By Yinka Oyebode
When he was inaugurated as Governor of Ekiti State for the second term on October 16, 2018, Dr John Kayode Fayemi’s main focus was to reposition the state by restoring the core values for which the Ekitis are known and to lift the state in terms of socio- economic, infrastructure and industrial development. Whereas this sounded a bit ambitious giving the low revenue base of the state coupled with the economic downturn being experienced across the country at that time.
Apparently undaunted by those prevailing factors, Dr Fayemi swung into action, and immediately gave a clear direction the administration intends to take in realising its set goals. He stated this clearly in his inaugural speech, which was more of an agenda setting document.
He had declared “Indeed, our mission to Reclaim our Land and Restore our Values, was not only the slogan of our campaigns but a clarion call to all to embark on this journey with us.
“My vision for our great State is that this is a place where people can thrive and live their lives in dignity. A place where workers do not labour in vain. A place where our young people do not roam the streets looking for jobs that are not there, a place where people are not so hungry they resort to pilfering food to survive. A place where the cycle of generational poverty can be broken, and in which our elderly can reap the fruits of their labours over their children. A place where people are safe, healthy and prosperous.”
Hardly had the sound of these words melted into the airwaves than Governor Fayemi hit the ground running on five pillars of development agenda Vis: Governance, Agriculture and rural Development; Social Investments; Knowledge Economy as well as Infrastructure and industrial development.
Twenty four months down the line, or better put half way into the four-year tenure, is considered a good time to assess how far the Kayode Fayemi-administration has been able to walk the talk. The jury of course is out there.
The Fayemi administration has built a reputation as a government whose programmes and projects are built around well thought out policies. It is the combination of these policies and legal framework that differentiate Ekiti State from the pack. Part of the policies put in place or domesticated by the administration include the Implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) for transparent and accountable revenue generation in Ekiti State. The administration also signed up to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Initiative for fiscal transparency, grants, anti-corruption, inclusiveness, becoming the first state to do so in the southwest zone.
In ensuring the welfare of workers and retirees, the governor ensures that penioners are paid same day workers’ salaries are paid. He also increased payment of gratuity to retirees from N10million to N100million monthly and released of N200 million as car loans to teachers and N240,703,000.00 as Land/Housing loan to 1,999 Civil Servants. The administration has also sustained the payment of core subjects allowance to teachers in public primary and secondary schools across Ekiti State as well rural allowance to teachers serving in hard – to – reach schools in the State.
The Governor also commenced implementation of 180 days maternity leave for nursing mothers to promote infant and maternal health as well as facilitate work life balance for female workers. He also commenced review of the Laws of Ekiti State and enacted some laws that seek to protect lives and investments. These include: Ekiti State Fiscal Responsibility Law, No 12 of 2019; State Security Trust Fund (Amended) Law, 2019; State Sustainable Development Goals Law, 2019; Passage of the bill for the establishment of Ekiti Security Network Agency and Amotekun Corps, 2020; Ekiti State Gender Based Violence (Prohibition) Law, the Sexual Violence Against Children (Compulsory Treatment and Care) Law, 2020.
AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT:
Governor Fayemi’s plan for agric business has led to partnership with some big names in agriculture who are in the state to set up processing plants in addition to large scale farming. Agriculture investments of over $50 million in rice (by Stallion, Dangote Farm & JMK), cassava (by FMS Farms, Promise Point and Arog Agro), and dairy processing (by Promasidor) have been attracted to the state, while government has completed the pre-feasibility study for the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ) which is a 40,000 hectare area, planned to house processing operations focused on rice, cassava, dairy, cocoa, cashew and maize processing. Other efforts of government include capacity training for Livestock farmers across 16 LGAs; Clearing of 1540 Hectares of farmland for agricultural investors in 5 LGAs .
Utilising his wide contact with the development agencies, Fayemi has been able to forge some strategic partnerships, notably with the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the Agriculture Processing Zone Project; the World Bank for the rehabilitation and tarring of 1,000km of rural roads through the Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAAMP) which opens up over 500 rural communities and farmsteads.
The Fayemi administration has made substantial social investments in the bid to lift the vulnerable in the society. This, the administration is doing through diverse ways, including loans disbursement to 500 beneficiaries across the 16 LGAs. Social Welfare Fund is a monthly programme by the office of the First Lady where citizens’ urgent financial needs are met.
Target beneficiaries are widows, aged and the vulnerable. Multiple Births Trust Fund, an initiative of the First Lady, run by the Ministry of Women Affairs. It provides financial and product support to poor families with multiple births, while ‘Owo Arugbo’ scheme provides monthly sustenance cash transfers to senior citizens across the state and ‘Ounje Arugbo’ scheme is monthly food stuff support for the aged.
The Governor recently launched Ekiti State Health Insurance Scheme, to enhance access to health care delivery in the state. In addition to this, the administration gave out free 10,000 delivery kits distributed to all Primary Heath Care Centers. It organises quarterly free health outreach to all 16 LGAs and core rural areas in the State. Free screening and surgery for over 500 cataract patients across the State. Free health care services for children from 0-5 years; pregnant women, citizens above 65 years and people with disabilities.
The administration also established a 24/7 Emergency Operation Centre to coordinate response to the COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. It also commissioned a molecular laboratory to facilitate COVID-19 testing in Ekiti State.
The first major step taken by Governor Fayemi was the declaration of Free and compulsory education in public primary and secondary schools in Ekiti State through the abolition of levies and tax imposed on pupils in public schools by the immediate past administration. This was followed up with the payment of the 2019 SSCE and UTME examination fees for all 13,390 qualifying students in all public schools in Ekiti State. Free education in all Technical Colleges in Ekiti State.
In addition to the establishment of four new model colleges in Ado-Ekiti, to cater for the growing population, academic activities at the Ekiti State College of Agriculture and Technology has commenced following its rehabilitation after four years of neglect. The state also got included in the new World Bank Assisted Project tagged ‘Innovation Development and Effectiveness in the Acquisition of Skills’ (IDEAS) for Government Technical Colleges. And is the only Southwest state to benefit from the World Bank Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE), aimed at improving secondary education opportunities among girls. This is in addition to procuring Science Laboratory Equipment for all public secondary schools in the State. Payment of Bursary to 3,098 qualified applicants including Law Students for 2018/2019 and Scholarship awards to 288 undergraduates; 71 Masters’ Degree (Nigeria) students; 31 Physically Challenged undergraduates and 79 PhD students for 2018/2019 academic session.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT:
The Fayemi’s administration is taking industrial and infrastructure development seriously, with focus of water supply, good roads and public buildings as well as partnering with major private sector players to boost industrialisation in the state with attendant job opportunities and socio-economic stability.
Ongoing major water projects under the Third National Urban Water Sector Reform Project to supply 9 LGAs of Ekiti State, including Ado Ekiti; Ero Dam Treatment Rehabilitation to provide potable water for 10 local government areas in the State. Delivery of water equipment worth N1.4 billion in partnership with World Bank for ongoing rehabilitation work at Ero Dam. The equipment includes: 9 units of High Lift pump, 6 units of Low Lift pump, 2 units of the Upwash pump.
Also being facilitated are the Construction of the Headquarters of the Water Corporation; rehabilitation of Ureje Water Scheme; rehabilitation of Egbe Water Scheme., extension of 1.3km pipeline at Oke-Imesi; completion of Erijiyan Water Supply Scheme
The future looks great for Ekitikete as they are fondly called. The impact of the Fayemi –led administration in the last two years is a pointer to what to expect from this visionary leader in the next two years.
Caroline Mcloughlin, Executive Director of the Washington based Centre for Visionary Leadership, captures the essence of visionary leadership in one of her works. According to her, “Visionary leaders are the builders of a new dawn, working with imagination, insight, and boldness….They are social innovators and change agents, seeing the big picture and thinking strategically.”
Mcloughlin’s definition encapsulates those key attributes that have marked Governor Fayemi as an innovative leader with a unique ability to inspire others and an insatiable appetite for development. Through a combination of forceful imagination, prudent management of resources, compassion for the led and placing emphasis on doing development with the people, Fayemi has, in the last two, put the state on the path of irreversible development, having put relevant policies and legal framework in place to strengthen institutions of state and ensure effective service delivery.
Yinka Oyebode is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State