It’s Time Ado Ekiti Produced Ekiti Governor —Famuyibo

It’s time Ado Ekiti produced Ekiti governor —Famuyibo

By ABIODUN AWOLAJA

Chief Reuben Famuyibo, a former presidential aspirant, is an aspirant for the 2022 Ekiti State governorship election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He speaks with ABIODUN AWOLAJA on his ambition and sundry issues. Excerpts:

WHAT is the situation of things in Ekiti APC now, particularly with regard to the forthcoming governorship election?

Well, things are getting more interesting every day. Some of us have been able to go round the state to look at how APC stands in the estimation of Ekiti people. I can tell you that the people are very bitter now. There is hunger all over the place and a lot of people are not very happy. They recognise the strides of Governor Kayode Fayemi but they are already looking forward to the next dispensation. Definitely, we are looking at a new set of people in government that will be able to meet the aspirations of the good people of Ekiti State. We have been to all wards and towns in Ekiti and the people are not happy. As a matter of fact, if we contest election today, we might lose, given the state of mind of the people. But we are appealing to them that there is hope.

What specific things are they agitated about?

Well, a lot of them complained about inaccessibility to the government that they put in place, and that some of the appointments made were lopsided. They complained that a lot of appointments were given to Lagosians. People also complained about the state of Ekiti roads, and about the industrialization needs.

Many people would not expect you to say that as a party man

All we are saying is that certain things need to be done.  I have not said that the governor is not trying. He has actually done a lot. But our people are not happy and we cannot force happiness down the throats of people. We are appealing to them that, with God on our side, things will change for better.

If you were to advise the leadership of APC in Ekiti State, what would you say?

My point is that they should allow free and fair process. Let everybody come out and prove their mettle.

What chance do you think you have in the primary given that the government definitely will have its own candidate?

Well, if the government has a candidate and the people have a candidate, God’s candidate, one would override the other. The era of government anointing anybody is gone for good. Look at what happened in Anambra.  We also saw it in Oyo State. Despite the huge efforts of the late Governor Abiola Ajimobi, the party still lost. So, the will of the people cannot just be set aside. We are talking about a general election. Is it APC alone that owns Ekiti State? The answer is no. If you don’t pick somebody who has the clout, who is respected, there will be problems. Don’t forget that we are contesting against PDP, and PDP is waiting for APC to make a wrong choice. We have to pick somebody that can match the candidates that are coming out in PDP, the likes of Segun Oni, Biodun Olujimi. Let them test their popularity. It makes the party popular. If you anoint any candidate, you are wasting your time.

And don’t forget that we have 16 other parties in the state. I stand out, in the sense that I have never held any political position and I am from Ado Ekiti with a voting power of over 310,000. So you don’t play with that kind of figure. The Ado Ekiti people are now saying that it is their turn; that they are not ready to give their votes to outsiders this time around.

We have been hearing of Ado agenda for some time. From your interaction with people, how serious is the resolve of Ado Ekiti to produce the governor this time around?

I think the people of Ado Ekiti have learnt their lessons. As a matter of fact, I was surprised when the present deputy governor came out boldly in the stakeholders’ meeting and told everybody that Ado Ekiti is no more interested in the position of deputy governor, that they want the governorship. He said it openly.

Is it achievable?

It is achievable in the political terrain. Ado Ekiti people think that after 25 years and with all they have contributed since the creation of the state, they now deserve the governorship.

You went round the wards. A lot of people would have questions about your manifesto, what sets you apart from others?

First, we need to empower our youth. It is saddening when you see a lot of graduates working as professional okada riders. For crying out loud, what does it cost to set up cottage industries? You can have an industry costing less than $100,000 in each of the 16 local governments. Look at palm oil, look at rice. I went to Igbemo Ekiti last week: the rice mill there is no more. People have cannibalised all the machines. Why can’t we get all these places developed?

I can tell you that I am well prepared for this. In 1999 when I contested for the governorship, I was the only candidate who had a manifesto. Now, too, I have a manifesto. First, complete industrialization of Ekiti. I am not talking about big industries; I’m talking about small scale industries. Secondly, I will revisit the issue of schools. Why can’t we introduce part-time farming in every school? Olaloluwa Grammar School in front of my house in Ado Ekiti has undeveloped land that is a long stretch.

 Can’t we do something to tap the agric potential inside that place?

What stops schools from practical agriculture the way we were doing it in the past? Look at Mayflower School, Ikenne. After feeding students, the school still has much to sell and run its affairs. By the time you raise little money for every school, say N5 million or N110 million per school, and tell them that “at the end of the year, I want to see what you are turning this money into,” you can expect to see results. Part of the money would be used to run the schools. It would be like revolving loans.

You can tell schools: ‘Two days in a week, we want to do something different from academics.’ We need to reexamine this issue of education and find out how those we have trained in the past have fared. Professor Wole Soyinka once suggested that we close all schools for two years. I’m not saying we should close schools but we need to do much more than academics. We need skills acquisition. Graduates now want to be fashion designers, barbers. What disturbs us from incorporating all of that into the school curriculum from the beginning? Why can’t we have, say, two hours for the development of skills acquisition? We have close to 45,000 teachers: why can’t we allow them to have another training?

The question that people will ask relates to funding. We know that what comes from Abuja is limited

Go to Ebonyi. How many of the states in the South-East rely on the peanuts from Abuja? A serious government should be able to look inwards and determine what to do. I can tell you that if you package what you want well and consult the African Development Bank, you will get funding. The ADB president is my friend and I have discussed this thing with him one on one. The loans are there to take at very reduced interest rates, but the bank has to know what the loans are meant for. The bank will not allow diversion. The loans from the ADB do not allow for corruption, because the bank will monitor things to the last figure. A lot of these governors of ours are not interested in taking ADB loans because they will be monitored. You have just 16 local governments and 177 wards in Ekiti, You can approach the ADB and say you want to do small scale industries.

The first 100 days, I can tell you, I will make sure that transportation works. I will do massive bus stops and will enter into an agreement with manufacturers of buses to come and run transportation in Ekiti. They take 55 per cent and we take 45. The people that we are taking okada from will be gainfully employed. You attach three or four drivers to a bus on shift basis, as it is being practised in London. We have bus managers that can be graduates, bus checkers. That can employ people, instead of using okada that is a gateway to death.

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