Nigeria’s Constitution is above every individual, says Ayodele Fayose
Embattled Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, endeavored at the weekend to extricate himself from alleged involvement in corrupt practices, especially as it concerned his campaign funds. Fayose in an interactive session with the media also traced the genesis of his problem with President Muhammadu Buhari asserting that it was all about Nigeria. SUNNY OGEFERE was there and reports.
Source of confidence on the campaign funds allegations
I have told you that it is a familiar terrain. They said former Minister of State for Defense, Musiliu Obanikoro brought N1. 2bn. And I am telling you; I had no financial encounter with Obanikoro. No money was transferred to me from the office of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki. Money laundering or whatever you are trying to establish is a chain, you must be able to trace the chain of money. And I want to tell you very clearly, the principles are very clear. If the NSA had sent money to me, it must be with my consent because I am the one contesting.
I got the monies from legitimate sources. Even during my election people were buying my souvenirs. You said you found money in my account. Yes, it is my money. If you give me money to do marriage, when I finish the marriage, am I supposed to return the money to you? My election was well funded by friends, associates, banks and different people. I never had it so good. After the election, am I supposed to carry the money back to them? It is my money. But I leave that one to court.
Have you ever seen a governor placed on travel ban? It is as good as saying I should leave the Government House. It is as good as saying I cannot live in my personal house because you suspect that house must have been bought with illicit money.
So, we must defend Nigeria first. The constitution is far and above every individual. The moment this constitution is being infringed upon; it doesn’t matter what they claim the person has done, it will consume the next person.
The possibility of waiving your immunity to seek redress in court
That is petty. They ask you to die so that you can test that you can wake up again. Let Buhari himself resign because of his wife’s problem. Don’t let us shy away from the truth. If we say it we will die, if we don’t say it we will die.
The harassment by the Federal Government does not bother me. The truth is constant and it will stand the test of time. It is still the same style they adopted during my first tenure. It shows that they are not comfortable when they are defeated. They believe that if they don’t give me problems, I will continue talking, and that the moment I succeed myself, they would have problem. But I am assuring them that I will succeed myself. They are brandishing figure in an attempt to tarnish me. I am their problem. By the grace of God, I am the only voice left and they want to crush it by brandishing all sorts of things.
Genesis of the problem with Mr. President
Well, I respect human beings but I fear God and we are all going to account for our leadership here. President Buhari is Nigerian leader without doubt, I am entitled to decide to support or not to support him based on principles and perceptions of the person.
Incidentally, this year I will be 56. When President Buhari was Head of State of this country, I was grown enough to know what he represented. The people that voted largely for President Buhari were under 40 years old because they dominated the social media; and the Bible says: “My people die for lack of knowledge – information.
He was Head of State 32 years ago – already he has been President for one year; anybody that would say I am 40 years at the time President Buhari contested was only nine years then. Nine years doesn’t know what Nigeria represents and that was why they voted for him, because they did not know whom they were giving their life to.
As a man who knew President Buhari then, I knew the total misrule of 1984 to 1985 – how the military suffered Nigerians, how a lot of leaders were clamped in chains using Decree 2. The same thing President Buhari did at that time is what he is doing now. You will recall that even late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Emir of Kano, Ooni of Ife among others had their passports taken from them. Their rights were taken away. A man that is grown cannot change. You can change nothing! Except you are converted – you are born again. The Bible says “Behold all things have become new”.
So, the way he is governing Nigeria today, is the same way he did before; by his appointments, by his taking away the rights of the people, by doing things without recourse to due process. I was listening to him when he was doing his first interview; he was still saying, “That boy, he would remain in prison”. He is not the law court.
It doesn’t matter who are benefitting from it today, at some point, a lot of people will come to realise the President we elected. I am not somebody who is afraid of anything. I have said it several times. There are two things a man seems to be afraid of; some are afraid of incarceration, some are afraid of death; I am not afraid of anything except God. I have gone through this road before. In 2006, I was charged to court by EFCC. I was incarcerated; I was in Ikoyi Prison for almost 50 days. After all they did, I am back in the Government House now. So when you do these things, you make me a better man.
When you look at the book of James, it says, “Don’t be in a hurry to get out of trouble”. When faith ‘worketh’ patience in you, it makes you a better man. Sometimes food is good, but fasting is better. I am not a man scared of all these. President Buhari has cowed most people. Fighting corruption is a great thing. It is good but anything that does not represent the truth is simply corruption. Anything that doesn’t represent justice is corruption … those who make peaceful change impossible would make violent change inevitable. You’re oppressing some people now either because they are not from your region or because you had issues with them before; it is mission for vengeance.
How would you keep people in jail when they are yet to be convicted? There are incarcerations for three, five, six months; there are a lot of people in different cells of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and State Security Services (SSS) suffering for nothing. What if at the end of the day the court releases them? Then their rights would have been violated.
There is nothing personal between President Buhari and I. There are instances that are so glaring now that people in the APC are like saints. Look at my state. There are document clearly – the EFCC have them but will not call somebody. Even in the letter they wrote they said, “This is a criminal act”, but when you are in the APC you become an angel.
Look at how the wife of the president was calling me “unchained mad dog.” You understand; this is our country, we cannot all be silent. Somebody has to talk. The one that is useful, you take it and the one that is not useful, you throw it away.
In fact, opposition is the strength of democracy. It is where the average man can get value for money. You are trying to silence Femi Fani-Kayode; you are trying to silence Olisa Metuh and others. My brothers, where in Nigeria have people contested election, vied for office and not spend money? All the aircrafts carrying President Buhari during campaigns, was it cows that were carrying him around – those cows he declared?
I want to make it expressly clear that what they are doing is not in the interest of Nigeria, to cow the people once opinion defers from yours. So, what nation are we building? A nation built on sectional and political interests? As much as you can call former president, Goodluck Jonathan’s name, the man never took a political prisoner. In fact, Jonathan should have been President in 50 years’ time because the man is too civil.
Advising Mr. President privately
I wrote three letters to the President none of them was replied. It didn’t start like this initially. About two or three times I called the villa, they would divert my call to the Chief Security Officer (CSO), saying I cannot talk to the President; that I should say whatever I want to say to the CSO, a sitting governor? That is not Nigeria. So, at that point, I had to stay clear because they are on a vendetta mission.
My fear is that Nigeria would be a country without opposition; the rights of the people would be taking from them in the name of fighting corruption. If we continue like this, journalists will be the next targets.
When to stop castigating Mr. President
I am not talking about castigating the President. I talk about Nigeria. It is not personal. You will recall that there have been times I commended him for some of his actions. There are fundamental things that connect us a people. We can be angry at each other but we must eat, pay our bills and fuel our vehicles. When Jonathan was president, as bad as you may want to paint him, the exchange rate was at N220 to the dollar; look at what it is today. Even if you want to buy newsprint for your newspapers, how do you do that? How do you pay your children’s school fees?
What I am saying about Buhari is not personal because he did not take my wife. During Jonathan’s time, some of our leaders insulted him but heavens did not fall and he didn’t muscle them. It is the same presidency and the same power. So, we must all fight for a Nigeria that all of us would be proud of. If you are looking at my issue with the President on a personal note, tomorrow most of you will be proud that I stood up to be counted.
2014 confab report and restructuring of Nigeria
I have said it that Mr. President is not a democrat. Even in diplomacy, he has none. If he is going to jettison that report, he should have been diplomatic about it. Sometimes you want to disassociate yourself from what your predecessor did because you have your own style, but in doing that, you must realise that such things were done with public funds. Eminent Nigerian sat and deliberated at the conference, Nigeria is not a country he can rule by fiat.
Forget about that because nobody knows tomorrow. I will support somebody because it’s my right to do so, and I will consult widely. I am going to present three or four personalities before the people to make a choice. There is no one who is part of the process of the emergence of a candidate who will not vote for him in the governorship election. My identity is the common man’s identity and that is why the elites don’t like me. They feel insulted that Fayose is leading them despite all their grammar. It is not their fault and I don’t blame them for that but to whom God has chosen, He has anointed and to whom He has anointed He has chosen.
The money owed in this state, was not owed by me. I was governor between year 2003 and 2006; I left N10. 4bn in the coffers of this government when I was leaving; I left hurriedly. Part of the N10.4 was what I used in the recapitalisation of Wema Bank through Oodua. I came back and I met this state in debt.
Don’t forget I left on October 16, 2006 and I came back again October 16, 2014. That is divine! And most of second term governors were the ones that put their states in debts. I am fresh. I came back and I met N31bn commercial loan. I met N25bn bond. On the bond alone, we pay about N600m every month. On the restructured commercial loan, we pay almost N300m every month. They take N900m from that. When we took bailout for workers’ salary they now deduct N89m for that; if you add 89, which is almost 100 that is almost N1bn.
Then they allowed us to borrow N10bn for capital instead of sharing the excess crude oil money. On that N10bn, they are charging close to N100m for 20 years. So, Ekiti will pay the N300m until 2036. The N600m will be until 2022! And you are asking why I owe? That is what I owe! In this Government House sometimes we don’t have light. If you look at it now, in the Governor’s office we can’t put on the light. We have to shed light to have this one because we can’t even do more than 15, 000 litres every month. When I got here they take about three trailers. I can’t even take half a truck. So, if anybody is talking about debt profile, they should ask the last administration.