If Herders, Farmers Crises Continue, The Rich Will Cry – Ex-Ekiti Governor, Fayose Warns

Peter Ayodele Fayose, former Ekiti State Governor Photo
Peter Ayodele Fayose, former Ekiti State Governor

It was vintage Peter Ayodele Fayose, former Ekiti State Governor and enfant terrible of Nigerian politics, when he appeared on Channels Television programme, Sunday Politics, to field questions on the brewing Fulani herdsmen/farmers crises in Oyo State in particular, and other states in the Southwest; the crisis rocking the Southwest geopolitical zone of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, and the speculated defection of Femi Fani-Kayode, two-time minister and perceived strong voice of the opposition, to the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Fayose believed that the presidency, as the leader of government, ought to have taken the lead in the resolution of the herdsmen/farmers’ crisis. According to him, Buhari’s “presence or presidential delegation would have assuaged a lot of things”. The former governor also insisted that Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho must be used positively in the resolution of the crisis rather than demonise him.

Insisting that PDP never lost election, Fayose asserted that “the fact that you forced yourself into office; these are the consequences that you are seeing. These are the challenges that you are seeing”. On PDP members dumping the party, the former governor said “Anybody who leaves PDP for APC at this time must be taken away by his own covetousness” and is “dishonourable”. While he was unequivocal that Fani-Kayode would not leave the PDP for the APC, Fayose however challenged him to speak up. Speaking on the rift between him and Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Fayose declared that “Makinde cannot come out and say he’s my leader. He’s not!”

What is your immediate reaction to the brewing crisis in Oyo State, as a former governor?

It got to a point that I probably want to be quiet because it appears everything has broken down in our country, and nobody in authority is doing anything to protect anybody. I said it when I was here sometimes ago, I said a situation where the military will get to a level of going to the media to celebrate what I call arrest of a Boko Haram or whatever, in the face of a global insecurity. What I am trying to say in effect is that when the head is sick, the whole body will be in trouble. This problem is becoming a situation where you cannot tame such situations anymore. Nigerians are daily helpless. If you know me, I have been very vocal in respect of the security, economy, and the challenges facing our country. In this peculiar situation, I want to appeal to all our colleagues, my former colleagues – the new ones, and the old ones – to please put behind them ethnicity, religion. All these sentiments must be behind them; to come together. While we blame Mr. President today, governors too have a role to play. The governors are on the spot and they are supposed to hold their states.

As a governor, yes, you don’t have the right to call the police, or to give certain directives as the chief security officer in quotes, but the reality is that you must be proactive. In the case of Nigeria, I want to appeal to all the governors, whether you are APC, whether you are PDP, please come together. This language of herdsmen can carry AK 47 in defence of themselves; this language of you leaving my state and going to another state, or don’t stay here, or don’t stay there, can be managed in clear dialogue and in sincerity of purpose.

If we continue like this, the rich would cry; if we continue like this, we can see a sample of what happened during the just-ended #EndSARS crisis. The rich will cry, the big guys will cry. The big governors, the untouchables, they will cry. Yes, your children may be abroad; yes, you may have stashed enough money away, but you will not spend that money in peace.

You are referring to the political class.

I am talking generally because the political class is not the only ones that are rich and comfortable. There are big people in various industries – the oil sector, the banking industry, you have it all around. Everybody has a responsibility to Nigeria. If they are not careful, we are on the brink.

In the circumstance that you just mentioned (Oyo crisis), I think the governor needs to be more proactive. I’ve said generally, the governors must come together and do more and put behind “I am from the north, I am from the south, I am from the west”, and come together; forget about the Northern Governors’ Forum, the Southern Governors’ Forum; come together. The moment a governor comes out to say you can carry AK 47, then that is a license for some people. Even if that is your opinion, there are certain opinions that are better expressed in your closet because if we are not careful, we will set this country in flames.

I the case of Oyo State, with all due respect, and without being misrepresented because of this ongoing Southwest issues, I think Governor Makinde needs to be more proactive. Everybody knew this was coming. The issues in Oyo State in the last two weeks suggest an incident like this. When I was governor of Ekiti, I went as far as inviting the herders. The Myetti Allah, I brought them into Ekiti for one week. … What I did was to make laws to ensure that you can’t graze in my state; cattle can’t move in the night; I put checks everywhere and I ensured that if you want to graze, graze at appropriate areas. We have farm settlements; you are not supposed to be grazing there. I was very clear and those who crossed those lines went to jail.

Former governor of Jigawa came to see me; former governor of Kano came to see me. Emissaries from the then Emir of Kano came to see me. I was sincere, I meant well; you can say whatever you like about me. That law is what most of them are copying today. And we must shun hypocrisy in our country; in leadership if we’ll go far. And let me put it to you, like I said, Governor Makinde needs to be more proactive. Oyo State is a big state. Look at the incident that happened in Igangan. When a similar case happened in Ekiti, I was there same day; I took charge of that community; I slept in that community of a fact. And immediately they mentioned names here and there, instead of fight them, I went to look for them; I brought everybody to a round table. And this I am saying to you, I have told Governor Makinde.

You’ve spoken to him?

I sat him down; we sat together, and I told him, your Excellency, borrow from our experience. We are generals in this field. With all humility, Gov. Makinde would probably be about 32 years when I was governor; governor of Kogi would probably be 28 years when I was governor. I was governor in the second set with the likes of Governor Tinubu, with the likes of Governor Kalu and other governors at that time. What I am trying to say sir is that share experience. The fact that you are governor does not bring the totality of wisdom to you… But you must share this experience and we must pay attention to the governance of our state more than politics.

How do you hope the issue of farmers, herders crisis can be permanently resolved?

Well, things have gotten so bad in terms of this farmers/herders crisis. I don’t like when they say herders/farmers crisis, one, because most of these things are caused by people who deliberately do body harm and create problems for others. But the issue here is that the presidency, as the leader of government – the president and the presidency – ought to have taken a lead. Each time we say this, they say we don’t like the president. But we are appealing to him; his presence or a delegation…Let us, because of COVID-19, the president can’t come out, or couldn’t go anywhere, a presidential delegation would have assuaged a lot of things. It would have made a statement to show that you are not talking about issues of northern Nigeria, or southern Nigeria; we are talking about our people.

I would have expected the presidency to get a delegation to get into a few states and appeal to them. You have somebody who could speak to Hausa people; please Hausa people, please herders, can we stop. But when we are campaigning, we carry a Yoruba man to the Yorubas in a particular state; come and speak Yoruba to your people. When we are campaigning, we carry a Hausa man to Ekiti; come and speak to your people. We should do the same in circumstances like this. When you hear the language of our leaders – north, south – when you hear their language, you are worried. We can’t continue to drum war, war, war. We should just try and appeal to our people.

What’s your reaction to the activities of Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known a Sunday Igboho?

Well, like I said to you, in Oyo State, I spoke to the governor about Sunday Igboho and I appealed to him; bring him, sit him down. There is in every home, whatever you call Sunday Igboho; he said something that has generated a lot of heat; things are managed. Sometimes, when somebody says I will kill there tomorrow, you can as well go and beg him, bring him close and appease him to save a life. Sunday Igboho, for whatever he has said, is not ignorable in the circumstance that we have found ourselves. He can now be used positively to make peace rather than condemn him, ask him to go; they should go and arrest him and put him behind bars. That is not the story now. The situation that we have found ourselves calls for everyone to come to round table and appeal to their people.

Sunday Igboho might not be the best of persons, but the fact remains that when crises come, they come from the lower cadre of people in the society and they are the ones that can talk to their people. The big men stay in their houses; they send people out to go and resolve it. My appeal is that Sunday Igboho, no matter how stupid or how you perceive him he must be brought and be used positively in the resolution of this crisis.

About the crisis in the Southwest PDP, one is aware that you have some differences with Governor Makinde over the leadership of the party. Politically speaking, who is the leader of the party in the Southwest?

Well, let me educate you. The party, naturally, it’s our way to say whosoever is in government as the governor would have means to take care of the people in the party and automatically, by playing that role, you are the leader. I am not into any leadership struggle with Governor Makinde, no. But the fact is that Gov. Makinde cannot come out and say he’s my leader. He’s not! The fact that my son is coming, and he’s a governor, I have to get up because by norms he’s the governor. The gentle man is a governor and I must respect his office. I want to choose my words and I want to do a bit of clarification. Gov. Makinde, by all standards, is the only governor in the west; but I want to ask you, all South-south are PDP governors. Who is the leader of the governors? Because he’s the only one we have; I used to be like that. I never said to anyone I am the leader of the west, no. But if he wants to be addressed like that, it’s okay. But the issue is this; I just said it to you. The fact that I got up for my son, a governor coming to a function, does it mean he’s my father; does it mean he’s my leader? No, he’s not.

But what difference do you have with him? It’s obvious now that both of you are not in good terms.

Is Governor (Banajide) Sanwo-Olu the leader of Asiwaju (Nola Tinubu) in Lagos? Is (former governor Akinwumi) Ambode the leader of Tinubu, or Governor (Nyesom) Wike is the leader of (former governor Peter) Odili? Please, that language, we have to choose it. I just said it to you that Governor Makinde would probably be 31 or 32 years when I was governor in 2003; I am his brother. Don’t let me use languages that are unbecoming of a leader. He’s the leader in the Southwest by reason of his office. But when we go out, we will say Your Excellency; when we are at home, we are his father. Baba baba.

Peter Ayodele Fayose, former Ekiti State Governor Photo
Peter Ayodele Fayose, former Ekiti State Governor

So, what is the issue that you have with him?

I don’t have issues. Now, before Gov. Makinde came, there was a structure and that structure had Eddy Olafeso as chairman of the West and Rev. Jenyo as the secretary. And to be honest with you, in Southwest, everybody donates; you donate from your state. If there is something zoned to your state, you bring your people, and you are called Southwest executive. We met with Gov. Makinde; Eddy Olafeso was there, Governor (Olagunsoye) Oyinlola was there; Adebutu was there, the Adelekes were there; the one that is a politician. We sat and gave him the right as the governor to say these people say what is your view, they want to continue; more so, by reasons of Sheriff and the crisis we had, they’ve only spent two years in office. And you agreed to it. Whatever I’m saying before camera and before the good people of Nigeria, is nothing but the truth, and to the glory of God. I come here that I will not come and say anything to the contrary.

Governor Makinde said he believes in performance, efficiency and all that of Eddy Olafeso; that it’s all well he can go ahead. And I am saying it on my honour, in my name, and everything because I don’t like swearing in the name of God. We agreed; we left the place. He went to obtain forms for them. Suddenly, he changed. But may I say to you that there was a structure before Governor Makinde came and being a governor does not say you want to eradicate that structure; you can’t; we won’t let you.

Your friend, Femi Fani-Kayode, the governor of Kogi said he’s coming to the APC. Governor of Ebonyi is goe to the APC. Are things falling apart in the PDP?

May I say this to you very clearly; in the book of James chapter 1, from verse 4, you start reading. The book of James says “A man is taken away in his own covetousness”. Anybody who leaves PDP for APC at this time must be taken away by his own covetousness.

So, you may not find yourself in the APC in the near future?

It’s better for me to…I don’t know how to describe it. I am over 60; what do I want to become? I was governor at 42. All the opportunities anybody could offer, PDP offered me. I would now go to APC. What is missing sir? Some people could choose to be dishonorable; not me. I would rather go and be husband of my wife, Feyisetan Fayose, and then (father of) my son. For me, at this age, having spoken this much, having gone this far; having defended the people of Nigeria! You know when I used to come here; I am a very clear Nigerian and I am not going to play to the gallery. I am not going to impress you. The truth be told.

What I know is FFK too is going nowhere. The perception, what they are saying is not true. I’ve spoken to FFK about six times. I’m 100% sure. But may I say to you, a number of times, it’s normal for you to sell your market for those who want to buy. If FFK is going and he’s not gone by now, then you know that something is wrong. And if FFK leaves PDP, he would have been dead; he’s completely dead as a frontline Nigeria. He would be dead…FFK is not a politician anyway.

Somebody who was minister twice is not a politician?

A lot of people are ministers. FFK is not a day-to-day practising politician, but he is a fighter; he’s somebody who believes things must be done properly, and he’s doing that. And to the best of my knowledge, I’ve spoken to him; because I had to ask him. FFK, is it correct; is it true? He said my brother, it’s far from it. Then I said speak up; and I want him to speak up.

It was learnt about three governors may be leaving very soon.

I don’t want to join people to be insinuating, and in an attempt to do mind game, and say things that are not. If anybody wants to leave the PDP, those that have left PDP for APC, what have they brought back from there? With all respect to Senator (Iyiola) Omisore, what has he brought back?

Governor Fayose, as it stands right now, If things are like this in the PDP…

(Butts in)There is nothing unusual in the PDP; nothing unusual.

PDP lost election in 2015, you lost election in 2019…

Those who won the elections, what benefits have they become to Nigerians? Don’t let us deceive ourselves; PDP never lost that election. But let’s wait for them to run out their time.

Is there a possibility of the PDP to come back?

By the grace of God, PDP will come back. What I’m trying to say is that the fact that you forced yourself into office; these are the consequences that you are seeing. These are the challenges that you are seeing. The moment the people begin to respect the people, there will be sanity. Today, it is the people that are afraid of government; that is why you have all these challenges. When you win election properly through the ballot box, you will be afraid of the people. All that is happening around us is the government muzzling its own people.

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