MUYIWA OYINLOLA in this report writes on the changing narratives in Ekiti State, barely a year into the second coming of Governor Kayode Fayemi
In less than one year in office, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State has changed the face of governance in the state. From the “bolekaja” (structureless), impulsive and totally disorganised system that characterised the previous administration, whose single offer was “stomach infrastructure,” Fayemi has brought sanity to the corridors of power.
Consequently, political analysts in the state have described the four years of the Ayo Fayose’s government as a total waste and complete setback for the state,“ as the government lacked focus, target and plan. The major undoing of that administration was that Ekiti under him did not work because it only expected manna to fall from the Federation Account in Abuja.
This forced development partners to leave the state in droves, as every of their proposal ended in the dustbin because of the uncooperative and hostile attitude of the former governor, especially his refusal to pay counterpart funding on critical projects.
The banks also joined the exit train as they closed shops and left the state because of the unfriendly and hostile atmosphere.
All of these have changed since Fayemi assumed office with a better understanding of the workings of government, especially in a state like Ekiti.
Cataloguing how the emergence of Fayemi has changed the political narrative of Ekiti is absolutely not a difficult one for political watchers in Ekiti and Nigeria as a whole.
Just like his three years in the judicial trenches before he got the Justice Ayo Salami-led Appeal Court landmark judgment, which declared him as the duly elected governor of Ekiti State in 2010, the longest walk to victory, Fayemi still fought the same justice battle on his return to power for the second time
Though, this time around his emergence was less tortuous it was not without judicial and political hurdles, a semblance of his travails, during his first coming which was quickly nipped in the bud by his strings of judicial victories at the Supreme Court.
The 2007 to 2010 epic judicial battle, which is still being regarded by political analysts as the longest judicial fireworks for a political position in the political history of Nigeria between Fayemi and the then People’s Democratic Party (PDP) government in Ekiti, led by Mr. Segun Oni, who by sheer providence is now in the All Progressives Congress (APC) with Fayemi and coincidentally the same person who dragged him to court over his eligibility to vie for the rescheduled May 11, 2018 governorship primary of the party.
Just like Oni, who pursued the eligibility suit against Fayemi from the High Court to the Supreme Court, Fayose’s deputy and the PDP governorship candidate, Kolapo Olusola-Eleka traversed the entire judicial level up to the apex court.
The Supreme Court not only affirmed and validated Fayemi’s eligibility, but also that of his election, as the duly elected governor and custodian of Ekiti people’s will.
Changing The Narrative
With the good boy approach, Fayemi’s style of governance has brought tremendous goodwill to the state.
His recent election as the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has further boosted his profile.
Unlike his first coming, when he abandoned politics to his aides, Fayemi has not only taken charge but in control of both governance and politics and he has also brought his wealth of experience and extensive web of connections as a former minister and former member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s kitchen cabinet to bear on Ekiti.
Aside from re-invigorating many of his projects which Fayose abandoned, the governor has initiated several others, which according to him, are of significant and economic benefits to the state.
One of the populist moves by Fayemi when he assumed office was the abolition of the N1,000 development fee per term by students in both public and private schools in the state.
Fayemi proceeded to launch an onslaught against increasing number of school drop outs in the state, as a result of the imposition of developmental on students of publics schools in the state by the Fayose led administration, parents were withdrawing their wards from schools, leading to Ekiti being classified as having the highest rate of school drop outs in Southwest.
This is no longer the case since the abolition of the fees and promulgation of a law proscribing the practice, coupled with the introduction of school feeding, students’ enrolment has skyrocketed.
Quick intervention in the educational sector as measure of the importance Fayemi placed on human capital development could be noticed in the increased funding of the state university, which had made the institution to achieve 100 per cent accreditation of all its courses, including that of the College of Medicine, which had been pending for the past 10 years.
This followed with the revitalisation, renovation and upgrade of the state’s technical schools through partnership with World Bank
The governor has also paid the fees for senior secondary school certificate examination and university matriculation examination of all the SS3 students in all public schools.
One of the weapons of tackling poverty and rejigging the state’s economy is the regular payment of salaries. This has become a tradition of the Fayemi administration. Since assumption of office in October 16, 2018, salaries and pensions are being paid as at when due.
When Fayose vacated office, the arrears in gratuities stood at almost N20billion as the state stopped paying gratuities since 2012.
Fayemi commenced the payment of gratuities early this year with the sum of N100million set aside to gradually clear arrears.
Disengaged political office holders, including those who served in Fayose administration who were being owed arrears of salaries and allowances got their outstanding paid.
To curb joblessness and the attendant crimes among the youths, the state government in partnership with the World Bank has employed 5,000 youths within the age bracket of 18 and 45 for community services in state.
The programme is being executed under the auspices of the World Bank-sponsored scheme called Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO).
YESSO is a community development programme where temporary jobs are provided for youths in the form of labour intensive activities involving the cleaning of public utilities such as roads, buildings, palaces, drainages, among others.
Another set of 300 Ekiti youths has also been trained in various skills by Training Funds Skills Development Programme as part of the efforts of the Fayemi administration’s initiative at tackling youth unemployment through skill acquisition.
Aside the number of youth employed in the State Traffic Management Agency, Peace Corps, data bank for the unemployed has been opened across the state.
As at the last count, over 120 party men and women were rewarded with various appointments.
Recall that before now, virtually all the infrastructure in the state were in comatose. This made him to approach the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) not only to help rehabilitate the decayed infrastructure, which include some critical roads, but to upgrade them. This is aside from the $55million he secured from the World Bank for the revitalisation of Ero Dam
Other projects which the AfDB is ready to support are the Ekiti Airport, the Ekiti Knowledge Zone (a smart city to promote knowledge economy) and the agriculture processing zone project, all geared towards improving infrastructure and socioeconomic development of the state.
A year after it was shut down by the previous administration, Gossy Water has commenced full-scale production of the popular table water brand, and 300 youths are expected to get jobs.
Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort which had gone under has been revived, rehabilitated and hasalso commenced full operations.
However, Fayemi has to guard against distraction from what Ekiti people elected him to do, by striking a balance between being the governor of Ekiti State and his new role as the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
Since all politics is local, his focus should be Ekiti first and the main thrust of his policy as the numero uno governor in the country today, should be Ekiticentric!