Road to the interview...
The Interview Magazine
"Wow!" he exclaimed, his voice now weak in apparent fatigue. "This must be the most comprehensive and difficult interview I have ever granted."
Mr Peter Ayodele Fayose, the feisty governor of Ekiti State, was perhaps right.
Time was now 1:30am inside the inner sanctum of the Governor Office after what could be described as a no-holds-barred conversation with The Interview team, stretching from late Monday night to early hours of Tuesday.
In the adjoining lounge, a battery of close aides hung around, looking thoroughly knackered after another gruelling day.
Outside the sprawling bungalow, a phalanx of floodlights cast a serene glow on the kaleidoscope of administrative buildings and guest chalets after a midnight rain shower. The trees still dripped water. The surrounding hills were covered by a coat of mist.
Indeed, The Interview had to endure a long wait before the session commenced.
Arriving at the state capital Ado Ekiti on a Sunday afternoon following the confirmation of the appointment 48 hours earlier, the team, however, had to wait much longer due to pressing state matters that had supervened. The third anniversary of the governor's June 21, 2014 electoral victory was just few days away. So, the Government House had become a beehive of commemorative activities.
There was a pre-scheduled inspection of some ongoing projects. The governor requested we joined his convoy as he drove round Ado-Ekiti. It turned out a mini carnival of sorts as residents hailed ‘Oshoko' all the way.
It was not until 11pm the following day that the governor was finally ready to take our questions.
A political gladiator who has undoubtedly become a thorn in the flesh of the ruling All Progressives Congress in general and President Muhammadu Buhari in particular, the Ekiti chief executive demonstrated he could hold his own under fire as well. The barrage of hard questions thrown at him would have, at some point, left the average guy stammering for answers. Some challenged his personal integrity and alleged role in the murders of some political actors in Ekiti during his first coming.
But ‘Oshoko’ took all in his stride.
Having just declared interest in President Buhari's job, we wanted to know if that had been the motivation behind his unrelenting acidic attacks on the Katsina-born General in the last two years.
As the chairman of the forum of PDP governors, Fayose also had to answer questions on the future of his party which has been bedeviled by crises and factionalism since it lost the presidency in 2015.
Predictably, the conversation did not leave out the many controversies that defined his first coming as Ekiti governor between 2003 and 2006 and the murky tales around his ‘impeachment’ in October 2006.
In a deeply emotional tone, Fayose recalled: "I was a victim of high conspiracy by people, the elite, who felt I was an outsider and so cannot continue as Governor. But my biggest shock was the way and manner the then president, Baba Obasanjo, betrayed me despite all the loyalty I had shown to him. He used and dumped me the moment I needed him most."
It perhaps explains why Governor Fayose was unsparing of Obasanjo during the conversation as he detonated a cluster of ‘atomic bombs’. He declassified what transpired behind the scenes in the PDP Presidential Selection Committee which he headed in 2006. He revealed what could be regarded as Obasanjo's best kept political secrets between 2004 and 2007; from the now infamous Third Term Agenda to the alleged manipulation of the PDP selection committee to choose the then ailing Umar Yar'Adua as the ruling party’s presidential candidate. He confirmed what was already widely speculated in the wider polity: that Yar'Adua never wanted to run at the outset due to his poor health.
"After the Third Term collapsed in June 2006, whereas the majority in our committee wanted Markafi to be the presidential candidate of PDP, I was secretly working for Dr Peter Odili of Rivers State. But Baba said Markafi would be uncontrollable for him. He said Odili would end up in prison instead of presidency. He said he preferred to have Yar'Adua even though he knew very well that Yar'Adua was terminally ill."
Also, Fayose sensationally revealed how Obasanjo was openly humiliated during a secret trip to Libya to lobby the then influential Libyan strongman, Mouma Gadaffi, to endorse the extension of Obasanjo's reign as chairman of African Union.
He recalled: "At some point, Obasanjo had to kneel down with one leg, begging Gadaffi, calling him the messiah of Africa, just to have Gadaffi’s support in his aspiration to have a third term as AU chairman. I had never seen Obasanjo so humbled before in my life."
It is Fayose at his explosive best, uncensored.