Rt. Honourable Kola Adefemi’s place in the history of Ekiti State is irrefutable. Not only does his name appear in the annals as the first Speaker in the history of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, till date, he is the only Speaker that has served out a full tenure of four years in the state. The likes of Honourables Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and (later Senator) Adeleke Olorunnibe Mamora were his contemporaries in the Conference of Speakers then.
For Adefemi, boldness flows in the bloodline; as a policeman, his late father, Chief John Adefemi led the team that recovered the severed head of Oba Olajide Layode, the Soun of Ogbomoso who was beheaded by the Agbekoya farmers during a revolt in July 1969.
In this interview with The Anchor Online’s WOLE ADEJUMO, Adefemi, a respectable and polished lawyer with decades of experience spoke on the closure of the Ekiti House of Assembly, why he feels Ekiti does not have a House of Assembly, his grouse with the incumbent Governor, Ayo Fayose and how he feels the incoming Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi can revolutionize and ensure professionalism in the institutions that make up the work force in Ekiti State. Excerpts:
The Ekiti State House of Assembly was closed down due to the presence of security operatives. What is your view of the scenario?
As the pioneer Speaker of the first Ekiti State House of Assembly between 1999 and year 2003, in which history still counts in my favour as the only Speaker who has spent out his tenure since 1999, I can say to you authoritatively that in my view, this assembly is no assembly.
Why would you say that?
I will say so because when you have a scenario where the hallowed chambers as it is being called is being invaded by an outsider in a pair of knickers with a gavel in his hand to pass a budget which was meant for the whole state, in serious contravention of the laws of the land. And Mr. Speaker was even asked whether he was the Speaker, to which he denied his position and said the contravener was the Speaker. That tells you that there was no assembly.
All you have in that assembly are the same bedfellows, criminals, crooks, mediocre; starting from the top, from the Executive Governor to the legislative arm of government. That is why I said if they closed that assembly, specifically, I know that the assembly was closed, not because it wanted to be closed but for political reasons as a result of outright fear by the incumbent thinking that there is a plot, now that power has changed or is about to change. That is the reason I said that is no assembly. I have never regarded it as an assembly and I have never recognized the incumbent Speaker as a Speaker and I hold this view very strongly.
As the Speaker, what happened when the budget was passed can never happen under my watch. Don’t forget that I was the State Legal Adviser of the PDP before I left. It is common knowledge that I resigned on the pages of the newspapers when I realized that we had a state executive that was about to be controlled by Ayo Fayose. So if I was the Speaker and somebody comes into my hallowed chambers to say that he was passing a budget like that, there and then, on the open floor of the chambers, I would have at least placed myself on record by castigating the Governor and telling him that this is unconstitutional, reckless, unbecoming and I would have resigned. After all, out of job is not out of life. But we don’t have honourable people anymore. That is my take on that.
Ekiti State is known as the Fountain of Knowledge, Ekitis are regarded as honourable people, where would you say Ekiti State got it wrong?
Number one, to correct you, Ekiti State is no longer the Fountain of Knowledge. It is a misnomer to call Ekiti State a land of honourable people and I will tell you why. The reason is that there are three major institutions in the state that make up the work force; the teaching service institution, the civil service institution and the local government service institution.
We got it wrong when we voted in Ayo Fayose as Governor.
The first or the second time?
From the very first time and the second time. We tried to correct it in-between but the judiciary did not allow us and the law took its course and brought him back. And it became worse the second time. What Ayo Fayose has done is that these three major institutions that I have referred to, have been reduced to a subhuman level. If you followed the results of the last election, you will discover that 80% of the votes given to Eleka were cast by these three institutions. And these are institutions where salaries have not been paid between eight and 10 months.
In Ekiti, we don’t have industries, we don’t have factories, we only have these institutions as the working force of Ekiti. But these institutions have been politicized, these institutions have been highly corrupted. These are people who no longer own themselves. These are people who believe that it is better to have jobs and not be paid. These are people who have themselves gone corrupt or how have they been surviving in the last eight to 10 months if they have not been doing things that are unholy?
So even if you remove Ayo Fayose as Governor and you don’t re-professionalize these institutions, we are not going anywhere. No thanks to Governor Ayo Fayose who celebrated mediocrity to high levels. We have information to show that when the Head of Service wants to address the Governor, he stands for 45 minutes, we have seen cases of Permanent Secretaries kneeling down in front of the Governor, the Deputy Governor himself prostrates before his benefactor the Governor, the Governor insists that women should kneel down for him. He is a maximum dictator and people have lost their conscience, they have lost their brain they have lost their honour, they have lost their sense of self-esteem.
I will tell you today in Ekiti, many civil servants cannot give a professional judgment. The judgment they will give will be self-protective judgment because they have been reduced to that level and I am not ashamed to say so and many of them would ashamedly admit that fact.
If I have to say anything to incoming Governor Kayode Fayemi, my advice to him will be look my dear friend and brother, go and professionalize those three institutions. In fact it is more important than building roads or building infrastructure.
But if those things are going to be corrected, it means heads will likely roll.
That is what I am saying. There are more than 2,500 unemployed graduates of Ekiti extraction who have nothing to do. It is garbage in garbage out. My advice would be that you don’t owe 10 months’ salary but pay them 10 months’ salary so that some of them can find something else to do and if their heads will roll, you bring in new hands and start training and retraining. Otherwise we can never get it. If we continue with 80% of the civil service that we have now, I can tell you that we will still be in the doldrums.
After you, no one has served out a full tenure as the Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly. Is that office jinxed?
No. It is explainable. I have told the secret behind my four-year tenure at different fora. Number one, it is God. Number two, it is transparency. Let me tell you, there are 26 members of the state House of Assembly, all of them are equal members. It is only when you now elect one of them as the Speaker that he goes ahead of the others. If that Speaker now carries that position into his head, he will make mistakes.
I laid on the table every revenue of income that came to the House through a forum which I called the Funds and General Purposes Committee which I created and I was never the Chairman. The Funds and General Purposes Committee was created to allocate, to administer the allocations that come into the House of Assembly and I made sure that Mr. Speaker was not the Chairman. The Deputy Speaker was the Chairman. So tell me how you want to accuse me of any financial wrongdoing.
Usually when Speakers are removed it is because of money and non-transparency.
Well, maybe some Executive influences also come into play in some places. Like the cases of Honourable Kola Ajigbolamu and Honourable Aderemi on his part was locked in a tussle to become a member of the Executive arm of government.
I remember those two examples. Ajigbolamu was the creation of the man who removed him. The man who put him there removed him. Aderemi, may his soul rest in peace, in his own case was political greed. He wanted to be Governor at all cost and he was being pushed by some other honourable members and that led to his exit. Apart from those two examples, all the others were removed as a result of non-transparency.
The governorship election has been won and lost; allegations of rigging abound. Some said the election was not transparent; that it was fraught with irregularities. What is your take on this?
I have also heard that there was vote buying. I am unable to confirm but what I can confirm is that there is proof that two days before that election, civil servants’ accounts, teachers’ accounts, local government staff accounts were credited with N 3,000. And this was done by the sitting government of Ayo Fayose, which is the PDP. Are they paying 10 months of salary arrears with N 3,000 two days to the election?
It was called stipend and I think the Government’s spokesman explained that it was meant for people who lived far maybe as a result of work to be able to transport themselves to their polling units.
I can tell you for a fact that this stipend was also credited to the account of judges. I know three judges whose accounts were credited with N 3,000. Are you saying that is also an amount for the judge to transport himself to his voting area? I think it is just an excuse for vote buying. It is just an excuse for corruption. I am only telling you that is one area I can confirm and I believe that it is an indirect form of vote purchase.
What happened on the field on that day, I cannot say because I went to vote. And I can tell you categorically that nobody offered me any money, nobody gave me any money, nobody tried to induce me with any money. But I have heard that there was vote purchase and in my opinion, it is not good for our democracy. And if you ask me what I think, moving forward, I think we should deepen our democracy by INEC trying to look at this issue of vote buying at the polling station that is open and try to put about polling houses.
More polling houses should be built because when the man who wants to induce you knows that even if he induces you, he is not sure whether you will vote for him, he will not induce you. But when it has gotten to a point when as soon as you vote, the moment you show the agent that you have voted for him, you collect your stipend, then our democracy is still found wanting and needs to be deepened. That is just my idea about that.
Before the closure of the House of Assembly, the Honourable Speaker and members resolved to adjourn till November 2nd, what do you make of this adjournment because in some quarters, it is like Ekiti has become the home of political drama?
It is politics at play. The House can adjourn, constitutionally; the House can adjourn at any point in time depending on the considerations of the time. But what we are saying is that that kind of adjournment at this point in time leaves a question mark on it. I told you earlier on that I do not regard that there is a sitting Speaker in place in that assembly right now. Here is a Speaker who has himself admitted that he is not the Speaker. He admitted that it is the fraud that is the Speaker. Mr. Speaker adjourned based on an information that they are trying to use members of the House of Assembly to cut down the tenure of the incumbent governor through an impeachment. And in any event, 80% of those members of the hallowed chambers as far as I am concerned, even the Medical Doctor among them is a mediocre. They are mediocre. These are people who are working for the man who made them. That is why I said we need to revolutionalize Ekiti.
You were attacked sometime in 2014 prior to the governorship primaries then. Was that why you decided to give elective positions a wide berth?
No. I am still very active in politics. These things come and go. What happened to me was a barbaric act which was promoted, strategized and executed by the same sitting Governor, Ayo Fayose using Dr. T.K.O Aluko who was the secretary of the party. Everything was planned, executed and grandstanded by Ayo Fayose who does not tolerate, who does not want, who will not celebrate anybody that has intelligence. That was what happened, it was an unfortunate accident.
You were active as a member of the Alliance for Democracy, you moved to the PDP, even before many of your colleagues came over to join the party. And now you have again left the PDP. Why did you leave the PDP?
Politics is a very dynamic process. PDP remains the biggest party in Africa, I can tell you that but I left the PDP because I am PDP of Ekiti extraction. With the result of the last election and what you have found out, PDP in Ekiti was a one man show. I thought I joined a more progressive party but I found out that as far as Ekiti PDP is concerned, it was too dictatorial for my liking. I did not and I never pretended one day that I once liked the attitude, activities, character and behavior of the incumbent governor who is on his way out. I left the PDP to join hands with progressives to dislodge this thief of Baghdad. We have a thief of Baghdad in Oke Ayoba in Ado Ekiti. I joined hands with the APC because at that level, the entire Ekiti, be it AD, be it PDP, had one common enemy and the common enemy is the incumbent governor. So I needed to join hands with everybody to make sure that this man was dislodged and I am so happy and I feel so relieved that at the end of the day, he has been dislodged.
But having said that, it is not yet eureka. If we dislodge Fayose and we do not re-professionalize these three institutions I am talking about because those three institutions have been dehumanized, have been made sub-human, they have no mind of their own. These are people who have no professional contribution whatsoever to Ekiti State. If we don’t do that, then we are not going anywhere. We may have left Egypt but we have not crossed the Red Sea.
When Governor Fayose was to be removed the first time, there were insinuations that you played a major role. Now you again had to join forces with the progressives to prevent the Governor’s candidate from occupying the Government House at Oke Ayoba. Is it that you have never liked Ayo Fayose as a person or you have had issues with him in time past? What exactly is the true picture?
I have no issue with Governor Ayo Fayose but I can tell you straightaway that with the benefit of hindsight and as a result of God given intuition, I knew from the moment I met Governor Ayo Fayose I knew we were dealing with a con man, I knew we were dealing with someone who does not celebrate intelligence, I knew we were dealing with somebody who is a dictator, I also knew from my relationship with him that he could do anything for money. And I just felt that was not the kind of leader that I can work with. And we had evidences that first time when I teamed up with people to remove him, we had evidences, you remember the poultry project, to show that he stole seriously and he is a one-man stealer. He does not have a good character, he has a pretentious character, so from the beginning, I just didn’t gel with Governor Ayo Fayose. I saw through that Governor Ayo Fayose was a fraud to the people, was even a fraud to himself, was a fraud to his friends, was a fraud to his family. That is why I could not gel with him.