Building Bridges With Ekiti Senior Citizens

August 12, 2013

Governor Kayode Fayemi of  Ekiti State was named ‘Governor of Year 2011’ by the Leadership Newspapers at Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory last year, one of the reasons cited by the media outfit  for his selection was his administration’s conscious and deliberate policy on the elderly citizens in the state.

Aside those who are engaged directly by the governor through political appointments, a sizeable number of senior citizens were indirectly involved in policy making. There are members of elderly who are enjoying the Social Security Scheme where they are being paid N5, 000 monthly stipends.

Fayemi, at a recent event hinted that some elders have been involved in the running of the Ekiti State version of Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P). “The one that is being run in Ekiti State for example is being run by people of high integrity who are not politicians, which we call Intervention and Empowerment Programme. I asked the most distinguished elder in Ekiti State, Chief Dele Falegan to chair it. And you have the likes of Reverend Ijasan,” he said.

Others who have done the state proud in their various fields of endeavours were also captured in the newly established Ekiti State Merit Awards where older but renowned local mat weavers, actors and carvers were recognized.

The governor, recently, announced the inauguration of the State’s first Elders’ Forum with a mandate to offer useful advice that would engender peace, unity and overall development of the state.

No fewer than 47 members, comprising retired senior civil servants, seasoned politicians, respected community leaders as well as ex- seasoned public officers, including 94-year-old First Republic Minister, Chief Joel Babatola were members.

Interestingly, the forum served as a meeting point for some elders who had maintained sharply divided opinions about Ekiti politics and governance during its turbulent political era .

Before now, Ekiti had two groups of Councils of Elders. One which appeared to be most acceptable then, was headed by Chief Babalola while the other, believed to be propelled by then government had the likes of Chief Deji Fasua, and was led by late Deputy Governor of old Ondo State, Akin Omoboriowo. While the former was critical of the then government of Ayo Fayose, the latter seemed to be sympathetic to it.

The current forum which has 47 members, according to the governor, is saddled with an advisory role targeted at putting the State in the pride of place it was known for in value, virtue and character.

In his speech at the occasion, Fayemi remarked that institution of the forum was aimed at re-enacting the “good days of old when Ekiti was at the zenith of her productive excellence”, which, he noted, was fast receding, stressing that the trend could destroy Ekiti if left unchecked.

The governor used the occasion to intimate the elders on some policies of his government including the change of the State’s logo and slogan, describing the move as a step to constantly remind the people of their rich past.

While expressing optimism that the State could still retrace its “uncharitable journey” back to the “basics” of Ekiti uniqueness, he stressed the need to revive the exploits of Ekiti founding fathers. He charged the forum to advise government on various matters to bring back the “Omoluabi” character of the people and instill same in the younger generation; saying that government would not treat their counsels with levity.

“As our elders, you are the bridge between our yesterday and today. You were part of what made Ekiti unique in the eyes of the people and comity of nationalities in the not too distant past. Your pieces of advice should cover all aspects of life – cultural values and morals, home etiquettes, governance, public conduct, infrastructural development, economic growth, social services and communal relationship among others,” he said.

Fayemi who expressed confidence in the competence of the members of the body, stressed that their selection had no political or religious considerations but purely on their antecedents, ability and integrity.

In his remarks, one of the members of the Forum and former Minister of Information, Chief Ayo Ogunlade lauded the governor for setting up the body; saying that he, like the biblical Solomon, has solicited counsel from the best and brightest minds from all walks of life in Nigeria.

He assured that the governor would not be offered sycophantic counsel but that which would help him recreate the Ekiti.

Elsewhere, elderly citizens in the state under the aegis of Ekiti Council of Elders lauded Kayode’s administrative style and passion for development, stressing that his emergence as governor was an answer to their prayers for someone who would be a unifying factor and a developer.

They added that the values for which Ekiti people are known are being restored under his administration.

They called on Ekiti peoples to rally round the administration in its quest to lift the state in the areas of social, economic and infrastructural developments.

Some members of the council including former governor of old Ondo State, Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua and Chief Deji Fasuan who made the remarks during a courtesy call on the governor, said the body was established to support whoever is governor of the state and help him succeed.

Fasuan who is renowned for his role in the creation of the State in 1996, said the council is apolitical but passionate about developing the state.

He observed that the first half of Fayemi’s tenure was characterised by integrity, hard work and performance, urging him to continue to make these values the watchwords of his administration in its second half.

Olumilua who assured the governor of the support of the elders of the state, urged him to continue to tap from the wealth of experience of the elders in addressing grey areas of development.

In his remarks, Fayemi thanked the elders for the visit, saying that it was a meeting of great minds coming for the development of the state.

The governor said he saw the council as a platform for any governor to get good counsel, support and reach, adding that their wealth of experience in governance could be of immense benefit.

While pledging that government would always consult with the council in a well-structured and apolitical manner, he said that there is need to bridge the gap between the energy of the youth and the wisdom of the elders.

Also, another Ekiti Elders Group, ‘Igbimo Ure Ekiti’ at an event in Lagos also commended the strides of the government in the state

The President of the group and former Minister of Health, Prince Julius Adeluyi-Adelusi said Fayemi has performed well through the implementation of his administration’s policies and programmes as contained in the 8-point agenda.

He noted that the infrastructure development that the state has witnessed in the last two years of the administration is remarkable, adding that Fayemi is also restoring the values of equity, fairness and integrity which Igbimo Ure Ekiti stands for.

Also speaking at the event, a stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Akin Osuntokun lauded the governor, stressing that he has a comprehensive understanding of what governance is, and has proved that he is well prepared for the job.

Osuntokun added that Fayemi has “marketed the state well” by wooing foreign and indigenous investors to it, describing the move as “a step in the right direction”.

In his remarks, Fayemi explained that his administration has been able to lay a solid foundation towards a better future for the State.

He highlighted the achievements of his administration in the various sectors of the state’s economy, stressing that the feats have only been possible as a result of planning, prudence and sincerity of purpose.

He explained that his administration is working on Urban Renewal Project to make Ado Ekiti a befitting State capital; saying that this will be complemented by empowerment programmes for the people. The government, he added, is committed to banishing poverty from the state.

He called on Ekiti indigenes who are interested in helping the state revive moribund industries or set up new ones to come home and invest, stressing that laws have been put in place to ensure a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

Other dignitaries at the event  were  Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Dr Adewale Omirin, Secretary to the State Government, Ganiyu Owolabi, Head of Service, Bunmi Famosaya, among others.

 This article was first published in the Daily Independent

Last modified: August 12, 2013

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