HomeOpinionFAYEMI'S THREE YEARS: EKITI'S NEW FACE AS ECONOMIC HUB AND INVESTMENT DESTINATION

FAYEMI’S THREE YEARS: EKITI’S NEW FACE AS ECONOMIC HUB AND INVESTMENT DESTINATION

BY ODUNAYO OGUNMOLA

When the second tenure of Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, took off on 16th October, 2018, there were mixed feelings of high expectations based on what he achieved during his first tenure and the challenges posed by the realities of what he met on on ground.

He came at a time when the morale of workers were rock-bottom, infrastructural decay and abandoned projects littered the state, investment profile he had built during his first tenure almost reduced to zero, development partners had left the state owing to unfriendly disposition of the immediate past administration and governance reduced to a daily dose of infantile comedy.

As somebody who never runs away from battles as exemplified by the struggles he waged to reclaim his first mandate and the historic comeback after a four-year hiatus, Fayemi frontally confronted the challenges he met and three years down the line, he has lived up to his mantra of reclaiming the land and restoring the values Ekiti is known for all over the world.

Like a doctor who is determined not to see his patient die, Fayemi used the first year of his second tenure (otherwise known as JKF 2 Administration) to stabilise the state, laid a solid foundation at the beginning of the second year and has effectively consolidated with the third year with incontrovertible evidences of good governance, people-oriented policies and life-changing projects dotting all parts of the state even to the remotest hamlets and villages.

What has kept Ekiti afloat during these turbulent fiscal challenges is Fayemi’s collaboration with development partners who were encouraged by the transparency, probity and accountability deeply entrenched in the state to finance key projects and policy thrusts of the administration in spite of the dwindling allocation from the Federation Account. This has been acknowledged as Ekiti was rated the second best state in Nigeria, after Kaduna, on Transparency and Integrity Index (TII).

The Ekiti helmsman, through his five-pillar development agenda of Governance, Agriculture and Rural Development, Social Investments, Knowledge Economy and Infrastructure and Industrial Development, has walked the talk and delivered on his social contract with the electorate while seeking for their votes during the electioneering campaign for the 2018 governorship election.

Even armchair critics will agree that what the Ekiti Governor has done and achieved in the last three years are both visible to the blind and audible to the deaf. They can be seen, they can be felt and they can be touched. Ekiti became a cynosure of all eyes nationally and globally when the Fayemi Administration rolled out the drums to mark its third year on office.

Like he did during his first term, Fayemi made rural and grassroots development a key focal point of his agenda and that explained the quantum of gratitude of many communities in Ekiti today for the way their lives have been touched in the areas of restoration of public water supply made possible by rehabilitation and overhauling of three major dams, construction of intrastate roads, renovation of public schools and establishment of new ones, renovation of basic and comprehensive health centres and general hospitals.

Projects commissioned during the third anniversary of the Fayemi Administration were too numerous that the commissioning assignments were shared between the Governor himself, the Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi; the First Lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi and the Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Funminiyi Afuye. Very eminent guests like the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu also commissioned remarkable signature projects executed by the Fayemi government.

Time and space will not allow the luxury of mentioning all the projects one-by one but the notable ones included Ekiti State Civic and Convention Centre inaugurated by the Vice President, the corporate headquarters of Ekiti State Water Corporation commissioned by Governor Obaseki and Ekiti Liaison Office/Governor’s Lodge located in Ikeja GRA, Lagos inaugurated by Governor Sanwo-Olu which were built to advance the quest for social and economic development, generation of more revenue and saving the state the cost of accommodating its officials in hotels in Lagos respectively.

Other projects that have been commissioned during the anniversary included Ilupeju-Ire-Igbemo-Ijan Road which leads to Ekiti Agric Processing Road, Ekiti Knowledge Zone and Agro Cargo Airport under construction, Oye-Ikun-Otun Road which leads to Ikun Dairy, Agbado-Ode-Isinbode-Omuo Road which provides a shorter route to Abuja, Aramoko-Erijiyan-Ikogosi Road, which provides a shorter route from Lagos and Ibadan to Ikogosi Tourist Resort, Ilawe-Igbara Odo-Ibuji Road, an alternative to Akure, the Ondo State capital and Ekiti State Digital Vehicle Inspection Centre, Ado Ekiti.

The Ikun Dairy located in Ikun Ekiti is now back to life after being abandoned for about 40 years and was revived in collaboration with milk giants, Promasidor Limited, under a Public Private Partnership arrangement. The resuscitation of the dairy was highly commended by the Vice President as it now generates 80,000 litres of milk per month with 500 cows and has provided employment to hundreds of Ekiti citizens.

The Ekiti Civic and Convention Centre is a hub for commerce, arts and culture, entertainment, education, history, archives and memorabilia, socials, relaxation and events. It has a 1,000-capacity amphitheatre, a modern library, two cinemas, a museum, an arts gallery, a shopping mall, events and conference hall, among other facilities. The complex has the capacity to generate revenue into the coffers of the state and is a legacy Fayemi will be remembered for a long time to come.

The construction of the Water Corporation corporate head office was also very significant in the sense that the corporation had been operating from rented apartments since Ekiti State was created in 1996. It took an administration with a vision to take the bull by the horn to make sure that such a critical agency has a befitting office of its own to operate from to complement the turnaround of the dams in the state.

Speaking while presenting the annual State of the State Address to members of the House of Assembly as part of activities marking the third anniversary, Fayemi disclosed that over 1,000 projects have been executed and inaugurated for the use of the people in the last three years of his stewardship.

He said: “As an administration we are conscious of the nexus between infrastructure and industrial development. We are therefore making huge investments in this critical sector with a view to returning Ekiti to its rightful place within the comity of States.

“This is because, for any economy to be self-sufficient and self-sustaining, it needs industrial revolution, and this can only be attained with the needed infrastructure development. Infrastructure does not only make lives a lot easier for the people, but it also facilitates ease of doing business and gives high returns on investment.

“Ekiti State being an agrarian state, coupled with her strategic positioning as a gateway to the North and other economically viable States, needs massive investments in infrastructure if it must develop its industrial base.

“As a government we are leaving no stone unturned in this regard. We started by taking account of all abandoned projects that we inherited, mapped out plans for their resuscitation, and I am glad to report today that most of the abandoned projects have been completed while the remaining few are in various stages of completion now.

“It gladdens my heart to also report here that we have l completed and commissioned over 1,000 new projects within the three years of this administration while some are still ongoing and new ones are being introduced.”

The Governor revealed that his administration has started the Ekiti State Smart-City Project that will incorporate the integration of Huawei Safe City IP-Surveillance Solution with NCC Emergency Communication Centre with the aim of securing the state and make it business-friendly for our investors and all residents of Ekiti.

According to him, the contractor is already on site and the project in which Ado Ekiti, the state capital, will be installed with Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras is expected to be completed in record time.

The Governor also recalled telling the state legislators during the State of the State Address of last year (2020) that the standard and quality of electricity supply to Ekiti State was unacceptable and promising that something would be done about it.

He explained that progress is being made in the sector as the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) of Nigeria, a Federal government agency, has commenced the construction of 7.5MVA, 33/11KV injection substation with an addition of 33KV/11KV & LT lines and installation of four 500KVA distribution substation transformer in Ido Ekiti.

The Governor said the project upon completion would improve the socio-economic wellbeing of the people in that axis of Ekiti State describing it as one in the series of the expected interventions to ensure that Ekiti people have access to quality and stable power supply.

Dr Fayemi said his administration is also breaking grounds this month on the construction of a 4.5MW IPP to supply public institutions and critical private sector players.

Work is ongoing on the construction of structures of Stallion Rice Mills Dangote Rice Mills, FMS Farms and JMK Farms which are the big corporate players attracted to the State by the Fayemi Administration with the mills reaching advanced stages of completion and expected to generate jobs for citizens.

The Fayemi Administration has been doing everything within its power to promote agribusiness and open the State to global markets as the State is currently experiencing a transformational agribusiness development that will not only boost food security in Ekiti State but will also create employment opportunities, empower women and youths, reduce poverty, and create wealth through viable agro-allied industrial development.

This is the reason the State now plays host to many companies within the agricultural value chains. A good number of Ekiti people, especially the teeming youths, who hitherto were idle, are now actively involved in agriculture.

In its continued quest to enhance the performance of our farmers, the Ekiti government has provided them with improved seedlings, farm inputs, fertilizers, and soft loans.

Some key legacy projects to look up to in the fourth year of the Fayemi Administration are the new Ado-Iyin dual carriageway to be complemented with an interchange in Iyin town, Ekiti Elders’ Resort, Traditional Rulers’ Chambers/Office Complex of Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs and Agro Cargo Airport due for commissioning in August, 2022.

Others are the Ado Ekiti Independent Power Project, Bishop Harding Memorial College, new Bus Terminal and Remodelling of Central Business District, Atikankan Commercial Car Park all in Ado Ekiti and Ado-Iworoko-Ifaki Dual Carriageway. The foundation of the last five short-term projects were laid as part of activities marking the third anniversary.

In education, the payment of matching grants, totalling N7.8 Billion to UBEC has prepared the grounds for the ongoing massive rehabilitation of school infrastructure and construction of additional school buildings in the State over the past year.) which has improved teaching and learning.

In addition to the massive construction and renovation of schools recorded in previous years with commensurate supply of students’ and teachers’ furniture, education and playground equipment, and other learning tools, we government has also embarked on yet another round of construction and renovation of schools across the sixteen Local Government Areas.

The state government paid all outstanding counterpart funds owed by the immediate past administration to UBEC for 2016, 2017 and 2018 and this accounted for all the construction and renovation work done in our public schools in 2020 with 2016, 2017 or 2018 written on them.

The Governor said his government has been judicious in the payment of our counterpart funds for 2019, 2020 and 2021. It is on record that Ekiti was the first State in Nigeria to pay UBEC/SUBEB matching Grants for the year 2021.

He said the proactive step in the payment of matching grants, totalling N7.8 Billion to UBEC has prepared the grounds for the ongoing massive rehabilitation of school infrastructure and construction of additional school buildings in the State over the past year.

In addition to the massive construction and renovation of schools recorded in previous years with commensurate supply of students’ and teachers’ furniture, education and playground equipment, and other learning tools, government has also embarked on yet another round of construction and renovation of schools across the sixteen Local Government Areas.

It has been a success story by the Fayemi Administration but this has also been mixed with some challenges. The next one year also affords the Governor and his team more opportunity to make history as he has promised not to take off his feet from the accelerator of Ekiti development.

He said: “Ekiti Kete, the temptation is to see a government in its final year as a lame duck government. Let me assure that this government is determined to work for the people to the very last day of our mandate.

“The job is not yet done, even if a lot has been achieved. I enjoin you all to keep supporting us, the journey of the 4th year has just begun with the rendering of the account of stewardship of the 3rd year.

“The next one year will be used to complete everything we started three years ago. You will recall that I assured you that there would be no abandoned projects. God has helped us to keep and fulfil this promise so far, but there are still many rivers of development to cross.

“I am using this opportunity to reiterate to you Ekiti-Kete, that there will be no unfinished project under my watch. I know this is a huge task considering the ongoing massive projects across the state, nonetheless, we are determined to finish well.”

.Ogunmola, who is Special Assistant (Media) to the Deputy Governor, writes in from Ado Ekiti

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