FEATURES: Ekiti: The Journey To ‘Welfare State’

March 12, 2014

L-R: Chairman, Board of Directors, Senior Citizens Care Foundation, SCCF, Prince Adesumbo Ajibola; Former Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Prince Bola Ajibola, SAN, Excellence Award Recepient/Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi; and his wife, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, during the Award Ceremony by the SCCF on the Governor, in Ado-Ekiti.

The various welfare programmes of the Kayode Fayemi administration in Ekiti State have earned the government commendations from across the state and beyond including an Award of Excellence from the Senior Citizen’s Care Foundation led by Prince Bola Ajibola, a retired Judge of the International Court of Justice at The Hague who commended the Governor for making Ekiti ‘a Welfare State’. SULAIMAN SALAWUDEEN examines Governor Fayemi’s many ‘welfarist’ programmes in the state.

Then former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Prince Bola Ajibola led a delegation from the Senior Citizens Care Foundation to Ado-Ekiti penultimate week to honour the state Governor, Kayode Fayemi with the Foundation’s Excellence Award for 2013, not a few were convinced that it was an honour well deserved.
The Foundation whose interest lies in the welfare of the aged and elderly says the social security programme of the Fayemi administration for old people in the state is commendable hence its decision to honour the governor.

In particular, the Award, according to Ajibola was in recognition of the governor’s “pioneering and impressing concern for the welfare of the aged in our communities.” It followed a similar one conferred on Fayemi in 2012 by the Leadership Newspaper which named him its Man of the year on account of his care for the welfare of the elderly.
Prince Ajibola who came to Ado-Ekiti in company with some directors and members of the Foundation to confer the award on Fayemi said, “I have come to do justice to our vision at the Senior Citizens Care Foundation. We notice that certain things kept happening in Ekiti which are unique and historical, and we resolved that such things must not go down in history without particular recognition.”

The event attended by the Governor and his wife, Erelu Bisi, was witnessed by ranking functionaries of the state, including the Speaker of the State Assembly, Dr. Adewale Omirin, Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ganiyu Owolabi, the Head of Service (HOS), Mr. Olubunmi Famosaya (MNI), the Director-General, Broadcasting Service of Ekiti State (BSES), Alhaji Mojeed Jamiu and other members of the Executive Council.

Speaking further at the occasion, Ajibola said: “Chief Awolowo became the heir of Western Region and we still remember his many welfare programmes today. We now have someone for the first time in the history of our country aside Awolowo who we can call a Welfarist. This is not politics. This can only come from the heart of someone who has the people at heart. I think Fayemi deserves this recognition.”
Disclosing that the day was his happiest, Fayemi in his response noted that he chose to accept the Award consequent upon the proven integrity of the individuals behind it, particularly that of Prince Ajibola.

The governor, who opined that the scheme (for the elderly) was an idea which time had come, described same as a crucial part of his administration’s objective to banish poverty, recalling the Yoruba culture of social justice which “prescribes that the strong in the society must cater for the weak and the elderly in the great cycle of life.”
He recalled that the programme which started in 2011 had initially registered 20,000 elderly individuals who were certified to be unsupported in any way and were therefore seen as vulnerable to the many consequences of poverty. He said an addition of 5,000 was made to the list last year based on updates of critical necessity.
He explained that other programmes like the free health missions, free healthcare for the elderly people, for children up to age five, pregnant women up to delivery and the indigent physically impaired individuals were meant to ameliorate extreme wants among the citizenry. All these, according to him, were aside the training programmes and loan packages for teachers in schools, farmers in private concerns, for traders and artisans across the state.

Welfare and Ekiti Development Foundation (EDF)

The description by Ajibola of Governor Fayemi as a reincarnate of the revered Chief Awolowo so to speak must have struck a chord in the governor who used the occasion to equally brief the visiting team on the welfare programmes through the initiatives of his wife’s Ekiti Development Foundation (EDF), including the Food Bank and Soup Kitchen by which indigent individuals are fed with prepared meals three days in the week and also access raw food items.

He mentioned other support programmes of the EDF for parents of multiple births through the Multiple Birth Trust Fund and female victims of domestic abuses which all offer complementary supports to the existing regime of freebies by the state government to make life more liveable for needy individuals in the state.
Fayemi added:  “We have however taken appropriate measures to institutionalise all the initiatives with appropriate legislations with the support of our State Assembly so that administrations coming after us would not be able to undo our legacy. In this regard, we have signed into law the Social Security law 2012, which makes it compulsory for government to sustain the programme regardless of the political affiliation”.
The day after the Award Ajibola and his team were in Ikere-Ekiti to witness the February payment of the N5,000 Social Security stipend to the nearly 2,000 elderly individuals who benefit from the scheme in the town.

Healthcare delivery as welfare programmes

Health care remains central to the administration’s whole package of welfare programmes and the government has executed eight free health missions across the state, benefitting a minimum of 1.5 million people and gulping well in excess of N1 billion.
It would be recalled that the first Free Health Mission which went round the entire 16 local government areas benefitting every category of individuals, was held in December 2010, just few months after Governor Fayemi’s assumption of office.
Since then, other similar Free Health Missions had been held across the three senatorial zones of the state, aside many other gender specific ones which were held for certain categories of individuals.

The Nation findings revealed that a special fund had also been domiciled in the Health Ministry to take care of the treatment of individuals who needed other specific and elaborate surgeries/care aside those offered at the health missions. Over a thousand individuals had been assisted through the fund to undergo surgeries both within and outside the state for various ailments.

Explaining the reason for the Health Missions in a recent programme, the state Commissioner for Health, Professor Olusola Fasubaa maintained that “It serves as practical demonstration of the strong belief of the Governor Fayemi administration that health indeed is wealth and that a healthy populace is a genuinely empowered populace.”
Prof. Fasubaa added that another reason was to make people take more interest in their health, noting that “experience has shown that once people need to spend money to access care in any way, they become discouraged. This is understandable given the prevalence of poverty among the people.
“Government then decided to encourage them to care better for themselves by sponsoring the Missions. Today, more people visit the hospitals than it used to be before the commencement of the programme,” Fasubaa said.

In addition to the wholesale, renovation of the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH) and the upgrading of its Emergency Care Unit, the state government has lately included a N542.5 million Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements with international investors for the upgrading of medical diagnosis services at the tertiary health institution.

Fasubaa said: “On completion and when the arrangement comes into force, elaborate medical investigations across all branches of healthcare and specialties of medicine shall be carried out and unearthed at timely turns at the EKSUTH without having to refer critically needy patients to outside health establishments.”
Receiving the investors regarding the PPP arrangement in his office, Governor Fayemi stated the overall aim was to improve the quality of healthcare services in the state. According to him, the administration’s vision was to establish “a one-stop referral centre that would be a reference in the country.”

In an interaction with journalists, the EKSUTH Acting Chief Medical Director, Dr. Kolawole Ogundipe noted the task for the improvement in diagnostic services of the hospital arose principally from the urgency to join the trends in latest diagnostic services as a precondition to appropriate and wholesome care for the needy at the  hospital, adding “currently, some of our tests are run manually which affect not only speed of delivery but the amount of care we can cope with on daily basis as investigation remains primary to necessary care.”
The state also recently completed the overhaul of the entire 18 secondary health facilities in the state, expending over N1billion on their upgrading, renovation and expansion.

Employment generation as welfare

One of the key welfare programmes of the administration is employment generation. On assumption of office in October 2012, the administration set for itself a target of employing no fewer than 20,000 individuals, graduates and non-graduates alike. Investigation by The Nation revealed that the number had been surpassed by the end of the administration’s third year in office with several successful initiatives across the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

It would be recalled that soon after the swearing-in, the state government employed 5,000 individuals under the Ekiti State Volunteer Aids Corps with various qualifications who underwent training before they were deployed in government offices and those of private concerns in agreement with the state.

Thereafter, additions had been made to the figure with the drives of the State Employment Agency in concert with or separately from the Ekiti Enterprise Development Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture through the Youth in Commercial Agriculture (YCAD) programme. This is aside quite a large number of unemployed graduates engaged in paid employments through the Ekiti State Traffic Management Agency (EKSTMA) and the Ekiti Peace Corps.

Currently, graduates of YCAD who had since gone into their independent fields of agricultural practice have started employing others and training them equally while their products have begun to flood markets within and outside the state.
The state government has also supported artisans, individuals in various private agriculture based initiatives in parts of the state as well as commercial vehicle and motorcycle operators with funds at zero interest rates.

Education initiatives as welfare

The state government has also renovated all the 183 secondary schools, a move considered as unprecedented as the wholesale reversal of the 18 secondary and one tertiary health institutions in the state.

In the area of education and equally considered an indirect empowerment drive was the distribution of solar-powered, netbook, laptop computers free to a minimum of 40,000 secondary school students while the teachers were also given the laptops at affordable rates.
While findings have shown that quite a large number of the students who had since concluded their secondary education have taken to vocations which bear direct links with computer and its multiple applications, even the teachers, most of whom were interacting with computers for the first time upon the state intervention now engage in businesses related to the computer.

A male teacher in one of the secondary schools in Ado-Ekiti, who pleaded for anonymity, explained that teaching has been enhanced with the computer for all Teachers initiative.
Equally, noteworthy was the move by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) office of the state last year to empower women through the Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme (CCTS). The initiative which the state governor himself described as “intergovernmental collaboration to tackle poverty in Nigeria” saw a total of 2,250 women earning N5,000 every month.

Concerning other moves by the MDGs office, the Special Adviser to the Governor on MDGs, Mrs Bunmi Dipo-Salami said the strategy was to fast-track development by addressing a whole range of areas including health and economic well-being, education, water/sanitation, and other issues.
Dipo-Salami stressed that the focus of the administration was to eliminate poverty from the society, make education a right and not a privilege, stating that in spite of the smallness of finances, the state government had consistently paid its own counterpart share of all programmes meant to cushion hardships on the populace.

‘Focus’ and ‘fidelity’ as explanations of performance

But the state government has had to battle, and had since been battling, not only a smallness of available funds but equally the desires for personal comfort. The governor who spoke at a gathering had noted: “Good governance which ranks first on the administration’s list of deliverables in the state has been at the centre of all that my administration has achieved.”

Fayemi spoke further: “Immense faith in possibilities and extreme, even if seemingly abnormal, prudence in managing state resources, have not just explained but have underscored what many still see as magic. Of course, it is no secret that the state borrowed N25 billion from the capital market to finance infrastructure, but what we have given our people today from that borrowing is exactly what most people still don’t believe possible.

“I tell them it is possible as my lieutenants have accepted the austerity measures that must be in place as a precondition for performance.  I believe, as I often tell them, that personal/individual infrastructure must yield way for an enduring social/physical infrastructure. We would have no excuse to fail in our avowals.

“I started by subjecting myself to the same condition. Despite my frequent overseas travels, they know I don’t finance my journeys with state money. There is nothing the administration has achieved today which had not been promised the people as far as the 8-Point agenda is concerned. Ours is just a promise kept,” the governor said.

Clarifying the governor’s position at an inter-religious gathering, his wife, Erelu Bisi, disclosed that anywhere she went, questions regarding how the governor had been able to turn fortunes round for the state despite cash limitations had inundated her.
She noted: “But I have discovered that the only useful explanation for performance or otherwise of any administration depends on the extent of understanding of the reality of governance as a ‘social contract’.

“Social contract”, in her opinion, “explains the connection between the electorate and the elected. The bond which came from being elected by the people makes it bounden on the occupant of the office to do what he promised and pledged.”
Most recently at a gathering in Ikogosi-Ekiti, she explained that only a political will among the leadership could assure needed socio-economic development.

This article was first published in The Nation on Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

Last modified: March 12, 2014

One Response to " FEATURES: Ekiti: The Journey To ‘Welfare State’ "

  1. You could definitely see your expertise within the article
    you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers like
    you who are not afraid to say how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

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