Ekiti State Governor, Dr, John Kayode Fayemi has put in two meritorious years in the service of his state, Ekiti. It is two years since that historical verdict that ended a long drawn battle by Fayemi to claim his stolen mandate and these two years have been eventful as they are fruitful. It is of no use repeating the enervating quest Fayemi put in his legal effort to claim his rightful dues. It was a period that was enough to sap a man, to tax a man to his limits and possibly force a man to recant. But Fayemi stood out those two lonesome years of persecution and state sponsored blitzkrieg mounted by those that usurped his mandate against him. A quintessential long distance runner, he showed no sign of flagging as the battle raged and even as all known and unknown war heads were trained on him, he refused to bow to the heat and sopped all the pressures as he waited patiently for a return of his stolen mandate. With the benefit of hindsight, those years honed him for the tasks ahead and the way and manner he has been delivering in Ekiti these past two years shows he brought priceless treasures from his years in the wilderness to the governance of Ekiti.
After two years of Fayemi’s governance, Ekiti has successfully recovered from the trauma that was inflicted on it by six years of brute leadership where a state that excels in education was subjected to the rule of brawns. Ekiti, under Fayemi, has recovered from the blisters of the Fayose/Oni years when the state was converted from a sedate and almost anonymous state to a looming theater of war and enclave of dread. This is one huge hallmark of the Fayemi regime for his regime drastically brought down the boiling temperature of the state to near zero. This is the needed state of health through which other rich dividends could be harnessed and Ekiti is presently on the very threshold of savouring those dividends as could be gleaned from the profile of the state in two years of Fayemi’s leadership.
What better way to showcase the dividend than the fact that to celebrate his second years in office, Governor Fayemi is commissioning twelve roads in the state totaling over 108 kilometers? The governor is also going to commission 100 renovated public secondary and primary schools, six water and seven rural electrification projects. He will also commission the legacy projects, which include the Samsung Engineering Academy, the Civic Center, the State Pavilion, the Life Academy Iluomoba, the Governor’s Office and the Deputy Governor’s house in Ado Ekiti. These are projects slated to mark the second year anniversary alone and from here, we can glean that Ekiti is on the threshold of harvest, after a disastrous epoch in the hands of locusts.
Studiously and in his usual quiet and self effacing manner, Fayemi is leaving indelible imprimaturs in the governance of Ekiti State. He is touching each sector of governance with that rejuvenating feel needed to take back a state that was lost momentarily to brutes. From agriculture to roads, from public utilities to health, from education to employment, from poverty alleviation to general urban renewal, the sure and steady feet of the regime marches on and positively impacts on the entire length and breadth of Ekiti State. Fayemi has worked very hard to restore the hallowed pedestal on which Ekiti stood and having done that, it is just natural that the rich harvest of democracy dividends the state is experiencing now will flow. We are going to take a glance at the incipient harvest Ekiti is.
In the area of agriculture, Governor Fayemi’s government has restored the farm settlements in such places as Orin, Iyemero, Ikun and other locations. The state has acquired thousands of acres of arable land across the state for the purpose of massive food production. The state has launched irrigated agriculture as a means of boosting food production. Also, through the Youths for Commercial Agriculture Development (Y-ICAD) the state is engaging the youths through training and empowerment to take to agriculture as a profession. Under the scheme, 1,500 youths are presently in training and on completion of training; each will be given land and an expendable credit facility of N1.5 million to start off their respective agricultural enterprises. Ekiti State under Fayemi has established 7.000 hectares of cassava plantation while its Cocoa Growth Enhancement Programme targets 15,000 cocoa farmers that will be given agro chemicals and fertilizer worth N46, 000 each. The government has so far distributed 150,000 improved cocoa seedlings to farmers and targets 500,000 seedlings next year. Similar attention is being given to palm oil and rice production in a bold effort to make Ekiti a net exporter of food to other parts of the country.
In the educational sector, the Fayemi regime has recorded massive investments in a scheme that aims at a total overhaul of the decrepit face of public education in the state. The regime has procured and distributed 33,000 laptops to students of public secondary schools in Ekiti and targets that by 2014, 100,000 school pupils in Ekiti will have their personal laptops in a bid to make students of the school’s system ICT compliant. Further to the distribution of the laptops, the State Government also signed a memorandum of Understanding with Samsung to connect Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti and the State College of Education, Ikere Ekiti to the on-going wireless community project as hundreds of computers have been procured ahead of their connection; even as Samsung is set to establish a service centre in the State.
Perhaps, it was because of this feat that the governor won the ICT Governor of The Year 2012 Award by the Nigerian Telecoms Award. The state’s Operation Renovate All Schools in Ekiti (ORASE), which targets to renovate all the 180 public schools in the state within a record time remains the boldest effort by any government in the history of the state to restore the glory of public education in the state. The 100 public schools the governor would be commissioning in this year’s second year anniversary are the first tranche of the renovated schools and the remaining are to be commissioned in no distant time. The ORASE scheme aims to transform the existing shackled structures in all public schools in Ekiti and replacing them with modern buildings, with aluminum roofing.
In the area of roads, the governor has turned Ekiti to a huge construction site as roads are being fixed, rehabilitated and constructed in a speed and frenzy that has never been known in the state in the past. The urban and rural areas equally benefit from this massive refurbishment of roads. His policy of building five kilometers of roads in each local government has opened up the entire state to become a lively hub. The second phase of the programme, which targets another round of five kilometers of roads in each local government, is going to start by January 2013. Suffice it to posit that Fayemi is adding more mileage of constructed road to Ekiti than any previous regime has done and this is a salutary effort of a change agent to impact on the face of the humble state.
On Community Development, the governor has come jup with a policy that aims at establishing viable projects in the various communities in the state with a view to develop the rural communities of the state, which have suffered neglect for many years now. In pursuit of this policy, the governor has presented cheques worth N238 million (Two Hundred and Thirty-Eight Million Naira) to 26 communities in the State for Community Development Projects of the State Community and Social Development Agency (EKSCDA). Through this scheme, each of the 26 communities would be executing a minimum of three micro community development projects, capable of having direct impact on the people of the benefitting communities and these projects are expected to finance other initiatives. .
In the Health sector, the Fayemi government has started the general renovation and overhaul of all public health institutions in Ekiti. The facilities slated for such renovation are the state hospitals and primary health care centers. This renovation scheme flows from the commitment of the government to ensuring a healthy Ekiti society and this was the reason the health sector was allocated a whopping 14 per cent of the state current budget. Apart from equipping the existing hospitals and providing adequate drugs, the government set up a health team that periodically visits every part of the state for the purpose of rendering free medical services to the people.
Given the regime’s numerous health programmes, the current Human Development Report said: “Ekiti State is 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.” This rating was confirmed by the latest MDG Report (2012) circulated by the Federal Ministry of Health, which scored Ekiti high in healthcare delivery, According to the report, Ekiti has the second lowest infant mortality rate in the country, for which the ministry commended the state for doing what no other state is doing on health care in the country.
Ekiti under Fayemi runs a health care policy that provides free medical services to pregnant women, children under the age of five years, the physically challenged and people above 65 years of age. The state remains the only state doing free health, 100 per cent, to its pregnant women and covering 45 per cent of the state’s population under its free health programme.
And this brings one’s attention to Ekiti State’s laudable social security scheme, which remains a novel case and the only one in Nigeria. Under this social security scheme, 20,000 elderly persons are registered with the state and each receive N5,000 every month for personal upkeep. What more? This allowance is delivered in their homes every month in a well applauded scheme that deals serious blows to the ravenous poverty pang ravaging the country at present. Ekiti state’s social security scheme is a model other states and the center need to study and replicate to stem the tide of poverty among Nigeria’s weakest groups. The state has also gone further to establish a food bank that periodically distributes food items to the poor, the elderly, the orphans and the physically challenged. The idea is to practically take beggars off the streets of Ekiti.
Fayemi’s Ekiti blazes a worthy trail in the drive for foreign direct investment. For an exposed, debonair and intellectual governor, he has made the right moves and the dividends in this area are trickling in. the various international agencies are taking good look of Ekiti and the Electronics Giants, Samsung has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish an Engineering Academy in Ado Ekiti, the state capital as part of its partnership arrangement with the state government. Samsung is deeply involved in the free laptop for students scheme and the general opening of Ekiti to the ICT hub as being pursued by the Fayemi regime.
These remain few instances of the rich harvest Ekiti is presently harnessing under Fayemi. It was because of these immutable strides that Leadership Newspapers recently gave Fayemi its Governor of the Year Award. He remains a lodestar of good and accountable governance in the present chaotic Nigerian state. The wonder many have expressed is how Fayemi is able to do these and more with the poor state of resources of the state. For emphasis, Ekiti is one of the poorest states in Nigeria, with one of the least allocations from the federation account but it has rich human potential and resources, which can make a difference once a well honed manager is in charge. But a deep knowledge of the governor exposes a thorough bred and knowledgeable, frugal and compassionate man with a sincere mindset to leave a difference with governance. An intellectual with redoubtable academic pedigree, he stays nearer the people in the simplistic and open approach he has imbued on governance in Ekiti these past two years. Fayemi feels the pulse of the people of Ekiti State and has brought an uncommon passion to the desire to make the state work for her people. Here lies the difference Ekiti has recorded in Fayemi’s two years at the helm and a pointer to what to expect in the remaining two years. His approach is simplistic as well as intellectualistic and he gets the return from a well coordinated and organized government. Ekiti is better for it and as it savours its years of harvest, we toast a man of great courage, a quintessential long distance runner and a brilliant manager of men and resources.
Peter Claver Oparah.