Kayode Fayemi: A Formidable Political leader

April 26, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

 

By

Durodola Tosin

 

 

Altering the dynamics of power in the South-West, devoid of a god-father

 

 

The question on whether Kayode Fayemi would contest or not was laid to rest when he publicly declared his intention to contest the 2018 gubernatorial election in front of an overwhelming crowd comprising artisans, workers, teachers, youths and students who converged at the APC Secretariat in Ado Ekiti. His declaration speech heaved the hopes and aspirations of the masses that have been deprived of a good living and working conditions by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the last three years in Ekiti State.

 

As Fayemi drew the microphone closer to his mouth, the sun brightened in awe and tens of thousands of supporters who had marched across the capital in solidarity for his ambition roared his name in a dazzling manner. Fayemi’s public declaration to enter the race for the 2018 Governorship seat was a long awaited decision by the multitude of workers and artisans who had missed the sustainable human and working conditions they enjoyed during his first term in office. It was a statement of hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless – the masses who have been plunged into poverty and suffering by the present administration.

 

Fayemi’s declaration speech was reminiscent of Winston Churchill’s first speech in front of the House of Commons on May 13, 1940, “….what we have before us is an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many months of toil and struggle. You ask, what is my policy? I will say, it is to resist with all our might, with all the strength that God can give us, to wrestle against the monstrous tyranny never supported in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. You ask, what is my aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory however long and hard the road may be. For without victory there is no survival.”

 

Ekiti State is presently experiencing what can unfortunately be described as the darkest period in its history. The constant and continuous deception, lack of transparency, irresponsibility and irresponsiveness to the welfare of the people by the Fayose administration have resulted in a surge in the level of poverty, unemployment, economic decline and low human development in the state. The living and working conditions of the people have deteriorated drastically as many entrepreneurs and professionals have fled the state in search of better opportunities in neighbouring states.

 

Despite the present administration receiving a total of N186 Billion for Ecological fund, CBN Small Scale Entrepreneur loan, First and Second Bailout, First and Second Paris Club refund, CBN loan for Capital Project, Federal Road project refund, Budget Support fund, Federal Allocation at the rate of 2.5Billion monthly and Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) averaging N600 million monthly, the state government has failed to live up to its constitutional obligations which is to improve its citizenry access to social amenities, job opportunities, free and accessible education, free health care services, social security scheme, fiscal transparency, rural-urban farming, tourism development and regular payment of workers’ salaries and allowances.

 

In the last three years, Ekiti debt profile has soared from N18 billion to N74 billion. According to Debt Management Office (DMO), Fayose has borrowed a total sum of N56 billion since coming to power on October 16, 2014. In DMO’s latest bulletin, it disclosed that the Fayose’s administration still had a fresh application of N25 billion in 2017 awaiting consideration. With the huge amount of money borrowed and the billions of refunds received from the Federal government and multilateral corporations, one will expect that the workers and teachers’ welfare in the state would have improved significantly. However, the reverse is the case. Fayose’s administration has refused to pay the salaries of state civil and public servants for 6 months, local government workers for 7 months, pensioners for 14 months and Ekiti State University subventions for 6 months.

 

For some months, Ekiti which is popularly regarded as the Fountain of Knowledge has suffered a massive decline in the aspect of free and accessible education. The decision of the present government to stop the payment of West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) registrations for secondary school students and scholarships and bursaries has not only denied many students’ access to free education but also, forced large number of teenagers and students to the streets. While Chief Awolowo’s free education legacy has been quashed within the three years of Fayose’s assumption of office, the dreams and ambitions of the young ones is presently in jeopardy.

 

As a youth with so many aspirations, I write this article in great pain and agony, for this is no longer the state of my dreams. There was once a time when I could say the future was bright. A time when Ekiti State was definitely the most promising state in Nigeria. A period when my state could boast of structures and schemes like EKSTMA, free health and social security, youth commercial agriculture, volunteers’ scheme, Peace Corps, free and accessible primary and secondary education, high workers’ welfare package, tourism development which placed Ekiti State on the path of socio-economic and human development. That period was between 2010 and 2014 under the leadership of Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

 

Fayemi’s doggedness, exposure, selflessness, transparency, and clarity of vision set him apart from his predecessors and successor. At his inauguration on October 16, 2010, he promised the people of Ekiti State to “democratize governance, modernize agriculture, improve on infrastructure, promote free and qualitative education towards the development of functional human capital, provide free health and social security to the disadvantaged sectors of the state, ensure industrial development, promote tourism and sustainable development and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment”. His 8-point agenda comprehensively addressed the issue of poverty, unemployment, agriculture, infrastructure, tourism, gender equality, quality education, and workers’ welfare during his first term in office. This 8-point agenda forms the basis of my assessment of his administration as the best period in the history of Ekiti State.

 

On the democratization of governance, three things stood out during Kayode Fayemi’s regime. One, his partnership with Ekiti State senators pool their constituency project funds, N200 million each, to fund specific projects in the senatorial districts of the state. This partnership for four years guaranteed the execution of projects in tourism, agriculture and water provision, one of which was the provision of 1,700 hectares of irrigated land in conjunction with UN Development Programme (UNDP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). There was no state in Nigeria at that time that embarked on such. Also, local governments diligently embraced Kayode Fayemi’s directive of constructing of at least 15km of local roads in each of the 16 local governments in Ekiti State. Lastly, Fayemi initiated annual rural-urban tour which was popularly known as “Annual town hall meeting/Rural-urban citizenry engagement”. This was an avenue for his administration to meet directly with local government delegates to know the developmental needs of each town and include them in the yearly budgets.

 

On the modernization of agriculture, Fayemi embarked on a mission to revive cocoa plantations to make Ekiti again a world leader in cocoa production and make agriculture contribute 50% of internally generated revenue. Over 250 Youths were trained and employed in mechanized agriculture under the Youth Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD) programme to cultivate over 860,000 cocoa seedlings across the state. Agriculture equipment worth N57 million were distributed to rice farmers and tractors were purchased to facilitate mechanized farming in the state. The provision of micro-credit facilities to over 200 farmers were part of the agricultural initiatives that was executed by Kayode Fayemi government.

 

On improvement of infrastructure, 902 federal, state and local government roads were rehabilitated, each local government constructed 5km of road every year for four years, and the state government constructed about 1200km of roads between 2010 and 2014. I should add that Ekiti State had arguably the best road network in Nigeria while there was massive construction of bridges in different parts of the state which replaced the narrow and dangerous ones inherited by the Fayemi’s administration. Also, 100 transformers were distributed to communities and N600 million were given to 176 communities to execute different projects. Fayemi’s tenure witnessed an increase in the state’s IGR by more than 400%, from N140 million in 2011 to N600 million in 2014.

 

On the promotion of free and qualitative education towards the development of functional human capital, Dr. Kayode Fayemi had the best educational policy which played an important role in the development of students and teachers in Ekiti State. Dr. Kayode Fayemi’s administration ensured free education for primary and secondary school students while he paid West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) registration for secondary students in the state. He renovated all the 183 secondary schools in Ekiti State and distributed over 30,000 Samsung solar laptops to students and 18,000 to teachers of senior secondary schools in the state.

 

Also, Ekiti had the best pay package for teachers in public service in Nigeria during his tenure while those in the rural area got 20% of the basic salary more. Bursary funds for students of higher institutions of the state was increased from N5,000 to N10,000. To set the record straight, Fayemi’s administration never conducted “Competency Test” to sack teachers as alleged by mischief makers and regressive elements but rather “Need Assessment” which was to assist the Government to understand the teaching areas which needed strong attention as part of her process to organise training sessions and classes for the development of teachers techniques in the state.

 

 

 

 

Fayemi’s administration never owed workers salaries but rather increased the salary of workers from N5,000 to N7,000 and from N7,000 to N13,000 and later to N19,800. Over 40, 000 persons were employed into the workforce. His administration employed 600 persons to the Peace Corps and 10,000 volunteers were paid N10,000 monthly.

 

On the provision of free health and social security, he built new general hospital in Ado-Ekiti, the Cancer Diagnosis Centre built in honour of Mrs Funmilayo Olayinka, the late former Deputy Governor of the State and also refurbish the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital. About N100 million was spent on medical assistance to needy patients, and another N38 million on indigent patients and physically challenged people. Over 25,000 elderly persons benefitted from the social security scheme monthly.

 

On tourism and industrial development, the vision and firmness of Kayode Fayemi was evident in turning what was basically “a bush” into one of the most glamorous holiday places in Nigeria at a cost of N1.5 billion. However, that is not the case anymore. The once revered tourist centre as turned into a laughing stock due to the lack of commitment and clarity of vision under this present administration. It is however unsurprising because the same tourist centre was ransacked by the Peoples Democratic Party between 2003 and 2010.

 

On the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment, it is invigorating to make out that under Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti State made strict laws against domestic abuse and violence against women, the state had halfway houses, a family court and other support systems for victims of rape and other forms of abuse, while the rights of widows and the girl child were protected. Ekiti State was also the first state in Nigeria to maintain a register for sex offenders.

 

These were some of the remarkable achievements by Fayemi’s administration that set Ekiti State on course for socio-economic prosperity and sustainable human development between 2010 and 2014. However, I know you must marvel at why the state is currently suffering a lot of setbacks in addressing the issue of poverty, unemployment, agriculture, infrastructure, tourism, gender equality, quality education, workers’ welfare and lack of opportunities. This is because the schemes initiated by the previous government were either cancelled or disbanded or neglected by Fayose’s administration as a result of an undying personal feud with Dr. Kayode Fayemi and to score political goals against the All Progressive Congress (APC) at the expense of the progress and development of the citizens.

 

You ask, what kind of government enjoys deceit and turns a blind eye while its people continue to wallow in poverty and suffering? What kind of a government place personal interest above the development of the state. Like Dr. Kayode Fayemi rightly said in his letter to the leaders of the All Progressive Congress (APC) on his intention to contest in the July 14 Gubernatorial election, “Public office is too serious to be left to charlatans and when men and women of good conscience that are committed to the ideals of social justice and the common good turn away from politics, we pave way for unprincipled opportunists to take power….”

 

As difficult as this time may be for Ekiti people, it is not too late to correct these mistakes. Election is at the corner and we must ensure that we put an end to this tragic situation by showing this present administration a ‘red card’ with our PVCs. Ekiti has been taken hundred steps backward by this Fayose’s administration and it is our duty as progressives to embark on a collective rescue mission. Ekiti people need Kayode Fayemi to lead this rescue mission to reclaim our land and restore our values. Fayemi’s popular 8-point agenda cemented him as a formidable leader whose unprecedented achievements as a Governor currently strike fear into the camps of the opposition. Ekiti needs the man that led the longest walk to freedom of Ekiti from the shackles of impunity, recklessness and rigging between 2007 and 2010. The man that withstood and wrestled against all odds, oppositions, threats, conspiracies, betrayals and federal powers from Otta to reclaim his mandate in October 2010.

 

The 2014 governorship election still remains a scar in the minds of the people. The day the Federal Government under the leadership of an Ijaw man from Otuoke massively deployed soldiers to unlawfully arrest and intimidate supporters of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Ekiti State. That day the voice of the masses was suppressed and through intimidation and victimization by some members of the army, the election result was manipulated. This is not a conjured statement but a fact that became known to the world when the tape of the months of conversations and planning by Fayose, Obanikoro and others was leaked by one of the soldiers used for this unholy act. While the soldiers involved in this act have been sacked, Dansuki is currently faces charges of diversion and corruption in court, and the EFCC has recently secured a court order to freeze billions of naira that was diverted from the National Security’s account to fund the 2014 Ekiti Gubernatorial election. But like they say, the rest is history.

 

However, be assured that the time of impunity is over as President Muhammadu Buhari has shown a commitment to ensuring free and fair elections in the country which is evident in the elections in Edo, Ondo and Anambra. This is the perfect time for Ekiti people to show lots of resilience and tenacity to stand with Fayemi in his bid to secure the governorship seat on July 14, 2018. Dr. Kayode Fayemi has shown so much grit and sheer determination in the past few years. He has learnt a lot and grown to understand so much in politics, positive and negative. The way he fought back from the events of 2014 to conduct the Presidential primary election that led to the emergence of General Muhammadu Buhari without hitch and his uncompromising resolve to back Rotimi Akeredolu’s candidacy during the 2016 Ondo election against the wish of the god-fathers that once were, have changed the paradigm of power in South-west. These events have heightened tension and fear in the minds of cabals and god-fathers that once were, while the opposition, in awe of his exploits are bent on stopping him through unholy methods that exists from contesting in the July 2018 election.

 

When you hear about the ‘White Paper’ produced by a Judicial panel of inquiry comprising PDP members and its sympathisers with a strict directive from Fayose to indict Fayemi at all costs and thereafter issue a white paper banning him from holding public office, ignore it because it is dead on arrival. Fayose’s white paper is a Kangaroo stunt to nail Fayemi; an Ofutete. It can best be described as a tissue paper that belongs to the toilet. It cannot survive in a society where the law works nor do anything to stop Fayemi’s ambition. It is nothing but a ruse. I would have expected his Attorney General, if he knows his onions, to have advised him on the rulings of the Supreme Court on two high profile cases – Atiku vs Obasanjo and Kwankwaso vs Shekarau, that only a competent court of law can bar Nigerians from holding public office under the Nigerian Constitution. Neither Fayose nor Ekiti State Government has the power to bar or prevent Fayemi or any other citizen from holding public office but a competent court of law. The ‘White Paper’ is a biased political report that cannot stand judicial scrutiny. It is product of the fear of defeat in the July polls as Dr. Fayemi is actually the major political threat Fayose has to contend with.

 

Moreover, Fayose understands what is at stake. He knows that the only man that can beat him or his candidate at the moment is Dr. Kayode Fayemi. He knows that the man from Otuoke is no longer in power to send the army to intimidate oppositions and manipulate results nor a “Dansuki” to divert money meant for fighting insurgency in the northeast to fund this election. He can feel the heat and it is unsurprising that he has concerted so many efforts to stop Fayemi’s ambition. Fayose should understand that either by proxy or by whatever means, Fayemi cannot be stopped from contesting and winning the July 14 election. Whatever plans or strategies that he has up his sleeves, he should be ready for hundreds of counter measures by Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

 

There is an increasing fear in the minds of oppositions that a new and formidable political leader capable of altering the dynamics of power in the south-west devoid a god-father is about to emerge. To them, a victory for Dr. Kayode Fayemi at the polls in July 14 will cement his status as the most influential politician in the South-west and perhaps the person calling the shots in the region in 2019. Of course, I would be afraid if I were in their shoes. However, Fayemi’s ambition is matured than that. It is about service and selflessness before politics. In his words, “My convictions about how much more is possible in Ekiti stem not from any sense of entitlement but from a sense of service, of obligation and from my belief that posterity has positioned us for such a time as this. There is much that we have to repair and redress in Ekiti before we can go forward.” The John Kayode Fayemi (JKF) movement is growing rapidly. The minds of Ekiti people have been awoken by the declaration of Fayemi on April 14.

 

Like Winston Churchill once said, “…we understand that the journey before us is a long one. We understand that we have to resist with all our might, with all the strength that God can give us, to wrestle against the monstrous tyranny that has taken us aback…..” We are not terrified or discouraged because we will definitely triumph. No amount of intimidation, threats, blackmail, betrayal, hate speeches, assassination of character, propaganda, lies and deceit will make us shiver. We have developed a thick skin and that is why we are still breathing. The mission is simple and clear. We are on the march again to reclaim our land and restore our values.

 

Like the old, JUST KEEP FAITH!

 

 

 

 

Durodola Tosin

Tosin Durodola is the Editor-in-Chief of Core Magazine Africa and LJCMA.

He is the Convener of Kayode Fayemi Youth Support Movement (KAFYSM). He is a former Broadcast Journalist at the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) and Bloomshire Media Nigeria. He has written and published over 20 research papers on history, politics, foreign policy and international relations in National and International periodicals. He is currently writing a book on “Nigeria and the UN Security Council: A Critical Analysis of the Challenges in her Quest for Permanent seat”.

He holds a Bachelors degree in History and International Studies from Bowen University. He is a Masters candidate of Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Ibadan.

Contact: tosin.durodola@thecoremagazine.org

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