Former governor of Ekiti state, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, revealed that he almost declined the ministerial appointment offered by former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
The former Ekiti governor served as minister for solid minerals from 2015 – 2018.
In an interview with ThisDay published on Tuesday, Fayemi shared that his appointment as the Minister for Solid Minerals took him by surprise. He mentioned that he had anticipated being appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs instead.
Dr. Fayemi explained that he had initially decided to inform President Buhari that he would decline the appointment, expressing his reluctance to take up a role in the Solid Minerals Ministry as he felt unprepared and lacked expertise in that field.
The former Minister for solid minerals added that Niyi Adebayo, former minister of industry, trade and investment, along with his wife, persuaded him not to tell Buhari that he would not accept the appointment.
“Before I became a minister, I was director of policy for the presidential campaign and also worked in the transition committee, so I had a comprehensive view of what was going on in the Jonathan administration, but I was not prepared to go to the ministry I was assigned to,” he said.
“When I was announced as the minister for solid minerals, I must confess, I was surprised. I honestly thought I was going to be minister of foreign affairs, an area in which I was a frontline adviser for President Buhari during the period leading up to the election and before ministers were announced.
“In fact, I was with President Buhari on his last assignment at the United Nations before the ministerial list was released on the day we returned from the United Nations.
“I got home after we were sworn in and portfolios assigned and told my wife and our leader, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, that I was going to inform President Buhari that I could not take the appointment.
“What do I know about the ministry? It was not even about being a dry or juicy ministry. I was not prepared to mess myself up, after coming this far.
“I thought the ministry should go to a subject matter expert. So, I decided I was not going to take it. But Otunba said, no, that would be selfish and that I must put our people into my consideration.
“I must take it. He added: “Kayode, your strength is in managing people and resources, and you are going to take it and make a statement. Having managed a whole state, you can manage anything.” And my wife aligned with him.
“But I was still not convinced but at least they stopped me from going to tell President Buhari I was opting out of the cabinet.
“Eventually, President Buhari explained to me that he was deliberate in sending me to the ministry because he had three priorities – infrastructure, agriculture and solid minerals development and he wanted excellent hands in the three areas.
“I took it up as a challenge and I believe I grew into the job.
“In my three years there, we grew the contribution of solid minerals as a percentage of GDP, developed a comprehensive road map for the sector, started the aero-magnetic survey of the country, which was completed during Architect Adegbite’s tenure, and also conducted the national minerals exploration project amongst many other initiatives.”