Honourable Segun Erinle is a member of the Ekiti State House of Assembly and one of the allies of the Governor Kayode Fayemi. In this interview with KUNLE ODEREMI, he speaks on post-election politics of the state, among other issues. Excerpts:
The election has come and gone. What are your views on why your party lost?
We lost because the majority of Ekiti voters were not ready for the revolution we introduced into governance in the state. We believed, as a government, that Ekiti peopleneeded to be transformed and as a result of that, we put the necessary infrastructure in place, like good roads, renovation of schools, hospitals, tourist centres and a lot of other things. But our people saw governance from a different angle. They applauded those policies but they believed the lies told by the opposition parties that we will sack teachers, sack the civil servants, stop the commercial motorcycles riders from plying the major roads. Some were of the opinion that money did not flow in the state, unlike during the previous regimes.
Other issues were the militarisation of the election process whereby the deployed military personnel beat up some people. Could you imagine that a very young military officer beat a District Police Officer and a council chairman was equally beaten along with his police orderly? You can see that a lot of factors contributed to our losing the election.
But the general opinion was that you lost because Fayemiís government was not in touch with the grass root people.
People are entitled to their opinion but l wonder if you say a government that visits all the 176 wards of Ekiti every year to seek their needs is not in touch with his people? There is no member of the Ekiti State House of Assembly that has not embarked on empowerment programme for the benefits of the people of their constituencies, despite not receiving constituency allowance like their predecessors in office.
Are you worried that you lost the election?
I am worried for two major reasons. First, if we could do that quantum of work to make Ekiti great and prepare it for a better future and our people could still vote against us, it is worrisome. It shows Ekiti is no more Ekiti l used to be proud of. Second, I am worried because by bringing the military into civil matters like election monitoring, we are inviting anarchy. We are indirectly saying we want you back. The head of the team that harassed me told me and I quote him ďwhen military are invited to a state, it is like saying there is a state of emergency in that state, hence your being the representative or honourable does not count.Ē The most worrisome aspect is that in a democracy we fought hard to achieve and sustain in the last 15 years, I continue to pray that we sustain it.
Some were of the view that the use of photochromic ballot paper favoured the PDP candidate.
Yes, there may be some element of truth in such statement. Despite the analysis in the foregoing, I cannot imagine a performing governor losing in all the 16 local government areas of the state. Despite the general thinking of stomach infrastructure, such technology I was made to understand has been used in Zimbabwe which resulted in Robert Mugabe continuing to win all elections in that country, well if it is correct, it means we are yet to hear the last of Ekiti election because we would dig it to the root of the problem because peoples votes must be respected and counted, we are not just going to sleep and expect things to lie low like that.
What are the lessons to be learnt from the election?
There are a lot of lessons to be learnt from the election. As l have highlighted, one should value the power of the electorate and second, one should not underrate the power of the Federal Government in using all the forces at its disposal to upstage the electoral process.
The PDP candidate that won the election has two cases pending in court. Yet, the people of Ekiti decided to vote for him. Assuming he was found guilty and disqualified, donít you think the state would be thrown into chaos?Well, an accused is proven innocent until the court decides otherwise. So, letís wait for the outcome of the cases before we know what will happen.
As a lawmaker whose party still has the majority in the Assembly how are you going to work with the incoming governor who is from a different party?
We are all Ekitis and the interest of Ekiti is paramount in our minds. Hence, if the incoming government comes with a populist agenda that will benefit our people, we will not hesitate to support such in the interest of our people. Donít forget we are the representatives of our people and the peopleís interest is very paramount to us.
It is being speculated that some of you from Ekiti North Senatorial district are about to decamp because of the belief that the speakership must shift to the district.
I am not aware of members defecting. But as you know, I am one of the allies of the current speaker, hence it is my belief, as a staunch member of APC and as a leader in my own right, that the status quo must remain. As a party, we must be united. The leadership must remain as it is unless the party decides otherwise. All you heard are mere speculations and rumours.
The governor recently signed into law, the bill creating additional 19 local government councils, after the defeat of your party at the election. Donít you think the action should have been left for the newly elected governor to handle?
The constitution is very clear on procedure to be adopted in creating local government and to us, those procedures were followed.This was why we gave it legal backing as mandated by the constitution. We have followed the due process in doing our job with total respect to the constitution of the country and the mandate of the people. Donít forget the current government will be in power till 15th October 2014.
Many communities are not supporting the siting of the headquarters of the new councils and some were against the creation of the councils?
Let us be fair to ourselves. People who expected to have the headquarters in their towns would always complain if such are not sited in such communities. Our problem remains that we want to have our cake and eat it at all times. Government cannot be perfect. But we would continue to do our best to the best interest of people. I believe and I know that 80 to 90 per cent of the people are very happy with government position.
There is a rumour that you are planning to impeach Ayo Fayose when he assumes office. Can that be true?
This is another rumour. If truly the Ekiti people have elected him, can we impeach him without the people rising against us? Let me say it clear that we are all Ekitis. If he wants the best for Ekitis, we will support him to move the state forward. l believe he should look back and give thanks to God; he should now be able to correct the wrongs of the past.
How do you think the country can get out of its political quagmire?
We should have a genuine autonomy for the three arms of government. The police and the military should be free from political control. The Inspector General of Police and the Chief of Army staff should not be under the control and influence of politicians.