President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said he was reluctant to release the outgoing Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi who is the governorship candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the July 14 election.
The President who said he will not be in a hurry to shop for a substantive replacement of the minister, charged him to get back Ekiti state for the APC. Speaking at a valedictory session in honour of Dr. Fayemi who resigned from the cabinet last week to face his election, President Buhari said he had directed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to embarked on voters education on the use of electronic devices.
The President reechoed how he lost elections three times as a result of rigging and election manipulations, stressing that the introduction of technology especially the use of Permanent Voters Cards, PVC, and the Card Readers saved him from another humiliation.
He said, “I very reluctantly allowed Fayemi to go to his state because of his constructive contributions. As I sat here, I watched every minister that spoke and about his contributions, this revealed not only his intellect but when he is given the necessary time to contribute to important memorandum, he made contributions which shows commitment to the progressive of this government and the country.
“By chance, he was given the portfolio of solid minerals and steel development and you know that sector was virtually abandoned. During the colonial days, they took what they wanted from us – tin, columbite and the rest were the priorities until they struck oil somewhere, it was simply priority of investment shifted offshore.
“When he went in, he began to deal with both Nigerians and foreigners that are exploiting the lack of commitment of those who are responsible of that sector before he went there. If you recall the number of children and women that suffered from the effect of mining in Zamfara State and other parts of the country and the people responsible, knowing that Nigeria will dump as decently as possible.
“He only briefed me occasionally but he was packing them out of the country, with the cooperation of some his colleagues he will come here and let me know. “I hope you will get the Ekiti back for the party. The only time I saw the INEC chair was to insist that voters Education should be emphasized, so that ordinary Nigerians will believe that Nigeria is beginning to respect them and that their PVC is their status.
“And then coupled with the card readers, God willing, we are here with the help of technology because in previous elections and I am in the position to say so having lost three times and got to Supreme Court, I know if not for technology, we will be doing the same thing. “A lot of constituencies were bought, voters were allocated and results were announced and people were told to go to court if they don’t agree with it.
“Now, for someone who is looking for the next meal, how is he going to get the money to give to SAN (Senior Advocate of Nigeria), to demand for justice for his marginalization. So, we thank technology because with the introduction of PVC and the card readers, votes counted. Please go and emphasize this to your constituencies. “Let Nigerians be respected that they can vote anybody across any party and at any constituency. I think that will give them the pride to voluntarily go and vote. It is not easy to go to Supreme Court three times, but I went through it, I wonder how many people will be proud to go through it in this country.”
Assuring that he will not be in a hurry for a substantive replacement, he said, “So, we certainly wish you the best of luck but it will take me sometimes to get a substantive minister and more so with the 2019 prospects that I have already indicated. “But we need a very very strong minister, strong in intellect and courage, so as to make sure that both the Nigerian and foreign collaborators of taking away our resources can be checked effectively. “We thank you very much for your contribution for your country. Goodbye, we will come for the inauguration.”
In his remarks, Fayemi thanked the President for the opportunity to serve Nigeria and for not rejecting his plan to return “to rescue Ekiti”, and declared that he had no apologies for being labelled a “Buhari boy” by some politicians and the media. He also thanked other cabinet members for their cooperation and kind, emotional words. He described himself as an accidental miner as he was a novice in the sector when he was appointed over three years ago, but has acquired so much experience along the line and improved the sector in Nigeria that he could qualify for a certificate in geology.
The former Minister assured his colleagues that if he gets elected, Ekiti’s gain will not be a national loss because it would be another opportunity to expand his service to the fatherland. He expressed optimism of good fortunes for the APC as he asserted that he would be the guinea pig to be used to test the popularity of the party in both Ekiti and Osun States, as whatever happens in Ekiti would be replicated in Osun election which comes up soon after. In their valedictory remarks, Fayemi’s former colleagues described him as a gentleman, team player and reputable academic whose contributions at cabinet meetings would be missed.
Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, said Fayemi was is special, unique and more than a bright star, who played leading role in formation of APC. Minister of the Interior, Abdurahaman Danbazzau described him as a gentleman, down to earth and academic of repute, who “needs our continuous support as this is just the beginning”. Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, said Fayemi was a worthy colleague, a gentleman, dependable ally, team player and a “he-for-she” person, who supported the cause of women whenever a request was made. Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, also hailed his well thought-out contributions during FEC meetings; while Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, recalled Fayemi’s contributions to his success as Governors Forum chairman.
Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Bawa Abdullahi, equally recalled how he and Fayemi were novices upon their appointments but eventually recorded modest achievements because of the former minister’s guidance, being a go-getter, brilliant and hardworking. He recalled that he never had any misunderstanding when they worked together in the ministry. Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said he was against Fayemi’s decision to go contest for governorship because he was convinced it would be a huge loss to the cabinet and Nigeria: Nonetheless, he implored other cabinet members to do whatever possible to still support Fayemi because it was not easy to win primaries but more difficult to win the main election, especially as he is known in some quarters as ‘oyibo’, who is not reputed for doling out monies or freebies for elections.