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Fayose’s Invitation By Ekiti Assembly And Matters Arising

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MARY AMODU in this report writes on the issues generated by the recent invitation of the Ekiti State House of Assembly to the immediate past governor of the state, Ayo Fayose

The disagreement that recently ensued between members of Ekiti State House of Assembly and a former governor of the state, Mr Ayodele Fayose, has brought to the mind of many political watchers, the true picture of the Fountain of Knowledge state. The recent incident, as alleged by Fayose was being masterminded by his successor, who is a former minister of mines and steel development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

The outspoken former governor has been allegedly involved  in different kinds of financial impropriety after his tenure last year when the immunity that covered him ended. Part of the alleged financial impropriety is how funds belonging to 16 local governments in the state were spent in the last four years. A few weeks to the end of his tenure, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) invited Fayose, who  was later arraigned in court.

Apart from local governments funds, the EFCC first arraigned Fayose on October 22, 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatotegun, alongside a company, Spotless Investment Ltd. on 11 – count charge bordering on fraud and money laundering. The commission re-arraigned him over an alleged N6.9billion fraud and money laundering.

Though it was unclear whether the N6.9billion was local governments’ funds,  Fayose pleaded not guilty before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a federal high court in Lagos State, who granted him leave to travel overseas for medical examination.

However, the state’s lawmakers through their speaker, Funminiyi Afuye, last week, summoned Fayose alongside a former speaker of the assembly, Kola Oluwawole;  a former chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, Mr Dapo Olagunju; a former commissioner for local government affairs, Mr Kola Kolade; and the 16 local government chairmen elected during Fayose’s tenure, over allegations bordering on misappropriation of funds.

On Friday August 30, 2019, the former Ekiti State first citizen appeared before the  Assembly, saying he appeared out of a clean and clear conscience. According to him, “A clear conscience fears no accusation.” The former governor subsequently went into a closed-door meeting with the speaker, Funminiyi Afuye, and two other lawmakers.

A few minutes after, Fayose returned and told waiting journalists that, “When I got to the assembly, they said they were not ready and that they would inform me when they were ready. As a matter of fact, since they accused me of financial misappropriation, they were supposed to be ready.”

The visibly angry Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain further stated, “I got this by noon yesterday (Thursday) and I called the speaker to confirm whether it was true and he confirmed it. You know my style. When the EFCC  wanted me, I told them ‘I’m here.’

“So, I have come to the house of assembly to tell them I’m available for their questions. I drove down from Lagos to tell them that there was no hiding place for some of us, so, I am here and ready to give an account of my stewardship.”

The vocal politician however, denied he had been given a soft landing by the federal government in the EFCC’s case against him, adding that he would not compromise standards.

Fayose said, “I will not follow the multitude to sin. I want to believe that selective justice will not help our country. I have condemned anyone who says that in Nigeria, when you come to the All Progressives Congress (APC), then you become a saint. I am telling you, I will never become a member of the APC, I will never defect. If I wanted a soft landing against my party, against my candidate, that would have happened in the past, I stood my ground during the elections. So, that is impossible.”

But the speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Afuye described Fayose’s appearance as  an ambush on the assembly complex which he said was resisted because he came unannounced.

Afuye, in a statement issued by his special adviser on media, Tai Oguntayo, said, “After the resolution of the assembly at the plenary on Thursday inviting the former governor to appear before the house, he called the speaker to confirm if the report was true. The speaker confirmed to Mr. Fayose that it was true and that was the end of the discussion.

“When Mr. Fayose announced his readiness to the speaker, he was told to go back and await the official invitation letter from the house of assembly. The former governor was accorded his due respect on arrival at the house of assembly, being a former first citizen of the state.”

Meanwhile different reactions have been trailing Ekiti State House of Assembly’s unprepared invitation and what was described as Fayose’s ambush. Some stakeholders in the state, who spoke   with LEADERSHIP urged both the incumbent administration in the state to be focused in delivering good governance for people of the state.

Elder Anthony Akinbobola, a resident of Oye-Ekiti in his view said, “Though, it is good to look at the past, not to the extent that it will be affecting our present status. It is not a bad idea to look into how funds released for local overnments was spent,  but I urge the assembly not to distract Dr. Kayode Fayemi in delivering dividend of democracy to Ekiti people.

“I urge our former governor, Mr. Fayose to join hands with the house of assembly and administration of Dr. Fayemi to build our desired Ekiti State. Bickering among ourselves cannot help. We are brothers and sisters. We are regarded as fountain of knowledge and it is expedient we show this slogan to the world.”

A lecturer, working in Ekiti State University who pleaded anonymity opined that Mr. Fayose should be left alone. He argued that “he was summoned and he appeared to defend himself but the legislators said they were not ready, then, whose fault?

“In my own view, Dr Fayemi as an intelligent person should direct  lawmakers to leave his predecessor alone and face business of governance squarely. The present governor as NGF chairman should support local government autonomy in order to build people at grassroots. Local governments  should be allowed to function like we had in the past.”

While the lawmakers and the former governor continue with their bickering, the general opinion is that govenrnance should not suffer.The  lawmakers are urged to continue with their legislative duties  in the interest of the state.

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