By John Ajayi
Recently, Ekiti State celebrated 25 years of its creation by the then military junta of late General Sani Abacha. Coincidentally, the celebration which continues to generate excitement and euphoria amongst the citizens of the state appears to be a foretaste of the huge celebration in the work for the third year anniversary of the administration of Dr John Olukayode Fayemi.
As usual, this epochal event has drawn unwarranted flaks from some critical elements and stakeholders in the state. Indeed these criticisms are not unexpected, especially in a democratic society and more importantly, given the different political leanings and ideological configuration of these personalities and stakeholders.
Aside from the fact that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees everyone the right and freedom of speech, it is an indisputable fact of life that there will always be divergent views amongst the citizens of the state notwithstanding its homogenous nature.
Not only that, the state which boasts of the highest population of highly educated people with a historic record of renowned PhD holders and seasoned lawyers, professionals and accomplished technocrats, the issue of governance and leadership contestation cannot but become a matter for critical review and evaluation. This is also coming against the backdrop of the fact that Ekiti indigenes are generally perceived to be fastidious in nature. Here, no negativism is intended about the good-natured people of Ekiti State to which yours truly belongs in flesh and in blood!
Nonetheless rolling out the drums and popping champagne in celebration of 25 years of the creation of the state by the current Executive Governor, Dr John Olukayode Fayemi administration cannot be said to be a mere jamboree nor a misplaced priority. Ordinarily, age 25 has come to be recognised universally as a landmark epoch in the life of individuals, institutions, organisations, states or nations. Generally regarded as Silver Jubilee or quadricentennial anniversary, the 25th anniversary of any living being, be it state or human is unarguably a watershed.
However, in evaluating and assessing the state of growth and development of Ekiti State in this near three decades of existence, it will be grossly unfair to assume or outrightly write off the state as a failure. While the state may not have fully lived up to the expectations of its founding fathers, it does not necessarily presuppose that the state has not achieved anything since its creation.
Particularly disappointing, if not completely unfair, on the part of successive administrations of the state is the castigation of the state as a ‘Toddler at 25. Reviewing the state of affairs of Ekiti State in the last 25 years, elder statesman and founder of Afe Babalola University (ABUAD) Ado Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola had said that Ekiti State had nothing to celebrate. The highly revered lawyer and one of the founding fathers of Ekiti had in a widely published press statement titled ‘Ekiti State A toddler @ 25’ castigated the State as landlocked, airport locked, industry locked, and power locked, adding that all these developments adversely affect economic development in the state.
While the elder statesman reserves the right to express his views and frustrations about the state he contributed to mid-wife, the objective reality on the ground as far as developments are concerned, be it political, economic social or whatever does not in any way warrant or justify these assertions and lamentations. This is particularly so because successive administrations in the state have all contributed their own quotas to the growth and development of the state.
Since its creation, October 1, 1996, the state has been administered by both military and civilian administrators each with its own unique style and approach to governance. Like an organic being, Ekiti State is clearly still a work in progress. For a fact, the founding fathers of the state may have had a utopian perception of the developments to expect within a particular time frame, the actual reality about governance may not and cannot be said to be the same with the imaginations and expectations of the founding fathers.
This is not to say that there are no shortcomings on past and present political leaders and administrators of the state. Indeed, this cannot be said to be an unusual development as it is a phenomenon in underdeveloped, developing and developed nations. For those who may not know, the present administration of Governor Kayode Fayemi has done significantly well in positioning the state well above its peers when it comes to development in all aspects and ramifications. Feelers emanating from the state revealed that the JKF administrations which will soon kick-start activities marking the third year of his second term tenure were not planning any jamboree other than projects commissioning and new projects unveiling.
Like all humans, Dr Kayode Fayemi may have his shortcomings, it is indisputable that he remains a blessing and a gift to the state not only as the current Chief Executive Officer of the State but also a very good ambassador of Ekiti State as a major political actor on both national and global political space. His tenure so far as Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) bears eloquent testimony to his intellectual sagacity and political wizardry. For JKF, the former United States Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes appeared right and justifiable in his famous and immortal quote when he said: “there are people who make things happen, and there are people who watch what’s happening and there are people who have not the slightest idea what’s happening”.
So far, an objective review of past administrations in Ekiti will readily confirm the fact that Dr John Olukayode Fayemi is a leader who makes things happen and indeed has great ideas of what is happening and must happen. Since he took the mantle of leadership in the State, he has made strategic thinking the cornerstone of governance and policy direction. As a consummate politician with a progressive hue, JKF’s approach to governance has been anchored on the greater good for the greater number of his people.
The views of statesmen like Chief Deji Fasuan, former Governor Segun Oni, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, Biodun Oyebanji, and others, were in sync with the position earlier canvassed by Governor Fayemi that Ekiti has not failed in any way in the pursuit of its development agenda.
If truth be told, in the last three years, Fayemi’s government has attracted over $100 million in investments to the state. Under this present economy, this is no mean feat and couldn’t have been regarded as a failure by any standard.
It can be appreciated that only the apolitical, who periscopes issues with unbiased spectacle could recognise and flaunt this enigmatic scorecard.
One fact must be reflected here; in 1996, Ado Ekiti city as called then, was like a glorified village without the modern touch. Today, all the major dualization of the road in Ado Ekiti done cumulatively by the administrations of Governors Fayemi, Segun Oni and Ayodele Fayose like Basiri-Ijigbo-Ajilosun, Ijigbo-Ilawe road, Post Office-Irona and Ado-Ifaki, couldn’t have been undertaken, if the state had not been created. Akure, the Ondo State capital, could have been taken as the development fulcrum, where things would be anchored and concentrated.
The new Governor’s Offices at Oke Bareke, the Secretariat at the new Iyin Road, Trade Fair Complex, Ekiti Parapo Pavilion and other government structures in Ado Ekiti metropolis, are clear evidence of modernity and gradual face-lifting of the town.
Let me also state that before 1996, Ekiti had no functional state-owned industry. The ROMACO granite company at Igbemo, Ikun Dairy farm at Ikun, Ire Burnt Brick at Ire Ekiti and Orin Farm settlement at Orin Ekiti, were all moribund. But with shrewd and dexterous management by Fayemi, the derelict companies are bouncing back to reckoning.
For Ikun Dairy farm to be revamped, the government, in partnership with Promasidor Nigeria Limited, spent a sum of $5 million to import cows and purchased other machines. At an optimal production level, the company will produce 10,000 litres of milk daily. This will go a long way in generating employments and fortify the State’s revenue profile.
Deploying his nexus with the international community, Governor…