Facing Tomorrow Together By Governor Kayode Fayemi
Statement by His Excellency, Dr. Kayode FAYEMI Governor, Ekiti State, Nigeria On the occasion of The Affirmation Mega Rally Hand Over of Party Flag and Unveiling of Manifesto
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Let me begin by expressing my sincere appreciation to the leadership and members of our great party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), my fellow progressives, and to you, the good people of the land of honour, Ekiti State for the profound honour you have extended to me with your presence at today’s historic official presentation of the APC party flag, asking me to seek a second term in office as Governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria
This is not an honour that I take lightly at all. It is a humbling recognition of our stewardship of the destiny of Ekiti State. It is appreciative of how far we have come in the course of our journey and fully cognizant of, yet undaunted by, how far we have to go on the road ahead of us. Your vote of confidence in our administration is a resounding affirmation of the justice of our course and the rightness of our path.
For me personally, your mandate has caused me to reflect on my own life’s journey; a journey that we have shared in the last four years. I have had cause to reflect upon the values instilled in me by my upbringing and by my faith. I was raised to understand that the life well lived is a continuum of service; service to God and service to humanity. Indeed, my mentors and parents impressed upon me that service to God is demonstrated by serving others, positively impacting the people around us, and demonstrating a fierce resolve to leave people better than they were when they first met you. Leadership itself is merely the opportunity to serve and power is a God-given resource with which we are meant to change lives for the better. With great power comes an even greater responsibility to serve.
These are the ideals and values that have guided me throughout my life; from student activism during my university days and as a community organizer while studying in Britain to the uncertain days of the struggle in exile during the pro-democracy movement. I went into politics because I believe that committed purpose-driven servant-leadership can provide people with the tools that will empower them and give them control over their own destinies. 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. The argument for progressive political engagement is perhaps best summed up in the famous words of Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.”
All that stands between Nigeria and terminal decadence is good men and women who, energized by a higher sense of duty and purpose, and are able and willing to venture into the public square and raise the standard of the common good and in so doing effect the renewal of our nation. This is a sacred responsibility that we cannot evade.
These are the ideals that led me into politics and which I tabled before you, the good people of Ekiti State, when I sought the opportunity to serve you. They are the values I pledged to uphold when you graciously bestowed upon me the honour of serving you. And you extended to us this privilege because you recognized that the values we were espousing were also your own; that our hearts and minds were knit together by a shared vision of what Ekiti could become in our lifetime. Today, I stand before you to declare that I have kept faith with our values as you have kept faith with me. In office and out of office, my commitment to serve is unyielding.
I am emboldened by the realization that your endorsement of our administration is not about me. It is not an uncritical adulation of my person. Rather it is an endorsement of the values and ideals of which I am merely a vessel. A time comes in the life of a society when it must look beyond personalities and begin to identify and clarify the principles with which it will mould its future. Today, therefore, we are not celebrating the achievements of an individual but reaffirming our faith in the principles we pledged to uphold four years ago. Assuredly, Ekiti is moving forward.
When we came into office, we discovered that our biggest challenge was gaining the people’s trust. Years of unhappy encounters had calcified considerable cynicism about government and a general distrust of leadership had set in. The distrust was understandable. A citizenry serially molested by those they had trusted previously had grown weary and cynical about politicians who seem to make promises and promptly renege on them as soon as they get into office.
People had ceased to believe what their political elites were saying and believed that politicians simply go into office to enrich themselves. It was immediately clear to us that our first task in Ekiti was to practically and symbolically rebuild trust in governance as a means of delivering service to the people. Thus, we resolved to say little and do more, to let our deeds speak for us and to lead by example. This has meant modeling an ideal of public service worthy of the people’s trust.
This has not been easy in a climate in which people have become accustomed to official non-performance and dysfunctional institutions, but we have made considerable progress. We have eschewed the vulgar extravagance and flamboyance associated with power and opted instead for simplicity and sensitivity to the demands and needs of those who put us here. We are restoring the work ethic to politics and public service and transforming it as a vocation in the eyes of the next generation who will shortly take the baton from us and lead from where we have left off. By seriously instilling the ethos of integrity, competence, reliability and openness, we have gone great distance towards regaining the trust of our people.
Trust is the lifeblood of governance. Without your faith in our intentions and in our ability to accomplish them, there is little that political leaders can do in a climate of cynicism. That we have come as far as we have is a testament to your faith in us; but more than that, it is a testament to your faith in yourselves, for after many years of the locust, we needed to start believing in ourselves again.
We needed to regain the conviction that it is within our powers to solve the problems confronting us, to usher in development and entrench a better life for all. This is what the past three and a half years have been about: rebuilding the trust between the people and those they have elected to serve them; and more importantly rekindling self-belief, confidence and the can-do spirit for which our people are legendary.
What we have been able to achieve in this first term are not my achievements alone; they are yours as well. In the past close to four years, what we have seen are the first fruits of what can happen when we pull together and work together. By the grace of God and with your invaluable help, we are once again lifting the flag of our great party to run in the gubernatorial race, and we are confident you will give us your vote.
Elections are choices and as we prepare for the polls to be held on Saturday, June 21, 2014, it is important that we understand that the elections will go beyond merely choosing between people or parties. They are about choosing the principles that we want to define us and what sort of Ekiti
State we want to build. Consequently, the governorship elections will confront us with an ideological and a moral choice.
Our opponents believe in a society of laissez faire individualism in which every man is for himself or on his own and only the richest can survive. They are seeking a society based on caballocracy and godfatherism, where the rich get richer and the poor are made poorer; where our commonwealth is used to serve the interests and appetites of a minority; where crumbs are thrown at the hapless majority; and the future of our children is mortgaged to pay for the illicit luxuries of a few people today.
We, on the other hand, believe that Ekiti is the test case for what we call a compassionate society – a society defined by covenantal relationships between the government and the governed, the state and civil society and between fellow citizens.
We believe in a society built on constituent’s mutual obligations to each other in which we are all partners in progress; a society in which the state is committed to empowering all citizens – not just a few – to live to the fullest of their potential. We believe that our call to leadership is a covenant between us and our forebears whose sacrifices ensured the creation of Ekiti State and also between us and future generations for whom we hold the state in trust.
The question then is which society would you prefer for yourself and your children? Is it the society in which only a few can survive and more and more people wind up worse off than their parents? Or one in which everyone has a fair chance of success and a better life is our collective inheritance? The choice that confronts us is between a society that tells you that you are on your own and one in which my prosperity is your prosperity because we share the burden of development and the joy of achievement together. It is a clear choice.
On our part, we are committed to building a society in which no one is left behind because we recognize that as Martin Luther King said, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We are, as our constitution proclaims, and as our culture promotes – one nation under God, and this axiom immediately locates the secret of success in communitarian values, cooperation and collective endeavour.
The values of service, synergy and communality have informed the welfarist orientation of our administration thus far. We pioneered a Social Security Programme for the elderly people in this state who are above the age of 65 years. No less than 25,000 senior citizens are benefitting from this programme. This scheme represents both an appreciation of the years of service put in by our
senior citizens and our commitment to seeing that they live out their days with dignity and grace.
Our compassion for the elderly is matched by our commitment to a living wage and equitable working conditions for our workers and decent retirement conditions for our pensioners. Crucially, we have met these obligations to our people not by adding new taxes but by entrenching greater efficiency in the tax collection and management system.
In Ekiti State, as in the rest of the country, the engine that keeps the society running is the informal sector. This is where entrepreneurial men and women who have resolved to work and make a honest living regardless of the lack of formal support structures are operating, meeting needs, and providing goods and services for the community. From the women who send their children to school and manage their homes from the proceeds of petty trade, to the artisans who are building, creating, engineering and constructing things – these are the heroes of our society showcasing our genius for creativity, resilience and adaptation. They also represent a wellspring of untapped economic potential for Ekiti.
This is why our administration has begun to put in place support structures like microcredit schemes targeted at the informal sector with the aim of boosting its capacity and enhancing its already impressive economic output. Our aim is to integrate this sector into the mainstream of economic productivity by creating much needed commercial infrastructure. This has not only resulted in beneficial increments in the economic profile of Ekiti but also enlarged the tax base of the state and enhanced our capacity to continue to undertake the transformative projects that we have set out to accomplish.
It is not for nothing that Ekiti is renowned as the “State of Professors” – a label that captures the intellectual heritage laid down by accomplished sons and daughters of the state. Human capital is the currency of national transformation in the 21st century. We subscribe to the dictum of the great statesman Obafemi Awolowo who once said, “The education of every citizen, to the limit of his ability, is a fundamental right. To deny it or to treat it as a privilege is deprivation, and an assault on human dignity.” Accordingly, we have prioritized the education of our children as the best means of securing our future. Every child in our community now has access to free and compulsory primary and secondary education. We have renovated all our dilapidated school buildings and are upgrading our educational infrastructure by leveraging information technology and grafting them unto education delivery everywhere in Ekiti.
We have distributed over 33, 000 laptops to students and 18, 000 to teachers respectively. Our goal is to see to it that every student in Ekiti has a computer at his or her desk. We are also creating special initiatives for physically-challenged students and in the process of establishing a
sports academy for gifted youths. We have prioritized education because we also recognize that an educated citizenry is not only the yeast of a healthy democracy; it is also the engine of prosperity. A major focus and an extension of the Education & Human Capital Development Agenda is the Ekiti Knowledge Zone, it is aimed at expanding opportunities for the youth through the advancement of a knowledge economy in our state. A key step we have taken in the establishment of the EKZ is the laying of fibre-optic cables for broadband connectivity in the state.
In addition, our administration was the first in Nigeria to sign into law the Gender-based Violence Prohibition Bill in 2011. We are also the first state to domesticate the National Gender Policy. We have also passed into law the Equal Opportunities bill. These initiatives are designed to secure the dignity of our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters and to shield them from harm. More importantly, it is part of our broader pursuit of gender equality and women’s empowerment so as to maximize the contributions of women who represent half of our population, and to ensure that their voices are heard ever more loudly in the shaping of our state.
All these schemes are driven by the conviction that no member of our society should be left behind through no fault of their own, whether by reason of their gender, or the circumstances of their birth or an unfortunate physical impairment. Our administration is committed to creating a climate in which all our people can maximize their potential and live full and creative lives. We are building an inclusive society in every respect because we believe that nobody succeeds alone. We either succeed together or fail together. And when we share the burden of a common future and the risk of failure, then our potential for collective prosperity is magnified. Ekiti is ours to build together and as we tend to it now so will it tend to us and generations to come. As Marcus Garvey once said, “The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself; but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you even into eternity.”
According to the wise words of the scriptures, “A righteous man lays up an inheritance for his children.” In all our moral traditions, the ideal of rectitude and righteousness is entwined with a perspective that is mindful not just of the present but also of the future. Our ancestors understood that planting a tree in their time was an investment in the nourishment of their children who would reap its fruits.
As progressives, we are not just promising sustaining the practical betterment of society today; we recognize that prosperity and posterity are bound together. True prosperity occurs when we look beyond the next election and the horizon of self-interest and begin to address the fate of the next generation, not just our own.
We understand that there is a judgment greater than that of the ballot box to which we will all eventually answer. The consciousness that has guided us thus far is the understanding that even as we work to earn victory at the ballot box, we do not want to be found wanting on the scales of the eternal judgment that no one can escape. We want to find favour in the eyes of posterity and in the eyes of God.
Today, we are recommitting ourselves to the ethos of service; to the promotion of the good of all above the concerns of self, and living a legacy that will cause our children and their children to bless our memories long after we are no more. Ours has always been politics with principle, business with morality, because Ekiti belongs to all of us. We know that we are at our best when we are united and are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. This is why we are striving to build a society where no one is left behind, where all of us are stakeholders and partakers of a collective prosperity.
This is why I am once again seeking your mandate to be re-elected as Governor of the land of honour, Ekiti State, proudly flying the flag of the All Progresives Congress (APC) – that together we can consolidate our legacy of honour.
Ekiti a gbe wa o.
Dr. Kayode Fayemi
Ekiti State, Nigeria
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