Ekiti: A Year After The Fall By Wole Olujobi

Situated within the context of episodic contest for development between October 2014 and October 2018, Ekiti State depicts a classical construct of a tragic hero, which Aristotle defines as a man of misfortune that comes to him through error of judgment.

Like the Biblical Israel that found favour with God but succumbed to the waywardness of reason to build with one hand and destroy with the other, Ekiti State in her search for self-fulfilment apes Sophocle’s Oedipus Rex, who in one moment of hubris was blinded to the truth by refusing to listen to the wise counsel of nobleman Tiresias, struggling against the forces of his fate and thus fell from his own estate to face undeserved punishment.

Or consider the metaphor in Davy Jones in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ by Irene Trimble. An accomplished sea captain, Jones falls in love with the sea goddess Calypso who breaks his heart, making him enraged, tragic, and bitter.

In a mixture of a humanoid and octopus, Jones, like a wounded Ekiti State of the immediate past that turned against herself, leads his savage crew on raids in the entire sea on his ship, the Flying Dutchman.
In all these forays turned awry, human beings led ways against fate in their quests for paradoxical good fortunes to find succour.

But then fate, in a complex governance setting, can be a cruel trickster that overwhelms reason when state actors fiddle with the superior facts and judgment of history, the effects of which are often misconstrued as an act of God.

In the Ekiti State conundrum between October 16, 2014 and October 15, 2018 when the state witnessed a crash in her fortunes, gods are indeed not to blame: human tsunami simply swept past Ekiti State in a war of attrition that also went with collapse of values and virtues.

The Ekiti State Government House, at best the Babel of unspeakable tragedy, was a brothel for imported hookers paid in hard currencies.

Bare-faced, compound-complex frauds in one-man government that defied human understanding stalked the land while a section of Ekiti people in their doom revelled in reckless ecstasy, for it was a period that monuments of fraud were veritable landmarks that people celebrated in frenzied kpalongo: a celebration of a rape in the cathedral and a buffooning beatification of drudgery and moral decay in the land once renowned for edification.

For instance, a one-lane 800 meters flyover officially quoted to cost N17.5b but at the same time publicly quoted to cost N7b was the biggest achievement of the last administration that borrowed N155b in loans, yet could not pay salaries of state workers for six months while local government workers were owed 10 months salary.

The most costly flyover of its class anywhere in the world competed with "Ile Baba Gomina" (the governor’s father’s lodge planned for continuity agenda), an architectural masterpiece planned to warehouse both Ekiti governance and her resources.

Funds allocation and appropriation rackets that went with the intimidation of government officials were like plotting the game of ludo: toss the dice and take your fortunes.

The most bizarre of alleged frauds was the "unconditional cash transfer" in which case local government officials reportedly ferried cash in sacks in midnight operations to the Government House for delivery to cronies in hoods, even in the dark, for onward transfer to the state’s "Treasurer-General".

At the eclipse of that regime, no fewer than 20 multi-million naira choice properties clinically funded without trace dotted Ado-Ekiti the state capital, Abuja and Lagos; the riddle that the EFCC is presently trying to resolve in the N6b fraud charge at the Federal High Court, Ado-Ekiti.

Elite compromise was the climax of the human tragedy of that era, for it was a period that the man died in men of courage in order to either escape the mortality of hot lead or to protect some commercial interests, as a man with questionable academic credentials now became both the professor and philosopher of the people who must chart the course and cause of the people according to his whims.

Ekiti was such a huge grotesque of development and reason, and a butt of ribald jokes across the globe for the four-year crash-landing until fortune smiled again on Ekiti people on July 14, 2018 when they laughed a near four-year siege to scorn, tamed and shamed the quartered juggling fiends and voted out a regime constructed on banditry, callous and base instincts to elect a man who has since restarted Ekiti rebranding to reclaim the land and restore her values that were violently violated by the preceding regime.

Indeed, Ekiti State’s social condition of that era is captured in Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’, the thesis that is also re-echoed in Kobina Sekyi’s ‘The Blinkards’.

But one year after, Governor Kayode Fayemi has put Ekiti State on her feet again from the great fall: no more echoes of troubling howler, thuggery and monthly honking over revenue sharing; no more callous denial of workers’ entitlements and salaries; and youths are now being engaged in productive ventures.

And for emphasis, Fayemi is one of the few leaders who have promised state workers to pay N30,000 new minimum wage, the same thing he did in his first term in the entire South West to be the first to pay relativity wage while he also increased workers’ pay three times in four years.

The aged that were deceived by the last administration into hoping for a better life but instead received the pains of the old age are now getting succour.

Against the old rule of mass discontent over poverty and recruitment of youths into begging brigades, young graduates recruitment into public service has begun while empowerment schemes for youths and women have started. All that were unaffordable luxuries between 2014 and 2018 before Fayemi mounted the saddle on October 16, 2018.

While the former governor was an accomplished hell-raiser for fellow governors in his party on several issues no matter how disingenuous, Governor Fayemi now leads his colleagues as the Chairman of the nation’s Governors’ Forum in noble causes across the globe negotiating multilateral schemes for development and he is often the nation’s mouth-piece at international fora.

The pains associated with the taxation of primary school pupils have gone while school fees and other levies imposed by the former administration were abolished.

Specifically on October 24, 2018, Fayemi signed an Executive Order abolishing education levies imposed by the previous administration of Governor Ayo Fayose while on November 12, 2018, the new governor started consultative meetings at the grassroots on needs assessment for the purpose of budget planning and implementation.

Hope rose for Ekiti water supply on November 22, 2018 when Fayemi met with the World Bank team on Third National Urban Water project and one week later, the governor paid Ekiti workers and pensioners same day while December 4, 2018, was the turn of former political office holders, all in the opposition party, to receive their severance allowances.

On December 10, 2018, Fayemi lifted ban on commercial banks and Cocacola that Fayose’s administration sent packing over alleged refusal of the companies to surrender their corporate social responsibility cash, the same day Fayemi paid SSCE and UTME examination fees for students and the following day, the governor secured the support of the international development agencies that were sent packing by the former administration.

The development agencies have since returned to the state for a new partnership in development initiatives.

Technical education has received a boost after the state received the World Bank’s $3m under the IDEAS scheme for the three technical colleges in the three senatorial districts of the state while electricity supply returned to the Ikogosi, Erijiyan and Ipole-Iloro tourism communities on December 15, 2018 when they were reconnected to the national grid after four years in darkness. Today, Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort is back to restore Ekiti State to the world tourism map.

On December 27, 2018, Fayemi flagged off the $55m rehabilitation of Ero Dam treatment plant and replacement of main pipelines to provide water for several communities.

On the eve of the New Year, December 31, 2018, Fayemi put smiles on the faces of Ekiti workers by paying part of the outstanding 10 months salary arrears owed by the last administration.

The New Year 2019 began with putting the health of Ekiti children in the front burner of health services when on January 2, Ekiti State signed a pact with Momdia Group, Dubai, for the roll-out of a new mobile child health service.

The long abandoned New Ado-Iyin road was handed over to a Chinese firm CCEEC Nigeria Ltd for construction on March 21, 2019, while a week later, Fayemi donated a 22-seater bus to Ekiti State College of Medicine after which the governor flagged off 251km extension of water distribution pipelines to 14 communities in Ado-Ekiti Local Government.

Again, pensioners’ spirits were lifted on May 6, 2019 when Fayemi began payment of N200m gratuities to 88 beneficiaries while the Gossy Water production plant closed down by the previous administration was re-opened. He also restored workers’ car and housing loans cancelled by the last administration while the abandoned government-owned Fountain Hotel has come back on stream.

It was the turn of the inauguration of the Steering Committee on the Ease of Doing Business on May 24, 2019, the same day the governor commissioned the refurbished Gossy Water Production Plant while he also received final approval for the full accreditation of EKSUTH College of Medicine by the Medical and Dental Council. The School of Agriculture, Isan-Ekiti, cancelled by Fayose is also back.

On July 8, 2019, Fayemi attended a special session with the Committee on the Ease of Doing Business in Ekiti State and on second day he attended Africa Investment Forum Road Show organised by AfDB in Abuja while July 12, 2019, was the day Fayemi paid the outstanding salaries and allowances of Fayose’s political appointees.

Agricultural production received a boost on July 15, 2019 when the governor inaugurated Youth Commercial Agricultural Development Board of Trustees to manage the scheme that will ensure creation of jobs and food security and also met World Bank Human Development team. Two days after, the governor distributed cheques to local government pensioners and met the officials of African Development Bank to chart development path for the state, after which he met Belarus government team on prospects of development partnership.

Efforts to revamp the moribund Ikun Dairy Farm project came alive on July 22 when Fayemi met the Managing Director of Promador, Anders Einarson, to sign a partnership agreement on the project that has potential to create hundreds of jobs in addition to the value chain of the project while the governor later received World Bank officials on August 1, 2019 after which the United Nations Resident team also came visiting to chart development course for Ekiti State, among other development initiatives, to raise the state from the ruins into which it was left by the last administration.

Even as the governor had presented cheques to some communities for development initiatives, he also resuscitated the abandoned Civic Centre that is slated for commissioning during his first year in office while the abandoned Oba Adejugbe General Hospital in Ado-Ekiti has begun operation.

Fayemi had in early part of his second term criss-crossed parts of the world to rally investors and development partners to help lift Ekiti State from doldrums with pockets of international aid agencies promising to help rescue Ekiti State in the objectives of the Collective Rescue Mission Two.

They included a visit to the Minister of Works and Power, Mr Babatunde Fashola, to discuss issues relating to the ministry’s decayed infrastructure and assets in Ekiti State and how to improve them and introduce fresh ones while at the Ministry of Interior, Fayemi sought from the then Minister, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, cooperation and collaboration on security to address insecurity in the state that has virtually turned Ekiti State to a kidnapping capital of the South West.

Fayemi also met the Managing Director of the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), Abba Bello, in Abuja, to discuss on how to record a boom in Ekiti State’s economy through export of farm produce in which the Fayemi’s resuscitated Youths In Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD) will play a pivotal role.
He also visited former Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, to seek cooperation in growing agricultural productivity and employment, especially among the youth and building on his Youths In Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD) initiative during his first term in office.

Other issues discussed included efforts aimed at improving processing units across the value chains of export produce, including cocoa, coffee, cassava, rubber, cashew, and yam, amongst others, including improving storage facilities for farm produce to encourage large-scale production as a way to further encourage agro-investments in Ekiti State.

Fayemi met with the Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria, Ambassador Kertil Karlsen, where they discussed ongoing and future economic programmes of the institution in Ekiti State. The Governor used the occasion to canvass for programmes and supports that guarantee jobs for youths and steps on improving inter-linkage between public and private sector-led development.

In health sector, Fayemi held talks with the representatives of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation led by its Managing Director, Paul Basinga, who promised to partner with Ekiti State government to develop the health sector while also seeking partnership in agricultural development partnership with AGCO South Africa (Pty) Limited.

The company’s Vice President, Nuradin Osman, assured that the partnership would create more than 3,000 jobs for Ekiti youths while at Agence Francaise de Development (AFD), Fayemi sought the cooperation and support of the agency in the implementation of some economic programmes in Ekiti State.

By all indications, a year after taking over, it is clear that Fayemi stands for taking Ekiti State to the next level of development from the depth of fall it was consigned between 2014 and 2018 by the administration that left in ruins what Fayemi established in his first term in office between October 2010 and October 2014.

It is bye bye to Egypt and no more Red Sea to swallow Ekiti State and her dreams.

Olujobi, a journalist, is Commissioner in Ekiti State Local Government Service Commission, Ado-Ekiti

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