By BOLU-OLU ESHO
EKITI – Tuesday, October 16, 2018 would remain indelible in the hearts of the people of Ekiti State as it marked the beginning of a new era, a new order in the life of the people.
It’s not out of place to describe the day as the beginning of emancipation from mental slavery and torture. A journey which the people took the first step on July 14, 2018 when they took their destiny in their hands and voted for freedom from the control of a dynasty installed in error.
Assessing the mood of the people and the eagerness to partake in the installation of a new administration they chose to midwife the restoration of their lost dignity, honour and self-esteem betrayed the desperation of the people for true freedom.
The EkitiParapo Pavilion, the venue of the historic event, was filled to full capacity as early as 9am. Guests from other states couldn’t afford to be late to the event which they know the people of the state had been looking forward to.
Observing the mode of dressing of the people, besides those who donned native uniforms, it revealed they didn’t dress up in a hurry for the celebration.
For the first time in the history of the state, the colouration put into the ceremony, particularly by the Nigeria police gave credence to the importance of the day to the people of the state.
No governor, even Dr. Fayemi in his first tenure, has ever enjoyed the kind of honour and pomp accorded the installation of Dr. Fayemi and his deputy, Chief Bisi Egbeyemi on Tuesday, October 16, 2018.
Musicians and artistes including Adewale Ayuba and Pasuma were on ground to entertain the people.
Men and women of the Nigeria Police in their ceremonial dress honoured the newly sworn in governor with Slow and Quick march reminiscent of the Independence Day displays.
The governor inspected the guard of honour to the admiration of the happy spectators. He was driven round the pavilion in an open roof Police van. The governor in a unique style made signal to the people to which they all responded with hilarious ovation.
The Police orchestra played tunes that most spectators mimed in celebration of their true freedom day.
Masquerades, ancestors of the Ekitis from the world beyond, descended to witness this emancipation fiesta in the land of the living. Even the newly installed governor attested to this in his address, saying “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.”
The heavens released early morning rains as a testimony to their consent to the new era in the state which many described as a good omen.
When the police concluded their beautiful entertaining displays, at a glance, one could read the faces of an expectant people. But what could that be that they suddenly looked so seriously patient.
Then their chosen ‘warrior’ was invited to the podium to address the people and reel out creed of the new era and how to right all the wrongs fostered on the people by an emperor who was handed the rein of power in error.
As he opened his mouth to speak, the quietness in the gathering of hundred of thousands of spectators was so dreading that one could hear the sound of a dropping needle.
As he began to read the paper he spread before him, the people began to react and respond to each of the goals their new government is set out to pursue.
One thing that a good observer would quickly notice is the way they nod their heads intermittently in agreement with the four cardinal programme reeled out by Dr. Fayemi. They clapped their hands at intervals and quickly stopped in order not to miss a word from their new governor. Then it became obvious that the applause from the spectators wasn’t an arranged one.
Revealing how closely connected he is with the people, Dr. Fayemi said: “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.”
With rapt attention, the people listened to the heart-renderring revelations. The governor declared how focused he is, telling the people that “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.”
The countenance of the people became lively and bright when he began to reel out his revival programmes designed to salvage the battered socio-economic nerves of the people and the state.
He assured the people that “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 governor succinctly disclosed that “The four pillars of our administration will be: Social Investments; Knowledge Economy; Infrastructure and Industrial Development; and Agriculture and Rural Development.”
He gave a brief analysis of how he would achieve these laudable proposals. The social security for the indigent aged people in the state which he pioneered during his first administration would be resuscitated. Human capital development is sacrosanct to the new administration.
He said: “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.”
He added that “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.”
The administration is adopting a holistic approach to tackling the developmental challenges of the state. Fayemi revealed that “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.”
However, he declared how prudent and meticulous the administration would be in choice of projects that would be embarked upon. “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,” Fayemi said.
Creating enabling environment to attract investors to the state with a viewing to developing enterprises and industrial sector is pivotal to hitting the mark of the administration. The governor said: “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.”
Farmers and youths in the state would be provided opportunities to take the center stage in money-making agriculture practice. The governor revealed that his administration would be taking agriculture to another advanced pedestal as it would focus on how to make it a lucrative business.
He said: “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.”
Workers in the state who were sitting on the edge of their chairs while the celebration lasted, exhaled when the governor said: “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.”
He also appealed to corporate organizations that hurriedly and prematurely left the state in the face of draconian policies of the immediate past administration to return to the state.
“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.”
Rather than passing the bulk, Fayemi expressed that government is continuum, appealing for patience and support of the people of the state.
He said: “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.”
As he concluded his speech, the people gave him a rising ovation, with countenance of hope in their faces.
The common comments on the lips of the attendees include prayers for the governor to be able to achieve the set goals as projected.
Those who were complaining that the governor ought to deal decisively with the immediate past governor, Ayodele Fayose, got placable and reasonable responses from their co-attendees who reasoned that the decision is apt as it would allow the governor to focus on his programmes.
However, one thing was clear, the people didn’t only turn up for the fanfare but to also get the synopsis of the agenda of the new administration to know if it’s capable of taking them to the promise land.
Nevertheless, they weren’t disappointed as they got all encompassing soothing and development-driven agenda packaged for the next four years by the All Progressives Congress-led government.
Bolu-Olu Esho is journalist and socio-political analyst.