Making Poverty History in Ekiti

As governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi is one leader who is not interested in making temporary impacts but one working assiduously to ensure sustainable growth in the state where he has vowed to make poverty history

Gov-Kayode-Fayemi-inspects-a-road-project-in-the-stateFor some reasons, he is like a prophet, though not in the religious sense. But when it comes to development and good governance, Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti State, is like a general overseer, overlooking the transformation of the state from the rustic environment that he met in 2010 to what he had predicted he would turn it to when he assumed office. The pleasant surprise that people of the state express now, like a chorus, is that what political adversaries regarded then as campaign gimmicks have manifested in their lifetime.

The result is the growing public confidence in the government, under a man who has carefully chosen dedicated lieutenants working to turn dreams to reality. The aides are also like prophets, working under the general overseer. One of them is Sunday Adunmo, senior special assistant to the Ekiti State Governor on Special Duties (Roads), who makes prophetic statements on the state of roads in Ekiti. And it could not have been otherwise. He knows the road network in Ekiti State like the back of his hand. So, it therefore did not come as a surprise when Adunmo looked into the crystal balls and predicted that, “I foresee a future where our all roads would be well tarred. I foresee a future where we would have dualised the boundary roads to our state. We are building a ring road to reduce the traffic tension in Ado Ekiti such that if you are coming from Iyin, you don’t have anything doing in Fajuyi. You don’t have to come through there. You take the ring road.”

He sure knew what he was talking about. He knew quite well that when the Fayemi administration came into office, it inherited a state with decrepit road network at varying degrees of degradation. But the administration has since gone ahead to build 800 kilometres of road across the state linking city centres with rural areas and opening up farmsteads to create easy access to the market for farmers.

Adunmo is not the only one waxing prophetic. Equally predicting a glorious future for Ekiti State and its indigenes is Babajide Arowosafe, the state Commissioner for Agriculture. Looking into the future, Arowosafe foresees a time when the Ministry of Agriculture alone would be contributing up to 50 per cent of the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, of Ekiti State. “We are currently on 30 to 35 per cent but we are hoping to increase it to 50 per cent by end of this year,” he projected.

ADO-IYIN-ROAD-reconstructed-and-work-completedShould that happen, it would be a landmark development, as the ministry had previously been contributing nothing to the state coffers. “The ministry’s contribution to the IGR was close to zero before we came in, but between January and March 2014, we have generated over N1 million from tractor leasing alone. The preparation for YCAD (Youth in Commercial Agriculture and Development) alone, we generated close to N25 million. Over 15 years of existence of this state, this ministry has never generated over N1 million from tractor leasing,” Arowosafe said.

Prior to the Fayemi administration, Arowosafe said lands were being issued out in 10,000 hectares batches free of charge and those investors never operated on such lands. But the Fayemi administration has put a stop to that and introduced a Land Bank programme. Through that programme, he said a company from Lagos State just paid N40 million as first installment for land in Ekiti. Such, Arowosafe said, “is the level of investment Fayemi has attracted to the state.” He added that it is also why “it is very strategic for us to understand why this administration is pushing for a second term heavily. In agriculture, we don’t do by road side projects but we build a foundation for the super structure and that is why we are seeking that continuity.”

Describing Fayemi’s approach to development as a thoroughly inclusive arrangement, Arowosafe said for instance, “For the YCAD programme, the governor ensures that the youths own those businesses, it is like they are working outside the government system. What we did was to establish the youth outside the government system to command and drive the economic system of the state. That is where the sustainability is in the state. If tomorrow there is no more Ministry of Agriculture, the investment of the operators will exist and feed this state.”

He added that, “Each of them (YCAD participants) has a relationship with the banks, so the banks monitor their activities like the inflow and outflow of funds. One of the successes of YCAD is that today, I have N250 million that Bank Of Industry has offered the participants. That the state government did not negotiate the fund, it was BOI that went to the field and was impressed by what they saw and offered the YCAD cooperative the fund for expansion.”

Looking ahead, Arowosafe said, “Five or 10 years down the line, we want them (the youths) to use their energy to command the economy of the state and contribute value to the economy of the state. That is the vision of Fayemi.”

Tractors-acquired-by-the-State-Government-and-commissioned-by-Governor-FayemiThat vision is equally clearly seen by Folorunsho Aluko, Director-General, Ekiti State Job Creation and Employment Agency, who noted that “most of these things (empowerment programmes) are gradually being institutionalised, structures are being put in place and new agencies are coming up to make sure that they continue to drive it, and laws are being passed to make sure that the statutes setting up these agencies and programmes cannot just be reversed by anybody overnight.”

With that statement, Aluko may just have hit the bull’s eye. Fayemi believes that of all the giant strides taken by his administration so far, the fact that they are being institutionalised is one major achievement that cannot be rivalled. “I don’t want to engage in what one might call exaggerated expectation of what will come. But my vision is simply to make poverty history in this state,” Fayemi disclosed.

As far as the governor is concerned, the future of Ekiti State is bright and secure. “I would like to think that when I leave this job, it would be said of me that I actually put my best into it and people appreciate it. The way people talk fondly of Obafemi Awolowo at least now in this part of Nigeria is what I crave for. Hopefully, there would be such legacy that lives after me and continue to make a difference in the lives of our people in the state,” Fayemi said.

Adejuwon Soyinka

Adejuwon Soyinka was former Deputy General Editor, TELL Magazine and Editor, www.tell.ng, the online publication of TELL Communications Limited

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