FEATURES: Ekiti: Making Frantic Push For Rural Development

August 1, 2013

The purpose of any government is to bring development nearer to the citizens and thereby empower them to fend for themselves. FRANCIS SUBERU writes that many communities in Ekiti State recently received grants-in aid to enable them develop their areas.

According to the 2006 national census in Nigeria, Ekiti State has a population of more than two million people residing in 16 local council areas.

However, a survey by the National Population Commission, (NPC) reveals that 75 percent of the people live in rural communities. Hence, it has been a matter of priority for any government to take cognisance of the plights of the rural dwellers to truly impact on their lives.

It was this fact that informed, the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi to convene a meeting of chairmen and secretaries of Community Development Associations (CDA’ s) in the state on last December to assure of his resolve to develop and transform the state. The meeting in Isan-Ekiti, was aimed at empowering local communities, to ensure development at the grassroots, and change their lives for the better.

It was also to ensure that no community was left out, in the developmental process. Following the resolutions at the stakeholders meeting and the Ministry of Rural Development and Community Empowerment, the government earmarked the sum of N300million to be distributed to 82 communities as grants -in-aid to help them complete various self help projects. Recently, distribution of the cheques took place at the playground of St. Augustine’s Comprehensive High School, Oye- Ekiti.

People sang and danced as top government functionaries led by Dr. Kayode Fayemi, traditional rulers, community leaders, politicians, and residents across the 16 local government areas came to collect their cheques. Among the people-initiated projects are the construction, completion and renovation of classroom blocks, provision of science laboratory equipment, renovation of town halls and palaces of monarchs, provision of boreholes, purchase and installation of electricity transformers and perimeter fencing of public institutions.

The grants-in- aid was also for the building of Information Communication Technology (ICT) centres, construction of police stations, drainages, market stalls as well as health centres to align with the eight-point agenda of the administration, especially with regards the development of rural communities.

Speaking at the occasion, the governor said the cheques to the communities demonstrated the administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability in addition of the resolve to enhance bottomup, participatory governance and empowerment of people at the grassroots.

‘‘I always made the point that our government will only do development with the people and not for them. This was borne out of our belief that development is more enduring when the people take full ownership of what is done by not only suggesting what they consider most valuable to them, but also participate actively in its implementation and monitoring”, he said.

He added that unlike the previous regimes, his administration has also ensured the involvement of all stakeholders in the preparation of this year’s budget, noting that ‘‘we have adopted the zero budgeting method as is being practised all over the world”.

He said the cheques were in tandem with the needs of the communities based on what they submitted as their priority self-help projects, even as he reiterated that every community, no matter the population, benefited from the first phase of the grants-in aid. He also assured that many of the communities will have benefitted from the programme before the end of this year.

The governor revealed that as preparatory steps to ensuring the success of the initiative, the Ministry of Rural Development and Community Empowerment in May held a two-day capacity building workshop for stakeholders in the 16 local councils and executive of Ekiti State Community Development Council, on project management to ensure efficient management and sustainability of the projects.

Fayemi announced the extension of free health mission to the traditional rulers, saying that over 400,000 residents have so far benefitted from the initiative. Others include, provision of basic infrastructure in every community with a view to stemming rural – urban drift among the youth.

‘‘It should interest everyone that apart from the grants-in aids programme, the government is undertaking several other rural development and community empowerment projects to the tune of N3.2billion spanning rural access roads to farm settlements in the 16 local governments”, he declared.

He told the people that government was revamping cooperative development by entering into partnership with the Bank of Agriculture(BoA) to facilitate a N300 million grant for rural agricultural projects in addition to another N300 million from the government for the same purpose.

Among the beneficiary communities were Ikere-Ekiti Development Association which received N5million for the completion of a town hall in Isao Quarters; Iroko-Ekiti Development Association got N8 million for the construction of a civic centre; Odo Oro Development Association, N5 million for the completion of a town hall and Osan-Ekiti Development Association, N4 million for community hall renovation.

Iwaji Development Association (town hall construction ); Afao-Ekiti Development Association (town hall renovation); Iye-Ekiti Development Association (palace renovation); Ise-Ekiti Development Association (purchase and installation of transformer); and Ilupeju- Ekiti Development Association (construction of police station ) received N5 million each, while Kajola Ado-Ekiti Development Association got N2 million for the completion of a block of four classrooms.

Responding on behalf of Ikere-Ekiti Development Association, Chairman, Ikere Local Government, Hon. Soji Bamidele, commended the government for people-oriented programmes. ‘‘A governor who publicly gave out his telephone number shows he came to serve the people’’, he added.

A representative of the Osi-Ekiti Development Association, Mr. Peter Agbelusi applauded the initiative as first of its kind, noting that it has enabled the communities to prioritise their projects and eliminated the era of long wait for money to be released for projects. Another community leader, Chief Aragberi Ayeni from Itawure, Efon Local Government thanked the governor for the gesture.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Rural Development, Mr. Folorunso Olabode, said the grants-in aid was part of initiatives by the government to ensure even development and growth across the state, pointing out that lack of basic amenities was militating against development in many communities.

He added that the programme was a further demonstration and determination to bring rapid socio-economic and political empowerment to people at the grassroots.

One of the side attractions of the event was a drama sketch by prominent members of the Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners (ANTP) such as Chief Jimoh Aliu, Chief Lere Paimo, Elesho and Ronke Peller among others. In the presentation, the artistes told the story of the ongoing transformation in all the communities such as roads, health, and education, industrial and rural development. They also commended the governor for his foresightedness.

Present at the event were the Deputy Governor, Prof. Modupe Adelabu; Speaker, state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adewale Omirin; members of the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ganiyu Owolabi; First Lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi; National Chairman, Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN), Chief Bisi Akande; former Governor of the state, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Senators and Members of the House of Representatives from the state and their counterparts in the state House of Assembly.


Last modified: August 1, 2013

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