Question & Answer Session
Governor Kayode Fayemi, Executive Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman Governors Forum.
Welcoming Governor Fayemi to The Platform Nigeria, Pastor Poju Oyemade who anchored the session started with a question for the Governor on the issue of insecurity in the country.
Pastor Poju posed his first question to him: seeing that the citizens of the country have a perception of the collapse of the security architecture in the country, what steps have the governors taken to combat that?
Answering, Governor Fayemi revealed the Governors are equally agitated with the security situation in the country. He stated that there is no Governor that is not committed to protecting his citizens, however there are certain challenges limiting that, including some constitutional limitations and practical challenges.
Theoretically you are in charge of your state and you can engage with the military commanders, commissioner of police and indeed all the security body, but then surprisingly, sometimes that he noted that sometimes the commissioner of police may not take your directive into account until he has cleared it with higher authority. In essence, he noted that Governors can’t secure the states, but they have to look at a range of policing arrangements to do so.
Making a case for devolution of power as regards to security, he says there is no country in the world which has a unitary Police system; not even countries like Australia, Canada, United State, India etc….they all have devolved policing arrangements, sometimes down to the campus police arrangement.
The speaker noted how the Federal unitary system we operate in Nigeria has its own limitations.
He revealed that even as a sitting Governor, he had been harassed by security agents. However, that is why we have a Police Council, it is like the National Judicial Council which is chaired by the president and has the IG and all governors as members. The police council is supposed to ensure that whatever issues concerns Police and policing, especially as regards accountability can be handled by the council.
He mentioned that there is no excuse for the ineffective security architecture we have in the country.
Answering to if devolution is way forward in Nigeria? In his words, Governor Fayemi answered ‘yes and no’, stating that we must address the way the structure we cannot address the personalities operating under the structure. This is because it is systemic, he stated that once you address this, we would notice that there is a self-eliminating structure that will not allow people who would not let the system to be accountable come through. He believes it is not a one size-fits-all situation, but the right structure needs to be put in place.
Question – Despite the call for reconstruction there is a school of thought that believes that this is not the solution to our problems because the same problems manifesting at the national level, e.g. ethnicity, security also happens at state and local levels. What is your take on this?
Answering – Governor Fayemi says ‘you can devolve responsibilities, but you can also devolve corruption. The difference between dealing with corruption at a level that is much closer to the citizen is that they can hold your feet to fire if the consciousness level is raised’.
He says, as a one time Federal Minister, the truth of the matter is that ‘’when you are there, you are almost totally disconnected with what is happening at the local level. It is power without responsibility’’
At this level of leadership, a person has enormous power he may not be totally accountable for. Accountability at this level will largely depend on self-discipline.
State governors can find a way round protecting the country without necessarily going against the constitution.
Question – As a one time Minister and now Governor, what do you think are the three biggest challenges the country is facing now and how do we get out of it?
Answering Governor Fayemi named the first challenge as laid back citizenry. We need citizens that will hold the feet of people in office to fire. Apart from social media fire, go to the wards and communities and hold them accountable. It is either you are so effective that you are co-opted into the political class, or you win the heart of the people to represent them.
Second is the Civil Service. It is the engine room of governance. People focus too much on politicians, particularly at the federal level. He urged people to focus on what is happening in the civil service and bring those committed professionals back into the civil service as they will help those in politics who may not necessarily have the expertise to deliver on their promise to the people.
Third is on Capacity to deliver. It is capacity that makes sure that before people get into public service, they are prepared and knowledgeable and ready to learn in order to make that difference. He says there has to be an intimidating mechanism that allows that, pointing out the central role of the church in making this work through encouraging people of faith to be active in politics and not run away from it. He applauded Pastor Poju on his bit in this cause but noted that this needs to be taken to another level. Talking on the issue of financing political ambition, he dissuaded the mind of the people on the belief that going into politics must cost a fortune.
He emphasized that intentions are great but not good enough. Some have good intentions but get there and get overwhelmed and throw away their good intentions. The fact that there are also political vultures in the system can cause power holders to get carried away.
At this point Pastor Poju announced the ongoing plan to inaugurate the Platform Institute for Governance, starting with four modules which will start running this year. This received a loud applause from the congregation.
Question – Moving on, a question about Devolution of power from the digital ecosystem point of view. From a devolution of power perspective what do we need to do to ensure states have digital incubation centres and talents to drive Nigeria.
He praised the fact that social media has become an arena for engagement generally, saying that one of the ways to best demystify power is to use technology, especially digital technology. This is also good because it helps to drive accountability, using the payroll as an example, where the digitized payroll system has helped to eliminate ghost workers and in several other good areas.
However, there are implications to this, which involves having the need fewer people onboard because of technology. Although the energy can be diverted into other areas like Agriculture.
Question- As part of the insider think-tank that bought this government to stay, people voted in the APC with certain expectations, especially of change. If you are going to score the government over 10, what will you rate your performance?
Governor Fayemi jokingly tried to evade the question by responding that ‘you cannot be judge and jury in your own case’, to which Pastor Poju countered biblically by stating that when God finished up his creation work, he saw that it was good. This exchange erupted a laugh from the congregants.
Governor Fayemi began answering the question by saying that the most attractive promise that people bought into more than other promises was integrity – to deliver on the issues they were most agitated about, which included security, economy, anti-corruption all encapsulated in the change agenda. He stated that though arguable, they have put in a lot of efforts in that direction, but the efforts have not been effective as expected.
He agreed that truly we still have insecurity in the land, and though many may disagree, but he would argue that there has been a decline in insecurity since the start of their administration. He recalled the house, church bombings that the nation experienced prominently around year 2015. Stating that those incidences went into decline in the first three to four years of the beginning of Buhari’s tenure. He noted that the same is resurfacing now, unfortunately so.
Governor Fayemi agreed that the administration can do a lot better than they have done, putting it out there that they need to do more in order to earn the trust and confidence of the people, because everyone is living in fear. In his words, ‘I don’t know anyone in APC who is committed to public good who is not worried about the situation we have found ourselves in’.
The speaker noted that all the various challenges faced in the country is what speaks to the fundamental issue of restructuring and devolution. In his words, “Nigeria is too big to fail, but Nigeria cannot be managed unitarily. Nigeria has to be restructured in such a manner that more responsibility, more revenue and more accountability must issue from the national to lower levels”.
Pointing out insecurity as a major victory that must happen in the immediate. He said the nation must do all within its power to ensure its people are secured, using the tools of increased personnel, technology and going after the evil merchants and take them out and put an end to insecurity.
All these must be done as a short term goal, as the nation must deal with the long term goal which is the root cause of our challenges as a nation. ‘’It’s good to be tough on crime’’, he says ‘’but we must also be tough on the root causes of these things we are dealing with.’’
Questions – On End Sars, the Youths feel that the government didn’t listen to them but the genuinely want change, and the hope they have is to leave this country, what do you have to say to that.
In his words “far from me to say anyone should not leave the country”. He says this because he stayed out of the country himself for 15 years before coming back. The five points agenda the youths fought for was well recognized by not just Ekiti state but at the federal government level.
Instead of agonizing, organize if you don’t want a regime, not create a situation of anarchy. Organize yourself against the next election to vote for the leader you want. There may be frustration along the way, but it is definitely the way forward. He noted that yes, there is a lot to give up on in this country stating that while Canada looks like a great option, there is a glass ceiling in Canada. This is a place where there is no glass ceiling, let’s work towards a better Nigeria.