Mr. Ayodele Fayose is the immediate past Governor of Ekiti State and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic People (PDP). In this interview monitored on Channels Television, he speaks on the outcome of the recent South-West zonal congress, why he conceded to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, among others. Wale Elegbede reports
What really happened during the People Democratic Party (PDP) southwest congress recently?
I have a lot of things to make public in the course of this interview but I want peace and I want peace and nothing but peace for the southwest. I will and I want to say I have and I still want to say it again I have conceded. I conceded not because they won, I conceded because the PDP is a bigger picture.
Tomorrow is a bigger picture and I want to say that conceding does not amount to defeat, it is exhibiting leadership.
Take a look at the results again and the characters behind the results before I will tell the issues. I’m on one side alone and I have on the side of Governor Seyi Makinde, two former governors, Governor Segun Oni and Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola. You have on their side seven deputy governors and two speakers and serving senators.
The result in quote had Arapaja 343 and my candidate Edy Olafeso 330, a difference of 13 votes. I’m glad because that is a show of strength.
Whether the result is right or wrong, the world can see a one-man army that has faced them all and without rigging they lost. But we will not be fighting forever…
Are you saying that the election was rigged?
Very clearly and that is why I said I’m going to give you the information. Even without conceding that it was a rigged election, I want to say to you now that 13 votes for a sitting governor, two former governors, deputy governors all of them put together and my side.
That election, we went to court to say that this election must not hold in Oyo State for reasons of violence. The violence came to Osogbo with buses from Oyo State registration numbers, about 200 of them blocked the venue where the election was to hold.
The venue is owned by Governor Oyinlola, who is working with Governor Makinde. Now they came with cutlasses and guns all night.
And you saw them …?
It was public knowledge.
But there were some boys who were arrested and we understand that they are loyal to you and that you brought them to rig the election?
Nigerians can attest to this about me, I won’t descend to this. We said we don’t want Oyo State because of violence.
There are two factions of Governor Makinde in crisis in Osogbo. Why did we go to court in the first place? And let me say to you, you can do an independent investigation before interviewing us.
We did and some of it is the facts we are putting before you?
You see this leader of the drivers union in Oyo State came to the venue publicly looking for my head, and saying, ‘today, we are going to cut Governor Fayose’s head.’ It was public knowledge but I don’t want to be distracted by what I was telling you. For an election that took place without accreditation, we compelled them to announce publicly how many people were accredited.
They resisted that, they said they will announce state by state. The norm is for you to announce accreditation and tell us how many people came and how many votes are expected.
By the accreditation, initially, they said Ekiti State had 115 people listed, 104 accredited out of 104, 82 people voted. But let me put it this way, at the end of the exercise, the accreditation was 675 publicly announced.
Just before the end of the exercise, Ekiti voted first followed by Ogun, Lagos, Osun and they purposely allowed Oyo to vote last. When you look at the alphabet, you release that this was obviously going to happen.
So Oyo had to vote last. In Oyo they told us that 177 were listed, only 174 would vote. Honourable Mulikat protested that this man is dead, this man is dead, this man is sick he can’t be here, this one is abroad and this one is aged.
They came back again and told us 165. This was going on in the entire process.
Did you raise an objection?
They were raised and I went to the chairman and the chairman of the election was Honourable, that is the truth. It was the secretary that came to rig the election. When he was even counting the results he would go 173, 174, 192 just like.
Who is this person?
Senator Anyanwu from Imo State had gone to do so many elections, he was the one in Edo and in about three to four elections and that is his job.
This is a leader of the party?
I don’t know if he is a party leader.
He was a leader in the National Assembly?
He was a former member of the National Assembly and whatever I tell you I stand by it. I’m not a small boy in this party. They are my words and let me quickly let you know that at the end of the exercise when Oyo was to vote, they brought the whole table together in an election the chairman called an open-secret ballot. They put the tables together and they were writing together and people didn’t vote according to their conscience.
There were 10 voided votes. Those 10 voided votes were people who voted for Eddy Olafeso and they were cancelled and now said they have voided votes. All these were protested. Some of those that even won the moment you win they will bring an extra ballot box and ballot-stuff it.
Let me say to you that I have accepted this result not because they won but because at this party I’m one of those that cannot decamp to another party.
But you accepted also probably because you are humbled by the defeat?
What do you call humbled?
At that same venue, we saw how you accepted the supremacy of Governor Makinde?
At the end of the exercise, they had seven extra votes beyond the norm which is 676. They now turn it into 684. At 675 quickly Senator Anyanwu changed the goalpost, move the accreditation again to cover grounds. Why did we have those extra votes? Who cast them, where did they come from? The fact remains like I just told you, as a leader, I want to believe like King Solomon story where two women had babies overnight, the other one slept on her baby, the baby on the second woman was alive and King Solomon in his wisdom said he will keep the baby that when he grows up he will know his father and mother thereafter. I conceded because PDP must not fail. If I want a problem, we can form a parallel exco but that is not leadership. We can set up a parallel exco and the controversy would continue, whose benefit would that be?
There are also claims from your camp that there is a subsisting court order, is that true?
Without a doubt, there was a subsisting court order.
Who went to court?
The zonal caretaker committee, you see, personally I don’t want to discuss court, that is the truth. I’m not a party there and I’m not an interested party, I would like to stay out of court issues and talking about it.
The way we could advise the party then we did. I’m not a party and I don’t want to be involved in the issues of court.
Does it mean that there was a court order saying that the congress should not hold and it held. Did your party disobeyed a court order, is that what happened?
With all due respect, I’m a member of PDP and I will not come and celebrate the weakness of my party. The issues that have to do with the court have been laid before the party. The party and the court are two different people. That’s an internal issue of the party at the national level. What the party needs to know about court matters we told them from the beginning.
You agreed that the venue should be relocated from Ibadan to Ogun State but the party instead took it to Osun State?
Originally we are not supposed to do that at all but like I said to you matters that have to do with my party would not be celebrated on this television because I said to you I have conceded.
When it comes to issues of court the party knows the process, they have in lawyer in court and I’m sure the lawyer might have advised them. So, it is better to leave those issues and talk about the real elections.
The reason why the issue begs for an answer is that if the court has said do not do this election and your party went ahead, you are a leader of the party and you agree to that?
I said to you the party was served the order and I cannot sit here and indict the party. What is important is that the party knows that there is a court order.
Was it not obvious that there was a court order? Nigerians are clear and they know what this means?
With all due respect, the fact is that all the party needs to know they were made to know. Every other thing is in the wisdom of the party not in my wisdom.
But as it stands right now, are you afraid that because of the court order the election might stand as null and void?
Another leg to it is that I’m not the court and I will not answer for the court. And there is time. A lot can still be mended. So for me as to that election, it was a scam.
As a leader, I have been working for this party and I’m one of the voices that cannot be forgotten in PDP. And I cannot sit down here and say because of 13 votes, because of manipulations, the party will not move forward.
We will not be at war forever. I will take it as the prize that I have to pay.
You have won elections before. You have lost elections before but this one is very painful for losing it?
Apart from this issue, there is nothing called southwest it is only the chairman that goes to the national working committee. All other people are in their homes.
But they are delegates at national congresses and conventions?
There are only 12 people there that are delegates. Even if you are not among these 12 people but you are good at the game, you are still useful. So I can’t because of these 12 people and this election pull down this roof. I’m not going to pull it down.
Your party in the southwest has seen so much trouble, in Ekiti State for example …?
Like I told you I have conceded this election and I have told Edy Olafeso to concede. At the spot, I called Arapaja and I congratulated him.
Has he reached out to you?
Has Governor Makinde reached out to you?
I called Governor Makinde as well at the first anniversary and congratulated him. Up till now, he has not reached out to me. We will give them time. There are so many ways to kill a rat.] We
saw something on that day, the picture of you and Governor Makinde hugging each other at the venue of the congress, was that genuine?
Do you know that when I came into the hall, I went straight to Governor Makinde because the fact reminds me that Governor Makinde is still a sitting governor. I went there and I greeted him, reluctantly he hugged me, we hugged and chat for few minutes. And when I was about to go and vote, I joked with him. I said I’m going to vote for your candidate. I did what I have to do from my heart.
Do you think he does not want you?
That is not the issue. Whether he wants me or not is not the matter. God has blessed me with more than enough. If you look at the result of the election, even without conceding, you can see strength.
Governor Makinde cannot come out and say he is controlling the southwest because that result tells you what is going on. One of the attributes of a good leader is to absorb pains when you are not supposed to absorb it.
This is exactly what I have done. Senator Olujimi should learn how to absorb pains. Our leaders must learn to absorb pains. When we lost during the presidential primaries that Atiku won, I was with Tambuwal we lost to Atiku and I went to Atiku himself and said give us an assignment for the campaigns and everywhere Atiku went to we went with him.
If this party is to win I must bury my pride and somebody must tell Governor Makinde to bury his pride. I’m a voice in this party but I want to say that if this attitude and action at the zonal congress is one thing that I have to do to save this party from going down I will do it.
This southwest Congress, I’m not happy because we were rigged out. What they got extra are 13 votes. It showed that they are not on ground, without the rigging they would have lost. Let them have the southwest as long as peace would reign in the region.
But it is shameful because when a man concedes, morally, it is good to say thank you. But I advise Arapaja to be a true chairman, if not, they will get a parallel exco, but I’m glad for one thing, information reaching me showed that he was in Abuja and the National Working Committee told him to go back and make peace in the zone.
Are you ready to work with him?
If I don’t work with him who do I work with? If I publicly congratulated Arapaja, that is a show of leadership.