Attempting The Impossible; The Story Of A Governor Of A Poor State In Nigeria By Adeolu Oyebode
There used to be this State in Nigeria, called Ekiti State. This state was known as the Fountain of Knowledge because it produced highest number of academics and crème de la crème in professional world; although it paraded a geometric academic rate, it has always been governed by opportunists and revisionists who involve in trial-and-error approach to governance. Ekiti State was created from an oil producing State, Ondo State on the benevolence of a despondent military junta on 1st October 1996 alongside five other states by the Head of State and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Late General Sani Abacha GCON in a Nationwide broadcast to mark the 36th Independence Anniversary of Nigeria. The State, is unique in its own, because of the hilly land topography which formed the name “Okiti” which could also be called “Ekiti”, the climatic condition of between 210C-280C, homogeneity of language i.e the Ekiti Dialect as a language understood by everyone, the occupation; they are predominantly farmers and civil servants and funningly have Ekiti behind all the towns in the State, such as Ado-Ekiti, Ikere-Ekiti, Ikole-Ekiti, Afao-Ekiti, Iyin-Ekiti among others. In fact, if it was to be precise, the creation of Ekiti by the Late General was as if he made an ethnic group a State.
Ever the since the state was carved out of her mother State, that is the Old Ondo State, while it was a thing of joy that the State (Ekiti) got her independence, it isn’t an understatement to say that the State was opened to public ridicule because the State which was still benefitting from the resources of the Old Ondo State was left alone to think for herself on how to fend for her needs. She was so poor that prominent citizens of the new State had to donate their houses for the new State Government and the Ado Local Government Secretariat was promoted to be the Governor’s Office. To the Ondo people, they were happy, I know some may want to know why they were happy, the simple reason was because the Ekiti people were known for something, which was/is due to their academic prowess, that thing is, PETITION. Ekiti people are articulate, hardworking, entrepreneurial, studious and natural critics. They will ask why, when, where, how, what and all possible questions which were/are not necessary, not purposely aimed for societal developments at all times, but for self relevance and recognition from those at the corridor of power. An Ekiti man does not believe in fighting with fist but with the pen, no wonder the best academics, journalists and lawyers all hailed from the State.
This State had a population of about 1.75million as at the time of her creation and with the last census of the 2006 by the National Population Commission, she has a population of about 2.4million people with some fine resources such as the well known human resources, agricultural crops, both cash and arable, mineral resources such as the Clay Kaolin in Isan-Ekiti, Bauxite in Orin-Ekiti, Charnochite and Granite in Ikere-Ekiti, Columbite, Cassiterite and Foundry Sand, all in Ijero-Ekiti among others.
One may wonder why such a State that has academics and intellectuals could be regarded as a poor State, it was solely because they were bedeviled with accidental governors, poor leadership styles, incapacity to manage her resources, both human and mineral, and lack of strong political will in ensuring that the State is developed to a Standard and worse still, the State is the second to the least on the Federal Resources Allocation Table with a paltry sum of N2.5million for about 3million people as at now.
In turning around the political wheel, the people of Ekiti State having felt that if only they were in the same political party structure with the National Government, would they have development, they sent packing a hustling government of Otunba Niyi Adebayo of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in a fraudulent but unchallenged 2003 elections that brought in Mr. Ayodele Fayose of the PDP, a schemer as Governor who was later on impeached for executive corruption, fraud, violence and gross misconduct. The Struggling State lost her peace, National and International recognition, academic standard, values and virtues and also threw morals to the dogs. In a situation whereby the Governor of the State drinks herbal concoctions everywhere and throws money on the highway as a style of governance, one would imagine how the peoples’ human capital and resource would develop. Such was the case of the retrogression that befell a troubled developing State like Ekiti.
It is unfortunate to say that Information Communication System just got its feet in the last few years in this State simply because the style of leadership of the State has always been “Share the Money” and not “Infrastructure First”.
Unfortunately, Ekiti State has got eleven (11) State Governors since creation and nine (9) governors within 14years of democratic rule instead of just three governors of a four (4) year mandate. On the governors’ list on democratic rule are; Otunba Niyi Adebayo (May 29, 1999-May 28, 2003), Dr. Ayodele Fayose (May 29, 2003-Oct 16, 2006), Rt. Hon. Friday Aderemi (Oct 17, 2006-Oct 19, 2006), Brig. Gen. Adetunji Olurin (Rtd) (Oct 19 2006-April 2007), Hon. Tope Ademiluyi (April 2007-May 28 2007), Engr. Segun Oni (May 2007-Feb 17 2009), RT. (Hon) Tunji Odeyemi (Feb 17, 2009-May 5, 2009), Engr. Segun Oni (May 5, 2009-Oct 15, 2010) and now one Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Oct 16 2010 till date).
The State has remained in the old way, not until the MAN came from nowhere to contest power from the principalities of power who were in firm grip of the political system of the State; those that could be referred to as the beneficiaries of the dilapidated state of the system. This man has attempted all the impossibles just to rescue the State from total collapse and a State for Poverty and Insecurity Research in Africa. As at the time he came, Dr. Kayode Fayemi was the Executive Director for Centre for Democracy and Development, a research training institution dedicated to the study and promotion of democratic development, peace building and security in Africa. A Leadership fellow of Georgetown University, Senior Visiting Fellow in African Studies of the Northwestern University Evanston in USA, an Associate Fellow of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in the University of Ibadan Nigeria. The 42years old young man who aspired to govern the State in 2007 but was denied of 42months out of 48months tenure, after reclaiming his stolen mandate in a broad day light electoral robbery in the characteristic manner of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party was a member of the Governing Board of the Open Society Justice Institute in New York and served on the Advisory Board of the Global Network on Security Sector Reform and also on the Management Review Board of the ECOWAS Secretariat.
He outshone his co-guber candidates based on his international connections on development in Africa, having served as Adviser to the President on ECOWAS Commission, NEPAD Secretariat, AU, UNDP, and DFID among others. Being a lecturer of Peace Studies though bagged a Ph.D on War Studies; all Ekiti people had expected him to restore peace by practicalizing all he has taught and teachings in the four walls of the Universities of Africa, Europe, the Americas and Asia where he had lectured before going into public service.
One would have imagined why an academic and consultant of the major world development deciders would ever reason to be part of the dirty politics of Ekiti State, just after Mr. Ayodeji Daramola, a World Bank Consultant who was also interested to reposition Ekiti State was killed in cold blood by unknown gun men, and a lot of aspirants were attacked by the brutal government of Dr. Ayo Fayose, as an impossible thing but this man didn’t only attempted it, he fought for three (3) years and six (6) months to reclaim his four (4)-year stolen mandate after visiting four different electoral tribunals and two governorship elections between April 2007 and May 2009. That was the first impossible that Dr. Fayemi attempted and won.
Easy as some would seem it was, on victory after a protracted legalism and political activism that shook the world, the Governor on swearing-in made a lot of policy statements that one would think were highly impossible from the political point of view in Nigeria. Such policy statements included Social Security Scheme for Aged in the State from 65years and above, the senior citizens will be given a paltry sum of N5,000 monthly; distribution of laptops for secondary school students, renovation of over 25years abandoned Ire Burnt Bricks Company, Free Education to Secondary School level, Empowerment and Employment of over 5,000 youths within 4years, industrialization of the State and commercialization of Agriculture, proper funding of Education, Gender and Child Protection, Participatory Good Governance, diversification of the Economy through tourism and agriculture, provision of free health care for the elderly and free health mission at every quarters for all and sundry among others. In rightly quoting the peoples’ governor, Dr Fayemi said
“For the good of our people and to the Greater Glory of humanity, I declare Education free for all primary and secondary school pupils. Children at birth up to five years of age, pregnant women and senior citizens are exempted from paying medical bills in all government hospitals. In addition, we shall introduce a social security scheme for all our senior citizens that are 65 and above within the shortest possible time”
– This is Your Victory/The Voice and Choice of the People/New Dawn
Speech delivered at the Swearing-in Ceremony in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State
Everyone at the open space where over twenty thousand (20,000) Ekiti people were gathered witnessed side talks that, this man must have been intoxicated with powerful alcoholics because the State was managed under an allocation of just N2.4billion and an Internally Generated Revenue of N106million, whereby the civil servants were paid with about N2billion naira and the remaining is left for other runnings and expenses. Dr. Kayode Fayemi surprised all again when he increased the IGR from N106million to N600million within six (6) months without tax increase but by only blocking the looting holes of evil servants in the civil service and sacking of ghost workers in the government ministries and local governments.
This youngest governor in Nigeria didn’t only say these things for speech making sake, but also implemented all to the letters. Ekiti State has not only employed youths but also engaged over 14,000 of them; five thousand (5000) volunteered youths at different capacities such as Traffic Management Agency, Youths in Commercial Agriculture with each going home with ten thousand (N10,000) naira; seven thousand five hundred (7500) non skilled old and young have been employed as facility managers and sweepers and just recently the government engaged another one thousand (1,000) youths on Peace Corps for internal security and others. Mr. Governor is the first to implement the Social Security Scheme in West Africa, just as he also celebrated the International Students’ Day in West Africa with his students, over forty thousand (40,000) senior citizens are benefitting from this Social Security Scheme which has reduced the mortality rate of the State and also increase the life expectancy rate of Ekiti as the best in Nigeria. The implication of these are that, there are less insecurity because the army of idle youths are reduced and gainfully engaged while the old people will not die fast, so there will always be cross-exchange of ideas from the elderly to the younger generation.
The government of Ekiti State under this young man is paying the West Africa Examination Council Registration fees for all candidates in public senior secondary schools with a popular facilitation of State-wide intensive coaching programme and recently the commission affirmed that Ekiti State recorded 75% success in her last external exams and ranked high as one of the best performed State from her perpetual 35th position out of 37 States (FCT inclusive). Apart from the fact that he renovated all the 183 secondary schools with each student having a laptop to work with, he also trained 4,160 teachers, employed over 1,000 civil servants since inception, procured science equipments to laboratories with the libraries well furnished and implemented the N18,000 minimum wage but Ekiti State’s pay was N19,200 to the instead.
Some of us were wondering how he was able to pay the salaries of the new ones and the existing state workers, the magic wand he used was his zero-tolerance to corruption and passion for the development of the State. Ekiti has become cynosure of all eyes as all the roads leading to the State capital are world standard, Ikogosi tourist resort centre is another paradise of heaven on earth.
Dr. Kayode Fayemi kept critics to silence on his industrialization revampment when he brought back to life the abandoned and snake habituated Ikogosi tourism hub, the transformation of the former Odua Textiles into Odua Skill Acquisition Centre; Commencement of mining activities by the Fountain Solid Minerals Company in Itawure, Orin, Isan and Ijero; Establishment of Starch/Fructose Processing Factory in the State; Commencement of Kaolin Exploration in Isan-Ekiti; Establishment of Artisan Village; Establishment of Cement Depot by Aliko Dangote; Establishment of Ceramic Tiles and Sanitary Ware Industry; Establishment of Alpha Rolling Mill; Establishment of Computer Accessories and Electronic Market; Establishment of Ekiti Shopping Mall (Shoprite) among others.
Scholars have posited that governance entails policy formulation, interpretation and implementation, Dr. Fayemi’s government has signed into law over 30 bills within three years which has aided in the development of the State. One would imagine a State being run without policy laws but by the “Share the Money Policy” of past governments.
The achievements recorded within three (3) years of the Diaspora activist turned public officer when he commissioned over 1,000 major projects in all the 16 local government areas of the State, had made prominent Nigerians urge him to re-contest for a second term come 2014. Another impossible thing in the history of the State, because nobody has ever governed the State for 8years, infact, only one man has ruled for four (4) years, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, the first civilian governor, who is seriously advocating for a second term bid for the sitting Governor. Though, none has ruled for two terms, no one has also done or achieved what Dr. Kayode Fayemi has achieved within three (3) years. All the achievements of the remaining 10 governors when put together is far less than what the leftist governor has achieved within three (3) years, so there is no worry for his victory, because the Successes achieved while attempting the impossibles of past, will also repeat itself when the re-election comes, in less than eight (8) months time.
A Public Affairs Analyst,
Writes from Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, NIGERIA
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