Valedictory Address: The Promise Kept

October 15, 2014


Valedictory Address by

His Excellency

Dr. Kayode FAYEMI

Governor, Ekiti State, Nigeria

On the conclusion of his term of office as

Governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My dear people of Ekiti State, by the grace of God, in the next 24 hours we would come to the end of a glorious tenure of an administration I have had the privilege to lead as Governor of the land of honour, Ekiti State, Nigeria.

The Scriptures instruct us that “there is a time for everything and a season for every purpose under heaven”. If wise, we draw from this a keen sense that all earthly things are temporary and finite. All things born or made of man are transient and without permanence. The wind blows east in the morning then west at night. A person is young then old.  Nothing lasts forever. Whatsoever has a beginning also must have an end. A public servant enters office and then he leaves it. An individual and his life come and go but life itself continues, children follow their parents, generation follows generation. With the limited time to which we are all appointed, our sacred obligation becomes visible. We must leave the path clearer than we found it. We must leave the world, our nation and our state better than we found it.  The promises spoken in this regard are the promises one should keep.  As I step away from office, I can say the promises we gave are the promises we kept. We have made Ekiti a much better place than we found it.

Governance is a continuum. Administrations come and go. Our electoral laws do not allow holding office in perpetuity, in order to accommodate a dynamic of constant renewal of creativity and democratic participation.  Both those who govern and the governed require the opportunity to take stock, to reflect, to reassess their path, refine their vision and to evolve. Implicit in this dynamic is the understanding that no leader, however gifted or endowed, is indispensable or infallible. Government belongs to the people; thus, no one person may claim any office as his/her exclusive right. The promise of democracy is the promise of justice and peaceful change through the rule of law.

Reclaiming the Trust

 Upon coming to office, we discovered that a profound distrust of leadership had grown where cooperation and understanding should have been sown. This distrust was understandable. Serially deceived and maltreated by those entrusted to lead them, our people had grown weary and cynical about politicians who made promises to get into office only to renege on them in order to remain in office by improperly amassing wealth and power  in obscene proportion.  People had ceased to believe what their political leaders said and came to believe that politicians simply entered office to enrich themselves.

It was immediately clear that our first task in Ekiti was to practically and symbolically rebuild trust in governance. Without resurrecting that platform of trust, we would be barred from delivering the service we sought to give the people. Thus, we resolved to talk less and do more, to let our deeds speak for us as we led by example. This meant performing at a level of devotion and commitment to an ideal of public service worthy of the people’s trust.

This has not been easy in a climate where people had become accustomed to boisterous leaders, official non-performance and dysfunctional institutions. However, we made considerable progress. We eschewed the vulgar arrogance associated with power and opted instead for simplicity and sensitivity to the demands and needs of the people of Ekiti. We restored the work ethic by separating the sport of politics from the reality of governance and public service.  We held forth the objective of transforming governance into an honorable vocation in the eyes of the next generation who must soon take the baton from us and who must progress far beyond where we have left off. By seriously instilling the ethos of integrity, competence, reliability and openness, we made considerable progress towards regaining the trust of our people.

Trust is the bedrock of governance. Without public confidence in a leader’s intentions and ability to realize them, there is little that can be accomplished.  A leader’s performance is determined as much by the trust people deposit in him as by his/her own exertions.  That we came as far as we have is a testament to your faith in us; more than that, it is a testament to your faith in yourselves. After the many years of the locust, after so much breakage, violence and waste, we needed to start believing in ourselves again. We had to persuade ourselves that the sun could rise again over the land of honour and that we deserved a better way.

We regained the conviction that we have the power within us to solve our collective problems by ushering in a period of economic development and democratic good governance that would assure a better life for all who wanted and were willing to contribute their good efforts to it. This has been the mainstay of the past four years: rebuilding the trust between the people and those elected to serve them, and more importantly rekindling self-belief, confidence and the can-do spirit for which our people are legendary. What we have been able to achieve are not my achievements; they are yours.  In these past four years, what we have seen are the first fruits of what can happen when we join hands and work together toward our greater civic purpose. By the grace of God, I pray nothing and no one will keep Ekiti from continuing our ascent towards greatness.

A time comes in the life of a society when it must look beyond personalities and begin to identify and honour those principles by which we will mould the future. A wise and progressive society must always move beyond the temporary burst of campaign drama to weigh-in on the clash of competing values that lies at the heart of the political contest.

Modeling Good Governance

Our time in office was defined by the belief that Ekiti could be the test case for what we call an empathetic society – a society defined by a social contract between government and the governed, the state and civil society and between fellow citizens. We believe in a society in which we are all partners in progress; a society in which the state is committed to empowering all citizens – not just a few – to live to the fullest of their potential. We believe that our call to leadership was a call to fulfill a noble if not sacred duty unto the people and unto God in whom we trust. We were mindful that the present reflects both the past and the future. As such, our assumption of governance was a covenant between us and our forebears whose sacrifices ensured the creation of Ekiti State and also between us and future generations for whom we hold the state in trust.  We embarked on a progressive agenda intended to spread just and broadly shared development across the land so that all of our citizens could drink from the wellspring of progress no matter what part of the state they live. All would benefit but each according to his/her need.

In making our policies, we constantly asked ourselves what sort of society we want to construct for ourselves and our children.  We confronted the stark choice between a society in which only a few can survive and more and more people wind up worse off than their parents; and one in which everyone has a fair chance of success and a better life is our collective inheritance. Long after the trumpets of transition have fallen silent and carnival-like campaigns for power have dispersed, we will still have to face a choice between a society that tells you that you are on your own and one in which my prosperity is your prosperity because we share the burden of development and the joy of achievement together. I believe that this conflict goes beyond Ekiti State and is the significant political struggle of our generation. Indeed it is a battle for the soul of our nation.

From the outset, the welfarist orientation of our administration was informed by the principles of service, synergy, solidarity and communality. We pioneered a Social Security Programme for the elderly. No less than 25,000 senior citizens now benefit from this programme. This plan represented an appreciation of the years of service our senior citizens dedicated to this land as well as reflected our commitment to assuring that the aged may live their golden days in dignity and grace.

Few experiences in my public career have been as rewarding as encountering the appreciative beneficiaries of this programme. It is humbling that one can make a positive difference in human lives. There is no greater reward for a policy maker. It is noteworthy that since the commencement of this initiative, at least 4 other states in the federation have adopted the model. This development affirms that we have done something right such that we have contributed in our little way to the betterment of Nigerian lives even beyond the boundaries of Ekiti State. Our own party’s manifesto now highlights this as part of our Social Safety Net initiatives.

Our compassion for the elderly was joined by our commitment to providing a living wage and equitable working conditions for our workers and decent retirement conditions for our pensioners. Crucially, we met these obligations to our people not by adding new taxes but by enhancing the efficiency in the tax collection and management system.

Making Poverty History

In Ekiti State, as in the rest of the country, an important component in our socio-economic engine is the informal sector. This is where many entrepreneurial men and women work to make an honest living and by providing needed goods and services for the community. Notwithstanding the lack of formal business support mechanisms, many of these people flourish and all of them enrich our society in their important way. From the women who send their children to school and manage their homes from the proceeds of petty trade to the artisans who are building, creating, engineering and constructing things – these heroes of our society showcase our genius for creativity, resilience and adaptation. With some government help and support, they could do even better. Thus, we formally reached out to the informal sector. Our administration established support structures like microcredit schemes and enterprise fund targeting the informal sector in order to boost its capacity and enhance its already impressive economic output.

Our aim was to integrate this sector into the mainstream of economic productivity by creating much needed commercial infrastructure. This not only increased economic activity and growth but also enlarged the tax base of the state, thus enhancing our capacity to undertake the transformative projects we had on the planning board.

Ekiti State is often described as a civil service state. This is a Nigerian euphemism for a state that is entirely dependent on monthly statutory allocations from the federal government. It has long been apparent to us that we should move away from the paralyzing over-reliance on these allocations. In line with this resolve, our administration raised our internally-generated revenue by plugging loopholes, blocking leakages and more effective collection. The fact that the federal government has on more than one occasion failed to meet its statutory obligations to states only highlights the urgent necessity of reducing our dependence on federal subventions. Beyond enhanced revenue generation, our goal as a people must be to unleash our creative potential and leverage the God-given gifts of the land of honour. All the signs suggest that Ekiti is quite capable of attracting our own fair share of investment and has enough talent within our borders to develop home grown enterprises. Even this has recently been confirmed by no less a body than the World Bank in their latest ‘Ease of Doing Business’ report 2014.

Putting Our Knowledge to Work

Ekiti is properly renowned as the “State of Professors” – a label that captures the intellectual heritage produced by accomplished sons and daughters of the state. Our objective was to transform this knowledge base into a magnet for investment boosting the economic profile of our land. Given its impressive endowments in this area, Ekiti has the potential to be a research and development hub servicing an industrial renaissance in the greater South-West region of the nation. Human capital will be the currency of national transformation in the 21st century and this state has able people in all walks of human endeavor to compete favourably. We subscribe to the dictum of the great statesman Obafemi Awolowo who once said, “The education of every citizen, to the limit of his ability, is a fundamental right. To deny it or to treat it as a privilege is deprivation, and an assault on human dignity.”

Accordingly, we prioritized the education of our children as the best means of securing our future. Every child now has access to free and compulsory primary and secondary education. We renovated dilapidated school buildings and upgraded our educational infrastructure. We distributed over 33,000 laptops to students and 18,000 to teachers. An educated citizenry is the driving force of a healthy democracy; it is also the engine of long-term prosperity.

Upholding Equity and Justice

Economic growth is good but insufficient by itself.  Society must be just and treat all its members equally, protecting them from violence, depravation and prejudice. We led the way in human rights protection at the state level.  Our administration was the first in Nigeria to sign into law the Gender-based Violence (Prohibition) Law in 2011. We were also the first state to domesticate the National Gender Policy. These initiatives were designed to secure the dignity of our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters, and to shield them from harm. They were also part of our broader pursuit of gender equality and women’s empowerment so as to maximize the contributions of women to our socio-economic advancement. True democracy is fiction and economic development elusive as long as women who represent half of our population are not allowed to achieve the dreams and use the abilities that God has granted them. Their voices are to be equally heard and respected if our future is to take the shape we want.

These policies were driven by the conviction that no member of our society should be left behind through no fault of their own, regardless of gender, circumstances of their birth or physical impairment. Our administration sought to create a climate in which all our people could maximize their potential and live full and creative lives. We pursued an inclusive society in every respect because we believe that nobody succeeds alone. We either succeed together or fail together. And when we share the burden of a common future and the risk of failure, then our potential for collective prosperity is magnified. Ekiti is ours to build together and as we tend to it now so will it tend to us and generations to come. As Marcus Garvey once said, “The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself; but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you even into eternity.”

In a fledgling democracy still haunted by the vestiges of totalitarian politics, individual leaders must be willing to give way so that institutions may strengthen and flourish. Leaders must learn that they serve at the pleasure of the people. Indeed, we are elected servants not a self-appointed aristocracy that uses elections as modern day ritual of coronation. It is often said Africa needs strong institutions rather than strong men. This evokes the necessity of depersonalizing governance and politics. We need to shift from the personality orientation of our politics to a politics of strong institutions and of enlightened policy as intended by the constitution. I would also add that we need servant – leader motivated by the zeal to help the people – instead of leaders who deceive themselves and endanger our democracy by believing that they were elected so the people may serve them.

Making Progress Together

Our administration strove to uphold the principle of public service at all times. We believed a major of aspect of service is listening attentively to our masters – the sovereign electorate. To this end, we established channels of participatory governance involving communities in the annual budgetary process. For the first time in the state, government seriously sought the opinions and input of those at the grassroots in making budgets, giving the average citizen unprecedented ability to determine projects for their communities. In effect, we tailored governance to reflect the developmental priorities of the people as against the practice of treating them as voiceless recipients of policies initiated from above. We claimed no greater wisdom than what the people had for determining what they needed.  I believe that we were at the forefront in participatory governance and participatory budgeting and that this approach to solving developmental problems has already been vindicated by the historic progress registered in such a brief time.

In the past few months, I have had cause to reflect on the journey we have shared during the last four years.  The end of my reflection always brought me back to the place I began: Leadership itself is merely the opportunity to serve and political power is a God-given tool to be used to change lives for the better. Power is held by man but is owned by no one. We are all custodians and trustees of the greater good.

I entered politics because I believe committed leadership can provide people the tools that empower and give them control over their own destinies. Public office is too serious to be left to the venal and mean. When people of conscience committed to social justice and the common good abstain from politics, opportunists and mercenaries take power and misuse it. But their abuse is not limited to enriching themselves. In overfeeding themselves, they starve the society, leaving breakage, poverty and suffering in their wake. The argument for progressive political engagement is perhaps best summed up in the famous words of Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.”

All that stands between Nigeria and its terminal decadence is good men and women who, energized by a higher sense of duty and purpose, venture into the public square to raise the standard of the common good and to effect the renewal of our nation. This sacred responsibility we cannot evade.

These ideals led me into politics. I presented them to you when I sought your permission to serve you as governor. They are the values I pledged to uphold in office. You gave us the privilege of serving you because you recognized the values we espoused were those that would lead to a better Ekiti in our lifetime. Today, I stand before you to declare that I have kept faith with our values and to my promises to you.

The 8-Point Agenda – We Delivered

Our 8 point agenda was not a campaign gimmick.  It served as our compass. We kept faith to the direction in which it pointed.

In governance, we professionalized the Civil service, including the elimination of costly ghost workers. We embraced public participation in the budgetary system and in allocation of community projects. We enhanced IGR without raising the tax rate.

These were the promises made and these are the promises we kept.

Regarding infrastructure, we pledged road construction and rural electrification. We vowed an Urban Renewal Initiative, including affordable housing. Ninety percent of Ekiti roads are now motorable

These were the promises made and these are the promises we kept.

In agricultural development, we inaugurated programs like the agri-business summit and youth commercial agricultural development programme among other initiatives. We also promised cottage industries in the Agro-allied sector and skills development in Agriculture.

These were the promises made and these are the promises we kept.

In education, we brought free primary and secondary education and teacher merit reform. We enhanced the instruction and infrastructure of our universities.

These were the promises made and these are the promises we kept.

In Health Care, we improved community-based health services and established free medical services for the vulnerable and elderly.

These were the promises made and these are the promises we kept.

Regarding industrial development, we established a state holding company to make wise decisions and manage the state’s investment portfolio. We founded the Ekiti Knowledge Zone to use the vast knowledge and skills of our people to catalyze economic development.

These were the promises made and these are the promises we kept.

In tourism, we turned Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort into a known tourist and meeting site. Also, the number of hotels in the state has multiplied during our term, meaning we attracted more and more visitors to Ekiti.

These are the promises made and these are the promises we kept.

Regarding Gender Equality and Empowerment

In addition to the Gender violence prohibition law, we passed an Equal Opportunities Law forbidding gender discrimination in matters of employment, housing and education. We also strengthened social programs for women and children, including the establishment of the Soup Kitchen and Food Bank.

These were the promises made and these are the promises we kept.

The Road Ahead

According to the wise words of the ancients, “A righteous man lays up an inheritance for his children.” In all our moral traditions, the ideal of rectitude and righteousness is entwined with a perspective mindful of the future. Our ancestors understood that planting a tree in their time was an investment in the nourishment of their children who would reap its fruits. As progressives, we did not just promise the practical betterment of society today; we recognize that prosperity and posterity are bound together. True prosperity occurs when we look beyond the next election and the horizon of self-interest and begin to address the fate of the next generation.

As I end my term, my gaze is thus cast to the future. I pray for a bright and good one for our people. Yet, I would be remiss if I do not voice my trepidation at the way recent events have unfolded. Let’s be frank, there are agents of retrogression who want to dismantle our advances in social justice and public welfare because what profits the general public does not profit them. It is our duty to confront these forces and protect the gains of the past few years from those who seek to spread a new darkness over the land.

Our region has already suffered firsthand the terrible toll the culture of political violence can wrought. Just a few years ago, Ekiti State endured instability and anomie such that our people forgot what it meant to have peace of mind and basic security. Our administration pierced the darkness of those days to end the delinquent politics that threatened to dehumanize us. The people of Ekiti learned to live without fear.

Recent events tragically remind us that democracy and good governance are delicate things that must be nurtured and protected. The good that took years to build can be wasted in an instant by the depravities of the few who are intent on plundering the state and upending the common good.

While we have made some progress towards democratization, the risk of radical reversal is considerable. As a people, we should resolve never to return to this dreadful malpractice. It is possible for us to engage in competitive, partisan politics and even have intense political disagreements yet refrain from being violent and destructive.  We can be faithful to our political causes yet accord even our opponents due dignity and respect as human beings.

If your true purpose is to provide able governance to all the people of the state, then affording respect and dignity to your opponents is no great obstacle. After all, we are sons and daughters of the same state. It is only when your objective is other than decency in governance that treating one’s political opponents with respect becomes burdensome. It is only when despotism and suppression are your goals that you rain injustice on your opponents. But that is just the opening salvo in an attack on the body politic. After attending to his opponents, such a leader will cast his terrible hand next against the people.

We have spent four years working hard to bring the light of hope and civil purpose to our people.  They are now better than they were when we came into office because Ekiti kete deserve no less than to be treated with honour and dignity.

Legacy of Honour and Service

Our culture esteems respect, courtesy, and good breeding and these are traits we must preserve. As a people, we have sacred lines of behavior and public decorum that must never be crossed. There are bounds of propriety that we should never transgress, no matter how intense the political disputes. The sanctity of human life must be held inviolate. No pursuit of political office is worth a human life. Indeed, any political agenda that mortgages our humanity, whether for financial or material benefit, must be rejected. Any agenda which turns our children into warring combatants over the crumbs of their rightful civic inheritance has to be resisted. We have to ensure that we do not foist a legacy of perpetual strife upon our children. Ekiti, the land of honour must not become a wasteland.

Dear people of Ekiti, it has been the greatest honour and privilege of my life to have served at your pleasure these past few years. The road ahead of us is long. The climb is still steep. We still have far to go on our journey to democratic prosperity. The good thing is that it is a journey, not a destination. There is an ever present danger that threatens to overwhelm us.  It is dark and foul because it abhors our progress and good condition. We have lit a lamp of progress in our land. This light may flicker for a season; I am convinced its flame will never be extinguished for it is the flame of human decency, justice and compassion.  This light exists in the hearts and minds of legions of citizens who share a vision of a land awake with peace and prosperity. Let us therefore keep the faith with the noble direction on which we have embarked, knowing that we shall prevail because our path is right and just.

In the spirit of transition and in the light of the relative peace that has endured in the capital, I hereby announce the lifting of the curfew hitherto imposed on the capital based on the advice of the security agencies. I urge all citizens/residents to conduct themselves peacefully and in accordance with the rule of law.

I thank all my family members, party members and leaders, political colleagues, friends and associates who have stood by and with me during the course of my administration. I thank the good people of Ekiti. This mission will continue and this light will endure.

May God bless Ekiti State.

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


Dr. Kayode Fayemi

Governor, Ekiti State

Wednesday, October 15, 2014



Last modified: October 15, 2014

One Response to " Valedictory Address: The Promise Kept "

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