Governance is tasking and in view of the challenges involved, it is no fun. But, it is a fulfilling task when one realises that with just a stroke of the pen, those saddled with such an onerous responsibility can change lives, said Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State. In this report, Olawale Olaleye, gives an update on Fayemi’s journey in the last two years that is changing the face of Ekiti
Sporting a black and white stripe polo shirt on a pair of navy-blue jeans, Governor John Kayode Fayemi, looked as ordinary as any resident of the state. His appearance that Saturday morning belied his gubernatorial status. But to those close to him, his appearance was not unusual. According to them, that is the quintessential Fayemi they have come to know in the last two years. His office as governor has neither changed his looks nor compromised his attitudinal disposition. He loves being just him. It does not matter whether or not what is at stake is official; he does “as the spirit leads”. As much as possible, he tries to break away from the confines of protocol just to be himself.
Ikogosi town, renowned for its crowd-pulling warm spring, is just about 30-minute drive from Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, and the governor had elected to pay an unscheduled visit to the town to assess the work being done in the ongoing transformation of the state’s most visible tourist site.
The Ikogosi Warm Springs Tourist Resort has, in the last few months, undergone a tremendous turnaround under the Fayemi administration and that was visible as work is still in progress on site. The entire area has been redesigned with a new swimming pool and landscaping while the guest chalets are being reconstructed. An amphitheatre is also under construction at the resort. The level of work done, from statistics, has reached about 70 per cent and the resort is programmed to be ready by December. “It is our own oil”, Fayemi is quick to add.
Since assuming office in 2010, there is an entrenched belief that the Fayemi administration has through its eight-point agenda for development, improved the welfare of the people of Ekiti. The implementation of its eight-point agenda is generally agreed to have moved Ekiti from a struggling civil service state to one of industrialisation that has opened up fresh vista for the turnaround of the state’s economy.
By doing this and achieving results, the administration is confident it has begun to reclaim the trust of the people of the state, making people-based governance the fulcrum of its priorities. This way, Fayemi ensures participatory governance through regular interface by way of town hall meetings with the various communities to get the people’s input in government policies and particularly, annual budget.
He has also adopted a merit-based approach in the appointment and promotion of civil servants. Senior officials such as head of service, permanent secretaries, administrative secretaries and accountant general are selected through a competitive process to ensure the emergence of competent officers that are capable of driving government policies and programmes.
In 2011, Ekiti was the first state to domesticate the Freedom of Information Act and in addition to this, the state House of Assembly, has in the last two years, received about 41 bills from the executive and five private member bills. Of these, 37 have been successfully passed into law including one private member bill namely: A Bill for a Law to prohibit smoking in public places in Ekiti State.
Importantly too, Fayemi has raised the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state from N109 million to N617 million monthly by plugging leakages in government; established the Institute of Governance in partnership with the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti. The institute is to design tailor-made training programmes for civil servants. Government has also established a social security scheme for the aged through which about 20,000 indigent elderly citizens across the 16 local government areas of the state receive N5,000 monthly stipends.
There is an ongoing construction of four legacy projects of the Fayemi Administration, namely new Government House, new Governor’s Office, Civic Centre (with museum, library and cinema), State Pavilion, and Life Academy. These are ideas conceived to distinguish his administration from others.
In addition to this is an ongoing infrastructure development, including massive road projects across the state. The administration is of the view that efforts in this area are geared towards establishing optimum communities that would improve citizens’ lives and attract investments by 2014, having made all parts of Ekiti accessible by major roads, making water dams functional in Ekiti; increase water supply by 80 per cent and bringing about public private partnership for independent power projects.
Another critical area the administration has recorded significant success is modernised agriculture. The administration has begun to revive its cocoa plantations in order to become world leader in Cocoa Production and ensure that agriculture contributes about 50% of the state’s internally generated revenue. With this initiative, about 20,000 Ekiti youths would have been trained and employed in mechanised agriculture by the 2014 projection.
Education is another project that the administration has taken seriously. Indeed, it was because of the decline in that all-important sector that Ekiti rebranded from being called the Fountain of Knowledge to the Land of Honour. By its projection, the state would have ensured that two years from now, there is at least, a computer on every student’s desk; free and compulsory education up to senior secondary school; special initiatives for the physically challenged students; establishment of institute of Science and Technology; creation of state sports academy for gifted youths Education. Government is also confident that investment in this sector would enhance the human capital development level of the state.
Health care services also occupy a critical point in the Fayemi administration’s agenda. This is why government has embarked on free medical services for children, pregnant women, the physically challenged and senior citizens as well as the establishment of health centres in all localities with increased immunisation coverage.
Jumpstarting industrial development through the creation of technology and industrial parks for small and medium scale enterprises; establishing micro-credit facilities for promising entrepreneurs has raised industrial development of the state. There is also special focus for developing the agro-allied and solid mineral sectors of the state.
Apart from raising the stakes in Ikogosi as a tourist destination, other efforts geared towards making Ekiti an attractive destination for relaxation and holidays include the building of an heliport, world class hotel and accommodation facilities; developing Efon, Okemesi and Ipole-Iloro as tourism corridors.
Most encouraging also is the issue of gender equality and empowerment of women which the state has promoted with a view to maximising women’s potentials. At least, one third of all appointments and promotions are extended to women by the present administration. Added to this is the establishment of community fund for women development.
Fayemi is driving towards achieving so much within his first term in office because he does not rank amongst those politicians who predicate critical development of the state on their second term. If the first term is all that would determine whether or not he would return to office, then, it is an assignment that must be discharged conscientiously. And because he is in a position to change and affect lives with just a stroke of his pen, Fayemi is leaving no stone unturned as Ekiti struggles to catch up with the rest of the state of the federation.
This article was first published in ThisDay
Last modified: December 2, 2012