Senator Dayo Adeyeye is a former Works Minister and National Chairman of the popular group, South West Agenda for Bola Tinubu’s 2023 presidential ambition . Victor Ogunje was among a group of journalists he spoke with recently in Ado Ekiti. Excerpts:
The agitation in support of the power shift to Ekiti South Senatorial District is taking centrestage in the coming election in Ekiti. Where do you stand?
I am in favour of power shift to the south in the interest of equity, fairness and justice. Let me give you some historical background. In this state, prior to 2005 nobody talked about power shift. Suddenly around 2006, a group of people came together and said they were organizing a conference in Ado Ekiti on what they called “Northern agenda” and their argument was that it was the turn of the North to produce the governor on the ground that the north has been marginalized. They claimed that central has had two governors namely Adeniyi Adebayo and Ayodele Fayose who was then a sitting governor. My counter argument to them then was that, why should it be a northern agenda, what about the south? Some of them then argued that Olumilua was governor in the old Ondo state. But Ondo state was not Ekiti state. We are talking of Ekiti State. They claimed that Olumilua was governor in 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 big wigs politicians in the state were behind it and they did it for a purpose to knock some of us out because I was also contesting for governor then. They sold this idea to our leaders outside the state who control the machinery of the parties. Those people bought it unfortunately and the primaries were manipulated in favour of the people from the north, both within the ACN and PDP. That was how Fayemi and Segun Oni emerged from the two parties. Now many years after, we have since had a situation in which the north and central have had 12 year each. By the time Fayemi would have completed his tenure by October16 this year, the north would have had 12 years. What of the south? Zero. So it could have been nice if the no zoning argument is coming from the people who have not benefited from it. But Fayemi was a major beneficiary and one of those who supported that conference. He was one of the people agitating then that it was the turn of the north only. All of them including Oni were in the forefront of the agitation. And it cannot be asked from them now to say there is no zoning in Ekiti having benefited from it and having arrogated powers to the two zones for 12 years each since that time. So, you cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time. You benefited from a thing and you are now saying it should not go round anymore. I think it is most unfair. I gave you this little bit of historical background to show that we are not just making an empty noice. We are saying that the idea of zoning came from the likes of Fayemi. I also had agreement with Fayemi that for my support in 2018 that power should rotate to the south because if not you will now have a situation in which the north and the central will go for 32 years. If this situation is not corrected, we shall soon be creating second class citizens out of the people from the south, because psychologically they will begin to think of themselves not being capable of producing a governor, whereas, we all have the same level of educational attainment. No one area is deficient of capable people. Over time because the governors have continued to emerge from the two zones, we now have a situation where the vast majority of political elites are now emerging from the two zones. Once a governor emerges from either the north or central, they pick their chief of staff and others from those areas and those are the people who have become the political elites in the state. If not redressed, we will have a vast majority of elites from those areas with exclusion of the south. It is so annoying that Fayemi will go and pick a candidate from the central with all his promises in 2018 and also annoying that Fayose will also go to the central to pick a candidate. Both of them could not find capable people even within their own governments from the south. We are going to resist it.
Are the non-partisan bigwigs in the area supporting you?
Yes, sooidly. Even a Senior lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun blames southern politicians who are always willing to play second fiddle for the perceived marginalization? Honestly, I support Olanipekun hundred percent. Even as we speak now, I don’t want to name names, many of them are dying to become deputy governor, even from my home town of Ise Ekiti. So, Olanipekun is right. There are people you call political jobbers, who are short in integrity. They think that is the only way they can build their carear by acceptiong crumbs from the table. They are struggling and jostling to become governor now but they will fail by the grace of God. Look at how many deputy governors have come out of Ikere alone. Why is it that we can’t come together now and fight this battle? It is because we have opportunists among us ready to play the second fiddle.
You crossed from the progressive party to PDP in 2006 and came back in 2018. What informed your actions?
What I hate most in life is injustice and when you see any party indulging in injustice, people are bound to move. I moved to the PDP in 2006 alongside 13 other governorship aspirants because the party imposed certain individual on us. The same scenario repeated itself in 2018 in PDP. In any primary, it is expected that the process will be credible, if truly you are popular. So, if I have never been desperate for anything in my life. If you check your records very well, I have been one of the most consistent politicians in Ekiti with the way I had been confronting the power that be and making them to do what is right. We have to be democratic and I will continue to do so until we get it right in our polity.
What are your expectations from the party in the primary?
If the declaration we did recently is anything to go by and if they allow all the 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 in selecting the candidate, that include the direct, indirect and consensus. But the popular one is the direct primary which involves every member of the party. Every member will have the opportunity to join in decision making. But where you are using indirect primary that means you are using to select a number of people who are not even popularly chosen. That is not democratic and it is not the best. By now, we ought to have outgrown that to a system that we allow every member to participate in the process. So if it is by direct primary, we are absolutely sure of wining it. Nevertheless, we are working for all options, but we are more comfortable with direct primary. I keep on saying those 23 years that we started this democracy, we should have grown to such an extent that full democratic principles would have been instituted in the parties. We say we are copying the American democratic system but have we copied the way their candidates are been selected? We have not. In America presidential system of government, every party member is allowed to participate in the process of chosen the presidential flag bearer. That is the system I believe we should be practicing now in Nigeria. Because if the candidate does not emerge through popular democratic process, there is no way you can have good governance in Nigeria. Where somebody sit down in his closest and say he has anointed a candidate and uses government machinery to support him, so the candidates that emerge through this process did not do so through democratic choice and that is why you keep on having bad governance. The moment you begin the process of democratizing the choice of candidates, that is the day you put an end to godfathers.
Can you clarify about the issue of Court case instituted by those loyal to you again at the party about the conduct of the congress?
Yes, let me say categorically that I have not taken the party nor anybody to court. But I am aware that some people who are not satisfied with the outcome of the congresses are in court. But the name Adeyeye was not among them. I did not participate in the process, I was not a candidate at ward level for the congress. So I could not have a locus on that basis to challenge anybody in court. However, where this process is being challenged in court, we need to play safe. The party needs to place safe because if for any reason your members have gone to court to challenge the legitimacy of your congresses and the products arising from those congresses, and those are the people you want to use for those congresses, you need to find a way to prevent yourself from being trapped. We have seen it happen in this country, the Zamfara case is an example in which the primaries and general election were conducted and APC won all the elections, however the elections were nullified and this brought PDP to power in that state and the same thing happened in Rivers state. To that extent, we should be wise and be careful in using indirect primary. We should rather play safe and allow every member of the party to participate in the process.
Is it true that Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu is backing another aspirant for the Ekiti guber ticket?
It is not correct. It is a lie. Or may be an honest mistake because they assume that the way that aspirant has been pretending to be the candidate of Tinubu is not the best, I am saying it, it is not the best. When I read the story it says “who is believed to be supporting” but he is not supporting that person. That is what that person wants. That is the image he wants to project. That is what he wants people to believe but that is not good. I don’t play that kind of politics. Even that aspirant has been claiming to be a member of SWAGA. You have never participated in any event of SWAGA, neither have you spent one Naira for the organization and you are saying you are a member, these are the kind of things that are really deplorable in politics and these are the kinds of politics we play. These are the kind of things I have been struggling against. I am not saying we can have a perfect system but I am not happy with this kind of politics. But it is not correct.
Have you informed Tinubu about your governorship aspiration and what was his response?
Of course, you don’t expect me not to have informed him. Apart from him, I have had made wider consultations before I came out. I have talked with leaders, colleagues and friends. Any reasonable person who wants to embark on a project like this needs to make wide consultations. That I have done. As for whether he has given me go ahead, that I won’t answer. That is not for you to know.
It is being rumoured that governor Fayemi is supporting one of the aspirants whom he wants as a successor. Do you see this working in APC?
It is not a secret. You don’t need to be hiding behind one finger. The truth is that governor Fayemi is backing an aspirant. As a matter of fact, he is not just backing him. He brought him out to come and contest and he has put the state resources and machinery at his disposal. That is very unfair. I would have expected the governor as the leader of the party to give all aspirants a level playing field in order to produce a candidate that the people will truly and genuinely support. Since he has done that, it is okay. We note that. We think it is not good, it is very unfair and it has its own consequences.
The meeting held between Tinubu and Fayemi is causing a lot of ripples in Ekiti APC. Are you rattled by that kind of a meeting?
I am not worried at all. I am not threatened and I am not bothered about it. Actually, I was not privy to the meeting, I was not invited into the meeting and so I do not know what they discussed but I am sure they cannot trade off Ekiti for anything. The kind of person I know Asiwaju to be, he will not accept to trade off Ekiti for anything. They are free to bandy anything around and say that was what happened. If they believe that that is the way they can play their own politics and get public support, good luck to them.
I also had agreement with Fayemi that for my support in 2018 that power should rotate to the south because if not you will now have a situation in which the north and the central will go for 32 years. If this situation is not corrected, we shall soon be creating second class citizens out of the people from the south, because psychologically they will begin to think of themselves not being capable of producing a governor, whereas, we all have the same level of educational attainment