By Yinka ADEOSUN
THE Ekiti error has now been corrected. The lord of the manor would soon return to the farm and the king of the jungle would return to where he belongs – the jungle. With the inauguration of Dr Kayode Fayemi as the governor of Ekiti state, the state seems set for the restoration of values and intellectualism in Ekiti land.
Since her creation on October 1, 1996, there has not been a significant watershed in the development of Ekiti state. Successive governments have merely marked time in Oke Ayoba, scrabbling for perks and privileges rather than making sacrifices for the long-term prosperity of Ekiti. The dreams of the founding fathers of Ekiti state cannot be said to have been realised. The path to prosperity remains to be visible and development has become a fantasy.
It is interesting that the same John Kayode Fayemi who was rejected four years ago is back again as the beautiful bride. This was the same with Peter Ayodele Fayose who, when he was impeached in 2007 people rolled out the drums. In 2014, he was the favourite, defeating the then incumbent governor. With this renewed mandate, Dr Fayemi must understand that the stakes are high. He must come to terms with the needs of the people, and not what he thinks the people needs. His performance or otherwise would translate to his political relevance or oblivion in the annals of Ekiti politics.
As a minister and Ekiti representative in the federal cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari, Fayemi’s tenure was not quite impressive. There was nothing particularly noteworthy about the ministry of mines and steel development while he stirred the boat. In fact, the House of Representatives had passed a vote of no confidence in him. Perhaps, his ambition to right his seeming misdeeds in Ekiti between 2010 and 2014 was uppermost on his mind. Now that he has the chance, he needs to make haste and set the ball rolling.
Those who do not understand history are bound to repeat it. In Nigeria, the second term for elected officials is often times characterised by ineptitude and indifference. Winning a second term ticket is often seen as a “reward” for a job well done in their first term. Hence, they forget that their re-election portends a time to stamp their feet on time and bequeath lasting legacies in the minds of the people. More often than not, these elected officials abandon their constitutional responsibilities to pursue politicking
For Fayemi, whose administration was cut short and then restored, it is not going to be an easy ride. That break in the saddle has cut short his plans and elongated the otherwise short journey. Sportsmanship is an element of maturity and JKF has proved that he is a mature sportsman. He called Fayose in 2014 to congratulate him when the latter was declared the winner even when he had reservations about the election. Although Fayose has refused to accord the same sportsmanship to Fayemi, who defeated Fayose’s deputy, the age of political vengeance may have been left to the judiciary. And now that he is set to be restored as the governor, his projects that were abandoned by his successor must be revisited and reviewed.
Indeed it will be stupid for the Fayemi administration to overlook the finances of the state under Fayose, giving that the outgoing governor ran the state like a personal fiefdom. The level of secrecy of the government’s finances was taken to the peak. The outgoing administration needs to be brought to book in order to make a statement and deter future occurrence.
Beyond the tea party, however, the governor-elect has got a lot to do; for these are not the best of times for Ekiti state. The state is currently among the least in terms of economic development as revealed by economic indices. With the Fiscal Responsibility Commission report showing that Ekiti is among states with worrisome debt to gross revenue ratio, the situation is precarious and potentially insecure for investors. If not well managed, Ekiti’s debt profile is capable of frustrating whatever his dreams and visions for the state.
There is no better time than now to cut down the cost of governance, overhaul the civil service and improve the welfare of civil servants as well as their productivity. Look inward to increase and make public the state’s internally generated revenue. For how long shall we continue to solely depend on the crumbs that emanate from Abuja?
The incoming governor may need to adopt his own style of inclusiveness and participatory democracy which his predecessor glamourised as stomach infrastructure. He has a lot of work to do in reorienting the Ekiti people; for Fayose has popularised stomach infrastructure at the expense of public amenities.
Ekiti is agrarian. Agriculture is no doubt the main occupation of the bulk of the people. We all know what is happening in “food basket of the nation”. The state was undeniably under siege although things seem to be getting better. With the peace in Ekiti, Fayemi has that golden opportunity to turn Ekiti into the food station of the southwest and by extension, that of the nation. If this is well done, with mechanised farming, the youths would be attracted and they can be brought on board.
Technology and tourism are potential cash-cows for the state. To achieve the inherent benefits, the need to catch them young cannot be over-emphasized. Public and private partnership to establish tech hubs in Ekiti becomes germane. The government would need to create an enabling environment to attract investors into the state. This in a way will also help to reduce the rate of unemployment just as it will open Ekiti for commercial activities.
Fayemi holds loyalty to the people of Ekiti state, and not to his godfather in Lagos or his financier in Ondo, or the cabal at Abuja. Four years is almost here and he would soon present his scorecard to the people. The time to start work in earnest is now.
Adeosun writes from Akure.