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“President Buhari Played to the Gallery by Slashing his Salary” – Ayodele Fayose



Ayodele Fayose, governor of Ekiti state, has insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari played to the gallery by recently slashing half of his salary. The governor said he was also ready to give up all of his own salary, because a government official’s salary is nothing compared with the value of his other entitlements.

Fayose also said Buhari could not interfere with his activities because the era of impunity in Nigeria is over.

Accusing former president, Olusegun Obasanjo of disregarding the constitution, Fayose said Goodluck Jonathan, the immediate past president, supported Ekiti despite the fact that the state was under the control of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for most part of his tenure.

The governor said no matter the circumstances, APC cannot return to Ekiti, saying even after he vacates government house, he will still have influence over who presides over the affairs of the state.

He made the remarks in an interview with Tribune.

“It is a free society; there is no almighty governor; there is no almighty president. We are all governed by civility and by the constitution,” he said.

“When you say federal government, Buhari is the face. When you say Ekiti government, I am the face … Ekiti is just a unit of the country and Ekiti is a federating unit. We have our autonomy; he can’t come and govern my state. Everything that is federally connected, he has right to it but in my state, I am the chief executive. That is why they call me ‘executive governor’.

“We will cooperate, collaborate and work with the federal government and it will not end up as personal issues between the president and Fayose. That will mean pettiness. Buhari, too, needs opposition; the country needs a virile opposition for the system to survive.

“Buhari is the president, by God’s grace. We wish him well. But I must also state without mincing words that I don’t curry favours that I don’t need.

“If he wants to assist Ekiti people, it is not about Ayo Fayose. And I’m sure President Buhari is a man that will not want to dwell on pettiness or operate by it because Governor Fayose did not support him. When Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was in power, the All Progressives Congress (APC) members, who were in the opposition, operated peacefully in their states.

“Jonathan did not say they should come to Ekiti and remove Kayode Fayemi from here. It is a system in which the people dictate who they want.

“It was in those days that somebody would just wake up and sack a state’s house of assembly and start fumbling, like it was in the days of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Such things can’t happen again.

“And that brings me to the fact that Ekiti is gone for good from the hands of APC. Even if Senator Bola Tinubu [the leader of APC] becomes the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, they will lose in Ekiti, because they are not on the ground here. The kind of politics I play is that wherein I tie myself to the people, not the people tying themselves to me. If you look at the processes of the botched impeachment, what happened aftermath, was a defence put up by the people, not even me. We, however, thank God. It was the Lord’s doing.”

He said Nigerians voted the ruling party because they wanted change but rather that meet their expectations, Buhari has been playing to the gallery.

Fayose said the pace of the current administration is “too slow”, dismissing the impression that his state received any form of bailout from the federal government.

“The people said PDP was not doing it well, they voted us out. Okay. PDP was not doing well, let us see what APC has to offer. But for me, they have not started well. This pace is too slow and they are playing to the gallery too much,” he said.

“Apart from other issues like the north/south dichotomy, religious sentiments and change in itself, one of the key reasons, in terms of policy and in terms of needs, why Nigerians voted for President Buhari is security. They want to be secure.

“Everybody was shouting “bring back our girls”, the APC was shouting that Jonathan had no capacity and that the moment Buhari comes in, within 30 days, Boko Haram will be inside the River Niger. Rather, Boko Haram is now spreading their tentacles and growing in confidence. Both opposition and the government must stay together to fight insurgency, but I need to remind them that they were the people politicizing this thing.

“So, it has come to the fore. But it is a different ball game now: governance and opposition. When they were in opposition, they could be using propaganda to deceive the people, bamboozle them and use the press to their advantage. But you cannot use propaganda to lead the people. Look at an instance: they came out to say that they had done a bailout. To whom did they give the bailout? Are they also bailing themselves out? Nobody has bailed Ekiti out. We have only got our legitimate allocation which is tax from NLNG.

“It was Ekiti’s basic entitlement under the allocation procedures. I got N2.1 billion and my wage bill is N2.6 billion. So, when you now say bailout, a bailout that cannot pay one month’s salary, how do you explain that? I said about a week ago that there’s no issue of bailout and I cannot be telling the APC-led government that that they are deceiving Nigerians and playing to the gallery. The so-called bailout issue is playing to the gallery. So, to me there’s no issue of bailout. When Jonathan was there, this tax from NLNG went straight to the federation account.

“Today, they are in power, they can say whatever they have to say. Jonathan is gone, they should leave Jonathan alone and face the act of governance. They said PDP cannot do it well; they are there now. They should, please, try their best for us and leave propaganda.

“Another thing is that the president and vice-president announced that they will forfeit 50 percent of their salaries. That is also playing to the gallery. I can forfeit everything, because salary is meaningless. I’m ready to forfeit all of my own… the whole salary, not half, because we know the truth. We know where people in government make money.

“The president should go a little bit further and forfeit other benefits he enjoys. For instance, all the benefits of the state house in Abuja and protocol. There are a lot of benefits that will accrue to the president in terms of travelling, in terms of sitting allowances and other allowances that are due the president. He must cut the cost, because the benefits are more far-reaching than salary. The president’s salary is N1.1 million. Is the president telling us that he has forfeited N550,000 to Nigerians to change our fortune? No.

“Even my own salary is about N700,000; I’m ready to give it out without complaining and I’m not going to announce it on the radio or television. And, interestingly, you cannot forfeit it by words of mouth, because there is nowhere you will post it anyway in the revenue mobilisation law. You can take it and use it to promote the cause of Nigerians, but don’t tell us you are ready to forfeit half of your salary and it’s a big deal. No, it’s not.

“They should be able to take decisive steps to advance the cause of Nigerians beyond sentiment.

“They’ve been there almost two months and they had about seven weeks before swearing-in. Yet, they’ve not been able to give us direction that they mean well. I’m speaking this way because I’m in the opposition; I’m not in their party.”