New Vistas Of Governance To The Rescue In Ekiti

July 7, 2013

Barely two and half years of Governor Kayode Fayemi-led administration in Ekiti State, officials are being driven to global governance standards in the bid to uplift the once agrarian state of 2.7m people, Wole Olujobi reports

To some, the concept seems vague. In terms of definition, it does not go beyond all activities associated with the government business. At best, to many, it is another term for transparency in government being mouthed by politicians to sway support at campaign rallies.
But for Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Governance, which is the first element in his Eight-Point Agenda, goes beyond the stereotype of administrative activities of the day-to-day running of government business. For him, defining governance in broader perspective with rightful and contextual application is a modern approach for policy formulation and application if the desired results are to be achieved.

In his Eight-point agenda, the governor defined his policy on governance to include enhancing participatory governance and accountability; motivating the citizens with ideas for better productivity; and creating intellectual bank for policy formulation and implementation.

For the governor, system failures and inadequacies are responsible for the leadership failure, which is the most significant factor responsible for the parlous state of the national economy that is having its devastating effects on the welfare of the citizens, the consequences of which have bred despondency, crimes and loss of hope among the citizenry. Therefore, to curb the trend, governance process has to be redefined and strengthened along modern governance architecture and trends, taking into consideration the dynamics of the changing world and the realities of the current existence in a country wracked by corruption, impunity and misplacement of priorities in the face of competing needs and dwindling financial resources.

The Eight-point agenda itself is tailored along the fulfillment of the objective of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Therefore, to address the complex nature of modern governance process that will lead to the attainment of the MDGs objective, for the governor, participatory governance is key. The objectives of MDGs include: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowerment; reducing child mortality; and improving maternal.
Others include: combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and building a global partnership for development.

In fulfillment of his participatory governance agenda in which all citizens through themselves or their representatives in the parliament are participants, the governor in the early days of his administration called a stakeholders’ summit on education to address the dwindling fortunes in the education sector of the state, including the alarming poor results in West Africa School Certificate examinations, decrepit structures, poor financing, unnecessary duplication of courses in multiple institutions that could hardly be supported by finances.

The stakeholders’ consensus of opinion that emerged from that summit has created intellectual bank for policy formulation and implementation, which has since become a blueprint for government education policy, the implementation of which is currently providing the elixir needed to put the state education management on a manageable pedestal for the education needs of the state in the most conducive manner.

Closely following this is the concept of village meetings by the governor across the state to meet with the people in their communities and constituencies to aggregate their opinions on their needs and projects priority prior to budget preparation of the annual budget for the purpose of incorporating those projects into the budget for implementation.
According to Governor Fayemi, it is no longer fashionable for the government to sit inside budget preparation room and be dictating which projects that the government will locate in various communities. This, to him, does not represent democratic governance, insisting that it is the people themselves that know which projects that will profit them the best in their day-to-day existence. So far, that policy is working to the satisfaction of Ekiti people, who now feel the impacts of democratic governance in their various communities.

And to guide against abuse in budget implementation procedure, the government of Ekiti State sent the Freedom of Information Bill to the House of Assembly to provide law for the citizens to monitor transparency in government’s businesses. So far, the citizens have bountifully reaped the benefits of that law, which has reduced all the abuses associated with bureaucratic bottlenecks, including dubious secrecy and foggy accounting procedures, for a more transparent means of conducting government business.
For a comprehensive success of this element in the Eight-point Agenda, the governor went beyond the frontiers of Executive role in governance procedure. For the governor, government should be an organic whole in which case the political structures in government should play complementary roles instead of the competing roles they play in a stereotyped governance environment, which had not in the past yielded desired results in the face of pressure for the government to address the social and economic needs of the citizens.

On this, both the Executive and the Legislature in Ekiti State, latching on the pre-eminence of the dominance of their party (Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN) in the parliament, developed a working partnership to drive the policy and programmes of the government to address the needs of the people.
Largely driven by party discipline and one vision, the development agenda of the government has only one vehicle and one driver, which is the government itself and which has developed a synergy between these two arms of government for effective formulation and implementation of government policies.

For all the projects and programmes of government, the governor requires the laws that will back them up. And to enhance a largely financially constrained Legislature to play its roles in this partnership for development, the governor enlisted the support of international development agencies to train the House of Assembly members on the dynamics of development and the parliament’s roles to drive the implementation mechanisms that will aid the attainment of government development goals.

At home and abroad, the drive towards participatory governance took the House of Assembly through training programmes by international development agencies, including the State Accountability and Voice Initiative (SAVI) of the British Department for International Development. Their efforts have started to yield fruits in the governance of the state.

For instance, at the first Executive-Legislature parley tagged ‘Towards a collaboration that works and is sustainable’ organized by the State Accountability and Voice Initiative (SAVI) of the British Department for International Development (DFID) and held at the Royal Park, Iloko-Ijesa, on June 15, 2012, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Dr. Adewale Omirin, said: “It is in recognition of our roles in driving development process in partnership with the governor that the state government reciprocated our efforts when it facilitated Parliamentary Support Programme that included local and international capacity building that saw this House to South Africa, Ghana, Igbara-Oke, Akure and Iloko-Ijesa where the British Department for International Development (DFID) took members through the rudiments of budgeting processes and tracking while also dissecting contemporary issues in Ekiti State.”

In South Africa, Ekiti State House of Assembly signed a pact with the Gauteng Provincial Legislature in areas that would be of benefit for the socio-economic development of the state. The terms of agreement included exchange programmes, establishing and maintaining a long-term and collegial cooperative relationship.

Other terms of the pact included identifying opportunities to conduct joint dialogue and exchange activities, training programmes, seminars and joint research projects, sharing information, materials and publications on topics of interest, while also encouraging social, cultural and civil society networking to promote tourism, trade and economic cooperation. The two parliaments also agreed to encourage institutional linkages through appropriate ministries and agencies of government.

At a session attended by the Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, Mrs. Lindiwe Maseko, in Johannesburg, she stressed the need to strengthen women’s participation in politics, explaining that women were the South African socio-economic policy drivers because of their unique nature as family and society builders , while the Head of Institute of African Renaissance Studies at the University of South Africa, Professor LJ Teffo, stressed the need for African governments to establish development models that could tackle their peculiar development challenges instead of relying on European development models.

The efforts towards capacity building by the governor have started to yield results in Ikogosi Resort where a South African firm has turned the facility to a world class tourist centre to grow the economy of Ekiti State. The Gauteng Parliament has also supported the state in establishing the Public Participation Unit in the Ekiti State House of Assembly to aid public participation and interaction with their representatives while the members also went through modern oversight function and budget tracking mechanisms for accountable governance, while more women are being appointed into top government positions in line with the gender equality policy of the government.

Also in South Africa, members were introduced to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), an instrument for advancing good governance and people-centred socio-economic development.
Speaking at a session organized by Gauteng Parliament in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the visiting members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, the Chief Executive Officer of APRM, Mr. Assefa Shifa, said APRM was adopted by the African Heads of State and Government as a systematic peer learning and self-assessment mechanism originating from NEPAD foundational document, the “Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance” adopted in Durban, South Africa, in July 2002.
According to him, APRM constitutes one of the most ambitious and innovative governance exercises undertaken in Africa, which provides important opportunities for public policy dialogue, which, he said, was the first initiative in both scope and breadth and which marked a paradigm shift in Africa in driving a working socio-economic development.

Back home from South Africa after going through the rudiments of APRM mechanism, the government organized a parley of the Executive and Legislature at Iloko-Ijesa. It was that parley that produced the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for 2013-2014 budgets, which saw to the establishment of Special Projects Unit, enhancement of project monitoring framework, procurement process reform and realignment of existing MDAs work plans to reflect new budget amendments, among others, which have greatly helped to break administrative bottlenecks that hamper quick delivery of service. Among others, this greatly enhanced service delivery mechanism that has seen many projects, including classrooms renovation in 180 schools, carried out as planned in good time.

Like the first parley in Iloko-Ijesa, which led to the execution of projects without going through administrative bottlenecks, this year parley at Ikogosi Resort also provides the MTEF for 2014 and 2015, which would cover agriculture, education, health, urban and physical planning, lands, tourism and infrastructure. It was also resolved that government agencies should design a sustainable plan to improve Internally Generated Revenue as the state could no longer rely on allocations from the Federation Account. It added that the plan must include clear measures to capture existing revenue sources, expand the revenue base and block all loopholes and leakages.
Far above policy statement is the man driving the vision. As it is said, the style is the man. There is always a dialectical connection between the leadership and the system it breeds. Governor Fayemi has brought his personality into the realm of governance in Ekiti State. So far, Ekiti people have seen governance unusual with the level of achievements the governor has recorded in two and half years.

The governor himself amplified the motive of the new initiative when he said at the Ikogosi Resort parley that it is no longer fashionable to keep promising Ekiti people without performance to back up that promise.
His words: “This parley is expected to give us a sense of where we are and where we are heading. We want to know the things we have done, where the gaps are, how to strengthen the bond between the Executive and Legislature and achieve our objective of eradicating poverty and making life abundant.

“ This is the time to focus on the people. What we used to hear in the past was that the government had earmarked this and that for water, education and so on. Not anymore. It is only what can be eye-marked that will determine how our people judge us.”
For close observers of Ekiti development process and the speed with which the governor is driving his development agenda, there is scarcely any other approach to governance that would have achieved the level of development that exists in Ekiti State today in all ramifications.

Olujobi is Special Adviser on Media to the Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly

Last modified: July 7, 2013

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