Kayode Fayemi: A Pioneer of Economic Development and Democratic Consolidation in Ekiti State

May 31, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Reuters photo

 

By

Durodola Tosin

 

 

A comprehensive analysis on how Fayemi’s government addressed all the important issues of economic development and democratic consolidation in Nigeria’s Ekiti State between 2010 and 2014.

 

 

Ekiti has spent well over 18 years under a democracy which has created diverse facets. One constant facet is the nexus between democracy and economic development. It is the argument of some scholars and policy makers that while democracy can be conventional especially in terms of institutions and dealings, irrespective of the level of development, it is almost unfeasible to maintain or consolidate democracy without a logical level of economic development. The two are like the two sides of a coin and when Dr. Kayode Fayemi assumed office on October 16, 2010, he understood that plunging tents with one at the expense of the other will only give a partial representation of how great Ekiti could become.

 

The optimal use of the accessible human resources for the overall development of the society is the ultimate goal of democracy. In view of this, the existence of a buoyant economy is an important element of democratic consolidation to ensure that there is a strong motivation for democratic enterprise. The whole essence of democratisation in Nigeria should be its ability to transform the nation and states into a higher level of prosperity. Inability to accomplish this would make democracy lose its appeal.

 

A democracy can hardly consolidate when there is utter poverty, which will, in turn, promote the show of anti-democratic conduct. How can you teach a hungry man democratic values? Or a starving mother, the virtues of governance? The more the populace are worried about economic survival, the less concern they will show in the democratic enterprise. We must understand, at this point, that playing out the idea of good governance requires some measures of economic buoyancy and steadiness. It will be hard for people who are poor to fully recognize the significance of good governance.

 

Like Hassan A. Saliu pointed out in his book, ‘Democracy, Governance and International Relations’, he said, “The only threat to Nigeria’s democracy is the economy. Indeed, the threat facing democracy across the states in Nigeria is the slow response of national and state economies to the various economic reforms. The economy, therefore, represents the most fundamental sector on which success or failure of an administration can be conspicuously noticed.” It is the super structure which Dr. Kayode Fayemi’s government did not toy with.

 

Fayemi’s administration committed itself to modernizing agriculture, creating job opportunities, alleviating hunger and poverty in other to create a sustainable environment and economy for Ekiti people. To a large extent 2010-2014 could be described as the “Four years of good economic foundation” which comprehensively addressed the issues of economic development and democratic consolidation in Ekiti State. The reasons for this claim will be fully understood as this essay examines four principal sub-sectors in determining the success or failure of an administration as outlined by Prof. Hassan Saliu, namely, infrastructure, poverty level, production level and the employment level.

 

 

 

Infrastructure

 

Infrastructure is of great significance in the world today and its relevance to development can no longer be overlooked. It is a fact that the height of economic development in any state frankly lies on the development of infrastructure. Infrastructure means connectivity like road, water supply, electricity, security, and telecommunications, etc. With connectivity the economy will open to the outside world; trade and commerce will flourish. Infrastructure as one of the fundamental requirements of economic development does not directly generate goods and services but eases production in primary, secondary and tertiary economic activities by creating positive external economies.

 

The impact of these on democracy in Ekiti was at two levels. Internally, adequate infrastructural development relieved the difficulties in the way Ekiti people access the essential services they deliver. It was clear to Dr. Kayode Fayemi that when infrastructure amenities sub-sector is powerfully built, the interest and dedication of the citizens to democracy would be high, as these services provide the vital connection between the populace and the democratic order. Mobilisation thus becomes easier as dividends of democracy are most evident in the area of infrastructure.

 

Dr. Fayemi understood the importance of investing in infrastructure for job creation and economic growth. He knew how essential this was to achieving the SDGs of ending extreme poverty and increasing shared prosperity in Ekiti State. No state develops without investing in infrastructure and indeed, this was the reason why at the inauguration of his administration, he promised to massively invest in infrastructure. “We pledge to establish optimum communities that will improve citizens’ lives and attract investments by 2014, all parts of Ekiti to be accessible by major roads, make water dams in Ekiti function; to increase water supply by 80%; public private partnership for independent power projects.

 

Fayemi’s government vigorously embarked on the construction of State roads. This well-defined initiative to an extent engendered accelerated growth in the State’s socio-economic activities, reduced travel time, impacted positively on commuters with the propensity to expand the life span of vehicles. This strengthened the State’s competitiveness to both domestic and foreign investors thereby improving Ekiti Doing Business ranking and citizens to access economic opportunities. His government rehabilitated a total of 950 kilometres of Federal and State roads and constructed a total of 81.2 kilometres of roads across all the Local Government Areas (LGAs) under the 5 kilometres Road-Per-Local Government scheme while another 82.3km was ongoing as at April 30, 2014. Dr. Fayemi, while he was governor, initiated and implemented an intensive urban renewal programme of major towns comprising of Ado, Ijero, Ikole and Ikere. This initiative delivered street lights and quality roads with walkways to Ado-Ekiti while the other towns were reconstructed. He also rehabilitated and constructed 829 kilometres of farm access roads.

 

To Dr. Fayemi, excellent roads are needed to transport goods and services or otherwise, they would be delayed, resulting to economic and reputational losses. Indeed, if a manufacturer or farmer produces goods quickly but is unable to transport them to the destination as fast as they can, then there is no point in making the goods in an efficient manner in the first place. It is an admitted fact that infrastructure like roads degrade over time which affects the efficiency of things and road travel, thus they need to always be maintained or repaired. Same goes for services like water and communication cables. With connectivity industries will be established as labour and capital will flow from surplus regions to connected and developing areas.

 

Furthermore, water which is a basic necessity of life could be a factor in creating political apathy among people if it is unavailable. While when it is continuously being made available, people would have no constant worry accessing it. This was why Dr. Fayemi’s government increased water supply from 25% to 57% and further reactivated all mini dams in Ekiti State between 2010 and 2014. Five mini-water treatment plants were commissioned and State-wide pipes were laid and completed to replace the dilapidated ones. It is imperative to note that the pragmatic and intensified efforts of his government towards eradicating scarcity and improving accessibility to hygienic water improved Ekiti State ranking as one of the best two in the water sector. His government constructed 167 modern water fetching points referred to as ‘Eyiyato Fetching Points’ across various communities in the 16 Local Government Areas of the State to cushion the hardship by acute water shortage.

 

Dr. Fayemi strategically redesigned, executed and commissioned all 2009 MDGs projects comprising water treatment plants at Oke Mesi, Efon Alaaye, Ido-Ile, Ipole-Iloro, Erijiyan and Ogotun. He erected one 500m3 water reservoir in Ilupeju-Ekiti. Between 2010 and 2014, N1.4b was released for the turn-around-maintenance (TAM) of Ero Dam.

 

Provisions of security and electricity were also significant alongside the background of Dr. Fayemi’s belief that democracy is a better guarantor of efficient and effectual infrastructure. As a progressive, he worked towards fixing the power sector to illuminate homes, streets and power farms, firms and industries. A good power generation system also boosts the feat of security agencies in granting security for the citizens as illumination usually reduces despicable deeds of the men in darkness. It was on this premise that his administration purchased and installed 125 transformers to boost power supply in several communities across the State and further intensified electrification of other numerous communities and further unlocked citizens’ access to diverse opportunities. Many communities that had no access to electricity in over 200 years of their existence (such as Oke-Ako town in Ikole Local Government Area) were connected and effectively linked to the national grid. He also procured one unit of 150 KVA and 6nos of 250KVA Generators for Existing Booster Stations.

 

More importantly, Dr. Fayemi procured and distributed 100 Suzuki cars and 40 Nissan Buses to the Transport Unions in Ekiti State, and purchased 6 Luxury buses, 26-seater coaster buses and 18-Seater coaster buses as palliatives in the wake of fuel subsidy removal. His government provided fire fighting trucks and equipments to the State Fire Service and also donated operational vehicles to both the Nigerian Police Force through its Swift Response outfit and the base of the Nigerian Army in Ekiti.

 

Nevertheless, Dr. Fayemi completed the rehabilitation of Oluyemi Kayode Stadium in Ado Ekiti, where many activities have been hosted. As at 2014, the Stadium complex was one of the finest in the country. He also initiated and completed the construction of a Mega Pavilion in the state. His administration established the Ekiti Home Agenda to deliver 5,000 decent and affordable homes across the 16 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in sustainable neighbourhoods for the good of Ekiti citizens. He initiated earth dredging of stream channels across Ado Ekiti metropolis: These efforts of his administration minimised flooding and erosion challenges in the State capital and also mitigated hazards associated with epidemics spread. Dr. Fayemi also launched the Operation Klean Ekiti (OKE) in May 2013, which fostered a green Ekiti, promoted State-wide sustainable development and reduced disaster and climate change effect.

 

It could, therefore, be seen that the state of infrastructure is a key hint of the robustness of a democracy and it signifies a sort of relationship that could make the public work for the sustenance of democracy. This belief was well entrenched in the ideology of Dr. Fayemi as his administration delivered varied projects to the 131 towns and villages in Ekiti State. As at April 30, 2014, a total of 1,906 vital community projects were completed and ongoing across all the 131 towns and villages in the state. He redoubled his commitment and delivered beyond the infrastructural Development promise he made on October 16, 2010.

 

Externally, the image of Dr. Fayemi’s democratic government was better projected with the constant advantages added to Ekiti State. Since infrastructure is decisive in assessing a state, an investor or visitor is prone to perceive Ekiti State based on its infrastructural condition. In the case where it is poorly developed or wrongly invested in, like under this present state government, the push of the state will be less effective and this will negatively impact on the state. For all these reasons, it is vital that the human and physical infrastructure need to be as efficient and as productive as possible.

 

Under the government of Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti undertook a drastic improvement in her hard and soft infrastructure so as to ensure that it “enables” faster economic growth, empowerment and development. Indeed, as I would further discuss in the next chapter of this essay, it is the enabling aspect which is important since infrastructure is supposed to facilitate and spur economic growth by providing better connectivity and enhancing productivity and efficiency.

 

Also, concerning human capital and in his efforts to bolster the skills, productivity and productive capacities of artisans, he disbursed soft loans through the Ekiti State Multipurpose Credit Agency totalling N265, 341,500. His government further empowered artisans through the provision of tools and equipments. Some of the beneficiaries were indeed traders, farmers, youths, the Hausa community and the Okada Riders Association (ACOMORAN).

 

Dr. Kayode Fayemi sees human capital development and infrastructure as extremely important to democracy and believes that their state of development should be appreciated for democracy to be consolidated. To him, there are no alternatives for human capital and infrastructural development and there are no shortcuts for rapid economic development. It is simply when these facets are addressed that states grow.

 

In the next chapter of this essay, I will discuss how Dr. Fayemi also addressed the issues of poverty, production and employment level between 2010 and 2014, to lay the foundation for economic development and democratic consolidation in Ekiti State.

 

 

 

 

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 or oluwatosinduro@gmail.com

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