THE LAND IS FREE
Ekiti Kete; the words of the poem I just read, which was written my beloved wife Erelu Bisi Fayemi, captures the essence of the hope we all shared as we waited patiently for this day. This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. For today, we reclaim our land from the hands of those that have held us captive.
I must start specially paying homage to those that came before us and upon whose labours our generation is building upon; our forebears of ages past who bequeathed to us a rich history of honour and dignity; who bound together as one indivisible Ekiti confederacy, and fought wars to liberate us from external forces that sought to subjugate us. They taught us that only in fighting together can we truly win.
I am certain that these ancestors of ours who we have learnt about in our history books, and from the oral traditions of our griots, are similarly assembled in the great beyond today as a great cloud of witnesses, cheering us on as we embark on this journey set before us. I also know that they would be particularly proud that we are all in this place symbolically called Ekiti Parapo Pavilion, which to the glory of God was one of the projects I inaugurated as I left office in October 2014.
I must also salute our patriots of more recent years who worked hard to ensure we can have our own State within our great country Nigeria. All those too numerous to mention who worked hand-in-hand to bring about the creation of Ekiti State on October 1, 1996. Some of them are now departed and a good number are still with us. I salute and honour you all and I thank you for the grand vision you had for our beloved State. I warmly greet all Ekiti sons and daughters at home and abroad, including those in Ekiti towns and villages in neighbouring States who share our rich history as part of the Ekiti confederacy of old. I thank you all for your perseverance and service to our great State and welcome you all to the new era that this day represents.
It is my honour to stand before you today haven taken the oath of office as Governor of the Land of Honour, Ekiti State just moments ago. Our most high God who rules the affairs of humankind, has so determined that I should have the rare honour of assuming this office for the second time, to the glory of His name. Indeed, it is the LORD’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes.
I am truly grateful to the people of Ekiti for being the instruments through which this divine mandate has been given, and it is my solemn promise to do right my people and honour that oath as God helps me.
As much as today marks the beginning of a new phase in our history as a people, it also signals the end of an era, or more appropriately, the end of an error. Without a doubt, Ekiti has been through a horrible wilderness experience in the past four years. Our reputation as a people has been sullied and we have become the butt of jokes due to the crass ineptitude, loquacious ignorance, and ravenous corruption masquerading as governance in our State during this past administration.
As we assume office, it is our duty, and we will live up to it, to ensure we thoroughly review, document, and widely disseminate the present state of affairs so that all and sundry can know what has become of our commonwealth. Independently verifiable preliminary findings indicate that we have been plunged into a debt abyss of over N170billion, with commitments to innumerable white elephant projects, an average of 8 months salaries owed across government entities, and many state assets unaccounted for.
We will ensure that within one hundred days from today, Ekiti Kete will know the true position of things, in keeping with our ethos of transparency and accountability in governance. We are not interested in trials media, witch hunting or playing to the gallery. We will seek out the truth and lay it before our people.
As I have said time and again, my coming back to office is not a revenge mission, but rather a healing balm on a painful wound. However, as the events of the past four years go into the history books, we owe it a duty to ourselves and generations coming after us, to work together to ensure that never again shall we be deceived into making such a grievous mistake that has set us back so steeply on the development curve. Certainly, we would not all belong to the same political party nor share the same ideological beliefs, but the reins of leadership in Ekiti State must never again be allowed to fall into the hands of those who do not understand what governance or development is all about.
Never again should we give up free and qualitative education for herculean fees and taxes levied on our school children; never again should we give up free healthcare and functional hospitals for a total neglect of the health sector; never again should we give up integrated infrastructure development for bridges that lead nowhere; never again should we give up a burgeoning tourism sector and a revitalised Ikogosi for decrepit structures now overrun reptiles; never again should we give up the peace and unity of our State for increased crime rates and general insecurity; never again should we give up transparent and accountable governance, with the requisite checks and balances of independent Judicial and Legislative arms of government, for draconian one-man shows; never again should we give up our reputation as a honourable and knowledgeable people, to be known as apostles of stomach infrastructure. Never again shall we sacrifice prompt payment of salaries for indulgence in pursuance of projects of minimal benefit to the people. NEVER AGAIN.
RECLAIMING OUR LAND; RESTORING OUR VALUES
Yet from the ashes we rise and shine as we look towards the light. The light of knowledge and intellectualism that we are known for, which illuminates our minds and reflects in the good character and pristine values we hold dear. These are the same values that have been eroded in recent years, which we seek to restore.
Indeed, our mission to Reclaim our Land and Restore our Values, was not only the slogan of our campaigns but a clarion call to all to embark on this journey with us. Today, as we have reclaimed our land, we are now at the cusp of charting the course of sustainable development out of the quagmire that we find ourselves in. In this task, we are faced with a number of threats and challenges, yet blessed with an immense amount of strengths and opportunities. My vision for our great State is that this is a place where people can thrive and live their lives in dignity. A place where workers do not labour in vain. A place where our young people do not roam the streets looking for jobs that are not there, a place where people are not so hungry they resort to pilfering food to survive. A place where the cycle of generational poverty can be broken, and in which our elderly can reap the fruits of their labours over their children. A place where people are safe, healthy and prosperous.
The governance agenda of this administration is therefore compelled to focus on four areas through which we will deliver our promises to the people. The four pillars of our administration will be: Social Investments; Knowledge Economy; Infrastructure and Industrial Development; and Agriculture and Rural Development.
Our greatest resource remains our people. As the great sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo insisted, human beings are the measure of all things. Only a healthy and enlightened people can drive the sustainable development we want to see in Ekiti State. We therefore remain committed to reinstituting social safety nets that would bring succour to the most vulnerable segments of our society. One example of such safety nets is the Social Security Scheme for the elderly which I am pleased to say will be revived shortly. Eyin Iya mi, eyin baba mi, owo arugbo n pada bo laipe, laijina Our ideological position remains that no individual in society should be left behind, but everyone should be supported to live out their dreams to their fullest potential in their youth, and have a dignified and comfortable retirement in their old age – this is the fundamental responsibility of any government. In this regard, I am particularly pleased that many of the programmes we pioneered in our first term in office have been adopted and scaled up the Federal Government under the Social Investment Programme. We would work to ensure more of our people are beneficiaries of these programmes.
Likewise, delivering qualitative Healthcare is a priority for our administration, and we will ensure our hospitals are once again well-equipped and functional to attend to the needs of the population.
Ekiti State is known as the Fountain of Knowledge. Our people love, seek, and celebrate knowledge. We arguably have the highest number of professors and academic pioneers per capita in Nigeria. We also have many of our citizens who are leading lights in every field of human endeavour as well as those who are at the frontiers of research in the academia and scholastic practice all over the world. It is therefore a logical choice to turn to knowledge as the primary product in which we can trade successfully. To survive and thrive in today’s global economy, as Ekiti people we should be committed to using our brilliant minds to promote sustainable development. We will pay attention to fields such as teaching, research, skills development, creative arts, strengthening tertiary institutions and educational entrepreneurship. To this end, my administration will resuscitate the Ekiti Knowledge Zone which was established during my first term in office. We will also be counting on the input of Ekiti people everywhere in our efforts to establish these critical linkages in our knowledge economy.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT
The advancement of Ekiti State’s economy is pivotal to wealth and job creation for the citizenry of the State. This is crucial and relevant to the Poverty Reduction and Revenue Enhancement mission of our administration. In order to further advance an economic and industrial revolution in Ekiti State, and in furtherance of our commitment to job and wealth creation, we will revisit the commercial and technical viability of abandoned projects and schemes in the State with a view to reactivating them. These include our vast network of roads, our many community-based projects and our flagship tourism asset – Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort. We shall also carefully take on new infrastructural projects that would be strategic in advancing economic growth and industrial development in the State.
In order to guarantee sustained operations of commerce and industrial enterprises within the State, the government is required to create a secure environment. An integrated network of security infrastructure would be put in place to ensure Ekiti is once again the safe and secure haven for local and foreign direct investments. This will enhance inflow of foreign and local investments into the State.
AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
Ekiti is essentially an agrarian society with soil properties conducive for growing a wide variety of crops. In order to achieve sustainable food security, create employment opportunities and foster agro-based industrial development for poverty alleviation and wealth creation, the approach must change from the current focus on farming and agriculture as a government social service to a commercial and private-sector driven approach which is now called Agribusiness.
We are therefore adopting a sustainable and commercial value chain approach which will lead to transformational agribusiness development that can enhance food and personal security, create employment opportunities, empower women and youth, reduce poverty, and create wealth through viable agro-allied industrial development.
LET US COME TOGETHER
Four years ago, in conceding defeat and promptly inviting the candidate of the opposing party to a meeting, despite the irregularities that marred the elections and the bitterly divisive politics that preceded it, as well as the questionable conduct that we all witnessed, I established a tradition of smooth transition in Ekiti State for which we became a model to the rest of the country. Having initially waited for three and a half years to reclaim the mandate that you gave me in 2007, and which was reclaimed in 2010, I had enough confidence in the triumph of truth and justice to wait for another four years to reclaim the mandate again in 2018. If anyone is in doubt about the eventual and irrepressible victory of truth and justice over falsehood and injustice, here is an affirmation of that victory.
As I bring my speech to a close today, I plead for the patience and understanding of all Ekiti sons and daughters who are very eager to once again feel the impact of a purposeful and egalitarian government. We assure you that we are well prepared to get off the block from day one. We take full ownership of the challenges ahead of us and together, we strongly believe that we shall overcome. You can also be assured that I will not rest till the burning issue of payment of workers’ salaries is addressed.
Ekiti shall once again play its rightful role as an integral part of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), and work with other descendants of Oduduwa in our sister states to leverage our respective strengths and comparative advantages in order to fast-track the development of the region.
I call on our development partners – corporations and multilateral agencies alike, to please return to Ekiti State. You would find in this administration a competent, accountable and willing partner, and you will appreciate that our governance objectives are well aligned to global development priorities as enshrined in such instruments as the Sustainable Development Goals. Our plans and aspirations are also fittingly integrated with the programmes and policies of the Federal Government of Nigeria. We are assuming office with an enviable track record of performance at the federal and state levels of governance, and we enjoy immense goodwill of all key stakeholders in Nigeria and beyond. We are ready to work with you in partnership to create landmark success stories in the shortest possible time. I assure you that my administration will be committed to best practices in governance, characterised discipline, ethical behaviour and dedication to excellence.
I also use this opportunity to appeal to the Federal Government to help the people of Ekiti State through this difficult time. Ekiti State’s economy is clearly in a State of Emergency, and we deserve the urgent support of the Federal Government under the constitutional provision of Economic Stabilisation for Distressed States. I have no doubt that Mr. President would accede to this request and expedite a life line to resuscitate our ailing economy.
Once again, I thank every boy, girl, man, woman, indigene and resident alike. I thank you all for granting us the mandate to lead our great State again. Ekiti Kete, today, rejoice. For once again you can be proud to be called a son or daughter of Ekiti. You can be proud that Ekiti is once again known as the Land of Honour, in truth and in deed. Let us do this together. Let us build the Ekiti of our dreams, a land we can be proud to pass on to our descendants.
Ekitikete, e je ka parapo!!!
EkitiKete, let us come together!!!
Ekiti a gbe wa o!!!
God bless Ekiti State!!!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Dr. Kayode Fayemi, CON
Ado, Ekiti | Tuesday, October 16, 2018