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Ekiti’s push for investment amid citizens’ high expectations

By Muyiwa Adeyemi (Head South West Bureau)
07 December 2020   |   4:13 am
The mid-term performance assessment of Ekiti State Governor, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi has continued to elicit mixed reactions from stakeholders within and outside the state.

Oja Oba Market

The mid-term performance assessment of Ekiti State Governor, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi has continued to elicit mixed reactions from stakeholders within and outside the state.

While his critics, especially members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said he has performed below expectations of residents, others say otherwise.

Some aggrieved members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) who are led by a Senior Special Assistant to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Political Matter, Babafemi Ojudu, who just lost a suit to dissolve APC exco in Ekiti State are also asking to know exactly what the government has done in two years.

To explain his side, Governor Fayemi used the occasion of his second-year anniversary to showcase some of the projects his administration is executing, some already commissioned to the admiration of residents who believe that pragmatic and progressive governance is back in Ekiti State.

Giving account of his stewardship to the members of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Fayemi said, “I am pleased to report that our overarching agenda for the ‘Restoration of Values’ is receiving greater attention with the launch of the Strategic Roadmap for the Restoration of Values Campaign. This has been our guiding principle and mainstreamed across all our programmes and policies, but we are now putting structures in place to ensure the sustainability of this vision over the long-term. We are committed to ensuring that regardless of the partisan affiliations of any future administration, NEVER AGAIN would Ekiti become a theatre of absurdities, and the debasement of our pristine values and reputation as honourable, diligent, and trustworthy people”.

The Chief of Staff to the governor Mr Biodun Omoleye, who was very categorical of the government’s determination to implement all campaign promises led some stakeholders to inspect some of the projects being executed in different locations in the state. Some of these projects include, Oye-Ayede-Ikun Road, Ilupeju-Ire-Igbemo-Ijan Road, Agbado-Ode-Isinbode-Omuo Road, Igbara-Odo-Ibuji Road, Ado-Iyin Dual Carriage Road. Others are Fajuyi water booster, Ado Ekiti, Knowledge Zone, Polytechnic Road, Ado Ekiti, Oja Oba, Ikun Dairy Farm, College of Agriculture Isan-Ekiti, Airport fencing, Water Corporation Headquarters Iworoko, Comprehensive Health Centre in differences locations including Kota Araromi Ekiti, Ijurin Ekiti, Ipoti Ekiti, Oye Ekiti, Ipoti Ekiti, Igogo Ekiti, Otun Ekiti, Isan Ekiti and four model secondary schools named after prominent indigenes of Ekiti.

For many residents, Fayemi’s second coming is a blessing to complete some of the Legacy Projects he commenced before he lost election in 2014. But many say his policy of not playing politics with uncompleted projects marked him out as a mature governor and good manager of resources.

An Octogenarian, Pa Adesoji Ogunesan in Ado Ekiti told The Guardian during the commissioning of the Ado Ekiti central market also known as Oja Oba that some of them had fears that the project which started during Fayose’s administration would be abandoned with the change of government, but were surprised to see that Fayemi did not only improve on the project but completed it.

He said, “I hope other governors in the country will emulate him in this regard. What we know around here is to see an incumbent not touching inherited projects of predecessors. We were all in this state, for four years, former Governor Ayo Fayose did not touch Civic Centre, Ashplant project and other projects started by Fayemi during his first term and many buildings started by former Governor Segun Oni in the Secretariat, but Fayemi is not only completing them but he also sent an Executive Bill to the State House of Assembly to forbid abandoning of projects in Ekiti State. And the bill has become a Law. This is marvelous.”

Commissioning the ultra-modern market, Fayemi disclosed that, “our government conceptualized this project as part of our urban regeneration programme for the state capital during our first tenure.The project however experienced initial delay due to unresolved issues during community consultations with traditional institutions. I want to particularly commend the Ayo Fayose administration for starting the construction of the ultra modern market, which was at fifty-five percent completion when we assumed office on October 16, 2018. As a responsible government that has zero tolerance for abandoned projects in Ekiti State, upon assumption of Office, we recommenced work immediately to ensure its completion for the use of our people, using the same contractors”.

But the PDP in Ekiti State in a statement by its Publicity secretary, Ralphel Adeyanju disagreed with Fayemi’s statement that the project was 55 percent done, noting that it had reached 90 per cent completion before Fayose left office. Though the statement agreed that the project was conceived by Fayemi during his first term but insisted that only what his administration did was the painting of the project.

The facilities in the ultra-modern market include 234 Open Shops, 738 Lockup Shops, 2 Restaurants, 2 Banking Halls, 2 Warehouses, a Police post, a fire station and a clinic.

Though the market women that are grateful to Fayemi for completing the project seem not interested in the argument of what percentage left undone but are waiting for the allocation of the shops to commence their business activities.

Apart from completing and commissioning of some abandoned buildings at the government secretariat, the commissioning of the Ashplant plant in the state would not only assist the government in attaining its policy on “Operation zero potholes” in the state but provide jobs for residents and help in increasing the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state.

Fayemi regretted that the project, which he started during his first term was abandoned and its multimillion-naira equipment were looted and replacing them costs the state another huge amount.

For Fayemi, the state can do better with agric business investment and he said that his administration has attracted many big players in agro-allied and value-chain players to come into the State. Ekiti has fertile land that needs no fertilizer to cultivate plants.

He said,”right now, Stallion Rice is constructing its rice mill factory that is expected to do 20 tons per hour. As a first step, the company has engaged about 250 rice farmers. Similarly, JMK Rice mill is progressing with the installation of 12 tons per hour rice mill machine. Dangote Rice has also secured land for their installation but was slowed down by the COVID-19 interruption

“Similarly, in the cassava value chain, Promise Point and Arog Agro-Allied have fully installed their cassava processing factories in our Agric-Processing Zone. Equally, Villam-Terra Agric has taken over the 100, 000 ton silo in the State in addition to opening up the Orin Farm Settlement and the IseIse Farms for cocoa and oil palm. In all, the value of investments already attracted in the agribusiness sector in Ekiti in the last one year has been estimated to be about $60m.

“Similarly, we are positioning our state not only in rice farming but in rice production technology. We have sent 100 youths to International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan through African Rice to train them on seed multiplication and value chain. We did this to increase our yield per hectarage, which had been very low due to the type of rice seedling that is commonly planted in Ekiti. They have graduated and have started planting.

“Through our aggressive push in agribusiness investment, nothing less than 2000 direct and indirect jobs have been created in the agriculture sector. We are hopeful that by next year, most of the factories currently setting up will have commenced full operation.

“We are passionate, committed, and excited about these developments because its multiplier effects are not just on the possibility of boosting our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), but for the thousands of jobs it will create for our people.

To allow for easy transportation of the produce to the markets, he hinted of massive feeder road construction going on in the rural communities targeting over 1000 km roads that will be embedded “in our World Bank supported RAAMP initiative. Equally, our Agriculture Processing Zone Initiative is progressing well, even though delayed by the outbreak of the pandemic.

Governor Fayemi also noted that his government has been faithful in the payment of salaries to workers as and when due, besides training over 2,000 staff within the last two years.

He also disclosed that the state governments collaboration with the Federal Government has yielded results, as the contract for the Construction and Dualization of Ikere-Akure road has been awarded, and the contractor Dantata&Sawoe has mobilized to site.

In the area of provision of portable water, the governor said: “We have also focused during the year in review on improving our water infrastructure and our capacity to get pipe-borne water into various houses in the State. We are about completing a comprehensive overhaul and turn-around maintenance of Ero and Egbe Dams as well as overhauling pipes in Ado-Ekiti, Gbonyin, and other communities.

Fayemi said: “In terms of critical infrastructure in the education sector, we fulfilled our obligations of Counterpart Funds of over Five Billion Naira (N5b) to initiate and access UBEC grants that paved the way for immense construction in all our schools. A summary of the infrastructural interventions in the education sector are as follows: Upgrading of College of Education to University of Education, Science and Technology, Ikere-Ekiti, establishment of State College of Agriculture and Technology, Isan Ekiti, and construction of four model secondary schools in Ado Ekiti.

On the welfare of the aged and vulnerable in the society, Fayemi disclosed that: “You will all agree with me that social security is evidently one of the hallmarks of my administration. We ran it successfully in my first term (JKF1.0) and relaunched it exactly a year ago, on October 16, 2019, as part of activities marking the first anniversary of this administration.

“We launched Owo-Arugbo, Ounje-Arugbo, and Obirin-Kete empowerment outreaches, and via these programmes we distributed over hundred thousand palliative packages to thousands of households across all the 16 Local Government Areas of Ekiti State. Many of our elderly citizens are collecting Ounje Arugbo on a monthly basis through the Office of the First Lady. Not only that, the Office of the First Lady also distributed Baby kits and palliatives to mothers who delivered babies in the first two months of total lockdown at the peak of COVID-19 pandemic. Owo Arugbo is another social security programme we have in the state. Our aged people who have been captured in the social register are being paid to make life more meaningful to them.

“It is also noteworthy that Ekiti State ranked the best among other states in terms of the provision of palliatives to ease the hardship the people faced during the COVID-19 induced lockdown.

“In addition, we collaborated with the Federal government’s initiatives, including the provision of stipends for the youths through the Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO) initiative.

“After extensive consultations, my administration has decided to revisit the creation of Local Government Development Areas. I have therefore directed the Honourable Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice to re-present a Bill for the establishment of Local Government Development Areas in Ekiti State for the immediate consideration of the State Executive Council and subsequently for Legislative scrutiny. May I use this opportunity to appeal to this House to give the Bill the urgent consideration that it deserves?”