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 intraparty 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 the 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 government 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 the dangerous and life-threatening conditions 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 the state of Ekiti roads, he said: “If you travel around the three Senatorial districts, you will know that our roads are gradually becoming booby traps. From Ayetoro-Ewu, Ado-Iworoko-Ifaki, Ifaki-Aaye-Usi, Ido-Ijero, Ikere-Ise-Emure, Ise-Ijan, Ode-Ijesa Isu, Oye-Ayede-Iye, Igogo-Ikosun-Ikun, Ikere-Igbara Odo, Ijero-Ara, Igede-Awo-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 a 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 dividends 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 the 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 mills 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 the 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 Knowledge-based 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 Agro-economy 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 districts of the state including the Ilupeju-Ire-Igbemo-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 projected 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 the 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 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 the 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 the 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, the Agbado-Ode-Isinbode-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.