By Emmanuel Addeh
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, yesterday attributed the rising separatist movements in the country to frustration arising from the disenchantment of the agitators with the perceived failure of government to meet their aspirations.
Fayemi spoke on The Morning Show, the flagship breakfast programme on ARISE NEWS Channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers and cautioned those advocating the breakup of Nigeria to drop the campaign as secession will not address the multifarious challenges confronting the nation.
The governor, who is also the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) did not fully appreciate the severity of the problems in the country during its campaign in 2015.
He, however, said the country must look for the best solution to its security challenges, including a multi-level policing policy.
He also called for a different approach to managing the security crisis and other national challenges beyond the secessionist campaign.
He said: “Frankly, when you have stress and laxity in society, you are bound to find a whole range of responses. Some rational, some irrational, some that speak to the fears of the people, some opportunistic and hare-brained. There’s no question that some of the reactions we have seen will fall into all of those categories.
“The people, who are saying those things (secession), are saying so out of frustration. But I don’t think that that’s the solution to the Nigerian predicament. I have been on record several times that on matters of security and national development, we need to find ways of managing our diversity and differences in this country.”
On Nigerians’ disappointment with APC and President Muhammadu Buhari to keep campaign promises, the governor stated that the gap between the electoral promises and the APC’s achievements was due to exaggerated expectations caused by the campaign promises.
However, he added that he could not recall that the APC promised to achieve value parity between the naira and the United States dollar.
He described as sad the fact the naira has dropped by more than N230 to $1 since APC took over, stressing that it doesn’t augur well for the nation’s economy.
While quoting a former Governor of New York, Mr. Mario Cuomo, who once said that politicians campaign in poetry but govern in prose, Fayemi said his comments didn’t mean a blanket failure of the party, adding that the government has tried in its core areas of promises.
He said: “But you know there are a lot of exaggerations and there were clearly exaggerated expectations and maybe on our part we are also guilty of not reducing those exaggerated expectations.
“You know a popular American politician, Mario Cuomo, said you campaign in poetry and govern in prose and naturally, there were things that were the stuff of campaigns that will not necessarily pan out the way we had envisioned them when we were campaigning to Nigerians.
“Perhaps what we didn’t do enough was to understand the extent and the enormity of the challenge at the time in all of its comprehensiveness and coming to office, we have had to deal with that.”
However, he stated that the APC government has also “been a victim of circumstances” because no one envisioned a COVID-19 pandemic that would paralyse the country for more than a year, plunging the country back to another recession.
On the insecurity in the country, Fayemi stated that whether it happened to a governor like Mr. Samuel Ortom of Benue State, or to innocent children abducted from their schools, it remains unacceptable.
“Governor Ortom is the number one citizen of his state, even then down to the ordinary citizen. So, we must react to it swiftly. We must ensure that those involved in this are apprehended and prosecuted.
“We must demonstrate to Nigerians that Article 14 of our constitution, which speaks to the security and welfare of Nigerians as the primary responsibility of government is one that we hold very dear and that we are all committed to doing whatever it will take to protect our people,” he added.
Fayemi restated the call for devolution of power, which he described as an idea whose time has come.
He said he had suggested that the number of items on the exclusive list in the constitution should be devolved to states and local authorities.
“In matters of economic development, we may need to begin to look at other ways of managing diversity and difference in our country and that devolution of power is an idea whose time has come,” he stated.
According to him, Nigeria is the only federal state in the world that has a unitary policing system just as he called for multi-level policing system to complement the extant federal policing structure.
On COVID-19, he decried the low turnout due to vaccine hesitancy, adding that the state still has a chunk of the over 52,000 doses of vaccine allocated to it.
He stated that from the data available to him, the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is available to Nigeria, is safe.
“As for the governors’ forum influencing or directing governors to align, I am sure you know that the governors’ forum is a voluntary association. Yes, we have mechanisms, moral suasion, appeals, and peer learning to ensure that we do the right thing and uphold the constitution to which we have sworn.
“Ultimately, governors are individuals and they have human rights and if they choose not to take the vaccine, it’s all within their rights not to do so. But as a leader, you have a burden to ensure we do not put our people in the harm’s way,” he said.
On minimum wage, he said there was no way the governor of Ekiti State should be earning the same salary as his colleagues in Rivers and Lagos, stressing that the same condition exists even in the United States.
On the planned APC national convention, Fayemi said he was optimistic that after the revalidation of membership, there would be ward, local government and state congresses, which will take place immediately after the Ramadan, and eventually leading to the national convention, probably in June.