I Will Not Borrow Money To Develop Ekiti —APGA Gubernatorial Candidate
The All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate for governorship election in Ekiti State, Ambassador Ayodeji Ayodele, in this interview by COLLINS NNABUIFE, speaks on how he will develop the economy of Ekiti State. He also talked about his fears for the upcoming election.
So, this country is blessed with resources that can push it the highest level in the world, but you and I know that there is large scale poverty, there is still the absence of hope and opportunity, it would appear that the hopes that were high at independence began to drop gradually to the point we are in now, all across the nation, the element of lack of progress is so visible all across the states.
And I know very well that applying the right policies that targets the progress of the citizens of this country will reverse this trends, it is not rocket science. Is it not a shame that today, there are no rail lines in Nigeria, we are supposed to be the hub of West Africa, we are supposed to be the giant of Africa, yet we cannot connect between Ibadan and Abakiliki with train, we cannot do Kaduna-Port Harcourt by train, even the so called railway that the government is doing is all rail gauge, this is 21st century.
I am motivated that we must get back to the basis, our people must feed our children must go to school, our elderly must be treated when they fall sick after working throughout their lives for this country.
What are you going to do differently if elected as Governor of Ekiti?
It is not my style to criticize or condemn anybody, past, incumbent or sitting government, it does not solve the problem, I think our search is for a solution to some of our problems.
Whatever anybody has done in Ekiti State, he has done his best with the realities before him and the resources available to him, we are at the point where we need to move forward, the truth is the Ekiti of my birth where I went to school, the Ekiti I see today is not the Ekiti I went to school, today, drive through any town in Ekiti, you will see young people that should be the asset of the state and the country, putting up their hands to beg for money, in every town in Ekiti. The Ekiti of my birth is where non Ekiti resident come to settle and they are hired by indigenes who own the farms, that was the Ekiti of my birth, today, the non indigenes have taken over the lands, and are hiring indigenes as farmhands, you can see the reversal, whether there is progress or retrogression, I leave it to you to judge, but what I am saying is that something is fundamentally wrong and needs our attention.
The first thing we want to do is to develop a template for the short, medium and long term development of Ekiti, and we will back it up by law, so that no Governor can change it, the plan for the management, for the growth of Ekiti for 25 years minimum, so that in five years, we will know what we want to achieve, in 10 years, we will also know what we want to achieve and so on, where every Ekiti man will be engaged productively, and contribute to the GDP of the state, when we have an Ekiti that is doing well, Ekiti itself will contribute to the growth of the country.
How do we want to do this? the focus is on agriculture, not agriculture the way it is done today, the state will actively and encourage and support the creation of large scale agricultural operations and give them all they need to operate. Our plan is to have farm clusters, so that support for that mode of agriculture will be easy, the idea is to create large scale farms for the agricultural value chains, give them the support they need. So we hope in the next two years, to have inspired farm output beyond what we need, food security is our goal.
With surplus production, we will now move to the area of adding value, each cluster will be backed up with cottage industry that will automatically procure the farm output from the farmers, the farmer becomes wealthy.
We will create a fund to empower our youths and our women, if you go to a market in Ekiti, the average trader there has a capital of N20,000 to buy vegetables, in most cases, they even borrow the capital from shylocks.
So the state will identify our youths, and help to settle them into businesses where they can perform best. Ekiti youths and Nigerian youths are not lazy, they are willing to work, but we have not given them any work, because we have consumed their future.
What is your grassroots strength, don’t you think that other candidates from areas with larger number will have advantage over you?
Let me correct one impression, in terms of demographics, Ado Ekiti has the largest number of voters, followed by Ikere and the place I come from. I have been in grassroots politics, of course, a man that has been there twice has controlled the government twice would not surprisingly established loyalists because he has what it takes, particularly in a very poor environment where people are hungry to be able to exact control.
Am sure you are aware during the last couple of years, a phrase emerged from Ekiti which is called stomach infrastructure, I consider that phrase offensive because it reduces the Ekiti man to somebody you can put a rope around his neck and drag because of food, that’s my interpretation.
That phrase will be replaced by food security, every Ekiti man must be able to feed himself, that’s a priority, within one year, I will only need one planting season.
Now talking about demographics, I have spent the last one year crisscrossing Ekiti before deciding on this project to gauge the state of their mind and the truth is the Ekiti man today desires change, they are tired.
So, I believe that people should patiently and carefully study the mood of Ekiti people, the truth is that the people of Ekiti don’t want to hear PDP or APC anymore, they want a fresh face, they want a technocrat, they want somebody that has pedigree, our people are very intelligent, they want somebody that they would screen properly to see what he has done before he becomes their Governor, that’s where we are now.
What are your fears for the upcoming Ekiti gubernatorial election?
The only fear I have is that democracy might be thwarted, state power might be used to ignore the voice of the people through their votes and we might have an announcement of fictitious figures, and like I said, if you look at the desperation which led these candidates to spend unreasonable amount of money on getting people, it’s bribery, let’s call a spade a spade, read INEC regulations on bribery, the use of money for the conduct of politics, it is a violation, but this is country where rules are made but not obeyed, by now, some of them should be in jail with the kind of money they have put in a political process, some of them should actually be in jail, but again, Nigeria, our disease is impunity, people don’t obey the law, people don’t respect the rule of law.
My own fear is that we might have an announcement of not the result, but if it is the vote cast by the people of Ekiti is announced, we have no fear.
What are the economic policies you are planning to introduce in Ekiti that will be used to raise money and pay of the debts of the state?
Go to every offices I have headed in the government, we never owed salaries, a good leader would introduce fiscal discipline. I worked for Federal Government for 35 years, I was not owed salaries, because in those years there was fiscal control?
I have said, the allocation of the state under my watch will be used for salaries and welfare projects, any development project we are going to embark on, we will source the money locally through Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), Ekiti state is not poor, what is happening in Ekiti is wrong use of our ideas, our human potentials and our resources.
Ekiti has 100km of rock formation, from Efanre to Ikoni, come down to Izobunu, its all rocks, those rocks are Ekiti’s crude oil, it can finance the state even without allocations from Abuja, properly managed, with people who will run it along private sector lines and royalties will be paid to government, what is happening there today is illegal mining and nothing comes to the government, no income, no IGR.
In Abuja here, Julius Berger made the roads, 60 per cent of the cost of making a road goes on aggregate as stone dust and cement, so if we have those rocks, it means that automatically, 60 per cent of cost repairing our roads has been given to us by God, all you need to do is to put in place proper arrangement that can make your people work, that’s why my motto has remained Putting Ekiti Back to Work.
My target is to create an Ekiti economy within the Nigerian economy, that will survive, other states will come and copy because it will be done properly, we will produce so much food that we will make ourselves the food basket of this country, and all the plans are well documented, well researched and well prepared.
Take a palm plantation, that palm fruit contains 157 industrial chemicals, that can either be used locally of processed for export. We are going to build the economy of Ekiti state properly, focus on our priorities, and our priorities are determined by what is our natural endowment
How do you intend to fund your campaign?
So far, God has been good, we are funding the campaign from private resources, we are also looking forward to people supporting us, nut at this juncture, I think we all have the responsibility to de-emphasize the role of money in politics, and in Ekiti a few individuals have used money to confuse people, because an average person you talk to Ekiti today will ask you for money , but we are teaching them that the money they give to them will not feed them for one week and you stay hungry for the next four years, rather, put in place a government that will provide for you for four years.