Saturday, 25 June 2016

N4.7bn election fund scandal: Ekiti erupts in protest

N4.7bn election fund scandal: Ekiti erupts in protest
Some of the protesters in Ado-Ekiti yesterday
The alleged involvement of Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State in the sharing of N4.7 billion released for the 2014 governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states yesterday sparked a massive protest in Ado Ekiti, the state capital.
Thousands of protesters stormed the streets, condemning what they termed the looting of the treasury in the midst of widespread suffering by the majority of the people.
They asked the governor to resign, having failed to pay civil servants for the sixth month running while he has  billions of naira in his own personal account.
The protesters declared their support for the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari and called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to bring Fayose and others who have been indicted to book.
The anti-corruption agency during the week named Fayose as a major beneficiary of the slush fund.

Consequently, it restricted the governor’s Zenith Bank accounts, which it said were used in sharing the alleged loot.
Fayose has denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the bank offered to sponsor his election  campaign.
The governor’s denial made no impression on the protest organisers, including Be The Change Organisation (BCO),  which mobilised labour unions, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), artisans, market women, youth organisations and student bodies, to join in the Fayose-must-go rally.
They took off from the  Fajuyi Roundabout in Ado-Ekiti at about 8.50 am, carrying placards with inscriptions such as ‘Support Anti-Corruption Crusade, Probe Executive Looting in Ekiti’; ‘What Happened to Ekiti Airport Fund?’; ‘Fayose Must Go’; ‘ Fayose is a Disgrace to Ekiti People’; among others.
From the Fajuyi Roundabout, they moved to  Okesa, Ojumose and finally Okeyinmi Roundabout, throwing jibes at the governor.
They distributed leaflets to traders, commercial drivers, pedestrians and bystanders, detailing how the state treasury is being allegedly looted and the personalities and corporate organisations believed to be involved.
Officers and men of the  Ekiti State Police Command were on hand to ensure that the rally did not get out of control or hijacked by hoodlums.
Executive Director of BCO, Mrs. Omotunde Fajuyi, said Ekiti people were embarrassed by the EFCC allegation against the governor and declared that all Nigerians must support any move to recover the people’s commonwealth from looters.
Mrs. Fajuyi said: “We support President Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade. We have come out to protest the  looting of our money, corruption in government and the scandals dogging  this government in Ekiti.
“Workers are dying at home. We want Fayose to explain what he has done with the allocations he has so far collected because he has received more than N50 billion as allocation since he came to power.
“Fayose claims to be a Christian. He must come out clean and give account to the people of Ekiti State, and he must submit himself and all his aides and associates to the anti-corruption agencies for investigation .”
A youth leader, Adeoye Aribasoye, challenged Fayose to explain what he did with the ecological funds and the N9.6 billion bailout funds he received from the Federal Government.
Aribasoye said: “We have a governor who has over N4 billion in his account. He is the only one who can explain  what he has done with all the funds he has received from  the federal authorities.
“He must explain the N2.4 billion ecological funds because we don’t know what has happened to the money. He must answer for the revelations of Ekitigate.
“Pupils and students of public schools have been at home for over four weeks due to the strike embarked upon by civil servants and teachers.”
The court-validated Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Kolawole Olaiya, urged the EFCC to probe the whereabouts of the N9.6 billion bailout money released for the payment of workers, pensioners and past political office holders.
Olaiya said: “Corruption is responsible for the inability of Ekiti State Ggovernment to pay workers’ salaries for six months.
“Ekiti workers still believe that the N9.6 billion bailout is kept somewhere and we urge the EFCC to institute a probe into this fact so that workers can receive their six-month salary arrears and secure their future.
“Government is created for the  welfare and security of the people and Governor Fayose has done nothing to improve the lives of the people and secure their today and their future.
“Enough of these lies. Ekiti people must be liberated.
“Today in Ekiti State, public primary and secondary school students, including those in private schools, are now paying taxes.
“This must stop. It is at variance with the 1999 Constitution; imposition of obnoxious taxes in Ekiti State must stop.
“We want Ekiti State workers to note that Fayose is nobody’s friend.Teachers, civil servants, public servants, local government workers, artisans, driver unions, etc must note that Fayose is not their friend.
 “Workers are dying for non-payment of salaries for six months, including pensioners. Fayose must be brought to book, not minding Section 308 immunity.
“It is criminal not to pay workers and pensioners for six months. The federal government sent N9.6 billion to Ekiti State as bailout, how was the bailout expended and who are the beneficiaries?
“What accrues to the state as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is not known to the people.”
Speaking on behalf of artisans, Idowu Ayegbe said: “We regret all the burden the governor has
imposed on us in Ekiti in form of levies and taxes on our pupils.
“We are not happy with what the governor is doing, including his attacks on the President.”
The state CNPP spokesman, Ayo Adelabu, demanded Fayose’s resignation from office in the face of new evidence of alleged corruption.
Adelabu said : “Fayose should resign  from office over his failure to live up to people’s expectations.
“He should come out and defend himself in the N4.7 billion arms deal scandal and we also challenge him to explain to Ekiti people how he has spent six months allocation without payment of workers’ salaries.
“The CNPP warns Fayose to stop abusing Mr. President who has been enjoying the full support of the majority of Ekiti people.
“The CNPP strongly condemns Ekiti State legislators who have turned themselves into political slaves in the hand of Fayose.
“The governor should also come out and explain the N2.3 billion loan he took from a bank.
 “The CNPP advises Governor Fayose to immediately stop the flyover bridge project and caution his political thugs against the attack of innocent people in the state.”
Meanwhile, an interest group, Ekiti Redemption Group (ERG), has called on Fayose to pay all the six-month arrears of workers’ salaries or face a legal action and “unending protests”.
 The group gave Fayose a seven-day ultimatum to pay all arrears of salaries and pensions failure of which the administration will be dragged to court to explain how treasury is being managed.
ERG National Coordinator, Morakinyo Ogele, in a statement yesterday  said Fayose’s campaign was anchored on stomach infrastructure but expressed surprise that his administration has unleashed hunger, hardship and untimely death on the people through poverty and financial recklessness.
Ogele said: “It is unbelievable that Fayose is concentrating on useless projects like a flyover while civil servants are dying as a result of not having money to take care of themselves and their families.
“It is amazing that government is owing civil servants six months salaries. Fayose has thrown the welfare of the people away and prefers useless projects, criticizing the  Federal Government and wasting millions of Naira on advertisements.
 “There is no doubt that Ekiti State government is confused and chasing anti-people programmes. A responsible government should see to the welfare of the people and where government is irresponsible, such a government should be thrown out.
 “It is high time we told Fayose  to resign immediately. Ekiti State government is hereby out on notice to pay all the arrears of civil servants within seven days otherwise I will not hesitate to mobilize the people for mass action and protest and at the same time drag the government to court.”
Other residents of the state are also not amused by the allegations against the governor.
One of them, Dare Awe described the EFCC action as “a divine intervention in the affairs of Ekiti.”
 He said: “Fayose must be ready to carry his cross because this is  a divine intervention in the affairs of Nigeria. This guy has been lying to us that the election that brought him to office was clean whereas it was sponsored with money meant for purchase of weapons.
 “We are suffering in this state but the guy is only concerned about how he will make money. What have we benefited since he came to power?
“Our image has been dented within and outside the state because of his action.”
 Segun Adaralegbe expressed regret for “voting for this man in 2014 because we believed he would make a difference.”
“What made me vote for him then was his statement that he had changed and matured and would never misbehave if given another chance.
“I mobilized members of my family and neighbours to the nearest polling station to vote for him but we have all realized that electing this man again was a big mistake. People find it difficult to survive, salaries are not paid and he imposed heavy taxes on us.
“The latest revelation on arms funds has added insult to our injury. There is a popular saying among drivers’ union that says: ‘if you eat alone you will die alone’. Fayose must be ready to face the consequences of his action because he has brought shame to all of us.”
Gbenga Faleye said the revelation by former PDP Secretary, Dr. Tope Aluko on the deployment of cash to manipulate the 2014 election was true after all saying the EFCC has what he called “iron cast evidence” against Fayose.
“I think the EFCC did its home work well this time around to come out with the facts and figures we are seeing in the newspapers now and it is now left for Fayose to defend himself but we are all watching how events will unfold”.
James Arowosafe said: “We know that the EFCC is acting the script of the APC government. They have been looking for ways to nail him by all means since he came back to power but I know that they will fail.
“They started with the spurious court case before his inauguration and their lawmakers made attempts to impeach him and they also used the allegation of Ekitigate against him. My brother, I am a die-hard supporter of Fayose and I won’t deny him.
 “Is he the only governor in Nigeria? Why this crackdown? Is it because of his endless criticisms of Buhari? They should know that what goes around comes around, are they telling us that all those in APC are saints?”
 To Lekan Aborisade, the EFCC crackdown on Ekiti is needless accusing the Federal Government of turning the agency to an instrument of persecution.
 “Whether they like it or not, Fayose is our governor and will remain our governor till 2018. Enough of this media trial, the man is still innocent until proven otherwise by the court. I believe that as he surmounted other hurdles earlier, he will overcome this one.”

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