Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, on Sunday, addressed the people of the state on a live radio programme tagged ‘Mr Governor Speaks’ where he spoke on wide range of issues relating to governance in the state and declared that the South-West regional security outfit, Operation Amotekun, has come to stay. ‘YOMI AYELESO, who monitored the programme, brings excerpts.
After series of meetings with the Federal Government over the controversies that trailed the launch of the South-West region security outfit, Operation Amotekun, the people of the state and indeed in the region want to hear from you. What is the way forward for the security outfit?
On the issue of Amotekun, our people have taken it far beyond than where we thought of, even beyond the level we did not take it to. We now have Amotekun in Russia; Amotekun in the United States of America (USA); Amotekun in South Africa. Even we now see customised cloths for the outfit. What we have in mind in creating Amotekun is to, firstly, ensure the security of lives and property of our people. Our police have been over-stretched. There is no how they can provide maximum security for us and we think we can complement their efforts with our local arrangement. If someone is to move from Igbomina farm to Ikere-Ekiti without passing through our major highway, it can only be done by our local people. Thank God, we don’t have incidents of kidnapping now, but many of our people were kidnapped months ago. People will be kidnapped in Owo and when they will be released, they will say they trekked from Emure-Ekiti to Ikere-Ekiti to Otun-Ekiti all through the forest.
Our hunters, agbekoyas and vigilantes are capable of doing something in this regard. We need to police our roads and as well ensure proper security in the forests. This is something the police cannot do. We have to take over our forests and farms from these marauders. These are our intentions in creating Amotekun. For those who don’t know our plans, we have held meetings to explain deeply our intentions. Amotekun has now become a good example for many things in many states. I read days ago that the South-East governors are planning to establish their own Amotekun. Even the people of the Middle-belt are planning something in that regard. What this means is that if there is no gap in the way police are operating, I don’t think there will be a need for all these regional Amotekuns. I believe the most important thing now is to ensure the success of Amotekun, now that people have accepted it. Otherwise, our people will descend so much on us since they are ready to support Amotekun for the security of their lives and property.
But there are concerns from residents that the outfit might fizzle out withs time. What will you and the other governor do to prevent this?
I don’t think so because there is an objective need that led to the creation of the Western Nigeria Security Network. It was not an accidental discharge; it was not a creation of faction. It was a child of necessity. Our people have become really agitated with the state of insecurity in the region, even across the entire nation. To say the truth, police are doing their best but you can do your calculation and analysis. We have about 400,000 policemen in the country and about 100,000 of them are doing VIPs protection. So, what can 300,000 policemen do to protect 200million Nigerians? There is simply just no way for them to cope with the enormity of challenges that they are facing and that is why having community policing strategy in place is critical in ensuring that the community takes ownership of their own security. That is the gap Amotekun is here to fill. It is nothing but a community policing strategy and it is a confidence-building method for our people to relate with those that are involved. I don’t think it will fizzle out and I know our people will not allow the governors to rest and will also not allow those in charge of Amotekun to rest in order to ensure that they are protected , which is our job as government.
Few months ago some workers were sacked in the Ekiti State University (EKSU) and the University Teaching Hospital and this development brought fears into the mind of the civil servants. How are you allaying the fears of workers in the state?
I am aware as the Visitor and enforcer of what transpires in those institutions. I did not recruit anybody to the university, so I have no power to sack anyone from the university. However, I am aware that a White Paper came from the visitation panel that I set up when I became the governor. The visitation panel is a routine thing in the university system and tertiary institutions, not just in Ekiti State, but all over the country. The visitation panel was chaired by Professor Asunbiojo from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, but who is an Ekiti person from Ilawe. One of the conclusions of the visitation panel is that part of the recruitment exercise that took place in EKSU between 2016 and 2017 did not follow due process and the visitation panel recommended a revisit of that process. All that we did at the State Executive Council was to ratify that decision that the Governing Council of EKSU has the right and the power to revisit those particular recruitment and that was what they did basically, asking how that process was conducted and also asking for the qualifications the people claimed to have had. I believe that was what led to what eventually happened.
But from the information available to me, out of about one thousand people affected, almost 400 of them have been recalled because they were able to provide evidence of being appropriately recruited and having certificates. Ekiti State, as a government, has no role beyond our broad responsibility to these institutions. We don’t micro manage these institutions; we don’t decide who should stay in which department. I don’t even have any clue as regards those who were recruited or who were sacked. That is the business of the Governing Council. I believe in what is called university autonomy and I cannot be dabbling into what is going on in the university. It is their right to determine how to run the institution.
I think the same applies to the Ekiti State Teaching Hospital. A lot have been exaggerated, to the best of my knowledge. What happened there is similar to what happened at EKSU. As for the general workers in Ekiti State, what is the basis for their fear? We are actually recruiting people into public service, rather than sacking anyone. There is nobody who can claim he or she has been sacked, apart from the set of people who were irregularly appointed when I came into office in 2018.
What is the government doing in addressing the proliferation of substandard private primary and secondary schools in the state?
The laid down regulations and guidelines for the establishment of private schools are not being followed by some of these schools. I have informed the state Commissioner for Education that the end has come for these anomalies. If it will get to the stage that we should close down all private primary and secondary schools in the state, we will not hesitate to do this because we can’t allow our innocent children for who their parents are paying high fees to send them to these schools. In the first place, there is no good teaching in these schools.
Secondly, some of these schools don’t have good structures; what they have can collapse at anytime and government will be held responsible for what we know nothing about.
It is our responsibility to ensure the education of our children because our government has said every child must have access to our free education policy. But some parents don’t want their wards to attend public schools, with the mindset that private schools will add value to them. However, many of these private schools are not in any way better than the public schools: They don’t have teachers; they don’t have books; in fact, they are not better than the public schools. I believe we have to do what is expected from us in ensuring the safety of our children.