For Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, whatever successes his administration seems to have recorded would be dwarfed by public expectations and challenges of the next two years, which would mark the final half of his tenure.
It was actually on October 16, 2020, that Fayemi marked his two years and as was to be expected, the governor received knocks from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which lamented that ‘they Fountain of Knowledge’ has been on autopilot. PDP alluded to the ‘constant’ absence of Fayemi from the state while concluding that development had been on reverse gear for the past two years.
The Ekiti State governor doubles as the chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, which saddles him with additional responsibilities outside the state.
Nonetheless, the then state PDP chairman, Mr. Gboyega Oguntuwase, had described Fayemi as a ‘Diaspora governor’ whose absence had robbed-off negatively on governance in Ekiti State.
Adding his voice in getting down efforts of the state government, despite belonging to the same APC, the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Political Affairs, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, accused the Governor of nonperformance since his assumption of office in 2018.
Ojudu said: “Where is the focus on the people now? Is it roads that the government is constructing? Is it providing employment or food? Where is the governance in the state? I want you to do a search on Google and tell me where the projects are.”
Citizens of Ekiti State have their own views on the administration’s performance within the last two years.
For Mr. Olowolafe Babatunde, a retired civil servant residing in Ado Ekiti, “judging by what I have seen, read or heard on the radio, Fayemi has done well.” Babatunde said he is not given to praise-singing of people in government, noting that for just two years, the government is constructing four major roads in the three senatorial districts of the state. These roads he said, include, the Ilupeju-Ire-Igbemo-Ijan road, Aramoko-Erijiyan-Ikogosi road, Agbado-Ode-Isinbode- Omuo road and the new Iyin road, most of which he said have reached advanced completion stage.
“Even the Ultra Modern Oja Oba Market and the Civic centre in Ado Ekiti are something to be proud of. My wish is that Fayemi will not be distracted by politics, but use the remaining two years to create jobs for teeming unemployed youths population,” he stated.
Another resident, Mrs. Adedayo Felicia, a trader at Bisi market in the state capital, said she resigned from her teaching job to start buying and selling. According to her, one thing she likes about the administration is the resolve not to abandon projects initiated by previous administrations since they were started with Ekiti money. While admitting that she had no opportunity of visiting most of the projects sites, she was excited alongside her colleagues in the market by the completion of the ultra-modern Oja Oba market, as well as the Ikun Dairies that would soon be producing milk and other dairy products.
Mrs. Adedayo stated: “I think we must give this government credit for what it has been able to do. Don’t forget that funds coming to the state can’t be compared to big states like Lagos. This year 2020, the Covid-19, has affected not only our economy in Ekiti, but it is also a global problem. Despite this, work is still going on on some projects in the state. I am not saying that the government could not have done better, what I am saying is that I don’t agree with those saying that the government has done nothing. I want to advise Fayemi to remain focused and do projects that he can complete in the next two years knowing full well that no government can finish everything.”
Mr. Alaba Ilugbemi told The Guardian that although he graduated with an Ordinary Diploma (OND) from Federal Polytechnic, Offa in Kwara State, he went into farming at Igbemo Ekiti. Ilugbemi expressed the feeling that the government has not performed badly, noting that as rice farmers, many of them are happy with the establishment of modern processing mills in different parts of the state.
Acknowledging that the Fayemi administration facilitated the investments, Ilugbemi added: “Ekiti will soon join the league of rice exporting states in the country. I want the government to focus more on Agriculture in the remaining two years. Agriculture can provide jobs for youths more than any sector in the state. The government should also concentrate on the construction of rural roads so that farmers can take their produce to the towns.”
At Isinbode in Ekiti East Local Government Area, Mr. Ajibola Oso, who is an artisan declared that if there is any trade group within the state that is grateful to the current government it is the people of Ekiti East local council. He disclosed that Agbado- Ode-Isinbode-Omuo Road has remained impassable and abandoned for about ten years, adding, “Isinbode was totally cut off. We were only able to access our community by motorcycles popularly known as ‘okada’.
“As I speak to you now, motorists traveling to Abuja, Lagos, and Ado Ekiti are now plying the road which is about 70 percent completed. Our plea to Fayemi is that he should come to our rescue because people in Ekiti East local government have been without electricity for over seven years.”
Wealth creation, not just infrastructure
A member of a civil society group, Mr. Durojaiye Joseph who resides in Oke ureje area of Ado Ekiti, argued that for the government to have constructed roads, Dams, schools and pay salaries is not enough to shower it with accolade because the government has just performed its civic responsibilities as enshrined in the Constitution.
Durojaiye insisted that there was nothing innovative in those projects, since according to him, “if the government does not do all these, what will it be doing? I can only praise a governor for creating wealth, creating jobs,s and increasing the state’s Internally Generating Revenue (IGR).
“If the governor is holding the mandate in trust for the people, the least he is expected to provide infrastructure. Let the government focus on wealth creation, agriculture is a revolution that can employ people. The only legacy a government can leave behind is not roads.
“After all it will get bad again after some years. I advise Fayemi to use the resources of the state prudently. He should cut down on waste and the white elephant projects. He should remember that he has only two years to etch his name in the minds of the people by embarking on legacy projects that can stand the test of time. He must know that there is no collective responsibility. In other words, he will take the blame if he fails or takes the glory if he succeeds.”
But, Dr. Gbenga Jegede, a lecturer at the Ekiti State University Ado Ekiti (EKSU), said when placed side by side with previous administrations, vis-à-vis available resources, the government has not done badly.
“When you look at the fact that investment into Ekiti was nearly zero before this government came into office and the fact that you now have such companies as Promasidor, Dangote, Stallion, and others investing hugely in the state, it takes good will on the part of leadership to achieve that.
“Don’t forget that when these companies finally begin operation, there will be employment of our citizens and the IGR of the state will increase. This is aside from some interventionist programmes embarked on by the World Bank especially in the area of water resources, the UNICEF, UNESCO interventions among others, the state can only be better for it,” Jegede stated.
The lecturer cautioned the government not to be carried away by the so-called modest achievements, stressing that there are countless needs of the citizens that have not been met. He added that the next two years are very crucial for the government, maintaining that the government should focus more on education and health services.
“Our state is renowned for its educated people. Since health is wealth, the health care system must be given a boost. Thankfully, the governor has promised to create 177 health centres in all the wards in the state. I hope he will be able to achieve this within the limited resources in the state.”
From the look of things, it is obvious that Governor Fayemi has a greater task of providing employment opportunities for the youths, especially given that the youth are becoming agitated. The recent #EndSARS protests that rocked many cities in Nigeria and the fact that civil service is already saturated makes job creation inevitable.
The governor has less than one year to do the projects of the administration because 2022 is the election year and little time would be available for work while most time would be spend politicking.