26 January 2011

Nigeria: Fayemi And the 100 Days (2)


Similarly, Fayemi's diplomatic shuttle between Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State capital, and Abuja in the past three months had taken him to federal ministries and diplomatic missions, while he had also met with international development partners in a display of sense of urgency to turn the fortunes of the state around.

Among the places visited by the governor was the United Nations headquarters, Norwegian embassy, ministries of education, power, interior, finance, agric and works , while the country representative of the British Department for International Development, Dr. Richard Montgomery, had led top officials of the department to visit him at the Governor's Lodge, Abuja. The governor's rich academic and cosmopolitan background invariably played a huge role in the manner he was vouchsafed his requests in each of the places he visited. Some of his guests confessed to his mesmerizing and business-like mien as he regaled them with his dreams for Ekiti, which centers on an eight-point agenda.

At the meeting with the DFID, Fayemi told the gathering that he could only do little without assistance of the development partners. The governor said, "The eight-point agenda of our administration mirrors the MDGs. The focus of our broader agenda is social delivery that centres on quality healthcare delivery, water and sanitation, infrastructure and rural development and social security. Our healthcare initiative will focus on preventive, rather than curative medicine, with emphasis on pregnant women and under-five children. "We also plan to develop the industrial sector, particularly by harnessing opportunities in the solid minerals exploration. We plan to establish Solid Minerals Development Agency to tap the available rock formations, granite, marble and kaolin.

"Presently some of these items are being carted away because there is nobody monitoring them. We need to explore what we have and see any of the deposits that is of commercial quantity.

"We are working out a modality to place our senior citizens that are 65 years and above on a monthly stipend of about N10,000. Presently they are in the region of 120,000, but some are pensioners. The pensioners among them will not be part of the social security since they are already enjoying monthly pension."

Concerned that the Internally Generated Revenue contributes a paltry 10 per cent to the state's total monthly income, Fayemi said he would work towards raising the figure to 40 per cent in the next four years. Already, the governor said he had initiated discussions with the World Bank, African Development Bank, Central Bank of Nigeria and other financial institutions to raise bond and agriculture credit scheme at reasonable interest rate, especially at a single digit, to realize his lofty dreams. The governor said, "We are committed to making poverty history in the state, but we cannot do this without development partners. Our people are euphoric about our victory after a struggle of three and a half years. "The euphoria may, however, not last long if we don't begin to dish out socio-economic services that would enhance their fortunes. "Our agenda mirrors the MDGs and our desire is that agriculture becomes the highest income generator. Presently, our IGR comes from agric, forestry, wholesale and retail; while tiny portion comes from real estate."

The DFID boss had in his response acknowledged the governor as "a champion for change," who he said struggled for many years for the enthronement of democratic institution in Nigeria.

Montgomery added, "We are interested in getting down to business with Ekiti and we came into this meeting to see how best we can assist your government. My team will be ready to discuss with you quickly to see areas of collaboration before the election. We will be interested in MDGs and other areas and training of legislature. "We see in you someone that has the zeal, vision and track record. We will be more interested in what you can do for Nigeria and not only Ekiti State. We will like you to use your membership of the Governor's Forum to make a difference. We are looking at the Governor's Forum to be more democratic. We love to build relationship with professionals like you and we are interested in working with you." Such was the accolade showered on the governor by the UN Resident Coordinator, who is also the UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Daouda Toure, during similar advocacy visit to the UN headquarters. He said, "Your state stands good ground in the development of agriculture beyond the subsistence level. We see potentials for the millennium villages we are doing in Ondo State also in Ekiti. We will incorporate Ekiti into our planning process for 2011.

"I must commend the governor for his level of preparedness for this meeting going by the way he marshaled his points. Your rich background must have played a key role in this. We all have a stake in making sure that you succeed in your mission." The governor has, without doubt, belled the cat, it is now left for other stakeholders to join hands with him to take the state to the promised land. After all, the task ahead is a collective rescue mission. Light should shine again on Ekiti!

Akin Oyedele is the Special Assistant, Media, to Governor Fayemi


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