Ayo Fayose, the governor of Ekiti state, has assured Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari played to the gallery by slashing half of his salary.
In a recent interview with Tribune, Fayose said that he was ready to give up all of his own salary, because government official’s salary is nothing compared with the value of his other entitlements. He also stressed that the president could not interfere with his activities because the era of impunity in Nigeria is over.
“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,” Fayose said.
The governor recalled the times when Goodluck Jonathan was the president of the country and noted that the former leader always supported Ekiti despite the fact that the state was under the control of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Fayose stressed that the APC could not return to Ekiti, saying even after he vacates government house, he will not lose his influence.
“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.
“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’,” he said.
However, the governor noted that no personal issues between him and the president would prevent him from cooperating and working with the federal government.
“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.”
Accusing former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, for building a system in which people dictate who they want, Fayose stressed that such things cannot 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 becomes the Independent National Electoral Commission 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 defense put up by the people, not even me. We, however, thank God. It was the Lord’s doing,” the governor said.
Fayose noted that people voted for the ruling party because they wanted change, however, the current administration is “too slow” and has not brought any positive changes so far.
“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 politicising this thing,” he said.
Commenting on Buhari’s decision to approve bailout funds, Fayose wandered:
“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.”
Earlier this week the governor of Ekiti state warned Nigerians that dictatorship was returning to the country. Reacting to the sealing-off of Sambo Dasuki’s residence, the governor asked Buhari to put Boko Haram under house arrest instead of former national security adviser.