Chief Olusoga David, Special Adviser to Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State on Political Matters was the immediate past Commissioner for Investment, Trade and Industry. In this interview by SAM NWAOKO of Tribune, he speaks on the political interest of his boss, among other issues. Excerpts:
Why were you appointed Special Adviser on Political Matters by Governor Kayode Fayemi from your position as Commissioner?
Probably he must have checked my track records through my CV. I have been into politics since 1993 when I retired from the Federal Civil Service, have been the PRO of Social Democratic Party (SDP) have also been the State Secretary of Alliance for Democracy (AD) and have always been among the nucleus of winning political parties in Ekiti State. More so, I led Moba Local Government Area which scored the highest number of votes during the primary that produced Dr John Kayode Fayemi as the APC candidate in 2019.
Your boss is nursing Presidential ambition come 2023 and this has been generating reactions from different quarters. As his Special Adviser on political matters, what is your view on this and how are you handling it?
It is actually not a matter of Dr Fayemi’s personal ambition, it is a clarion call, a national resolution and desire. Before Ekiti APC stakeholders meeting took that decision on the 24th of January, 2021, a monumental decision was earlier taken at the Arewa House in Kaduna, where Dr Fayemi was dignified and honoured to deliver a lecture marking the Arewa 50th anniversary lecture. Dr Fayemi was the second very important person from the Southern part of Nigeria to be so honoured, the first being the Oba Akenzua of Benin. So by that action the thunder had been stolen. If the power that be in the Northern part of Nigeria could identify and recognize him as a credible leader who has the ability and capability to lead Nigeria, what are we in the South waiting for? Hence the APC stakeholders in Ekiti State followed suit and that makes it a national agenda for a better Nigeria – JKF now the face of a New Nigeria.
Who are these people you said are behind Governor Kayode Fayemi’s ambition?
The APC stakeholders present at the meeting are ten leaders from each of the sixteen Local Government Areas, the party exco members from each of the Local Government Areas, all political office holders, the councilors and supervisors from the sixteen Local Government councils. Before then, the Ekiti Obas, Iyalajes and Iyalojas have expressed their support for the noble idea. More importantly, the Senators and Honourable Members from the National and Ekiti State House of Assemblies. The youths have also lent their voices.
Dr Fayemi is serving his second term in office as Governor of Ekiti State. What do you think stand him out as the best choice for the President of Nigeria?
He has the competence, patriotic character, courage and the right connections. These are the main qualities that stand him out as a national leader and would-be ‘first citizen of Nigeria’. He is a very cerebral leader with a track record and a destiny, the hope of the youth in Nigeria. The position of the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) made him the alternate President of Nigeria. His ability to lead a peaceful and progressive NGF qualifies him for the position of the President of Nigeria. JKF has the good name, qualification, experience, reputation and pedigree, which eminently qualifies him to, as it were, step into the position of the President of Nigeria.
His intervention in the Osun State governorship election, his chairmanship of the Presidential primary that produced President Muhammadu Buhari, his intervention in the Ondo State eviction order on Fulanis are evidences of his firm belief and unalloyed commitment to peace and prosperity of Nigeria. He has used his prominence and high knowledge to speak up for the benefit of Nigerians. His wife has risen up to speak up for the women, fighting against sexual and gender based violence and harassment. To him, the country’s unity remains sacrosanct and none negotiable, no wonder His Eminence, Alhaji Dr Sa’ad Abubakar, the Emir of Sokoto described him as the adopted son of late Sir, Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto.
You see he has turned every village in Ekiti into construction sites. He has renovated schools and provided superior infrastructures in all towns and villages of Ekiti State
He has done a lot for Ekiti people and they want him to replicate such at the Federal level by asking him to proceed to the zenith of his political career so as to be able to do more for his people and the generality of Nigerians.
Don’t forget that he is running a knowledge based economy and that was about the first place that such is being practiced successfully in Nigeria. He also established a knowledge zone that acts as the Ivy valley of Ekiti State where knowledge and technology thrives. Don’t forget about the ‘Owo Arugbo’ social security stipends which provide succour to the aged and the vulnerable.
So the stakeholders from across the country want him to be the first citizen of Nigeria. While at the Arewa house lecture in Kaduna sometimes last year Governor El’Rufai said and I quote, “we in the North don’t just do anything by half measure; very soon you will know why we are here”. Don’t forget Sultan himself was there, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar was there and there are lots of people there, not just APC people, there are people from other parties too.
Recently, some projects were commissioned during the celebration of his second year in office, we call them ‘Legacy Projects’ because they are projects that would last long after him and bring about sustainable development to the state. Among such projects we have the Oja-Oba market construction, the Civic Centre and many others too numerous to mention.
How did he react to the stakeholders request?
According to Proverbs 16:19 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
It is a monumental task. He has a potential for focused-thinking and sees things from a strategic perspective. He believes in saying the right words at the right time. Successful people have a sixth sense –common sense. Common Sense is the ability to see things as they are and to do them as ought to be done, the abundance of common sense is called wisdom. So in his response, he advised us to exercise patience. According to Brian Adams, “Patience creates confidence, decisiveness and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success”. Winners must plan and prepare to win. The key word is preparation. In his words we all must embrace the 5Ps, i.e Proper Preparation Prevent Poor Performance. So he advised us to pray and plan. My belief is that, success is not an accident; it is the result of intelligent efforts. It takes a lot of preparation and character. Character is a combination of integrity, loyalty and respect. Most of my colleagues all over the nation bear witnesses to his humility, simplicity and comportment. I was the immediate past Commissioner for Investment, Trade and Industry and have attended workshops, conferences and economic summit in Cross River State, Akwa Ibom State, Edo State, Osun State, Kaduna State, Kastina State and FCT Abuja and they all asked me to urge him to come out and run for this plumb position, the position of the President of Nigeria.
Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is regarded as the leader of your party APC is believed to be interested in the number one seat and the same Tinubu is believed to have played crucial roles in Dr Kayode Fayemi reclaiming the governorship position in Ekiti State. Don’t you think there will be a clash of interest?
None has openly declare his intentions.
So, you are ruling out a misunderstanding or clash of interest in that regard?
Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu is yet to declare his intention to run, likewise my boss. It is his people and numerous like-minded nationals who are calling on Governor Fayemi to answer the clarion call. That Dr Fayemi has the competence, the character and the connections and that he has all it takes to lead the country. And what does it take to be the leader of a nation; these are the three main qualities. His attitude has determined his altitude. I will give you an instance I was in a workshop in Abuja and a lot of people all over the States were in attendance so when I was introducing myself I was a commissioner then and you can see and feel the enthusiasm in the people they were like oh that’s the commissioner from Fayemi’s place and when I was asked to make my presentation they were all clapping, shouting saying yes this is the commissioner from the man with the knowledge based economy. So not only knowledge economy we have a knowledge zone, my friend from Katisina, the commissioner for Commerce said so you have zone for knowledge me too I’m going to establish one in my State. So Fayemi is always coming up with novel ideas and don’t forget most people I have met across states are in love with his humility, humility is the foundation of good values and God says He would uplift people with humility, so he has everything going for him.
Going by the political permutations in the country, do you think it is the turn of the South-West to produce the next President?
Oh! Very much so, very much so, you see in Nigeria we have zoning arrangement and then we have rotation, you understand, when it gets to the place targeted for zoning there will be rotation of power within the zone, for instance if the Presidency is zoned to the South West, it will be rotated within the South West States i.e Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo and Ekiti. The South West had been the bedrock of the progressives politically. And in the South West, Ogun/Lagos axis had produced three Presidents of Nigeria in the past. We have Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Ernest Shonekan and Chief MKO Abiola all from Ogun State. So now it will be fair and just to rotate the position of the President to Ondo/Ekiti axis.
And this time around Ekiti deserves to be favoured ahead of other States in the aforementioned zone, even on moral ground. It was the late Lt-Col Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, an Ekiti man, who died for the unity of Nigeria while defending the late Head of State, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi.
Has there been any kind of consultation with the traditional rulers on this project?
Yes, definitely so, we are their sons and daughters and whatever be their want is our wants and vice versa, yes they are part of the stakeholders I talked about earlier who are solidly behind the agitation for him to run.
As Governor Fayemi’s right hand man in politics, and considering your closeness with him, what kind of response should stakeholders expect from him on this?
I should be frank with you here, he said nobody should do anything but the people said we want you, we are drafting you to come and run, to go and lead us to the top and I told you earlier of what Gen Adeyinka told me during the ‘Adebayo for Governor’ (AFG) campaign time when his son was contesting for Governor of Ekiti State he said look if your people are planning to give you something good and you refused they will give you something that may not be pleasant to you.
If you can’t fight for what you want, you should not cry for what you lost, so that’s the premise upon which the stakeholders stood and of course on the other hand it’s the position available? Yes it will be available, is Fayemi suitably qualified for the position? Yes of course by virtue of his being the alternate President of the nation, he is eminently qualify. Otunba Niyi Adebayo, the Hon Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria usually call him, the Governor-General of Nigeria. That is talking about the position of the Chairman of Nigeria Governor Forum. I belief his emergence as the Chairman through a consensus and not through voting is an added value to his popularity. Nobody in the South-West has ever been in that position which mean he is qualified, if he can lead the Governors then he can lead Nigeria and he his heavily connected, he has been a human right activists and so he has the dignity, the moral rectitude, moral power to lead Nigeria. I told you when we went to Kaduna there were hundreds of women carrying placards with inscriptions like ‘Fayemi, we want you’, ‘We trust you come out and run for the President’, that shows the level of the commitment of the stakeholders across Nigeria to this project. More importantly, there is an added value to that ambition because you know what we enjoy in Ekiti through his wife; she has been fighting for the right of women in the state, especially as regard tackling Sexual and Gender Based Violence among women, girls and the vulnerable in the society. I’m sure with age on the side of Governor Fayemi he will make use of his God given gifts to bring about the desired transformation. He is very young, agile, even myself as the SA Political myself at times I wonder how he does things with such energy and when it comes to planning you will see that his brain is working at a higher level. Going by the recent crisis over Fulani eviction from Ondo you can see how he was able to apply his problem solving skills like King Solomon to douse tension and resolve the issue with utmost maturity required of a leader. Even when we had crisis in our party in Osun during Governor Oyetola’s election he waded in and makes peace among the parties.
But there is this belief that Governor Fayemi is aligning more with the North than with the South-West. What do you say to that?
Nigeria has got to a stage that we are one when it comes to the issue of politics, so how do you say somebody is aligning with another group when we see ourselves as one. This is somebody who is the present Chairman of a body uniting all the Governors across states. That’s why he said you can’t send the Fulanis away because constitutionally we are one indivisible entity. Everybody have the equal right to choose where to stay, because first and foremost we are all Nigerians and if you look at Governor Fayemi’s patriotic character, that alone qualifies him more than anybody else. He doesn’t believe in Yoruba agenda, Ibo agenda or Hausa agenda but he believes in Nigeria agenda and that’s what the nation needs now, we need somebody who can unite every tribe, religion, ethnic groups together. Have said it long time ago when he was contesting that Governor Fayemi is the key to Ekiti prosperity, then there was no Ikun Dairy Farm and many similar projects, you can see my vision, he has been able to revive most of these landmark projects that were moribund, now we have about three dams and all of them have been fully upgraded and we have water everywhere. He is a man who doesn’t make noise; he is a smooth operator and a silent achiever. Now we have bottled Gossy water all over the place.
Assess the Federal Government and President Buhari’s performance so far. Are there chances for your party to come back in 2023?
Yes definitely the party is winning and coming back in 2022 in Ekiti State and 2023 at the Federal level. Giving the fact most of the APC projects, progammes and initiatives have direct bearing, direct impact, not only on the wellbeing of the citizenry, but on the nation’s political stability and economic survival. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government in its wisdom closed the nation’s borders for us to think out of the box and be alive to our responsibilities and the results are very glaring for everyone to see. We have moved from consumption to production. Nigeria has changed from been the chief importer of rice and other products to chief producer and exporter of rice, that’s a big accomplishment. It has helped a lot in sustaining our economy when the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced. Nigerians are now growing rice at a very high rate and expanding their rice production capabilities with more rice mills springing up in every state. There are other various incentives introduced through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to promote entrepreneurship and stabilise the economy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic such as providing soft loans to households and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises aimed at keeping businesses afloat. We have the N-Power, the Special Public Work recruitment across the 774 Local Government Areas of the country, Conditional Cash Transfer initiative, Conditional Grant to Artisans, Anchor Borrowers Scheme and so on and so forth. The Government has done a lot in reviving the railway system of transportation. Recently Prof Wole Soyinka said he enjoyed his journey through the railway services from Lagos to Abeokuta and that’s the beauty of it all. A message is as important as its carrier. So you can see that the APC still remain the party to beat come 2022, as Fayemi’s legacy projects are sustainable and speak volumes. The party at the Federal level and in Ekiti State remains the party to beat in 2023 as President Buhari continues with his Midas touch across the sectors in the nation.