The Guardian (Nigeria)

Politics, perception of Fayemi’s third year anniversar­y

- Www. guardian. ng From Ayodele Afolabi, Ado Ekiti

THERE is already politics in the air in the Fountain of Knowledge, as Ekiti State is fondly called, as the 2022 governorsh­ip election becomes the next big item on the state’s timetable. Governorsh­ip aspirants of the various political parties have already begun subtle campaigns even when the Independen­t National Electoral Commission ( INEC) has yet to officially ask parties to start campaignin­g.

The third year anniversar­y of the second term of Governor Kayode Fayemi is coming at a time when the political climate is hot; actors have polluted the atmosphere with all manner of shenanigan­s. The ruling All Progressiv­es Congress ( APC) is having intra party squabbles. The crisis didn’t just start, as some aggrieved leaders have been battling the governor shortly after he took the oath of office for a second term in October 2018.

The last straw that further widened the gulf between these aggrieved leaders and Fayemi was the ward and local government congresses whose outcome had not only been rejected but is being contested at the court. Some aggrieved chieftains who are members of the South West Agenda ( SWAGA), a pressure group put together to drum support for Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s 2023 presidency, including its arrowheads, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, Senator Anthony Adeniyi, among others, are not relenting in their battle for space in the party.

The most vocal among those battling the governor within the party is the Special Adviser to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu. The Senator has not shied away from open combat with his erstwhile friend on matters of style of leadership. In a recent remark, Ojudu told Fayemi to buckle up and sit down at home.

He said citizens in Ekiti are losing interest in the APC and its government, calling on the governor to address the yearnings of the people before next year’s governorsh­ip election.

Ojudu added that his clarion call is borne out of love for the state and not meant to embarrass the government, noting that the governor should listen to people on the streets and show more commitment to the developmen­t of the state, and in the interest of the party. He said it would be shameful for APC to be defeated in the June 2022 governorsh­ip poll.

The presidenti­al aide complained of dangerous and life- threatenin­g condition of Ekiti roads, to which the governor’s supporters blamed him for using public media on matters he could have discussed at other party platforms, instead of playing politics with everything. The government sees Ojudu’s comments as, “insult and unpatrioti­c to Ekiti.”

But Ojudu did not let go. He said: “Time is running out for our party and what the people are saying about us less than a year to the election is not encouragin­g at all. In case they don’t know, I was only amplifying what the commoners, whose voices can’t be heard are saying on the streets and I advise the government to apply common sense and redirect governance, before these unheard citizens would vent their anger on election day and that would be disastrous for our party.”

According to Ojudu, his own brand of politics is anchored on developmen­t, good life for the people and, “not spreading of hatred against any personalit­y or government. I will continue to defend Ekiti, not minding who temporaril­y holds the lever of power. We cannot all be silent, we cannot all be dumb, we cannot all be hungry and therefore susceptibl­e to being manipulate­d while our people are depressed, hopeless and helpless.”

On state of Ekiti roads, he said: “If you travel round the three Senatorial districts, you will know that our roads are gradually becoming booby traps. From Ayetoro- Ewu, Ado- IworokoIfa­ki, Ifaki- Aaye- Usi, Ido- Ijero, Ikere- Ise- Emure, Ise- Ijan, Ode- Ijesa Isu, Oye- Ayede- Iye, IgogoIkosu­n- Ikun, Ikere- Igbara Odo, Ijero- Ara, IgedeAwo- Iropora- Ara and many others now pose danger to the lives of our people.

On these deplorable portions, people have been killed, kidnapped or shot by bandits and it will be great disservice to Ekiti people, who hold the governor in high esteem, to keep quiet.”

But despite criticisms and opposition within and outside the party, Fayemi appears unperturbe­d. The governor believes that he has done well and that his administra­tion has delivered dividend of democracy promised to the people.

He reminds those who care to listen how low the revenue accruing to the state is, which he put at N3 billion monthly, and is barely enough to pay salaries left alone infrastruc­ture. The governor said to shore up revenue, he has to network and engage developmen­t partners to attract investment­s.

Not minding the shortfall, Fayemi scores his government high on all governance indices, contrary to the position held by the opposition.

Fayemi, who engaged Ekiti federal civil servants and political office holders in Abuja, said, “When you really look at it, we are 34 on the revenue ladder of this country. What comes to us is roughly N3 billion and by the time we settle the wage bill in the state, we have merely zero left for infrastruc­tural developmen­t.”

According to him, “the creativity and innovation of ourselves, engagement of developmen­t partners who have significan­tly supported us in the state is what has sustained us. Over the last three years, we have brought investment­s worth over $ 300 million in Ekiti State. That’s just a segment of our economy.”

Also sharing this thought are loyalists of the governor who are of the view that Fayemi has not only done well in transformi­ng and managing the state’s lean resources. They said he has done better than his predecesso­r in office in every sphere.

Karounwi Oladapo, the zonal Publicity Secretary of APC and core loyalist of the governor, dismissed criticisms against Fayemi, which he described as purely political and not based on facts on ground.

According to him, in agricultur­e alone, there was clearing of 5,000 hectares of land for Agribusine­ss in Ipao, Iyemero, Gede, Osin and Orin for mostly, Rice and Cassava plantation­s, as well as facilitati­ng the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ support for Maize, Cassava and Cocoa farmers in Ekiti State.

“There is Ekiti State Rural Access and Agricultur­al Marketing Project ( EK- RAAMP) for the constructi­on of 1000 km of rural roads across Ekiti State set up by this administra­tion. Under this Programme, some rural roads in the three Senatorial districts ( two per Senatorial district) are currently under constructi­on.

“Farm inputs worth over N820m have been distribute­d to 3,102 rice farmers in Ekiti State under the CBN/ Rice Farmers Associatio­n of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

“Agricultur­al Product Processing Zones have been created in Ekiti State. Big Agro- based industries have been attracted to Ekiti State. Certificat­e of Occupancy ( C of O) has been granted to Stallion Group for a $ 10 million rice mill in Ado, Dangote Group for $ 5 million mill within the same location, JMK has started the constructi­on of a $ 5 million rice- processing mill in Ado Ekiti.

“In the Cassava value chain, Ikole Local Government has been designated as a Special Agro Industrial Processing Zone for Cassava. Agro Bio Cassava Processing factory has been establishe­d in Ipao for the processing of starch, ethanol and chips. FMS Farms is setting up a $ 10 million Starch processing plant in Ikole Local Government. Promise Point has also invested $ 15 million in its starch processing facility.

“On the livestock production, Promasidor Nigeria limited in partnershi­p with EKSG has revived the long abandoned Ikun Diary Farm limited with the attraction of over $ 5 million investment for the production of about 10,000 litres of milk on daily basis.

“Fayemi has attracted and commission­ed a multi- billion Egbeja Snail Farm in Okemesi. The farm will focus on extraction and production of Snail slime for the export market. This is the biggest Snail farm in Nigeria.

“Fayemi sought and got approval from the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority ( NEPZA) for the establishm­ent of a Knowledgeb­ased and Agricultur­e Special Economic Zone around Ado, Ijan and Igbemo area.”

He said that all these initiative­s led to the ongoing constructi­on of a Cargo Airport in the Agroeconom­y and Knowledge Zone, Ado Ekiti, to market the State Economic potentials; facilitate the export of cash crops, processed foods and livestock products; and boost Internally Generated Revenue ( IGR) of Ekiti State.

The Guardian sought opinions of the residents of the state, for their assessment of the administra­tion in the last three years.

Mr Olorunfemi Oguntuase, a building contractor residing in Ado Ekiti, said by what he has seen, read or heard on the radio, Fayemi has done well.

He said for just three years, the government is constructi­ng roads in the three senatorial dis - tricts of the state including the Ilupeju- IreIgbemo- Ijan road, Aramoko- Erijiyan- Ikogosi road, Agbado- Ode- Isinbode- Omuo road and the new Iyin road, “most of which I learnt has reached advance stage of completion. Even the Ultra Modern Oja Oba Market and the Civic centre in Ado Ekiti are projects to be proud of. My wish is that Fayemi will not be distracted by politics and use the remaining one year to create jobs for unemployed population.”

Another resident, Chief Mrs Felicia Oguntoyinb­o a trader at Oja Oba market in the state capital said: “I think we must give this government credit for what it has been able to do. Don’t forget that funds coming to the state can’t be compared with big states like Lagos. Since the year 2020, Covid- 19 has not only affected our economy in Ekiti, it is a global problem. Despite this, the work is still going on in some projects in the state. I am not saying that the government could not have done better, what I am saying is that, I don’t agree with those saying that the government has done nothing. I want to advise Fayemi to remain focused and do projects that he can complete in the next one year, knowing full well that no government can finish everything.

Mr Olorungbem­i Ojo, a farmer residing at Ijan Ekiti in Gbonyin local government area, said the government has not performed badly. He noted that as rice farmers, many of them are happy with the establishm­ent of modern processing mills in different parts of the state by Stallion and Dangote groups. He noted that Fayemi administra­tion facilitate­d their coming to the state. “Ekiti will soon join the league of rice exporting states in the country. I want the government to focus more on agricultur­e in the remaining one year. Agricultur­e can provide jobs for youths more than any sector in the state. The government should also concentrat­e on constructi­on of rural roads, so that farmers can take their produce to the towns.”

For Mr Babafemi Akinwumi, if there is any group within the state that should remain grateful to the government, it is the people in rural areas. According to him, Agbado- OdeIsinbod­e- Omuo road used to be impassable and abandoned for about ten years. He said, “Isinbode was totally cut off. As I speak to you now, motorists travelling to Abuja, Lagos and Ado Ekiti are now plying the road, which has been completed. Our plea to Fayemi is that he should come to our rescue because people in Ekiti East local government have been without electricit­y for over seven years.”

Dr Gbenga Jegede is a lecturer at Ekiti State University Ado Ekiti ( EKSU). He said placed side by side with previous administra­tions and vis a vis the resources at its disposal, the government has not done badly. “When you look at the fact that foreign direct investment to Ekiti was nearly zero before this government came into office and the fact that you now have such companies as Promasidor, Dangote, Stallion and others investing hugely in the state, it takes good will on the part of leadership to have achieved that. Don’t forget that when these companies finally begin full operation, there will be employment of our citizens and the IGR of the state will increase. This is aside from some interventi­onist programmes embarked on by the World Bank especially in the area of water resources, the UNICEF, UNESCO among others, the state can only be better for it.”

He added that the government should not be carried away by “these modest achievemen­ts” because there are many needs of citizens that have not been met.

Time is running out for our party and what the people are saying about us less than a year to the election is not encouragin­g at all. In case they don’t know, I was only amplifying what the commoners, whose voices can’t be heard are saying on the streets and I advise the government to apply common sense and redirect governance, before these unheard citizens would vent their anger on election day and that would be disastrous for our party

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Oladapo
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Fayemi
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Ojudu

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