Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart and former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, spoke with Deputy Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU of The Nation in Lagos on the Southwest PDP crises, reconciliation, national security and other issues.
How can the herder/farmer clashes be averted in the country?
The herders, the farmers have always been there. This land on which I built my house had been there before I built the house. The house was adjusted to this land. It is the herders that are migrating and moving to the land on which farmers plant their crops. Either in the North or South, land, on which farmers plant their things, is a constant factor. That is why you cannot hit a car at the back and be right because it offers you opportunity to see clearly. The man in front cannot see clearly those at the back. Therefore, it is the herders that are the issue. They must learn, like every poultry farmer, that modern life calls for modern grazing; grazing that is controlled; grazing where you do not use your business to destroy the business of others.
If we say it is good to graze anyhow, then, in Ikoyi, high brow Bourdilion, Victoria Island and top streets in Lagos, is it right for dogs to stroll around? Is it right for goats to move around? Because civilisation has come. Unending open grazing is no longer feasible. Everybody must respect the rights of others. Where your right stops, the rights of others start.
The current situation is not herder/farmer clash. The farmer’s land doesn’t move. It is permanent. It is constant. It is the movement of cows and herders that is causing discomfort for farmers. Whether the farmer is from the North or South, that is the standard position. Herders or cattle readers should control and contain their cows. Today, there is a mix up. There is herder/farmer crisis. That is one. Some people now are kidnappers. They are not herders. They are outright criminals. Is it herder that is jumping from the bush to the road, stopping vehicles and leaving their cows. I don’t believe that. Some call them bandit. I don’t know. Bandit is a group of people doing something. The actual criminals are the ones that are operating indiscriminately and destroying the lives of people. The money you hold people to ransom and ask them to bring money, you are not herders. Herders, most times, don’t leave their cows. You can tell me herders are crossing the road with cows. You can tell me herders are encroaching on land farms. Herders sometimes hold guns, cutlass and whatever. You cannot tell me that herders are the ones stopping vehicles on the road, hijacking vehicles and all that. These are another set of hijackers, criminals that are taking an advantage of a society that is not well protected. Are herders the ones that are going to abduct children in schools? No. They are not herders. It is because they have taken it as a lucrative business. I have said it. Nobody will convince me that government does not have hands in that. The former Head of State, Abacha, once said that once terrorism goes beyond one day, it is to the knowledge of the government. Government has everything to stop it. The moment government looks away, terrorism develops and grows. Most people using them for political gains, they know what they are saying.
If I become President today, the Nigerian Police will not be like this. The issue of police not being enough will not be an issue for me. When they are well paid, they won’t take bribe. It is the bribe that is the problem. That means a criminal can give you money and gets away. When you have honest police, living according to their brief, they are feared and respected. They will not condone crime.
How did Ekiti State handle the herder/farmer crisis triggered by indiscriminate grazing when you were governor?
It is not about indiscriminate grazing alone. There are criminals who could be children of herders. There are criminals who came to live with herders and herders do not know that they are criminals who had committed crimes somewhere. They came to settle with them for a period of time and they are terrorising the neighbourhood. I am not saying herders are doing the right thing. But, not all of them.
But, the leadership that does not rise up to deal with the criminality will bring evil upon its people. The moment you check it, the moment you don’t get away with it, and there is no directive to release criminals, all will be well. Today, people cannot come and give testimony against kidnappers or whatever because they can be released and go back to deal with their victims. But, the moment they cannot get off their hook, they know they are caught and they are in trouble, there will be no crime.
How did they catch the man living in Magodo? They should use the method. They said they tracked them. Track their phones now. Some of these people, they go to pay money to traditional rulers. They do things you cannot think of. He is living in Magodo. His boys are in the bush operating. Somebody will be kidnapped in Benin. They will say go and pay ransom in Lagos. When they have problems, they know who to call. They know who to talk to. When they want them to operate, they stand down. After the operation, they start chasing shadows. These are the challenges.
Why is it that in Britain, in America, you cannot get away with crime? Because their leadership is united in fighting crime. We can win the battle collectively. If our people and government are united to win the battle against terror, it is possible. Our borders are ridiculously porous. They commit crime in Nigeria, they go to another country. Sometimes, the government will go after someone who has committed minor crime. They will mobilise 40 mobile men, 40 soldiers and 40 DSS against him. But, they will say go and negotiate with bandits; go and give bandits money. You cannot reconcile these. Too much of hypocrisy. Look at what it took Nigerians; they cried an cried before the president could change the Service Chiefs. There is no government that is bigger than it’s people. The moment the government does not allow the electoral process to take its rightful place, you will be having these kind of things.
How can PDP avert parallel zonal congresses in the Southwest?
You can do parallel congresses. It is where the party is that matters. You can do two parallel congresses. One will be right; one will be wrong. I will prove the one that is right as right. I will prove the one that is wrong as wrong. That is it.
Does it mean there will be no basis, no room for reconciliation between you and the governor of Oyo State?
I cannot sit down together with him again. It is not possible. Makinde has been simply taken over by spiritualists. The likes of Hallelujah have taken him away. He is no more the Makinde that we used to know, the Makinde that we worked for. Makinde cannot operate without Senator Hallelujah. Any leader who cannot be independent in decision making will remain a weakling. You must be able to take decisions and take responsibility. You don’t say you are governor and you start doing other things. What does that mean?
The late Chief Bola Ige was a lawyer. His wife was a judge. Bola Ige would stand before his wife and say my lord. Was it true that she was Bola Ige’s lord? That office deserves honour. But, when your wife gets home, you say please, go to the kitchen and cook; go and do your duties as a woman. The woman too would not come and wear the toga of my Lord. She will end up in fool’s paradise. Those behind Makinde makes him to feel that the governor of Oyo State is bigger than the whole Western Region. Makinde will be criticising the National Working Committee. As who? It is not possible.
What is the basis for your endorsement of Bisi Kolawole as Ekiti PDP governorship candidate?
There is no basis. Bisi Kolawole never said he wanted to be governor. The fact remains that, if I want to choose somebody today, I will like to choose my former Commissioner for Works, Kayode Osho. Because he was the one that stepped down for Eleka. But, if I want to look at my personal interest, he may not be appealing to everybody, the majority. So, I thought it wiser. I watched every one of them. They have always met. They cannot deny it. They had agreed that, if whosoever we agree on, others should accept.
So, my decision is not final. There will still be primary. The party will still come and do the congress. There will still be an election to select the candidate. I have simply endorsed. It is not in my power to say you are the candidate. I just picked Bisi Kolawole as my own candidate. And I did that because we still have time and I don’t want people to be spending money and say, oga, you asked us to come out, you know where you are going. Why did you not tell us. Why did you allow us to waste money. So, I don’t want to be involved in that. So, it is my own decision to support Bisi Kolawole. The National Working Committee of the party will still send people in due time to come and do the needful. If you don’t accept what we have done, there will still be primary.
May I tell you, those who are opposed to giving the ticket to Bisi Kolawole, would they not need me? Can they do it without Ayo Fayose? Let us call a spade a spade. It is Haram when they don’t endorse you. But, when they endorse you, it is not Haram.
Source: The Nation