On the 14th of July 2018, Ekiti people went to the polls to right the wrongs of the 2014 when they voted out the man who truly is the friend of the masses as a compensation for the good works he did for them between October 2010 and 2014. Though thousands of Ekiti indigenes jubilated that Dr Kayode Fayemi, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the 2018 guber election, some people including yours truly have become nostalgic because we know it is not yet Uhuru. Expectations are very high about Fayemi who had in his first tenure laid a solid foundation for the economic development of the State. There is no doubt that Fayemi would succeed because he is highly connected and would use such connections to attract investment to the State as he did in his first term.
However, the governor-elect must do certain things which the common man in Ekiti had longed for. Though Ekiti people were hoodwinked into believing that the 1.3km Fajuyi-Ojumose flyover bridge constructed by the outgoing governor, Ayo Fayose was what Ado Ekiti needed, the truth is that the bridge was done at the expense of other township roads which are currently in a state of serious disrepair. Ado township roads are nothing to write home about as they are gradually becoming death traps. One could only imagine the plethora of potholes which have now ironically “beautified” the roads particularly in front of a bank at Old garage in Ado. NTA- Satellite campus road, Oke Ila-Housing road, Basiri junction, Okebola-Atikankan road, and Olokemeji-Southwestern hotel- Poly road, among others are roads which commuters ply daily and are crying for attention but which Fayose turned blind eyes at and focused on the flyover. We expect Fayemi to rehabilitate these roads and a host of others not mentioned here so that our roads can become motorable. He should as a matter of urgency commence Operation No-Potholes in Ekiti for this purpose.
It is true that development can only thrive when there is good road infrastructure. The governor-elect should open up new areas and construct ring roads in Ado Ekiti because the state capital is now becoming very Choky. He should as a matter of urgency complete Omisanjana-Ajebandele road which was started by him so that it can reduce traffic congestion on Irona-Ijigbo-Ajilosun route. A new road linking Afao road from ABUAD should also be constructed so free up Ado-Ijan road which is already becoming impassable. The same is applicable to New Iyin road which Dr Fayemi awarded to China Railway Road Corporation but neglected by his predecessor in 2014. This will bring development to the area and increase the value of landed property in the axis.
Many inter-township roads which were (re)constructed by JKF in his first tenure have become impassable for lack of maintenance. While I want to state that many of our towns do not need dualised roads whose width is not different from single lanes, they merely need all linking or intra township roads to be as motorable as possible. Fayemi can reintroduce the 5km road project in each local government to address this.
Inter-township roads such as Aramoko-Ijero road which was reconstructed by Fayemi in his first tenure is in a state of disrepair. Ikere-Ise road, Ifaki-Oye road, Ilawe-Erijiyan-Ikogosi road, Itawure-Ido Ile road, Ise-Ijan road, Oye-Ayede-Isan-Iye road and Itawure-Okemesi road among many others are seriously begging for repair.
Another major thing which I expect the governor-elect to quickly attend to in the area of infrastructure is the completion of the multipurpose civic centre within the first six months of his administration. No doubts, the project which was designed to house a cinema, a museum, and event halls among others would generate a lot of incomes for the state but was abandoned by the outgoing government for ego and self aggrandizement. Fayemi would do Ekiti people proud by completing the project so that business entities such as Shoprite which had earlier shown interest in getting a space there on rental arrangement can come on board. The coming of Shoprite will definitely increase market competition among supermarkets in the State and add to the number of corporate tax payers in Ekiti.
Dr Fayemi should equally complete other projects initiated by him or Segun Oni especially the State Secretariat complex for the use of the good people of the State.
Worthy of note among the things Dr Fayemi is expected to work on is Ikogosi Warm spring Resort which was revived by him some years back but has almost become comatose for lack of proper maintenance by the outgoing administration. In December 2013 when Fayemi reopened the world wonder resort, no less than #100 million was generated by the resort that month and this is an assurance that if the resort is managed properly, it would increase the revenue base of the State. Ire Burnt Brick factory which was revived by the same Fayemi towards the end of his first tenure is sadly dead. The governor-elect must as a matter of urgency revive the industry in collaboration with Odua Investment.
For Ekiti to become great again, there must be a shift from it being a civil service state to an industrialised State. Though it is often said that government has no business in business, I believe that government can invest by establishing some industries and run them under a PPP arrangement. If Nigeria could be importing toothpick and Ekiti is blessed with forests that can provide the raw materials needed to produce toothpick, then it is an opportunity for us to solve a national problem and make our money from it.
Aside the toothpick production factory, there is a number of industries whose raw materials are readily available in Ekiti. The northern part of Ekiti is well known for its cassava production. The State government under Fayemi can site a cassava processing factory in the region so that the factory can go into the production of different cassava products such as garri, cassava flour, and starch among others. It is shameful that while Igbemo rice was known far and wide as the best locally produced rice in Nigeria, Ofada rice was nowhere to be found then. Today, Ogun State has gone into the production of rice while Ekiti government abandoned Igbemo rice only to express empty commitment to stomach infrastructure. If Dr Fayemi can establish a rice processing mill in Ekiti, it will encourage our farmers especially the younger generation to go into rice farming since they are aware of a ready market for them. This will generate employment and checkmate capital flight. The incoming government can equally set up a banana processing factory in the Southern part of the State especially Ilawe and Igbara Odo.
It is interesting that none of the industries I mentioned above can cost the government more than #5 Billion but we have seen a government that wasted billions on a needless Flyover which has no positive impact on the revenue of the State.The government can go for a foreign loan to carry out these projects. Though many of us may not support the idea of borrowing, the truth is that the most economically viable State in Nigeria today thrives on borrowing but the monies are expended on projects that can fetch the State more income. So there is nothing wrong with borrowings aimed at financing income-generating projects.
Before I wrap up this piece, I wish to advise the governor-elect to maintain a very lean cabinet. Mr Governor-elect, you don’t need 18 commissioners and 200 advisers. Let your cabinet members be a mix of politicians and technocrats who have spent better part of their lives with Ekiti people. You cannot afford to appoint commissioners or advisers who are not even known at home by the people. Such won’t add any political value to your government; don’t forget you are a politician and you need people who will add value to your political career. I wish you well and I wish Ekiti Godspeed under your leadership which I have never for once doubted its ability to deliver the goods to Ekiti people.