Ekiti: Has Fayemi Walked His Talk? By Dimeji Daniels

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One of the major reasons Nigeria seems to be back-pedalling is the failure of the citizens to take elected public office holders to task on their electoral promises. In rare cases when elected officials present verifiable evidence on their achievements, it always appears that a portion of the electorate is more swayed by the sugar-coated and sweet-tongued promises of untested and un-tried contenders to such office, choosing in most cases to believe lies over verifiable truths. 

Spurred on by politicians who are well aware of most Nigerians’ preference for lies and misinformation, the electorate, though confronted by the truth even in their innermost being, sometimes go for lies because it is easier believing lies than truth. Lies need no verification; truth does. For most Nigerians, verifying the truth is serious work, so they rather take the easy path – lies.         

From time immemorial, public office holders in the country continue to count on the people’s knack to forget so easily and to cuddle up to lies, a shortcoming that is fast becoming a tradition. It gets so bad that it has become a political strategy for most Nigerian politicians to throw some story the way of Nigerians to sway them from focusing on a bigger story.

This same anomaly extends to the fulfilment of campaign promises. In every civilised clime, all stakeholders pay close attention to how elected public officials deliver on their promises. This allows for detailed assessment and review of achievements of such officials vis-a-vis their promises. 

In Ekiti State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed June this year for the gubernatorial election. The incumbent, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, will be seeking re-election, but he has an array of contenders lined up against him. It doesn’t matter to these contenders if he has performed or not. Given the chance, they’d rubbish all his achievements, presenting them as failure instead. It then behoves the electorate and all discerning well-meaning stakeholders to juxtapose Fayemi’s achievements against his campaign promises. The media team of the incumbent will also have to roll up its sleeves as there are pseudo-professionals, masking as non-partisan stakeholders, on all sides. These fellows will argue that ‘white’ is ‘black’ and will even support their claims in God’s name, as they are well aware of Nigerians’ gullibility to believe anything pinned on God. It doesn’t matter if it’s the devil doing the spinning. As June approaches, I wouldn’t be surprised if close to fifteen (15) contestants say God has called them to rule Ekiti State. You then wonder if God is a confusionist. Far from it!!,

Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, fondly nicknamed JKF by his admirers, took the oath of office on Saturday 16 October, 2010 and going through his inaugural address once more, one is armed with enough facts to hold him to his promise.

Tagged “This Is Your Victory”, Paragraph 8 of Fayemi’s inaugural address sums up the promises he made on that fateful day: “Women would never suffer discrimination as they would become vital indices in our development calculation. Child and maternal mortality rates shall be reduced and eventually stamped out. Agriculture, our mainstay would come alive while tourism would add value to Ekiti, a state of aesthetic splendor. Your health will be my wealth as we set about fulfilling our promise of an affordable, accessible healthcare for every Ekiti citizen. Education, our heritage and weapon against ignorance shall receive a religious attention. For the good of our people and to the Greater Glory of humanity, I declare Education free for all primary and secondary school pupils. Children at birth up to five years of age, pregnant women and senior citizens are exempted from paying medical bills in all government hospitals. In addition, we shall introduce a social security scheme for all our senior citizens that are 65 and above within the shortest possible time.”

In less than three years and four months, the questions to ask is, has he fulfilled his promises? Has the Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi walked his talk? Has he risen above pettiness which is a permanent resident on Nigeria’s corridors of power to achieve that which he promised his people?

Walk with me on this journey as we assess Dr. Kayode Fayemi based on his promises:

Promise 1 – “Women would never suffer discrimination as they would become vital indices in our development calculation.” 

The first step undertaken by the Fayemi administration was to put in place a Gender-based Violence Prohibition Law that ensures that women are not in any way violated in Ekiti State. To top this, an Equal Opportunities Law was also enacted to ensure equality for women and others in all spheres of life. Presently in Ekiti, more than any administration in the history of the state, the Fayemi administration has appointed more women to man various ministries and positions in government. Few among these women of note are the Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Mrs. Ronke Okusanya, Special Adviser on MDGs, Bunmi Dipo-Salami, Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Eniola Ajayi, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Fola-Richie Adewusi. This is not to mention many senior special assistants and special assistants. And for the first time, the State House of Assembly has four female members.

The Ministry of Women Affairs undertakes aggressive women empowerment programmes which include giving of grants to less privileged women, including multiple birth parents, and market women to start up businesses. The ministry also doles out food items to these multiple birth parents on a regular basis. Recently, a trust fund of N200 thousand each was instituted for 21 sets of triplets.

The ministry has also in conjunction with the Office of the First Lady taken under its wings many teenagers who are rape victims and several teenage mothers. This is not to mention several teenage mothers who have been sent back to school on the bill of government while their children have become solely the responsibility of the Fayemi administration.

Promise 2 – “Child and maternal mortality rates shall be reduced and eventually stamped out.” 

Upon assumption of office, one of the very first policies announced by the Fayemi administration was free health for pregnant women, children under the age of 5, elderly persons above 65, physically challenged persons and People Living With HIV/AIDS.

Hereunder was what obtained before Fayemi assumed office:

*Only 20% of these women deliver in Public Health Facilities

*15% in Private Facilities and

*62% at home

*56% of mothers in Ekiti had no Post Natal check up within 41 days of delivery

*Only 45% of our women had 4 or more antenatal care visits from pregnancy to delivery and out of which 87% of them had access to skilled care.

* mortality rate was 420 per 100, 000 live births

Today, Ekiti has the lowest maternal mortality rate and the lowest infant mortality rate in the country, and this is solely because pregnant women and nursing mothers can now access health care cost-free.

Promise 3 – “Agriculture, our mainstay would come alive while tourism would add value to Ekiti, a state of aesthetic splendor.” 

Before the advent of the Fayemi administration, successive administrations had paid lip-service to the agriculture sector. In a little over three years, Ekiti State is the highest cultivator of cassava in the country. Unlike the Fayose administration, the Fayemi administration through its Youths in Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD) programme has functional poultries in Ikere and Ado-Ekiti. Ekiti currently boasts of 27, 000 birds. The Commissioner for Agriculture , Mr. Jide Arowosafe, remarked thus: “What you see here is a  processing plant that can daily treat 2,000 birds right from scalding to feathering  and sending it to the market. The poultry will feed the processing plant. You have seen the cold room and the various processing units before it gets to the market through the Fountain Markets.”

In addition to these, 160, 000 seedlings of cocoa nursed in Ekiti were distributed in 2013. In this year, a million improved cocoa seedlings will be nursed and distributed. 187, 000 seedlings of teak and melina were raised in 2013.

In his 2014 New Year broadcast, the governor confidently enthused: “688 hectares of cassava cultivated in this year alone, as well as programmes being done in partnership with other stakeholders such as the ADP that is benefiting about 117,000 farmers and the UNDP supported irrigation projects in Ero and Itapaji that will make 1,700 hectares of irrigated farmland available.We have funded overseas training for agro-workers in cocoa rehabilitation in Indonesia and China and have refurbished the Orin-Ekiti cassava processing plant and upgraded the plant output from 10 tons to 60 tons per day under a private-public partnership with Vegefresh Agro-Allied Company.  Apart from Vegefresh, other private sector agro businesses operating in Ekiti state are: AGCO with 2,000 hectares of mechanized rice and soybean; DADTCO with high quality cassava flour processing factory; SPECTRA Nig. Ltd. which has taken over the moribund warehouse in Ikere for cocoa, plantain and cassava processing value addition; New Vision Technology; ZAMBEFF; RENL; DATLEX; GIL and Arewa Cottons that have applied for land for massive production of cotton, etc.  We have also rehabilitated and constructed many kilometers of farm access roads. Also, Government is in collaboration with British America Tobacco Nigerian Foundation and FADAMA III project in the construction of a $1 million cassava cottage industry which has created jobs for about 3,000 women and more than 1,000 youths.In 2013, all the indices in the Agric sector continued to look upwards, currently engaging a large percentage of our state’s population in gainful employment, leveraging our Food Security and contributing to the economic advancement of the state. In addition, we are making remarkable progress in the establishment of the State’s College of Technical and Commercial Agriculture aimed at developing middle cadre technical and mechanized capacity in the agro-allied sector.”

Promise 4 – “Your health will be my wealth as we set about fulfilling our promise of an affordable, accessible healthcare for every Ekiti citizen.” 

Besides the free health care for pregnant women, children under the age of 5, elderly persons above 65, physically challenged persons and People Living With HIV/AIDS in 35 designated health centres and all general hospitals in Ekiti State, the Fayemi administration also instituted free health missions to take care of all sectors of the population, including traditional rulers, their chiefs and their households, not taken care of under the free health programme. Ekiti State presently proudly has the highest life expectancy in Nigeria.

Other achievements include having the best Unified Drug Revolving Fund (UDRF) in the country as has been attested to by NAFDAC boss Paul Orhi, medical assistance to financially constrained people with life-threatening ailments in the region of  N200 million, the establishment of a Cancer Diagnostic and Wellness Centre, ongoing renovation of all general hospitals in the state and many more achievements that a visit to the state will confirm.

Promise 5 – “Education, our heritage and weapon against ignorance shall receive a religious attention. For the good of our people and to the Greater Glory of humanity, I declare Education free for all primary and secondary school pupils.” 

Upon assumption of office, the Fayemi administration convened an Education Summit for a proper diagnosis of the sector. This summit afforded the administration the cures to all the ailments in the sector. The administration, thereafter, conducted a Teachers’ Needs Development Assessment (TDNA) test for teachers, a test politicized to no end by unscrupulous politicians in the opposition, but which has today yielded fruits. Upon assumption of office in 2010, the success rate of secondary school students in the state stood at 22%. It jumped to a remarkable 70% in 2013. Distribution of 33, 000 laptops free of charge to students and teachers and improvement in teachers’ capacity through training and re-training contributed to this magic.

Other programmes in the education sector which contributed to the achievement include the renovation of 183 secondary schools and 836 primary schools, incentives such as car and housing loans to teachers, free and qualitative education from primary 1 through SS3, amongst others.

The Fayemi administration is also the first administration to give the state university (EKSU) capital grant. All courses in the institution have been accredited by the National Universities Commission. Law graduates of the school also came out atop at the Law School last year. In line with United Nations recommendation, the administration established an early child school to take care of children between the ages of 1 and 5.

Governor Fayemi in his 2014 budget proposal speech declared: “Overall, all the investments have resulted in significant outcomes in the educational and human development index. For instance, 24 new primary schools were established in 2011, while additional 18 new schools were added in 2012 thereby increasing the number from 776 in 2010 to 836 by 2012.  It has also positively manifested in the population of primary school pupils and school enrolment level as primary school enrolment jumped from 155,296 in 2010 to 170,768 in 2013 with secondary school enrolment moving in the same direction, making Ekiti State the highest per capita in terms of school enrolment in the country.” 

Promise 6 – “Children at birth up to five years of age, pregnant women and senior citizens are exempted from paying medical bills in all government hospitals.” 

This is a present reality in Ekiti State and as I earlier mentioned, the policy has ensured that the state has the lowest maternal mortality and infant mortality rates and the highest life expectancy in the country.

Promise 7 – “In addition, we shall introduce a social security scheme for all our senior citizens that are 65 and above within the shortest possible time.” 

Precisely on 25 October, 2011, the Fayemi administration launched the social security scheme for the elderly with 20, 000 elderly persons being paid N5, 000 monthly. This is a first in sub-Saharan Africa and has been replicated by Osun, Bayelsa and Anambra States. In March, 2012, Governor Kayode Fayemi signed the Senior Citizens Welfare Bill into law, thereby giving a legal backing to the social security scheme.

On 25 October, 2013, precisely two years after it was launched, an additional 5, 000 elderly persons were absorbed into the scheme, totaling 25, 000 elderly persons receiving N5, 000 monthly stipend to keep body and soul together.

All the listed achievements here are nothing compared to what the Fayemi administration has achieved under each point of its 8-point agenda. Dr. Fayemi is the first governor in the history of the state to produce and distribute a compendium of his achievements in office which shows incontrovertibly that he has executed projects in all communities in the state. Till today, no community, individual or group has come out to say the projects are not sited as claimed.

Before the advent of the Fayemi administration, Ekiti State was like someone suffering arterial thrombosis with no free passage for blood to his body organs. Fayemi has become the surgeon with the magic wand with the construction of 736.715 km of roads, thereby making life easier for farmers and market women who want t o bring their produce to the state capital. Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, has been remodelled. The hitherto abandoned Ikogosi Warm Spring has been redeveloped and remodelled to the admiration of all. During the last yuletide over 20, 000 people visited the resort. In like manner, the Ire Burnt Bricks Industry that was abandoned for over 20 years has been revived. A state pavilion, civic centre and a new Government House have almost reached completion stages. Fibre optic cable covering 8 kilometres has been laid. This is in fulfilment of another campaign promise and also in line with the administration’s determination to turn the state into the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Nigeria.

The Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has certainly walked his talk and I personally think this is possible because his mien is that of a responsible man, cultured, well-educated and down-to-earth. He is not the typical Nigerian politician. In fact, for me, I may call him a fish out of water in the political arena. But if we must sincerely progress in Nigeria, we need more of such fishes out of water on Nigeria’s political stage. By this, I mean, Nigeria needs more professionals without the usual crude and deceitful garb associated with most politicians in Nigeria who see the art that should ordinarily be for the betterment of the people solely as their means of survival, hence the country’s curse of retrogression.

As the June gubernatorial election in Ekiti State approaches, I think this development-savvy and masses-oriented leader deserves another term to consolidate on all the achievements of his administration and to lay a solid foundation that no one can rubbish to create a fly-in-the-ointment situation.

‘Dimeji Daniels is a political commentator. He writes in from Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State. 

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