In the last three weeks, I have had the rare opportunity to traverse the length and breadth of Ekiti State to see first-hand progress in the development schemes of the Ayo Fayose-led government, and worthy of note is that instead of a leap in development initiatives of the government to add to the accomplishments of former Governor Kayode Fayemi for the socio-economic growth of the state, what were observed were the reversals of fortunes for the state that needs a head-start for development.
Three years after the change of baton of leadership, what is clear is that the comparative analysis in the growth and development index of the state within the period compared to the preceding administration is grossly incomparable in real time and indeed cumulative computing of socio-economic indices of a state struggling for economic survival.
Besides the over-priced 800-metre fly-over show that glitters in the night, all parts of the state are at the mercy of night marauders that stalk residents without let.
Infrastructure development is nil, economic development initiatives are zero, health services are priced above the table, poverty is on all four while social services have taken a flight from the windows.
Like in make-shift props for quick-fix solutions to endemic problems, sweet lies and “friendly frauds” are employed to provide antidote to malignant problems.
Indeed everywhere across the state, the socio-economic development brakes that screeched to a thunderous halt on October 15, 2014 still remain locked on the same spot.
Of note is that all these negatives are dressed in heroic accomplishments never witnessed in the history of the state by Governor Ayodele Fayose through massive media propaganda and bare-faced lies so much that as we speak, the unwary still believe in the make-believe that Ekiti State has become, to the extent that even the simplest economic index that would have given Fayose an iota of credibility is shrouded in secrecy, as no one can say he has the idea of the state’s revenue profile.
Conversely, within a year in a record achievement when he assumed office in 2010, the then Governor Kayode Fayemi not only disclosed the state’s revenue profile, he also upped the state’s monthly IGR from N109m in 2010 to N600m in 2011.
He achieved this not by imposing fresh taxes on Ekiti people like Fayose did. Neither did he increase the taxes Ekiti people were paying before; he achieved the feat by blocking wastages and conduit pipes through which the government lost revenues.
For the first time, Ekiti State adopted in November 2011 village square meetings in all the local governments for budget planning purposes by undertaking the tours of all the local governments where every town asked for at least three projects each to be incorporated in the budget.
For the first in the state, a total of 183 secondary schools and 836 primary schools were renovated and furnished.
Forty eight thousand (48,000) laptops were distributed to students and teachers in Ekiti State while additional 25,000 pieces were ordered, making it the first time in the state that information and computer technology would receive such a boost, which yielded dividends beyond imagination as manifested in the tremendous improvement in 2013 WAEC result in the state.
Ekiti State distributed laptops to students before JAMB made its examinations computer-based, which gave students from the state an advantage over their counterparts from other states.
For the first time in Ekiti State, teachers received 25 per cent of their pay as core subjects and rural posting allowances in addition to their salaries.
Across the state, also for the first time, five mini-water treatment plants were commissioned while the laying of new pipes to replace the old ones was almost completed with 167 modern water fetching points called (Eyiyato Fetching Points) constructed in various communities across the 16 LGAs to ameliorate hardship caused by water shortage while Fayemi in September 2013 signed into law the Water and Sanitation Bill, marking the first time for such initiative. The percentage of water supply in the state was 52% as against the 25% in place on assumption of office in 2010.
The comprehensive approach to water supply crisis increased the state’s rating as one of the best two in the water sector in the country.
For the first time in the history of West Africa sub-region, 20,000 elderly people received N5,000 monthly stipends as social security while as at October 2013 during Third Year Anniversary, another 5,000 senior citizens were added to the scheme while the wife of the governor, for the first time in the history of Ekiti State, made sure that no elderly person in the state went to bed hungry. She did that through her Food Bank Programme where the elders were served cooked food in special kitchens across the state.
Also, all general hospitals in the state were fully rehabilitated and two new ones were built while 728.365 kilometres of both Federal and state roads were constructed in addition to the 81.2 kilometres constructed in all local governments under the Five Kilometre Road-per-local-government scheme, the first time that local governments would undertake such initiative backed by the state government.
For the first time, 902.565 kilometres of Federal, State and Local Government roads were rehabilitated, re-constructed and constructed to last decades unlike in the past where new roads collapsed barely six months after commissioning.
Women were empowered through small business scheme while Affirmative Action took root in Ekiti State with many women appointed into senior government positions. Fayemi’s wife brought relief to mothers of triplets through her Multiple Birth Trust Fund where financial assistance and baby items were given to them while also strengthening women empowerment scheme through her gender empowerment programme.
Fayemi’s administration made a law banning discrimination against women and all forms of violence against women, including enacting a law banning abuses against children.
For the first time, many communities that had existed for over 200 years without electricity, such as Oke-Ako in Ikole Local Government, were connected to the national grid while many communities were opened up through construction of rural roads and culverts.
Hundreds of Ekiti youths were engaged in commercial agriculture under the Youth Commercial Agriculture Development Programme (YCAD) and 117,000 farmers were registered to benefit from the ADP programme.
For the first time, Ekiti State had both the largest cassava productivity (yield/Ha) and cultivation. Yield was above national average at 15T/Ha (national average was 12T/Ha).
Ekiti also had the largest expansion in cultivation in the country in 2012 with the addition of over 1,150Ha by YCAD Programme alone.
As at October 2013, YCAD critical objective had started to manifest, as Ekiti State had the highest yield in cassava in the country.
In an amazing manner, Ekiti State was producing water melon and carrot which were hitherto exclusive produce from the Northern states.
750Ha of land was cultivated under the Rice Expansion Programme, where government supported farmers with 100% input for production. 2013 operation alone was aimed at achieving 3,000Ha capacity and government also flagged off N600 million irrigation project under which Ero and Itapaji dams provided 1,700 hectares of irrigated land.
For the first time, there was a joint constituency project in irrigation by the three Senators representing Ekiti State with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). The irrigated land was at Itapaji and served from Itapaji dam, which also served Iyemero and Gede farm settlements while that of Ero dam was planned to serve Ikosun, Igogo and Ewu farm settlements.
To restore cocoa to its prime position as the main cash crop as was the case in the First Republic, 150,000 cocoa seedlings were distributed to 15,000 farmers out of the 500,000 seedlings approved for 2013.
For the first time, over 2000 school children and infants in Erijiyan were administered with 137,442 doses of Praziquantel pill to prevent Schisostomiasis, a water-borne disease prevalent in the area.
In his health programme, no fewer than 400,000 Ekiti indigenes were treated under the free health mission programme during the seven editions across the state while the free health programme of Fayemi’s healthcare took care of the health needs of about 48% of children under five years, pregnant women, the disabled and elderly above 65 years.
For the first time, another brand of free health mission called ‘Ilera Laafin’ was instituted, which took health missions to the palaces of the traditional rulers and their chiefs, even as more than N130 million was spent on the health care needs of indigent patients for various operations and provision of artificial limbs by the government.
For the first time, a cancer care centre, the Funmi Adunni Olayinka Diagnostic and Wellness Centre, was established for early detection of cancer and cancer-related ailments to prevent avoidable death, even as the Ministry of Health conducted free medical screening for breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.
And for the first time, Fayemi’s giant strides in the health sector increased antenatal attendance from 15,254 in 2010 to 79,104 in 2012, reduction of infant mortality rate to 98 per 1000 (the lowest in the country where national average is 189 per 1000) while maternal mortality dropped to 250/100,000 (National average is 545 per 100,000), making Ekiti and two other states certified as having met the 2015 MDGs health goals.
From its decrepit state before he became the governor, Fayemi within three years developed Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort into one of the top seven of the natural hospitality destinations in Nigeria and for the first time, an elite Knowledge Zone was also established within the facility for advanced studies in various fields.
As at 2014, there were 781 completed projects, 558 on-going projects and 134 community projects initiatives on ground. Altogether, there were 1,473 completed and on-going projects in the state from October 2010- October 2013.
According to the Human Development Report (2012), Ekiti State, for the first time, was described as the most conducive environment to live, for long and healthy living with a life expectancy average of 55 years more than the National Life expectancy average of 50 years.
Ekiti also had the lowest infant and maternal mortality rate and the lowest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the country while the state had the highest pupils’ enrolment relative to Nigeria’s population and it had the least out-of-school children (less than 2%) in Nigeria.
For his development and leadership style, Fayemi won ‘Governor of the Year 2012 Award’ for the first time by the Leadership Newspapers on September 18, 2012. He was also named the Governor of The Year 2013 by Champion Newspaper. All these were confirmed in September 2013 when the United Nations invited Fayemi to its session on the basis that his state had met many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), also for the first time in the history of Ekiti State.
For the first time, SAMSUNG Corporation awarded ‘Best Governor in Africa’ honour to Fayemi for investing heavily in education, while the London Economist’s report on governance in Ekiti State said: “Better governance is creeping beyond the metropolis. When your correspondent e-mails the governor of Ekiti State in impoverished central Nigeria he gets a reply within minutes, with the entire cabinet copied in and being told to assist with a visit.
“After a six-hour drive north, seven interviews across the capital, Ado Ekiti, are arranged in the space of a few hours. Cabinet members are mostly foreign-educated and highly motivated and have private-sector experience. A new employment agency sends out job advertisements by text message. All secondary-school pupils are getting free laptops with solar panels.”
For the first time, the state’s official twitter of the Ekiti State Government-@ekitistategov had the highest number of visitors among the states that had accounts on the social media in Nigeria.
It had 11,624 followers as at September 30, 2013 and it was a platform where the government kept its citizens aware of its programmes. Its facebook fan page-facebook.com/EkitiState
was also the one with the highest following; 17,099 fans while the official web portal www.ekitistate.gov.ng
had traffic of 442,741 visits, 1,209,894 page views, visits from 134 countries, including United States, United Kingdom, India, Canada and Nigeria.
It was ranked 2nd on Alexa as the most visited, most updated and interactive state government digital channel in the world after Lagos.
Fayemi knew the importance of a knowledge-based economy and he embarked on a venture of making Ekiti the Silicon Valley of Nigeria through Information and Communications Technology with the laying of fibre optics around the state for high speed internet access to homes and offices at affordable price, including wi-fi hot spot around many business areas in the state.
All these gains, which Fayemi hopes to strengthen if he is elected governor on July 14, 2018, have been reversed in the last three and half years by Fayose who is planning to sustain the tempo of that destruction through a continuity agenda by his proxy, Prof Olusola Eleka, the governorship candidate of PDP.
Will Ekiti people support the agenda that will reverse that fortunes, and holds no promise for their future?
That is a question to be resolved by Ekiti people on July 14 poll in their thirst for development.
Olujobi is the Director, Media and Publicity,
Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation