While the controversy over the N50,000 given to bloggers and social media influencers who attended a tour of projects in Ekiti State rages, I came across a comment which tends to suggest that invitation of bloggers to assess the performance of Governor Kayode Fayemi wasn’t necessary. According to him, if the Governor is actually performing, no one needs the heavy influencers in the social media world to know he is, just like he never traveled to Cross Rivers State, but was able to know that the then Governor of the State, Mr. Donald Duke performed very well.
Do I agree with what was stated above? The answer is a resounding yes. Although, he didn’t tell us how he was able to know about Donald Duke’s performance without visiting the state, I believe it is not farfetched from the power of information dissemination or simply put, the media. What I must however add is that the he failed to realise that information dissemination comes in many ways, especially in this age of social media. A lot of us used social media to achieve great feat, much more than they could have done with the traditional media. Perhaps, this was what the Government of Governor Kayode Fayemi intended to do with the invitation of social media enthusiasts to Ekiti state.
I was privileged to be one of those invited by the Ekiti State government to take a tour of the state and assess whether or not Governor Kayode Fayemi is living up to his mandate. To the best of my knowledge, the visit wasn’t meant to patronise anybody, neither was it meant to get the endorsement of social media influencers for the governor. At least, nothing in the invitation mail I received and the three other follow up emails suggested such, but even if the hidden intention was to get us to endorse the governor and his achievements, for me visiting Ekiti state didn’t achieve that for two reasons.
Firstly, as a loyal member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Governor would ordinarily get my endorsement if he is the candidate the party presents. There are possibilities that I may not agree with certain works of the governor even as a party man, but I won’t expose his weaknesses in such a manner that the opposition will have a feast off him. That is not to say that I must swallow hook, line and sinker whatever comes out from his administration simply because we belong to the same political party.
Secondly, just like my friend who didn’t need to visit Cross River to know what Donald Duke did in the state, I didn’t need a visit to Ekiti State to know that Governor Fayemi is performing. I have heard and seen many of the Governor’s achievements in the media. So my visiting the state was only to validate what I have heard and seen and also to afford me the opportunity of asking the governor pertinent questions as the no hold barred sessions suggested.
What Went Down in Ekiti
I arrived Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort just few minutes to the time we were expected to check-in at the accommodation reserved for us. I met a few of the invitees who arrived a bit earlier than I, including the guy I shared the hotel room with for the three nights we spent in Ekiti State. Yes it was 2 persons per room. I settled down quickly and watched in high spirit as other invitees arrived. Shortly after dinner, I wasted no time retiring to bed having driven for several hours all the way from Abuja to Ekiti and the resultant fatigue that came with it.
By Friday the following morning, we set out on the tour which took us round 12 of the 16 local governments in the State. The first port of call was the Pavilion which we were told is being built to host events like the Independence Day Anniversary and the likes. With a capacity to accommodate 12,000 people, the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Egghead Odewale proud that the pavilion is the Ekiti State’s version of the Eagles Square in Abuja which would serve as a source of revenue to the State Government, as it will be hired to organizations and churches who would want to make use of the place.
Next was a stoppage at the new civic centre, the Funmi Olayinka Cancer Diagnostic Centre built in honor of the late Deputy Governor of the State, The Oluyemi Kayode Stadium and an ultra modern specialist hospital undergoing construction all in Ado -Ekiti. During the tour that spanned Erinjiyan all through to Okemesi and Iloro towns making up the 12 local govts we visited, I saw a good network of roads running smoothly across the State and opening up the rural communities to other parts of the town. Over 1300km of such roads are said to have been completed with several others ongoing. We also visited the Itapaji and Ero dams which the government says it intends to use for irrigation in the various farm projects and supply water to various homes in the State. The Ero dam is already achieving part of this aim we were told. Worthy of mentioning also are the various farms we visited in the state. According to information made available, there are over 100 hectares of such farms in clusters across the state where government train youths to take up the initiative of farming as a means of empowerment.
After the over 12 hours visit to 12 local governments, we retired back to our temporary abode at Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort and had time to unwind in the various ways we know until we retired to bed. One thing that was sure from the trip as I noticed is that a lot of us had made a note of so many questions the Governor was going to provide answers to the following day.
Soon came Saturday, the day of the no hold barred question and answer session of the visit. The session was billed to commence by 10am, but didn’t until well past 11am. The Governor which we were told was supposed to arrive at 10am didn’t come until past 12 noon. However, I was made to understand much earlier even before we went into the conference hall where the session took place that the Governor sent a message to tell us he won’t be coming at the scheduled time because of other engagements he needs conclude back in Ado-Ekiti.
At the no hold barred session, the commissioners and speciall advisers took turns to reel out some of the achievements of the state government since Dr. Fayemi assumed office in October 2010. The Governor himself capped their various remarks with answers to various questions posed soon after he arrived until the session came to an end few hours after.
My Take on the Visit
I believe the high point of the visit to Ekiti State was the tour of the 12 local governments we embarked upon. The tour was to give us firsthand information of what has been done in the state. I must state however that I wasn’t particularly impressed with the tour and this I will blame on the organisers. While I understand that a tour of 12 hours is too small to assess the achievements of a government in 12 local govts, it is my considered opinion that the organisers didn’t place premium on the places visited if really the aim is to make us see what the Governor has done since coming to office almost four years ago. I do not understand for example why we were taken to the Itapaji dam which is non-functional as at the time of visit. Though I understand top plans are in place to commence work on the dam with the donation of constituency funds by the three Senators representing the state in the National Assembly with assistance from the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), I would rather have preferred the time we spent at the dam is used to tour some other important projects that are already yielding dividends to the people. This is especially as I was told that there are several projects the government has embarked upon or completed that we didn’t visit. The 1000 housing estate being constructive by the state government as I learnt falls into this category. Why we were not made to visit this site?
Apart from the places we visited that I mentioned earlier, many of the other things we saw were from a distance inside the bus we rode. Perhaps, the blame of this falls on the visitors. Each time the organisers made attempts to stop in a few of the project sites or mulled the idea of going to one, virtually everybody in the bus chorused ‘take us back to Ikogosi’. The fatigue from a few of the distance we trekked especially at the farm locations must have been responsible for this. We didn’t visit any of the 183 schools officials said the government renovated, though we saw a couple of them as we journeyed through the state.
Away from the tour, I am not impressed by the fact that the government is building a pavilion and a civic centre from the N25 billion bond they raised from the capital market. If Ekiti is one of the states with the least share from the federation account, I would expect that the N25 billion naira be channelled into other areas that have multiplier effects in terms of return both in revenue and employment generation. I must however commend the Governor for taking the bold steps of completing all the projects left behind by his predecessors, some of which include the civic centre and the ultra modern specialist hospital. If governments at all level take this initiative, funds would have been saved for other projects and the litany of abandoned projects we see across the country will be history.
I am not also impressed by the fact that the Governor couldn’t stay to answer as many questions as possible from us. When the email I got said Saturday is for a no holds barred question and answer session, the impression I had was that the Governor was going to be around to take questions for at least 5 hours. This is why I didn’t get to ask the 6 questions I have written down to ask the Governor.
I was not privileged to ask Governor Kayode Fayemi any question because of time constraint, but if I had the opportunity, I would have asked him whether the state boast of industries, whether large or small scale and if not, whether the govt has plans towards that. As a state that is making progress in agriculture, my expectation would be to see several processing factories in the state where the products from the various farms in hectares will be processed before been moved outside the state. That alone I believe is a way of generating employment for the people. It won’t be wise for the state to produce agricultural product only to make them a source of employment generation for other states that the products would be transported to. What then is the essence of the agriculture if it cannot have multiplier effect in job generation for the people. I hope the govt looks into this.
The shortcomings of the government nonetheless, kudos must be given to Dr Kayode Fayemi for revolutionalising governance in the state. Although physical projects speak volume about governance, more of the things that the physical eyes cannot see constitute governance even more. Take the preparation of budget for example. The government uses a bottom-up approach to ensure that communities make input and determine what projects are most needed by them. At the end, two of the top most needs of each community are factored into the final budget. That is a commendable innovation.
The government of Dr. Kayode Fayemi I was told tasked each local govt to rehabilitate 5 kilometres of road every year, some of which I saw while we travelled. 5km of road in all the 16 local govts amounts to 80km of road per year and when you multiply that by the 4 years the government is expected to stay in office for a term, we are talking about 320km of roads in the state. Suffice to add that the 320km road is exclusive to the local governments. The state government does its own construction. This does not include the roads constructed by the state government which according to the Governor has no specific target. That is also commendable.
Ekiti state prides itself as first in many fronts. The state has the lowest infant and maternal mortality rates, lowest HIV/AIDS infection rate, least out-of-school children, highest pupil enrolment and highest life expectancy (according to Human Development Report of 2012). It also pride itself as the only state in the country with a sex offenders register and the only state to have domesticated the Freedom Of Information (FOI) law.
On Social Security, the govt has a Scheme in which over 25,000 aged citizens are paid a stipend of N5,000 monthly, while youths who are engaged in various on the hand jobs are paid a stipend of N10,000 monthly for a period of 2 years after which another set will be recruited. If all these are not acts of governance, I wonder what is.
I have stated earlier that my visit to Ekiti state didn’t really change the impression I already have about the government of Dr. Kayode Fayemi, but my job I believe is to give a report of what I saw which is what I have done. Whatever it is I know about this government may be right or wrong, but whichever way it swings, it doesn’t translate to a vote to the Governor. The real deal lies in the hands of those who reside in Ekiti and feel the impact of what the government has done. My report may only help in getting them to know more of what they didn’t know. However, as a loyal party man, I will advised that all Ekiti residents give their support to Governor Kayode Fayemi.
This report was written by Abubakar Sidiq Usman. He is the publisher of abusidiqu.com