Violence has resurged again. The talk is that it is the APC thugs that are attacking the opposition; also recently, we also read that the governor’s convoy was attacked. Is this a rejection of Fayemi or what?
You have to judge someone by their antecedents. Antecedents really speak a lot about individuals than the make belief around the individual. I have been in this office for the last three-and-half years, and I struggled to be in this office in totality of about six years, two-and-half years of campaigning before the April 14, 2007 governorship election, and the period leading to court declaration in October 16, 2010. If I were to be a certified violent person, all of that would have come out in that period. Then, if you have to add the three-and-half years that I have been in this state that has now been adjudged the most peaceful state in this country – where everyone goes about their businesses the way they like, the opposition, friends of governor and people that do not know the governor is evident by the increased investment and increased population of externals in Ekiti, if you like, and in the last three-and-half years that we have been in the office and only come down to these incidences over the last two weeks or thereabout, for those who have no substance, who have nothing on the ground as this campaign is concerned they refrained from campaign of issues that I have advocated and I made a state broadcast before this INEC season grows, specifically telling all people and all politicians that we must focus on what we want to do for the people and let the people be the judge of that, so if someone or those who are associated with him who have resorted to all manner of activities with violence in nature, then you have two options of dealing with that, the security agencies to be alive to their responsibilities and in the event that they do not, then the people will resort to self-help, because you don’t deal with a bully with a kids gloves. If you deal with a bully with kids gloves, he would see it as a form encouragement, a bully has to be confronted in a manner that clips his wings, decapitate him and get the law enforcements to deal with it immediately on this matter.
Come to think of it, how do you throw stones on the convoy of a governor that is the chief security officer of the state? What are you really asking for? Even for the gentleman governor as I am called around here, I may say to people, don’t do that, but how do I even do that because I was in my vehicle, security agents who are with me have one singular responsibility of protecting me. That is their job, and if they sense any form of danger against the governor, you cannot say they should not react in a manner that protects the governor. So, to the best of my knowledge, that was the context of what you described, and if it is a sign of unpopularity there are civilized way of knowing if the governor is not popular indeed. That should not just emanate from the campaign office of a particular candidate, it should be total and you should see it on the street and everybody should be showing their disgust, hatred, disappointment and dislike for the governor. It should not just be isolated to the campaign office of one individual who of course is also after the job himself. Any reasonable, independent minded and detached analyst would know that there is a direct correlation between ambition and violence in that instance.
You have been to OyeEkiti, Efon and Ekiti West. In fact, you also recently went to Ilejemeje among the several other communities where you have campaigned, how would you assess the support of the people?
You know that I am not a veteran in politics, but I have been long in office not to judge a book by its cover, not to judge success or acceptability of anybody including myself with the number of people at the campaign ground, at the communities or at the urban centers where going to campaign rallies are past times. Sometimes, people go to APC rallies to get T-shirts, they go to Labour Party rally and get another T-shirt, so you will see them at PDP rally to get another, but it is not the same at local rallies. What you should look out for, or what I watch out for at local rallies is not just the youth factor, though a critical factor because they are the engine of every campaign, the live wire, but I look out for the elderly that actually go out of their way to attend campaigns, they are the ones that you should watch out for. They come out for a purpose, either that they are so committed to the individual for doing something that is remarkably different from what others have done in the past or they genuinely love the person. And one critical factor in all my campaigns, particularly the one of 27th March, the flag off was the heavy presence of women and the elderly. In every community I have been to, there has been heavy presence of women, the elderly and huge presence of the youths also.
Apart from the fact that we have done quite well with the young people, you could also trace that to the excitement at the campaign ground, the attraction to our campaign materials, they love the red and blue T-shirt. They are excited by the music played there, and there are goodies we distributed, but I am not being cynical about the youths and don’t get me wrong in any way, but I am just telling you what happens at the campaign grounds, but you should also listen to the calls and responses, this is an election that will be fought on records. Luckily, the prominent candidates in this election have had the opportunity to prove themselves while in office, so people can compare and contrast and if you saw our campaigns either in Ilejemeje or the previous places we have been to, it is remarkable because when I get into palaces, you discover a very positive strange reaction and for the first time, many of our traditional rulers are not as restrained as it used to be or normal for fathers of being selective of those who come to see them particularly in the course of campaigning, but you see them praying for you but they go the extra length and I get inquisitive myself when I watch them launch into that whole business of quote us, ‘this is not the era of saying traditional rulers are not politicians because we cannot leave gold and go after bronze.’ These are not what traditional rulers would normally say, but this time around, you see they are putting their hats in the ring, they are sticking their necks out. And when I say ‘Kabiyesi’ but…, they will say, ‘don’t worry I am responsible for what I am saying and I know why I am saying this.’ And you see them launching into specific references such as look at this palace I am in, we have been building it for the past 20 years until you came, leave it for us. Look at that hospital there, that market there, look at our roads that have never seen asphalt on it since our existence as a community, or your five kilometer roads that are tarred in each local government, these are specific verifiable and measurable evidence that I will liken to over excitement, if one could use a term like that.
And for me, our own approach to this campaign is to visit every community; that is what we are doing, to first thank them for their support over the years and to also acknowledge things that we have done there, you can check it out, they are palpable. You can touch and feel, and let them know, it is not over yet; you can still place more additional things on our plate. But more importantly is that when we leave, our door-to- door campaign then start. That is the way this campaign is structured, yes we do the razzmatazz noise you expect from every politician but we are not just like that because this government has not been run by noise making over the years, it has been run on the basis of success, we go there to find out where the gaps are, where the issues are in every community and how we are going to address them and because we have always been involved the town unions, we give them money. We are not strangers in all these communities. Just three months ago, I went there and visited every single community, so what we are doing now is not strange at all. Some are even surprised to see me and I tell them, we promised you a town hall here, how far have we gone with the town hall? We promised you water, is it running now? Your school is it fixed now? Your teachers that you said were not there before and now that we are paying rural allowance to teachers in the villages, are they back? I do this myself. I think with the communities you have varied degrees of acceptability.
You also have to realize the fact that we are largely farmers, so I talk about the elderly, the women and the youths, but I did not talk about the male. This is because anytime I go for rallies, except the male politicians who make it a duty to wait for the governor because he is coming to my community, or that I am the chairman of my ward or the secretary of the ward or some very active member of the party, it is very difficult for them to leave their daily bread to come and wait for the governor because he is coming to campaign. I will not even encourage that, they should go to their farm and when they come back they will get the news from their fathers, mothers or their wives or the youths in the communities.
Impeached former governor Ayo Fayose once boasted that he put you in the office and that the same way he put you there, he would boot you out because he is considered a largely grassroots person and popular. No doubt, Mr Governor, you have done well from what we see around, but how well have you been able to cancel that image perception this time that he has come around?
You know, one of the things I have tried not to do on this job since I occupied this office is to denigrate anyone who was there before me and I try as much as possible to ride above that and that is the reason people will tell you that he is up there, he is an intellectual and we don’t even know what he is doing in politics, he is not a grassroots man. What is the definition of grassroots? Grassroots means in my own considered opinion, affecting the lives of the people.
Grassroots for me is not eating corn on the road side. It does not mean being rude to traditional rulers. It does not mean disrespect for civil servants or ordinary people, and when somebody wakes up and say he puts me in office, I also expect journalists, except they just see him as an entertainer which this person you are talking about is in that respect, to actually query that and ask, how did you put him in this office, because this guy was heavily involved with the people that removed you from office. He acted with his colleagues, though he was just an aspirant then, he played a critical role in your impeachment as the governor of this state, is it generosity on your part that then allowed you when you were on yourself imposed exile and ran out of this place, please do the chronology. In October 2006, you were kicked out of office, April 2007 I ran as governor and you were not in the country. In April 2009, you were back into the country and the Appeal Court declared a re-run election in the state and obviously, you saw the drift, you were opportunistic the way things were going in the state and you realised that the former governor Bamidele Olomilua was with me, former governor, Niyi Adebayo was with Fayemi, I and Engr Oni were polls apart, Fayose and Oni though in the same party but Oni couldn’t stand him and Oni was the one running and you thought the way you could gain traction was to be seen on the side of the person the generality of the people were supporting. What was your role? Yes, you went around with some campaign banners with the inscription, ‘Vote for Fayemi.’
How many people went around with that? They are so many, including the elite, including Fayose at the time though he was in the opposition, but you know and having said all of that, even if that is a role, I want to commend Governor Fayose for recognizing that I was a better candidate than the incumbent at the time and for supporting good. There is nothing wrong in that and neither could the campaign be run on the basis of whether you supported Fayemi or you are Fayemi’s godfather. It is only right to bring Fayemi to power. We have seen situations in this country where people who truly put in office cannot even visit the state. You know what I am talking about, let alone of somebody who just supported you with words of mouth.
Yes, that is good and every support counts and one must not under estimate one support for the other, but to say that you put me in office is post impeachment hallucination he suffered from, and that is why he has that self-exaggerated estimation of himself. Having said that, he did his best, but I was in the race just to stick to the facts against him, I came into this race in 2005 and he was still the governor, so how could he be supporting somebody who came into the race to challenge him. And I know the efforts he made to bomb me off the race. The records are there. So, somebody who ran against you was the same one that brought you to office is something people should rationalize on. You know people don’t dig deep at times and that is why we must just not let this past.
Ordinarily, I shouldn’t be responding to things like this but I know that this is a silly season, election period are silly seasons when people will come out with all manner of claims. I was the one who bought his car because he was not having one, I was the one who bought his form for him, and he didn’t know anybody. The other time somebody even said I was a PDP operative, and a speech writer for Chief Obasanjo and that he even begged me to leave as speech writer for Obasanjo and he took me to another person and that was how I became a candidate for our party in Ekiti.
We are truly amazed at the unusual and massive support you have continued to receive from traditional rulers, even as many of the people spoken with have applauded your achievements. Curiously however, they still presented shopping lists. Does that mean your administration has yet to fulfil its promises to the people?
It implies that our administration has not done everything; neither do I know of any administration that has done everything. What is the justification for continuity then if we have done everything? And if we have done everything, then we shouldn’t be begging the people for their votes to come back. I have realized that I have not done everything and that is why I am asking people to allow me to complete the job I have started. We also noticed in most of the communities that when you see their list of requests, we have actually completed and things they are asking for.
They will tell you for instance that in almost 18 years of the state’s existence, nothing like this has happened. The schools we have fixed in the state, it will surprise you that some of them have been existing since the days of Chief ObafemiAwolowo and they were not touched. The hospitals, the roads, were built in 1959 in some communities, only few communities have roads. The governors that had come only put laterite and some black coats on them, and by the sixth month, the roads are washed away. That is the difference people are seeing, having roads constructed into palaces, villages as some of the traditional fathers are saying during the campaign train yesterday. It was new to them because people don’t use local government money like this before.
They are amazed that we are really using the money to service the interest of the people. It is bit strange and my explanation to them is that the money some people expect me to be throwing in a ‘Baba rere, Baba ke’ fashion on the streets of Ekiti, which I don’t do and does not qualify me enough as grassroots in their estimation is what I use to pay N5, 000 to elderly people, constructing roads in the communities, give their schools furniture, build hospitals and revive industries like Ikogosi, the Ire Burnt Bricks Industries and the like. We just have to draw people to these realities and once they begin to understand, they will see between a government that has a plan for them and a government that does thing on a hoof without any agenda.
The other day, somebody asked one of the opponent candidates, just tell us what you can do that Fayemi has not done and what you are going to do differently. I think it was published in the Nigerian Tribune, and he waffled almost half of the column. He waffled that we have worked; he even acknowledged that we have worked but how much is he spending doing the work and then he went on to promise the people that he would also tackle unemployment but he couldn’t explain how. How are you going tackle the unemployment, how are you going to bring private investors that Fayemi has done, no answer. None independent and verifiable measurable concrete answers, none. He just waffled. Of course, he is banking on the hope that people will buy waffle, but this is Ekiti!
So, your Excellency, would you say within the last three-and-half years as the governor, you have honoured your pledge to the people of Ekiti?
At the risk of sounding immodest, I will say yes, but I don’t just want them to take my yes for a yes. I always encourage people who have asked me this kind of question to do two things – pick up the road map to Ekiti Recovery which is the agenda I ran on in 2006/2007 and my inaugural speech when I became the governor in this state and mark it paragraph by paragraph.
These are things I said long before I became governor which people thought was romantic at the time. That I will pay the elderly; they said are we number 35 on the revenue ladder, where will he get money to do that? I will put laptop computers on the table of every secondary school child in the state. He is talking like a politician. We have heard that before. I will revive industries like Ikogosi, Ire Burnt Bricks and the rest… so, I always encourage people to do a simple test that you can even give a secondary school student in Ekiti. Ask them, ‘what did he say he would do?’ ‘What has he done?’ When people in my local dialect say ‘O wi be, o se be.’ What it simply means is that he is a promise keeper. Everything he said he was going to do, he has done. And where he has not completed it, we can see the trajectory, he has started the work, we have seen how far he has gone and he keeps communicating to us the challenges he has. I don’t think there is anywhere you can go in Ekiti today, not even those running against me and interestingly, just to back up this and in fairness to them, none of them has said Fayemi has not worked. Either they said yes, he has worked but he is serving the elite, masses are hungry or they say, yes, he has worked but we can do better. But when you ask them what they would do better, you don’t get any satisfactory answer.
The difference is between what I have done and what has happened in this state before and what is even happening. I have asked people, even seasoned journalists to ask for their plans because this is two months to the election and I am using this opportunity to ask you to go to any of my competitors and ask for their plans for Ekiti. This is the departure point. What is that you want to do for the people of Ekiti, rather than this nebulous claim of I can do better? The way I went around this state with the road map, everyone in this state can recite the 8-point agenda. The old, the young, students, the detached who are not politicians know Fayemi’s agenda because I went to every community and shared it with them. I said I will not do development for people, but I will do development with the people. When we started the regular town hall and village meeting before doing budget, that is my very first budget, people did not believe me and were instead asking themselves how can he come and ask us what to put in the budget. And after the first year, they started believing that what we said, we have started doing it. And they said, he is even giving us money to do it by ourselves without government awarding the contract. Like I said earlier, the issue here is not about performance. In fact, if this election was to be based on performance, I should not be campaigning, but this election has been elevated from a local specific Ekiti election, it has acquired a national colour and if you like a referendum on the presidential election of 2015, a precursor of sort and that is what people have termed it. And I am happy about that because it is about my people and they should be able to determine what has happened here.
Also, I think that there is a basic question people should ask before they go to the polls. ‘Has your life improved within the last four years?’ ‘Has the life of your community improved in the last four years?’ It is not whether if I vote for you, will that no be a rejection of President Jonathan? President Jonathan does not come into this picture at all. It is not an election about Jonathan for goodness sake and for crying out loud, it is an election about Ekiti State. So, the idea that we need a person with violence tendency because that is the only way we guaranty that President Jonathan breaks into the South west is one of senile and unintelligent approach to politics. Unless we see politics as a do or die venture, but I don’t. I believe politics is about improving the life of the people with the resources available to us, and Ekiti should be a model of what Ekiti should be. If it is violence, we will all have our result for 2015, if it is ballot stuffing, vote manipulation or register manipulation, the kind we saw in Anambra State, then you have your result for 2015. But that is not what an election should be.
Have I done well to the best of my own assessment and to every other assessment that I have seen, it is not by accident that I won the ‘Governor of the Year of Leadership Newspapers Group in 2012,’ and it is not also an accident that I have just won ‘Governor of the Year from Champion Newspapers this year?’ These are people and interestingly I followed in those election. Adam Oshiomole in Champion, BabatundeFashola, Peter Obi in Leadership. These are people who have also been adjudged to have done reasonably well as governors, without necessarily having a toga of violence hanging around them like a hallow.
But having said that, have I done everything? The answer is absolutely no. The resources are limited here and I have to juggle many balls in a very tough environment. This is a landlocked state. This is a state without oil only education is our oil, and we have had to restructure the economy, some of which has not earned me kudos. When you removed loads of ghost workers by computerizing pay roll system and you also introduced sanity into the bureaucracy, introduce examinations and all that, you know that will not endear you to those that are used to the free ride, but it may endear you to the generality of the population but not to those who never had interest in accountability and transparency, they will fight you.
Looking at your robust paradigm shift in governance which has come to play in the last three-and-half years which is different from what it used to be before you assumed office, what would you say is the drive, the motivation?
Well, antecedent does matter. I don’t wear my religion in the face, but I come from a catholic background and from a strict but disciplined civil servant father and my mother was a business woman. But growing up, I grew up very conscious of my environment. My father was an information officer in the Western Region, and I had access to five to six newspapers from age 5. I started my life knowing a great deal about my environment. When I came into high school at age 10, I had a nick name in Christ School, Ado Ekiti here, I was known as current affairs because I was the go person about anything in the world. I was the one to represent the school in quiz competition and some other areas. You could say that I was a mass server in a Catholic church with very clear sense of good and amiable character.
In fact, morality played a very strong role in politics and it is still playing that. When I went to school I became and naturally moved away from social democratic libertarian values to politics of activism, and throughout my university days I was a student union activist, and of course, I was very active in anti-military pro-democracy struggles of the 80s, which led me to operate the underground radio – ‘Radio Kudirat’. So my politics is an extension of my activism, it is an extension of my background. This is the motivation, and in life, not all of us are going to have access to opportunities, but if you have access to opportunities, it does not mean I am better than that carpenter who is simply denied because he did not have the same opportunity I have. He might be probably brainer if we were to be placed on the same scale, with the same opportunity, with the same a civil servant father, who had knowledge of what was going around and he who could insist that my son must go to Christ School, Ado Ekiti, the best school around at the time and I must plan his path in life to somebody who is an orphan with nobody to plan his life and ended up eking a living as a wheel barrow pusher person or a farmer in the village with not even access to all the farming tools he requires. So, when you have such privileges in life, it is not a favour but a duty to do everything within your powers to pull the weak and the vulnerable in the society. That is what my politics is all about, it is ideological and I don’t believe that everything public is bad nor everything about private is bad.
And at the same time, I don’t believe that the end justifies the means. I believe that we have a duty and indeed a responsibility if you are in public office you should always look out for the next person, because if we build a society of the survival of the fittest, it is going to end up, brutish, nasty and short in the Hobbesian’s sense, and this is what is wrong with our country. The only motivation for making poverty an issue in this state is that but not accidental that we have the highest life expectancy in the country, neither is it accidental that we have the least in terms of children out of school in Nigeria, it is because we take conscious policy steps to ensure that it is not just that education is free but compulsory. And our child right act in this state makes it clear that if your child is of school age and he is not there, you will go to jail, neither are we going to pretend as if we did not see you, you are going to go to jail, because a kid must not be out between the hours of 8am and 2pm in the afternoon hawking goods on the streets in order to make ends meet in your family. There must be other ways in which you can to do that, so that that child can improve in life, because as for me education is the antidote to poverty.
Talking education now, your critics, have complained that you shut down three universities in the state and collapsed them into one. Another is that you shut down the state moribund textile factory and turned it to lock-up shops. How do you react to this?
Let me first quickly react to the last one. If you check the rebasing that has just occurred with the country’s GDP recently, check the percentage retailing takes in that rebasing, retail activities, shopping malls and the rest. Shockingly, retail now takes 15 per cent of our entire GDP. Shoprite in the next five years is opening a thousand outlets in Nigeria, nowhere else is this taking place in the world. It is not rocket science and people know that our textile industry cannot compete. If you have a textile industry that is moribund for 20 years and you just kept this facility there with nothing happening there, what you ought to have asked my critics is that, were they not in government, what did they do to the place? What did they do to Ikogosi? What did they do to Ire Burnt Bricks factory? These places were completely dead during their administration. Now that they have seen me turn that moribund textile place into a business park and businesses are operating in and out of it – Dangote Industries have a warehouse there, Metropolitan Motors is there, so are other interested parties taking facilities there, earning money for themselves and for government. This was the same place I gave to some of the people I drove away from the road sides when we were doing the dualisation and I found them an alternative place to operate from. On education, I have no apologies for collapsing three universities into one. I come from an academic background, and so, I probably have a lot more than many of them in terms of knowing what to do with the university system.
Again, this is independently verifiable. The merger of three universities into one in Ekiti has become the NUC model, and this tells you how effective it was. There are others who tried to do it after us, but they couldn’t and this was because we took everybody into confidence. In fact, it was the result of our education summit. Immediately I became the governor, we had an education summit, and everyone was worried that this is Ekiti, so if we must have a university, it must be a first rate one not a glorified secondary school. And in fact, what we had was a glorified secondary school. One of them as at the time had had its license withdrawn by NUC for not meeting the standard. These are not what they are talking about. The University of Education in IkereEkiti had had its license withdrawn, so the IkereEkiti people were already in arms complaining that university we don’t have and the college of education we had before has been repealed by law, so there is nothing for us. University of Science and Technology in Ifaki, the other one that was set up, I wish you have an opportunity to go there and see if that can be called a university. We will get to a stage in future when our state is so successful and we find a public-private partnership arrangement to have a University of Science and Technology on its own. I know we will get there and I am not ruling it out. But today, that decision we took has yielded significant dividend.
Ekiti moved in the last university geometric rating from 210 to number17 in the country. Ekiti law graduates were the best in the law school in 2013. I am not even talking about secondary schools because it was a trajectory; the summit looked at basic education, secondary education and tertiary education. So everything we are doing in the education is informed by the recommendation of the summit headed by late Professor Sam Aluko. Ekiti University as at today has 67 of its courses accredited by NUC, this never happened in the past. All its courses are accredited now apart from medicine and we have not reached that stage. Except medicine, that is undergoing accreditation process. In addition to this, the management that I put in place as governor has erased some of the well-known and bad vices associated with that university – cultism, sale of hand-out by lecturers, which is not happening the students. We have lecturers who are abroad now studying for their PhDs on the university’s sponsorship. You have a university that is now enjoying capital funding, increased from government. For the first time in its 32 years history, all they used to get from the state government is just to pay salaries, but for the first time we now approve capital funding for them in spite of the limited resources of the state. If you go there now, we are currently constructing 2 kilometers of road in the university. I was there few weeks back to commission the university’s medical library. Buildings are springing up there in a manner that was never done. We are also building hostels for the students, just to make sure they have a university life. If you go to the College of Education that we resuscitated in Ikere, you will find the same. And I am not talking about the secondary schools which are virtually all brand new now, and which have seen our results move from 20 per cent in WAEC public examination to 70 per cent in the last examination.
So within three years, we moved from 20 per cent to 70 per cent. My own school, Christ School that had a lousy result of 9 per cent in 2012 had 100 per cent in 2013. Every single child that wrote WAEC in Christ School, Ado Ekti made five credits including English and mathematics. These are evidences you can find on the streets.
Your share of the federal allocation, as erratic as it is, because it has been oscillating between N1.9-N2.2 billion and at the best of times N3 billion which was only about two times since you became the governor, yet you embarked on these massive infrastructural development, how do you fund them?
And somebody said I have wasted N400 billion in 40 months, and I said if got N400 billion in 40 months, that means I get N4 billion every month. That is the logic.
Looking at the topography of the city, the landscaping you have done and the quality of the roads because we took time to move around the city and what you have said of your intervention in education sector, where are you getting funding from?
You know, I have always believed that money alone is not the solution to all problems. Money is more important, but planning is even more important than money for prudence and focus. There are no white elephant projects in this state. I am the first governor that came here and said I was going to complete unfinished projects from my predecessors. Some of them pooh-poohed by saying he was only just completing projects we started, but now we have finished them.
But there were several other projects before that too that were not completed but were abandoned. In fact, there is no big deal in me starting a project and leaving the project uncompleted, but there is the negative environmental impact on the community when you do that, so we have finished all these projects. We started our own projects that were contained in our own programme like Ikogosi, the Civic Center, the Freedom Pavilion, or the Government House. This is the Government House and I cannot find anywhere to put you (Reporters). This is my sitting room in Government House, and somebody will say why does Ekiti need a Government House, and that Fayemi is elitist. Am I going to carry it to my village when I am no longer the governor from that hill top? So, you are right, the resources are limited but I see reference to inadequate resources as an excuse for inaction. If you will it, you will find the mechanism to do it. When we were doing the plan, the head of our strategy group, more cerebral than I am, some of you may know him, and he is our senator representing Ekiti North now in Abuja, Senator OlubunmiAdetunmbi. We actually did comprehensive costing, because we had 100 days plan, a six months plan, a year plan and we had a 24 month plan, just as we also had 36 months plan. We also had a comprehensive four years budget plan of what it will cost us to run this government. We had all these plans before we came into office. And if you recall in my three years in the courts, I did something very different in this country, anytime Governor Segun Oni publishes his budget, a week after, we published an alternative budget and we advertised that alternative budget in the papers, because we knew and was confident that we were going to get into the office. So, we did not want to get into office and start asking ourselves, how are we going to run it?
We knew everything we were going to do and we knew the cost and we knew what was likely to be accruable to Ekiti in four years. It has even gone down than our expectation, but because we knew of alternative plans like the World Bank giving us money for water, we also won another $50 million education grant from the same bank, and because I come from international development background, all the international development agencies that were out of the state before, came back immediately I became governor. So, when people ask, ‘how is he able to do it,’ there is this aspect of it! But I also went to the capital market because of the fall in our calculation of the income side of our expenditure and borrowed N25 billion, because I have a dream. We have2.5million people and we get N2billion averagely in a month, my good brother and governor of Balyesa State has about 800,000 or one million people and they N22billion every month. So, this paints the picture for you. One million people with N22billion and 2.5million people getting N3billion. So, when people talk of uncommon transformation in AkwaIbom or Balyesa States, they should come and see what the real uncommon transformation is in Ekiti, because it is what you do with limited resources that ought to count more than what you do with abundant resources.
Power is a great challenge. What is your administration doing about that?
Yes, you are right. It is a major challenge. Actually we just finished with our master plan for the power sector which was put in place by a professional team of consultants and we have a very good grasp of what the next 20 years will require in terms of power in Ekiti. And having done that assessment, we are now working with the TCN to put in some sub stations within the next few years, 133 KVA sub stations, one up north to service the agric belt which is coming up with a lot of processing factories now and one down south to take care of the industrial work round here. We are also putting IPP in the capital city to take care of offices, hospitals, the street lights and all manner of public sectors in the city here. This, we are doing also in partnership with a wide range of private sector operatives. Total Nigeria is working with us on a 30 megawatts solar energy plant in the state, and that is in addition to what we are doing in that sector. But power is so critical to us and that is why we are paying significant attention to it. Ten per cent of work that I would do during the second term by God grace will be concentrated on power, because we need to make Ekiti the hub for our knowledge zone. We want to create a knowledge based economy. We are not going to create an economy that will operate on black out. We need power and you need an uninterrupted supply of power. Note also that, what informed all these is the central vision of the Ekiti Recovery Road Map is banishing poverty from the state.
Many of the critics of regime claim that many of their aged people are not captured in the social security welfare programme, that it is strictly an APC programme, by APC and for APC. Is this true?
I went to a community few days back, and I was shocked by the chairman of PDP in a ward and he told me that he benefits from the social safety net scheme. This was done in a scientific manner. It is not even every APC out there that gets social security, there is a principle. You must be extremely indigent, not just that you are 65 years of age or above. You must not be on pension. So you don’t expect my parents if they were alive to benefit. It will be a disservice, because I can take care of my parents. And when we are asking those questions on the form, people didn’t know why we were asking those questions. But when we ask – where are your children or how many children do you have, and you know most parents are proud, some will say ‘yes,’ one works in Ibadan, another is a professor in ABU, even the sister came to visit me and she just left for Ibadan, in fact she is doing business there. By that, we know that you are out and not qualified, but we won’t tell you. So, when you are now better, later and complain that we didn’t pay you. I will call the agency and ask for the person’s form. We can’t capture everybody and if it must be a means tested and objective safety network programme, we must graduate it.
Last modified: September 15, 2014