistants through the influence of the First Lady. So, her quests to ensure that women’s voices are not subjugated had gained serious traction and acceptance and that was why she remains relevant and earning the respect of the people. She had been adding serious values to the government of Ekiti. She is not a dormant type, so she deserves whatever influence the people think she has.
How do you appraise the present government’s relations with the House of Assembly?
It has been fantastic and mutually inclusive. The duty of the Assembly is to stabilise the government and not to scatter it the way people always think. The Rt Hon Funminiyi Afuye- led assembly has been cooperating well with the executive to bring democracy dividends to the populace and that is the kernel and essence of governance. Though, this doesn’t suggest that we are rubber-stamp. No. If there are areas we think things should be done properly, we used to call the attention of Mr Governor to it and superior argument is always sustained and allowed to take preeminence. I can say without equivocation that the two arms have been relating mutually without one seeing seeing itself as superior or to be above the other.