Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose has “shifted ground” to ensure the resolution of the tussle between him and the 19 All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers.
Fayose said: “If not for the experience I have garnered, my government would have been history.”
The governor spoke yesterday at a peace meeting brokered by Ekiti elders, led by eminent lawyer Chief Afe Babalola.
He accused the media of propagating the crisis, saying Ekiti does not deserve the uncomplimentary headlines being foisted on it.
The meeting, held at Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), was shunned by the APC lawmakers, led by Speaker Adewale Omirin.
The lawmakers alleged plots to arrest them and keep them out of circulation, until the end of their tenure.
Four of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmakers, led by factional Speaker Dele Olugbemi, attended the meeting.
Other elders present were Chairman, Standing Committee, State Council of Elders, Chief Deji Fasuan; former Minister of National Planning Chief Ayo Ogunlade and former Secretary General of Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr. Kunle Olajide.
Despite the absence of the APC lawmakers, the elders resolved to continue with the meeting in which they reiterated their call on the warring factions to embrace peace.
The ABUAD campus witnessed an overwhelming presence of armed policemen and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The governor said the experience of his 2006 impeachment was brought to bear in “protecting the mandate given to him by the electorate”.
He said his call for peace was not out of cowardice but to show the character of a leader.
His words: “I am not a first-time governor, I am better informed now to know the difference between the executive and the legislature.
“If not for experience, this PDP government would have become history. The difference between the last time and now is the experience I have.
“The last time, they came and took off my neck, should I look on for them to cut my head again? No.
“It is wrong for people to keep saying to me that you are the father. Should I as a father sit and allow someone cut off my nose and hand. Then later return to remove my eyes and finally cut off my head?
“What will I turn to? I want to appeal to the media because they have done enough damage to the state.
“Tomorrow, you will see headlines, such as ‘APC lawmakers shun Afe Babalola’; ‘APC lawmakers accuse Fayose of trying to kill them’ or ‘Fayose begs’.
“They are looking for technicalities to remove Fayose and it shows that there is a motive to consume this state.
“How can 19 people sit in one corner saying they want to undo what the people have done?”
The governor also denied the APC lawmakers’ allegation that he wants to arrest them at the meeting.
He said: “I am ready to shift ground to see that they finish their tenure successfully and pay them all their dues.
“I’m ready to work with them and make them happy.
“It is not only during crisis we should be having a forum like this.”
Babalola regretted the absence of the APC lawmakers, saying he had made necessary arrangements for their safety.
He said former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Wole Olanipekun, was on his way to the meeting before receiving information that the meeting had been cancelled, which made him to return to Lagos.
Babalola said his prayer was that peace should reign in Ekiti to set it on the path of development.
Fasuan raised alarm on what to expect from the two sides in the next 30 days, which he described as “landmines”. He urged them to consider the future of the children.
Ogunlade said conflict resolution comes with “give and take”, urging the factions to be ready to give up certain principles.
Olajide said Ekiti problems would be solved internally.
Olugbemi alleged that he was part of a meeting held with senior APC leaders where a plot was hatched to remove Fayose.
The factional speaker said he would prefer a face-to-face meeting with the APC lawmakers alleging that “those sponsoring them have nothing against the governor other than to remove him”.
Commissioner of Police Joshua Ibine and Director of DSS said the security agencies had no plans to arrest the APC lawmakers.
According to them, their resolve was to abide by their constitutional roles to ensure security of lives and property and preservation of law and order.
•That all participants agree that peace is paramount
•Security chiefs will be impartial and maintain law and order at all times
•That the meeting regrets that the 19 APC lawmakers did not attend
•That it was agreed that peace will be restored with the cooperation of all and the other party must be present in subsequent meetings
•That the 19 APC lawmakers should return to base and attend other meetings to be organised and their return will be championed by security chiefs
•That the governor is to shift ground if that will produce peace
•That the body would hold regular meetings
•That if the other side agrees to come to peace meetings, our governor is prepared to shift ground on all contending issues
•That the meeting agrees from available materials and evidence of the Commissioner of Police and Director of Department of State Services that there was no arrangement or directive that any of them (opposition legislators) will be arrested
•That it was agreed that the media should correctly and accurately report what transpired at the meeting