Senator Dayo Adeyeye, national chairman of South West Agenda for Bola Tinubu for President (SWAGA) and All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial aspirant in Ekiti State, spoke to reporters about his preference for the primaries direct and agitation by Ekiti south to produce the next governor of the state. AYODELE AFOLABI was there.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) primary election is fast approaching, how do you feel on the ground?
If we trust the statement we made on Tuesday and if it allows all party members to be involved in the process, we are very confident that we will win it hands down. But then the party has three options for selecting a candidate – direct, indirect and consensual. The popular primary is the direct primary, which implies that each member of the party has the opportunity to participate in decision-making. But when you use the indirect primary, it means that you use a number of people who are not even chosen by the people. So it’s not democratic and it’s not the best. By now we should have moved beyond that into a system that will allow every member to participate in the process. So if it’s by direct primary, we are absolutely sure to win.
Nevertheless, we work for all options, but we are more comfortable with the direct primary. I keep saying that these 23 years that we started this democracy, we should have grown to such a point that complete democratic principles would have been instituted in the parties. We say we copy the American democratic system, but have we copied the way their candidates are selected. In the US presidential system of government, every party member is allowed to participate in the process of selecting the presidential standard bearer. This is the system I believe we should be practicing now in Nigeria. Because if the candidate does not emerge through a popular democratic process, there is no way to have good governance in Nigeria. Where someone sits in his closest and says he has anointed a candidate and uses the machinery of government to support him. The candidates that emerge through this process come by democratic choice and that is why you continue to have bad governance.
As soon as you start the process of democratizing the choice of the candidate, it is the day when you put an end to the sponsorship.
If in the end, your party is content with the indirect primary and your group is still challenging the congresses in court, what will happen?
Point of correction, I did not sue the party or anyone. But I am aware that some people who are not satisfied with the results of the congresses are in court. But the name Adeyeye was not among them. I did not participate in the process and was not a candidate at the ward level for the convention. So I couldn’t have had a locus on that basis to challenge anybody in court.
However, when this process is challenged in court, we have to play it safe, because if for any reason your members have gone to court to challenge the legitimacy of your conventions and the products of those conventions, and those are the people you want to use for these conventions, you have to find a way not to get tricked. We have seen it happen in this country, the Zamfara affair is an example in which the primaries and the general elections were held and the APC won all the elections, but the elections were canceled and that brought the PDP in power in this state and the same happened in Rivers State. To this extent, we must be wise and careful in using the indirect primary. Instead, we should play it safe and allow every member of the party to participate in the process.
A national daily recently reported that the man whose presidential project you are spearheading is supporting another candidate for governor of Ekiti, what is your reaction to that?
It’s not correct. It’s a lie. Or maybe an honest mistake because they assume that the way the aspirant pretends to be Tinubu’s candidate is not the best, I say, and it’s not the best. When I read the story, it says “who is supposed to support”, but it does not support this person. That’s what this person wants. This is the image he wants to project. That’s what he wants people to believe, but it’s not good. I don’t do that kind of politics. Even this seeker claimed to be a member of SWAGA. You have never participated in any SWAGA event nor have you spent a naira on the organization and you say you are a member, those are the kind of things that are really deplorable in politics and that is the kind of politics we play. That’s the kind of stuff I struggle with. I’m not saying we can have a perfect system, but I’m not happy with that kind of politics. But that’s not right.
Did you inform Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu of your aspiration to the post of governor and what was his response?
Of course, you don’t expect me not to inform him. Apart from him, I did broader consultations before my coming out. I spoke with leaders, colleagues and friends. Any reasonable person who wants to embark on a project like this must consult widely. As to whether he gave me the green light, I will not answer. It’s not for you to know.
It is an open secret that Governor Fayemi supports one of the aspirants, are you aware of this and what is your reaction?
It’s not a secret and you don’t need to hide behind a finger. The truth is Governor Fayemi is supporting a wannabe. In fact, he is not content to support him, he has brought him in to contest and he has made the resources and the apparatus of the state available to him. It’s very unfair. I would have expected the governor, as leader of the party, to give all aspirants a level playing field to produce a candidate that the people will truly and genuinely support. Since he did that, it’s been fine. We notice that. We think it’s not good, it’s very unfair and it has its own consequences.
There are newspaper reports suggesting that the meeting held between Tinubu and Fayemi is for a win-win situation to let go of the presidency if he can have the state. Are you worried about this kind of encounter?
I’m not worried at all. I’m not threatened and I don’t care. I actually didn’t know about the meeting, I wasn’t invited so I don’t know what they discussed, but I’m sure they can’t trade Ekiti for anything that is. The kind of person I know Asiwaju, he won’t agree to trade Ekiti for anything. They are free to do anything and say that’s what happened. If they believe this is how they can make their own policy and gain public support, good luck to them.
What do you think of the agitation for the transfer of power to the southern senatorial district of Ekiti?
I am in favor of a transfer of power to the South in the interest of fairness, justice and justice. Let me give you a bit of historical context. In this state, before 2005, no one was talking about a change of power. Suddenly around 2006 a group of people got together and said they were having a conference at Ado Ekiti here on what they called the ‘Northern Agenda’ and their argument was that it was the turn of the North to produce a field governor as the North had been marginalized. They claimed that the central had two governors, namely Adeniyi Adebayo and Ayodele Fayose, who was then serving governor.
My counter-argument then was, why should this be a Northern program, what about the South? Some of them then argued that Olumilua was governor of former Ondo State, but Ondo State was not Ekiti State. We are talking about Ekiti State. They claimed that Olumilua had been governor of Ondo for 18 months and that the South had at least had something. The propaganda was very intense in both political parties. Some of the most important politicians in the state were behind this and they did it for a specific purpose, to eliminate some of us because I was also vying for governor at the time.
They have sold this idea to our leaders outside the state who control the party apparatus. These people bought it unfortunately and the primaries were manipulated in favor of the northerners, both within ACN and PDP. This is how Fayemi and Segun Oni came out of both parties. Now, several years later, we have since had a situation in which the North and the Center have had 12 years each. By the time Fayemi would have finished his term on October 16 this year, the North would have been 12 years old. And the South? Zero. So it might have been fine if the non-zoning argument came from the people who didn’t take advantage of it. But Fayemi was one of the main beneficiaries and one of those who supported this conference. He was one of those who were agitated then to say that it was the turn of the North only. All of them, including Oni, were at the forefront of the commotion. And we can no longer hear them say that there is no zoning in Ekiti, having benefited and having arrogated powers to the two zones 12 years for each since that time. So you can’t approve and reject at the same time.
You have benefited from a thing and you are now saying that it should no longer circulate. I think that’s very unfair. I gave you this little history to show that we don’t just make noise. We say that the idea of zoning came from Fayemi. I had also agreed with Fayemi that for my support in 2018, this power should turn to the South, because otherwise you will now have a situation in which the North and the Center will go for 32 years.
If this situation is not corrected, we will soon create second-class citizens with the people of the South, because psychologically they will start to think that they are not capable of producing a governor, when we all have the same level of achievement instruction. No field lacks competent people. Over time, because governors have continued to emerge from both zones, we now have a situation where the vast majority of political elites are now emerging from both zones. Once a governor emerges from the north or center, he chooses his chief of staff and others from those regions and it is these people who have become the political elites of the state. If this is not rectified, we will have a large majority of elites from these regions excluding the South. It’s so boring that Fayemi goes to Central to pick a candidate with all his promises in 2018 and also boring that Fayose also goes to Central to choose a candidate. Both could not find capable people even within their own southern governments and we will resist that.
Lead Advocate Chief Wole Olanipekun blames Southern politicians who are always ready to play second fiddle for perceived marginalization?
Honestly, I support Olanipekun one hundred percent. Even as we speak, I don’t want to name names, many of them are dying to become Deputy Governors, even from my hometown to Ise Ekiti. So Olanipekun is correct. There are people you call political jobbers who lack integrity. They think it’s the only way to build their career by accepting crumbs from the table. They are struggling and jostling to become deputy governor now, but they will fail by the grace of God. Look how many deputy governors have come out of Ikere on their own. Why can’t we come together now and fight this battle is because we have opportunists among us ready to play second fiddle.