There seems to be no end in sight to the acrimonious relationship between the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, DrKayode Fayemi and the Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, writes Victor Ogunje

On May 13, 2017, the governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose set up a 7-man panel to scrutinise the state’s finances under

the four-year tenure of his predecessor and now Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi.

Political watchers are beginning to wonder at the endless war of attrition between the two who initially related well with each after the June 21, 2014 governorship poll, which Fayose won. Fayemi, initially accepted the result, congratulated Fayose and promised a smooth transition. The conviviality which existed between the two was however not destined to last.

However, after he learnt of how the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration used the military to assist Fayose to win the election, Fayemi recanted and said the election was fraught with irregularities. Since then the cordial relationship between the two had broken down irretrievably.

As soon as Fayose was sworn in on October 16, 2014, he started accusing Fayemi of allegedly plundering the state’s resources.

His Special Assistant on Public Communications, Mr Lere Olayinka reeled out barrage of figures about the state’s debt profile which, he said Fayemi left behind. At a time he pegged it at N42 billion. In another breathe, he changed it to N86billion before finally settling at N76 billion which was the figure hitherto cited as the state level of indebtedness.

Speaking on behalf of the governor during the inauguration of the

Justice Silas Oyewole-led Panel of Enquiry set up to probe Fayemi, the state’s deputy governor , Dr Kolapo Olusola urged members to be thorough and apolitical. He said that the probe was not targeted at smearing anybody’s image but to put the records straight.

Many believe that the outcome of the probe will show whether the panel was impartial or not.

The composition of the panel had generated a lot of debates across party lines. While the Peoples Democratic Party’s faction loyal to Fayose justified the setting up of the committee as representing the yearnings of the Ekiti people, members of the All Progressives Congress APC viewed it from the prism of political vengeance and attempt to muzzle opposition ahead of the 2018 governorship poll.

In actual fact, Fayose had always justified his position that he was

acting on the May 11, 2017 resolution of the State House Assembly, which directed him to so do after the ex-governor had turned down three summons earlier issued on him.

However, Fayemi had not at any forum or either personally or by proxy unveiled his intention to take another shot at the governorship seat in Ekiti, but the people are beginning to read between the lines that he is interested, if the body language of his die –hard loyalists is anything to go by.

Aside from the scheming for the 2018, which largely seems to be more of political survival for the two feuding politicians, one issue said to have informed Fayose’s new step was the revelation by the former Commissioner for Finance during Fayemi’s regime, Dapo Kolawole, that his former boss did not leave any debt behind.

He had, while appearing, on a live television interview programme

on June 14, 2016 explained that Fayemi did not leave Ekiti in

debt as claimed by Fayose and that the money the governor had

received so far from the federation’s account as at that time was

enough to pay three months workers salary out of six months

outstanding. The governor was said to have been miffed by the

statement taking cognisance of the fact that his political survival

in 2018 will depends largely on the state workforce while non-payment of salaries has been his main albatross.

Kolawole in the interview explained that “Fayose was the

one who renegotiated Ekiti debt till 2036 and not Fayemi as my boss had paid half of the debt and was expecting another N17 billion from the Federal Government reimbursement on some road construction projects which would have offset all debts if Fayose had not breached the payment plan and if he had continued with the regenerative projects of his predecessor”, he said.

Embarrassed by Kolawole’s statement , a member of the House of Assembly, Hon Samuel Omotosho and Fayose’s aide, Olayinka , had appeared on a live television and radio programme on July 6, 2017, where they allegedly branded both the former governor and his finance commissioner thieves who stole the state blind.

They were said to have alleged during the programme that Fayemi

stole N852m state’s Universal Basic Education fund and also contributed a staggering sum of N1.5billion to President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign , that

Fayemi stole Ekiti money to establish a University in Ghana, that

Fayemi obtained N5b loan from Ecobank which he spent on his reelection and not on any project and that he and his aides went away with 79 vehicles belonging to the government and that the ex-governor left a huge debt behind. They also said on the programme that they had written a petition against the minister , Kolawole and some of his aides to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, but no action

was taken. All these and many more were part of the terms of references for the panel.

On the basis of the foregoing insult allegedly hurled at him, Fayemi dragged Omotosho and Olayinka before an Abuja High Court for libel and also claimed N3 billion as damages from them, 2b from Olayinka and N1 billion from Omotosho. Probably in retaliation, the house issued

a warrant of arrest against Fayemi on February 7, 2017 directing the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris and the then

Commissioner of Police, Mr Wilson Inalegwu to arrest him whenever and wherever they see him and bring him before the House of Assembly.

The action of the house must have necessitated Fayemi’s second law suit where he dragged the House of Assembly to court and asked that the house be restrained from inviting him and to set aside the warrant of arrest issued against because due process and rule of law were not followed in exercising the powers.

Fayemi also averred in his second suit which he instituted before a Federal High Court in Ado Ekiti that since he had

instituted a case against one of them over the same issue of Ekiti

State finances when he was governor, the house ought not to invite him again not to talk of issuing a warrant of arrest.

Despite Fayemi’s second law suit against the House of Assembly, the house House went ahead to fine him N1, 000, 000 (One Million Naira) and declared him a law breaker apparently as a result of the frustration that Fayemi was not arrested and brought before it

Shortly after the panel was constituted, Fayemi ran to court seeking for perpetual injunction to restrain the body from probing him on the basis that its members were biased. The minister

alleged that “the Chairman and many members of the commission have an axe or the other to grind with him and they are PDP members and sympathisers. For instance, the partisanship of the Chairman of the panel, Justice Oyewole, as a PDP’s sympathiser is not in doubt, while the secretary, Gbenga Daramola, is the State Director of Public

Prosecutions (DPP), who cannot be insulated from Fayose’s control in the handling of the panel’s job. Another member, Blessing Oladele, is a member of APC who defected to PDP. Another member, S.J Bamise, is a senior

counsel in the office of the state Attorney General, the office that

conceived and constituted the panel to probe him. Another member, Vincent Omodara, is Fayose’s crony in the Accountant General’s Office”, The Chief Magistrate Idowu Ayenimo as anti-APC judge, who routinely jailed APC members on Fayose’s trump-up charges that are bailable”, Fayemi alleged .

Fayemi argued that the House of Assembly had

breached its own standing rules, which forbids discussing any matter that is pending in court. Chapter VIII, with the subtitle, Rules of Debate, Section 54 (5) reads: “Reference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending, in such a way as might in the speaker’s opinion, prejudice the interest of parties thereto.”

He also contended that “the resolution of the house directing the governor to set up the panel was not passed in accordance with constitutional provisions and so cannot be valid and any action arising from that resolution such as

the setting up of the Judicial Commission becomes ultra-vires and of no effect”, he stated.

In Fayemi’s deposition before the court, he said the N5billion loan

obtained at Ecobank by his administration which was suspected to have been withdrawn and expended on his re-election in June 2014, was well appropriated and supervised by the bank. On the state’s borrowing, he said there was no banking facility or loan borrowed by his government that did not follow due process . It was also stated that no mismanagement of funds took place under his administration.

“There was no law stopping an administration from borrowing beyond its tenure

because government is a continuum. There were loans obtained for some

water projects in Ekiti State since Adekunle Ajasin tenure between

1979 and 1983 that was deducted from Ekiti State allocation under

Fayemi regime between 2010 and 2014. Fayemi did not borrow any money whose tenure expires in 2036, it was Fayose who borrowed and

renegotiated till 2036”, he said.

But the PDP factional Chairman, Barrister Gboyega Oguntuase said that Fayemi only ran to court to prevent his shady deals from being exposed. “I have never seen anywhere where a former governor will be afraid to attend a judicial panel. I am a lawyer and understand the powers of a governor. Fayose acted in line with the law and Fayemi must be honourable enough to lead by example if truly he has no skeleton in his cupboard. The APC government has ruined our economy. The government can no longer pay salary as and when due because of indebtedness and no sensible governor will watch and allow these to go unchallenged, so Fayemi will be brought to justice whether he likes it

or not”.

Countering Oguntuase’s position, the state’s APC Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, said Fayose took the alleged sinister action with a mandate to indict Fayemi at all costs which would form a strong evidence to back their case in the two courts since the issues are all the same. “Though the judicial commission has three months to complete

its assignment, it is suspected that the panel may conclude its

sitting within a month so that the result of the indictment could be

used in the pending cases at the two courts”, Olatunbosun said.

He said political watchers were also of the opinion that Fayose wanted to use the panel to indict Fayemi because anything could still happen from the the investigation into how the military was used to help Fayose win the governorship election, which Fayemi described as “unfinished business” in an interview recently, Fayemi would not be eligible to contest as he would have been indicted by the commission of enquiry.

He said: “This is why Fayemi has to stop the panel from sitting before an incalculable damage is done to his political future on spurious charges! With the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the panel and the revelations in the Abuja case, it is evident that Fayemi can never get justice at the panel which consisted of Fayemi’s adversaries and this was also contained in his statement on oath.”

The panel has now swung into action and had directed all parties to send their memo. The people of the state are patiently waiting for how the seeming political intrigues will end.

Quote

However, after he learnt of how the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration used the military to assist Fayose to win the election, Fayemi recanted and said the election was fraught with irregularities. Since then the cordial relationship between the two had broken down irretrievably.