The Future of Ekiti State and the greatness that beckons under Fayemi

August 6, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

 

By

Durodola Tosin

 

 

The die is cast. The Ekiti election is over. With all the political dramas and charades, the Election has been won and lost. The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Governor-elect, Dr. Kayode Fayemi defeated his closest rival, Prof. Olusola Eleka of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by securing 197,458 votes and winning 12 out of the 16 Local Governments in Ekiti state.

 

However, Fayemi’s victory did not come easily. The election was keenly contested. From the primary to the general elections, Dr. Fayemi faced a campaign of calumny and character assassination by the opposition. He was vilified, demonized and maligned as irrelevant and inconsequential in Ekiti politics. Many of those outside Ekiti who had no clue of his unprecedented accomplishments and huge political capital described him as a “featherweight” awaiting humiliation at the polls. Some of his former political colleagues and trusted friends conceived his ambition as an aberration and devised unholy methods to deny him victory at the polls. Out of sheer wickedness, they sponsored hate speeches, fake news, character assassination, negative propagandas and even law-suits to distort public perception about him. This same people betrayed and dissociated themselves from him after the 2014 elections and sought political fortunes elsewhere. A tale for another day!

 

Apparently undeterred by the magnitude of opposition, Dr. Fayemi embarked on a disciplined, reliable, responsive and issue-based campaign across the 133 communities in Ekiti state. For him, every community counts. His campaign cut across the hinterlands – the nook and cranny of Ekiti villages, where the locals were eager to receive and converse with him. As a new media strategist during the campaign, I was fortunate to witness the unprecedented accomplishments of Dr. Fayemi in all the 16 local governments of the state. There was hardly any community that did not benefit from his socio-economic and infrastructural programmes. Whether it was through the 5km roads or construction/renovation of schools or construction of town halls/community civic centres or health care centre or social security scheme or Youth empowerment scheme or Youth-in-Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD) to mention a few, Fayemi impacted every community in Ekiti state. These track records informed the decision of the people to support and rally behind him.

 

From the hinterlands to the metropolis, thousands of determined Ekiti people cast their votes for Dr. Fayemi at their respective polling units. It was a collective decision to legitimately reclaim their land from the grip of charlatans, crass opportunists, political brigandage and petty tyrants. The ultimate goal of democracy should be the optimal use of accessible human resources for the overall development of society. Instead, Fayose’s brutality, premeditated ignorance and naivety on governance caused untold hardship, abject poverty, rise in unemployment and socio-economic crisis in the state. His government cancelled the social security scheme that cushioned poverty and provided monthly allowance for 25,000 elderly and 10,000 youths in Ekiti. Fayose’s government did not only sack over 800 youths employed under Ekiti State Transport Management Agency (EKSTMA), about 1,000 Youths trained and employed by Dr. Fayemi under the Youth-in-Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD) were dismissed.

 

Despite receiving bailouts and refunds, he owed civil servants and teachers many months of salaries while gratuities and pensions were left unpaid. Scholarships and bursaries that gave young intellectuals and brilliant minds resources to afford tertiary education were cancelled by the state government. For the first time, free primary and secondary education was abolished and taxation was introduced for all students in Ekiti state. Apparently unperturbed with this vicious act, Fayose’s government denied Tertiary institutions subventions and consequently, school fees skyrocketed and the less privileged students dropped-out from school. In the Debt Management Office’s bulletin, it disclosed that his administration still had a fresh application of N25 billion in 2017 awaiting consideration. It is dreadful and inhuman for Mr. Fayose to borrow a total sum of N87 billion (domestic loan) between 2014 and 2017 while borrowing $31.6 million (external loan) with no socio-economic impact in the state. The number of economically displaced persons in Ekiti keeps rising, while the democratic order is breathing laboriously due to the economic burden.

 

Incongruously, the campaign of the outgoing Governor, Ayo Fayose was centered on continuity? Continuity of what? Rise in poverty and despair? Unemployment and crass opportunism? Oppression and dehumanizing circumstances? Economic and social insecurity? Reduction in agricultural productivity? NEVER! Ekiti people understood what was at stake and collectively halted Fayose’s continuity agenda on July 14. It was a decision that moved beyond individual agendas. It was devoid of self-aggrandizement and crass opportunism. It was a collective mission to revive the socio-cultural values, pride and economy of the state. They showed concern for the future of the state and the greatness that beckons under the right leadership. The electorates’ decision has restored the hopes and prospects of socio-economic revival in Ekiti State.

 

Now what should we expect from the Governor-elect, Dr. Fayemi, mindful of the state’s economy decline, low Internal Generated Revenue (IGR), low Federal Allocation and debt profile at N117 billion? What will happen in the 913 days after his inauguration? And will he deliver on all the promises he made during the election campaign? Ekiti people should expect the eight-point agenda redoubled.

 

On tour across 133 communities in Ekiti state, Dr. Fayemi’s agenda have been clearly telegraphed:

 

 

 

Payment of Arrears and Salaries

 

Dr. Fayemi’s track record on the prompt payment of salaries was one the reasons why he won the election. Ekiti people will expect him to clear all the backlog of salaries within the first year of his tenure. He will need to swiftly deliver on his promise to salvage the state from untold hardship and poverty. In a society where workers live below poverty line and salaries remain unpaid; there will be abject poverty, economic frustration, jaundiced perspective of democracy and citizens’ apathy with the democratic process.

 

However, the staggering rise of Ekiti domestic debts from N30billion to N117 billion under this outgoing government might be a major challenge for Dr. Fayemi. The federal governments’ bailouts and refunds will be crucial in surmounting this obstacle. He will also need to capitalize on his vast experience, exposure and strong networks to secure other forms of interventions needed to fulfil his campaign promises.

 

 

 

Compulsory Free and Quality Education   

 

Dr. Fayemi’s rhetoric and antecedents on compulsory free education came to define his governorship campaign. During his tour across the 133 communities in the state, he promised to re-introduce compulsory free primary and secondary education. He also hinted to address the appalling school fees of Tertiary institutions in the state. Therefore, Ekiti people should expect his government to pay fees for the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) and other important examinations which they lost out on.

 

Taxation of students will be abolished while bursary and scholarships will be revived to make tertiary education affordable for Ekiti students. The national social welfare programmes including the school feeding programme that Fayose boorishly denied Ekiti indigenes will be extended to the state.

 

As part of Fayemi’s commitment towards providing quality education and human capital development, there should be provision of laptop computers and other ICT services to improve students productivity and teachers outputs in delivering standard education. Efforts should be heightened to renegotiate with relevant external bodies for the provision of grants and implementation of Core subject allowance and rural teachers’ allowance in the state.

 

 

 

Agriculture

 

A competent team needs to be assembled to aggressively consolidate on his plans for agrarian revolution in the state. Revival of cocoa plantations will be crucial to Ekiti State’s emergence as a leader in cocoa production while repositioning the agricultural sector will contribute to more than 50% of IGR in the state. Farm settlements’ roads in Ago Aduloju, Igede settlement, Ayegunle-Ise Ekiti and others need urgent attention. My interaction with some of the farmers in these areas revealed that the deplorable condition of the roads have negatively affected agricultural productivity in the state.

 

Under Fayemi’s leadership, Ekiti will need to capitalise on NIRSAL’s interventions for Agricultural producers which includes increased access to credit, enhanced adoption of better cultural and agronomic practices, use of improved inputs like seeds and fertilizers, increased productivity and profit, income, standards of living, job creation and poverty reduction. YCAD programme will definitely be funded to train and employ youths in mechanised agriculture.

 

As a visionary leader, Ekiti people should expect successful drive for private sector in agriculture with huge financial commitments from both international and indigenous agri-business. His government will embark on the upgrading of Forest Governance in partnership with European Union and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). Institutional Buyers, such as Thai Farms, Nigeria Starch Mills, and DADTCO should be on the queue for all year round off-taker supply.

 

 

 

Tourism

 

Dr. Fayemi’s sagacity and doggedness will be tested again in reviving Ikogosi resort centre in the state. During his first tenure, he evidently turned 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 has deteriorated into “Paraga joint” due to neglect and lack of funding by the outgoing government. It is however unsurprising because this same tourist centre was ransacked by this outgoing government between 2003 and 2007.

 

He will need to develop mechanisms and action plans on how to make Ekiti state one of the most attractive destination for relaxation and holidays. Efon, Okemesi, Ipole-Iloro and Ikogosi Ekiti have the capabilities of strengthening the destination branding and marketing of Ekiti state.

 

 

 

Free Primary Health Care Services

 

The Free health missions’ programme organized by Dr. Fayemi throughout his first tenure, and across the 3 senatorial districts of the state endeared him to the locals and was consequential to his victory at the polls on July 14. His government will need to expend funds on the extension, renovation and upgrading of secondary health facilities as well as upcoming Primary Health facilities in the state to international standard. This is imperative to create more conducive environment for health workers to effectively discharge their duties.

 

Under his leadership, there will be re-introduction of the Maternal, Newborn and Child health exercise organized by the State Primary Health Care Development Agency in partnership with UNICEF. The concept will be in consonance with the integrated maternal, Newborn and Child health strategy that will deliver a package of basic interventions and effectively reduce maternal and prenatal morbidity and mortality rates.

 

There will be health manpower development in the health sector. As part of his determination to enhance health care delivery services and increase average life expectancy of Ekiti citizens, he will need to send doctors abroad for in-service training in different specialties. The other health workers will also benefit from the in-service training of their respective cadres.

 

 

 

Infrastructure

 

Dr. Fayemi understands the importance of investing in infrastructure for job creation and economic growth. He knows how essential this is 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 is the reason why he will massively invest in infrastructure. There is the need to establish optimum communities that will improve citizens’ lives and attract investments by 2022. Most parts of Ekiti should be accessible by major roads. Water dams in Ekiti should function to increase water supply in the state by 80%. There should be public-private partnership for independent power projects in the state. The abandoned civic centre and the ultra-modern market in Ado Ekiti need to be completed.

 

Hard and soft infrastructure as extremely important to democracy and their state of development should be appreciated for democracy to be consolidated. To Fayemi, 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.

 

 

 

Employment

 

Employment assures a better material existence which translates to strong and pro-active involvement of citizens in democracy. With employment, people can earn a living and pay taxes to enable government execute its development initiatives. It is also possible to do away with some vices prevalent among the unemployed when full employment is guaranteed. An idle hand is indeed the devil’s tool. High levels of unemployment and accompanying poverty is disastrous as it is presently in Ekiti.

 

Poverty reduction in the society has always been at the core of Dr. Fayemi’s political ideology. He will need to express this in record employment programs and poverty reduction policy projects. The Governor-elect will need to create job opportunities for its citizens in the public sector. Funding should also be available to employ youths into relevant agencies and schemes like Ekiti State Transport Management Agency (EKSTMA), Youth-in-Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD) and Peace Corps.

 

 

 

Gender Equality

 

On the promotion of gender equality, it is invigorating to make out that the incoming government will make strict laws against domestic abuse and violence against women. Ekiti state will have halfway houses, a family court and other support systems for victims of rape and other forms of abuse. I expect the wife of the Governor-elect, Erelu Bisi-Adeleye Fayemi, a women’s rights Activist and feminist to play a significant role in ensuring that the rights of widows and the girl child are protected in the state.

 

 

 

Social Welfare Scheme

 

Nothing in the way this outgoing government treat Ekiti senior citizens can possibly serve to spur the young ones to a life of selfless dedication to duty and service. The social security scheme that cushioned poverty and provided monthly allowance for at least 25,000 elderly was deliberately cancelled. If anything, their actions incentivize the self-cantered pursuit of material security often at the expense of the common good. This, in this way, their treatment of the elderly can be regarded as one of the major amplifiers of corruption in our society.

 

“Although senior citizens constitute a minority of Ekiti’s population, how they are treated holds serious implications for the present and the future. To the present generation of young working age citizens, how their forebears are treated is an unimpeachable index of what to expect from the society in their twilight years.” (Fayemi J.K, 2014) Over 25,000 elderly persons benefitted from the social security scheme – “Owo Arugbo” monthly during the first tenure of Dr. Fayemi.

 

Ekiti people should expect the re-introduction of the social security scheme for the elderly in an enhanced manner. The youths should expect the return of the youth volunteers’ programme. Luckily, the Federal Government has started a programme similar to what they used to have in Ekiti State, called N-Power. There will be further initiatives to this programme. The outgoing government is not interested in what happens to the young in Ekiti beyond using them as thugs and forcing them to eat crumbs from the table of the master. They should expect a return of civility, integrity, “Omolabi values” in Ekiti State. It is about reclaiming the land and restoring the values which they have lost in the past four years.

 

 

 

Summary

 

Ekiti people voted for Dr. Fayemi because of his track record. They believed in him and stood by him. They understood what was at stake and collectively halted Fayose’s continuity agenda. It was a decision that moved beyond individual agendas, self-aggrandizement and crass opportunism. There was much concern for the future of the state and the greatness that beckons under the right leadership.

 

As an indigene of Ekiti, I am optimistic about a government led by Dr. Kayode Fayemi whose conviction about how much more is possible in the state stems not from any sense of entitlement but from a sense of service, of obligation and from the belief that posterity has positioned him for such a time as this. There is much that he has to repair and redress in Ekiti before we can go forward.

 

The electorates’ decision has restored the hopes and prospects of socio-economic revival in Ekiti State. It is now Fayemi’s turn to deliver on his promises.

 

 

 

 

 

Durodola Tosin

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

He is a former Broadcast Journalist at the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Benin Zonal Network Centre. A former News Correspondent for Bloomshire Media Nigeria. A former Director of Communications, Centre for Media Integration and Social Development (CEMISIOD). He is the Lead editor for IAMBLACKANDPROUD Foundation.

He is the Convener of Kayode Fayemi Support Organization (Social media).

He has written and published over 20 research essays on African 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 her Quest for a 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: oluwatosinduro@gmail.com

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