Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi has rendered his account of stewardship at a ceremony marking the first year of his second term in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital. Southwest Bureau Chief BISI OLADELE examines the achievements and constraints of governance in the Fountain of Knowledge.
A year after, the people of Ekiti State are counting their blessings. The state has moved from the era of stomach infrastructure to concrete socio-economic development.
As they gathered at the Pavilion Centre, Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, for celebrations, Governor Kayode Fayemi reeled out his achievements in the last one year. A wild applause greeted the evidence of change across the sectors.
The people were decked in ankara. They took turns to dance round the field, paying homage to Fayemi, his wife, Bisi, Deputy Governor Bisi Egbeyemi and other top government functionaries who stood on a raised platform. The governor acknowledged their support, waving hands in return to signify that he was in the same joyous mood.
The feeling was real. The entire environment looked like that of a very big family celebrating a major electoral victory. In the crowd were tailors, welders, auto technicians, street sweepers, hair dressers, hunters, market women, farmers, commercial motorcyclists, commercial drivers and members of the reformed Oodua People’s Congress (OPC).
After giving account of his stewardship to the crowd, the governor relaunched the Social Security Scheme for the aged christened Owo Arugbo, (financial support for the aged). He also rolled out his plans for artisans, farmers, traders and other members of the society.
Under the social security scheme, N5,000 is paid to indigent elderly indigenes. It was introduced in 2012 during Fayemi’s first term, but was scrapped by the immediate past administration.
The beneficiaries, who are 65 years and above, got N20,000 each as the governor directed they be paid the three months arrears, dating back to July when the he announced its re-introduction.
In his State of the State address at the House of Assembly complex where leaders and other stakeholders gathered, Fayemi said he had justified the confidence reposed in him and his team in the 2018 election.
The governor, who is well known for his close ties with national and international development organisations, said his administration had brought back the agencies, which abandoned Ekiti since he left office in 2014.
Welcoming members, traditional rulers, top political leaders and other stakeholders to the floor of the House of Assembly for the special sitting, the Speaker, Funminiyi Afuye, highlighted the importance of the sitting.
Afuye said the governor’s election in July, 2018 was a divine intervention for Ekiti State. He pointed out that the intervention along with the will and support of Ekiti people brought the victory that terminated the hitherto ‘reign of oppression.’
He said: “Since you came, you have stemmed deterioration in governance, development and the values of our people. You have offered leadership.
“You are achieving results and our people are asking for more of what you are doing. This House will work with you for the good of our people…”
Fayemi highlighted how his administration has changed the face of governance in Ekiti. He said: “We have recorded steady, visible and highly impactful success within this first year and things are looking up for us as a government, state and people.”
The governor explained that the first anniversary called for celebration because it has been a year of restoration, repositioning and achievements.
He disclosed that his administration had been driving the state’s economy through its five-point agenda which has helped it deliver in virtually all critical areas.
His words: “We campaigned and won the election on the promise of restoring values and dignity, tackling infrastructure decay and developing the economy through the five pillars of this administration, namely: Governance, Agriculture and Rural Development, Social Investments, Knowledge Economy, and Infrastructure and Industrial Development.
“As a responsible and responsive government, every sector has been receiving attention to better the lot of our people. Social services, Education, Healthcare, Agriculture, water supply, and road construction are now being prioritised and given adequate attention. We are not where we ought to be, but thankfully, we are no more where we used to be. We can confidently attest that we have been committed to our campaign promises and their implementation in the last one year in office.”
In specific terms, Fayemi listed his administration’s impacts to include correction of past wrongs, restoration of values, prompt payment of salaries and pensions, clearing of 26 per cent of inherited debts, training and retraining of civil servants, multiple water projects and revival of farm settlements.
“In furtherance of our quest to make life better and more meaningful for our people, our government has tackled financial odds to complete key projects, some of which are slated for commissioning this week. We are equally going to turn the sod for the laying of foundation for new projects, all geared towards enhancing the potential of our people and moving our dear State forward,” the governor said.
Fayemi said the results of his administration’s efforts had yielded confidence in indigenes, development partners and investors.
He said: “Ekiti-Kete, as you must have noticed, I am glad to inform you that all our development partners and donor agencies are back and clamouring to work with us again. The World Bank, European Union, United Nations System, USAID, Africa Development Bank, and several other partners, including Federal Government agencies are now working assiduously with us on how to move our dear State forward through Knowledge Economy, Infrastructure and Industrial Development, Agriculture and Rural Development and Social Investments. As we speak, multiple water projects are ongoing in different parts of Ekiti State. Our farm settlements are currently a beehive of activities.”
He also revealed ongoing efforts to resuscitate abandoned projects, programmes and investments, stressing: “a solid foundation has been laid for the implementation of our development agenda.”
Payment of debts including salaries and and pensions Commencement of N30,000 minimum wage Training and retraining of civil servants Recruitment of 2,100 teachers Enactment of the law prohibiting abandoning projects by new administrations Multiple water projects Resuscitation of farm settlements. Prompt payment of salaries and pensions.
Outlook for 2020:
Fayemi promised that next year will mark commissioning of many ongoing projects which will be completed before the end of 2020. The projects are those that will positively impact the socio-economic lives of the people.
2020 promises to be a year of massive projects commissioning and institutionalisation of more life changing programmes. We are hopeful and confident that many of the programmes and projects we started this year without noise or fanfare will be due for commissioning within the second year of this administration. The same thing applies to most of the previously abandoned and inherited projects in the state. The renovation of the Ekiti Parapo Pavilion is now 80 per cent completed. The Civic Centre that was designed to house a Shopping mall, Cinema, Arts Gallery, Museum, Convention Centre and other modern facilities is 90 per cent completed. Fountain Hotel and Ikogosi Warm Springs Hotel have now been put up for expression of interest by core investors. The inherited Ultra-Modern Oja-Oba market is now 80 per cent completed. All of these and other newly initiated life touching projects and programmes promise to make the next few months eventful and exciting.”
He listed others as the revival of the moribund Ikun Dairy Farm through partnership with Promasidor Milk Company with plans to produce 9,000 litres of milk daily over the next two years, revival and expansion of the rice and cassava programmes through partnerships with the Federal Government and key private sector players. Others are the expansion of the Youth in Commercial Agriculture Development programme (YCAD) for which many of the farmers are currently undergoing training in commercial farming and partnership with relevant stakeholders in the cultivation of cassava for ethanol production. Fayemi said the state was also in partnership with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on a biofuel project as an alternative source of energy.
According to him, the agriculture programmes and projects were based on the conviction that agriculture is very key to the state’s economic recovery.
Addressing the need for social security for the aged, Fayemi said: “ You may recall that during my inauguration, I assured our elders that the government of JKF2.0 would assuage their pains by resuscitating the “Owo Arugbo” social welfare scheme. I am happy to inform you that the scheme is being relaunched today, marking the beginning of the payment of a monthly allowance to the indigent aged in our communities. It is worthy of note that the Food Bank initiated by the Wife of Governor during JKF1 has recently been reactivated and is known as “Ounje Arugbo” to complement the ‘Owo Arugbo’ program. As part of our plans to support our elderly population, we are working on a multi-purpose “Old Peoples Home” where our lonely elders can spend time with their peers and be cared for.
“Ekiti-Kete, we are not unmindful of your yearnings and expectations. Each of our policies, programmes and projects is carefully crafted to world best standards with a view to making life better and more meaningful for our people. Ekiti State is one of the few states in Nigeria that has criminalized child hawking during school hours. We are in the process of drafting laws for the prosecution of parents who refuse to send their children to school. We are the first to start public shaming of convicted rapists through our Sex Offenders Register. All of these are pointers to our resolve to ensure that every child has unhindered access to education and to further protect women and girls from all forms of sexual exploitation.”
In summarising what to expect next year, the governor said: “The next year will witness unprecedented progress as we embark on several legacy projects such as the AfDB supported construction of the Agro-Cargo Airport, the Knowledge Zone, the Ado Ekiti Ring Road, the Ado –Akure Dualisation and Reconstruction, the Agricultural Processing Zone, the World Bank supported Aero-Magnetic Mineral Survey, the 1000 kilometers of Rural Access into Agricultural Markets Project (RAAMP), the Erosion Control and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), our Universal Basic Health and Basic Education Sector Transformation programmes.”
Fayemi hailed the cooperation of all stakeholders which he said largely made the feats attainable. He expressed satisfaction with the achievements but promised not to rest on his oars. “We have more than enough reasons to rejoice and thank God for taking us thus far. Personally, I feel fulfilled and excited about the positive impact we have made with JKF2.0 within the last 365 days. I am happy that we no longer have abandoned projects in Ekiti State and yet we meet up with our current statutory obligations. I am happy that our children do not pay education taxes again and yet they have access to free qualitative basic education. I am glad that our teachers do not have to use their money to buy teaching materials again and yet they receive their salaries as and when due. It gladdens my heart that our pensioners do not have to wait in the sun or slump while on the queue again before they receive their pension and/or even gratuity.