Protocol was broken for a few minutes at the recently concluded Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA) that took place at the redeveloped Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort, Ikogosi-Ekiti when the organisers announced a special presentation to Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi. To the curious crowd of journalists, media executives, businessmen and government officials at the resort’s main auditorium, venue of the award ceremony, the question was what could be the special presentation other than the traditional award usually reserved for the host governor.
The special presentation turned out to be an enlarged version of a cartoon published earlier in the week by a leading national daily where the cartoonist had brilliantly captured the frustration of the opposition who are at loss over which of Fayemi’s numerous achievements could be faulted.
The unveiling of the drawing drew a thunderous applause from the audience. Subsequently the issue of development in Ekiti State became the recurrent topic by various groups and personalities in the hall that evening. The award-winning cartoonist who was a nominee at the NMMA, when asked to comment on the drawing simply said: “the cartoon speaks for itself.” According to him, Governor Fayemi has done so much to develop the state and its citizens that he had in the process, inadvertently, raised the bar of governance as well as qualification for political office in the state.
A vast majority of the participants at the event who are mostly first time visitors to the Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort- where nature and modernity have a perfect blend- could not but agree with him. The new life that has been injected into the Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort is an eloquent testimony to the transformative leadership style of the Governor who masterminded the redevelopment of the once moribund spring to a world class standard tourist centre. But in actual fact, Ikogosi Warm Springs, like the Ekiti Project itself, remains a work in progress, as the government has concluded plans for the second phase of development with a foreign technical partner.
The successful transformation of Ikogosi Warm Springs, many believe, is a product of courage, vision and penchant for excellence which the Fayemi administration is noted for. In just about three and a half years, the JKF administration has impacted positively on the lives of the citizens and the various communities with its well structured developmental strategies anchored on the 8-point agenda.
Just as the JKF’s Midas touch has brought life back to Ikogosi, two moribund industries- Ire Bricks Factory and Odua Enterprise Centre (formerly Oodua Textile) have also been resuscitated. This has helped to expand the State’s resources, provide job opportunities for the youths, encourage new skills acquisition by workers and enlarge the middle class in the State. By ensuring peace and tranquillity and putting relevant laws in place to protect investments and investors, the state has been able to attract scores of billion naira private sector investment.
Fayemi’s quiet revolution in the agriculture sector has energised the sector, leading to more youths embracing commercial agriculture under its Youth in Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD) scheme. This pragmatic approach to agric business and the attendant empowerment programmes for the young farmers is gradually making Ekiti the food basket of the nation, while raising a crop of young entrepreneurs in that sector.
A passionate and compassionate leader, Fayemi in the bid to take good care of the indigent elderly citizens of the state, established the Social Security Benefit Scheme that gives every qualified elderly citizens N5,000 stipends monthly. The number of beneficiaries has since been increased to 25,000 elderly citizens drawn from the 16 local government areas of the state. Other components of the social security scheme include the food bank (where indigent old people could go and get a meal and or food items).
According to available statistics from the State Bureau of Statistics [SBS] , within three and a half years, the JKF administration has generated jobs of different categories to the tune of 3,327 in 2011 and progressively increased the figure to 10,465 and 30,187 in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
A total of 736.715km of roads have been constructed since 2010 when he made known his plan to make all parts of Ekiti accessible by major roads before the end of 2014. Water dams in the state have become functional in the bid to increase water supply and coverage by eighty per cent.
The huge investment in education including the computer per child initiative, massive renovation of all public schools and the introduction of various capacity building programmes for the teachers has also started to yield positive results with the remarkable performance of students in external examinations as well as state and national competitions.
The comprehensive renovation and equipment of all the general hospitals and health centres across the state as well as the Free Medical Mission programme which has covered nearly 400,000 people has also helped to create a more healthy citizens. Indeed the JKF vision of banishing poverty and sickness in the state is becoming a reality.
Fayemi has demonstrated that an activist in government can make a difference. In three and a half years he has shown through his works that he is a builder of a new dawn, working with imagination, insight and boldness. He presents the challenge that calls for the best in people and brings them together around a shared sense of purpose. His eyes are on the horizon, not just on the near at hand. He is a social innovator and change agents who is able to motivate the citizens with better ideas for optimal productivity.
As an inspiring leader, Fayemi has been able to replace transactional politics of yester years with transformational leadership. His emphasis has always been on how institutional framework can be strengthened to ensure effective service delivery; How leaders and the led can work together to achieve common goals. What mechanism and processes should be put in place for genuine and effective empowerment of the citizens towards the attainment of the good life for all.
JKF continues to espouse this concept of good governance, participatory democracy and strengthening of institutions in practical terms especially in the running of the affairs of Ekiti State by laying emphasis on key elements of good governance including accountability, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness, responsiveness, the rule of law and forward vision. He believes that trust is a public good without which no great thing can be achieved collectively. Hence, he believes trust has to be earned.
Fayemi’s unique approach to governance and style of doing development with the people has inspired hope of a better tomorrow for Ekiti people. Curiously this has remained a big headache for the opposition, many of whom find it extremely difficult to deny the pace of development that is evident in all the nooks and crannies of the state.
No doubt, Fayemi is well prepared for the present task as well as the ones tomorrow will bring.
Born on February 9, 1965 into the family of the late Chief and Mrs. Francis Falade Fayemi. A native of Isan-Ekiti in Oye Local Government Area, he had his elementary education in Ibadan before attending Christ’s School, Ado- Ekiti for his secondary education between 1975 and 1980.
He received his first degree in History from the University of Lagos in 1985, a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), in 1987 and a doctorate in War Studies from the King’s College, University of London, England in 1993, specializing in civilian-military relations and defence planning.
Before embracing politics, Dr Fayemi was the pioneer Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), a research and training institution dedicated to the study and promotion of democratic development, peace-building and human security in Africa.
Dr Fayemi was a Georgetown University Leadership Fellow in 2000 and a Senior Visiting Fellow in African Studies, North Western University, Evanston, USA in 2004. He is also an Associate Fellow of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Ibadan and was on the Adjunct Faculty of the African Centre for Strategic Studies, National Defence University, USA, between 2001 and 2005.
He was a member of the Governing Board of the Open Society Justice Institute, New York and African Security Sector Network. He was Technical Adviser to Nigeria’s Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission (known as the Oputa Panel) .
Fayemi has written and lectured extensively on governance and democratization. He is also a recipient of several awards, fellowships and grants including the Ford Foundation grant on Special Initiative on Africa and the Macarthur Foundation research grant. He was named Governor of the Year, 2011, by the Leadership Newspaper. He also received the Zik’s Prize in Leadership (Good Governance) Award in 2013.
From the rolling hills of Ekiti comes forty and nine gbosas for this innovator, social justice crusader, democrat and change agent – Oni Uyi, Oni Eye!- as he clocks 49 today.
By Olayinka Oyebode
Oyebode is Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Ekiti State
Last modified: February 9, 2014