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Ahead of the June 21 governorship election in Ekiti State, Toba Suleiman, in Ado-Ekiti, looks at the plans of the major candidates for the economy of the state
For over 60 days, the candidates for the June 21 governorship poll have traversed the length and breadth of the state selling their programmes and canvassing for votes. They have been talking about their blueprints for the improvement of the lives of the people.
While the candidate of All Progressives Congress, incumbent Governor Kayode Fayemi’s campaigns have consisted mainly of efforts to showcase his achievements since the last four years, the other major contestants, Peoples Democratic Party candidate Ayo Fayose and Labour Party’s Opeyemi Bamidele, are banking on their plans for the people.
Since the commencement of electioneering, Fayemi has been hammering on his achievements built on his 8-points agenda. His campaign has centred on how he would consolidate on the programmes in his 8-point agenda. “You can see what we have done, and we are going to do better, if you vote me for the second term,” has been the pattern of his campaign.
The governor’s development agenda has focused on tourism, youth employment, social security, women empowerment, agriculture and infrastructural development.
Fayemi has tried to turnaround the tourism industry in the state, with the two-pronged objective of making the state an attractive destination for leisure and business as well as a major source of revenue and employment for the state.
During his inaugural speech in October 2010, Fayemi had pledged to make tourism the economic pivot of Ekiti State. He subsequently invested heavily on the Ikogosi Warm Spring, which is described as one of the eight wonders of the world, the Fajuyi Square in Ado-Ekiti, and the Ipole-Iloro Waterfall.
Previous governments had not been able to put the sites on the world map or expand their economic potential.
Fayemi has promised to embark on a second phase of the tourism industry development.
Besides tourism, Fayemi has embarked on massive infrastructural development, especially in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital. He has tried to give Ado-Ekiti a befitting outlook, and he has said his second coming would be a time to conclude the beautification he started on assumption of office. To help the agricultural sector in the state, the governor has also engaged in massive road construction across the state. The Social Security Scheme remains a major aspect of Fayemi’s economic blueprint for the state. Under the scheme (called owo arugbo in the native Yoruba language), elderly people from 65 years and above are given a stipend of N5, 000 per month.
The governor has said the programme would be improved upon in his second term. Fayemi has also placed emphasis on youth employment.
The PDP candidate says his government would focus on how to make Ekiti State self-sustaining if elected governor at the June 21 poll. Fayose, who was governor of the state from May 29, 2003 to October 16, 2006, has based his campaign on a promise of consolidating on his past achievements as governor.
He has emphasised that he would not rely on federal allocations to develop Ekiti, explaining that he would work on how to increase the internally generated revenue without putting extra burden on residents of the state.
Fayose has also been trying to assure the people that his government would avoid projects that would not bring immediate gains to the people. He says small scale industries would be encouraged to provide employment opportunities for Ekiti youths and generate revenue for the state.
The former governor has told farmers that his government would encourage mechanised farming on a massive scale and make available soft loans for the youth under various agricultural initiatives. Apart from providing machines to plow the land, seedlings would be made available to farmers at cheap rates, all in an effort to create employment and generate revenue for the state, Fayose says. He believes that if the youth are gainfully employed, the problem of insecurity would be reduced.
The former governor, who says he was the first to open up the state through massive road construction, assures that Ekiti should expect more if he is elected for a second term. He says no sector of the state’s economy would be left out.
Although, he has not tasted power at the governorship level before, the governorship candidate of LP has promised to make a difference if elected governor, based on his past experiences as commissioner and special adviser in Lagos State for over 12 years. He has said at various campaign rallies that his covenant with the people of Ekiti State would strictly focus on improved farming practices for rural farmers.
Describing agriculture as the mainstay of the Ekiti State economy, Bamidele says he is prepared to introduce massive mechanised farming to boost the economy. He has promised adequate supply of fertiliser, tractors, pest control items and other farming tools as a way of improving the quality of life of the people.
The LP candidate has also promised to revive the micro-finance and co-operative systems in Ekiti State to ameliorate the plight of farmers.
According to Bamidele, “Gone are the days when people were engaging in farming using cutlasses and hoes. The trend now around the world is that people use machines and improved farming implements. This is what we want to do for all rural farmers in Ekiti when we get to office.
“I promise to make life easier for you as a sector that is critical by feeding our teeming population. We will give the farming profession its pride of place through mechanisation. You will regain your pride as farmers. This is our promise to you and God will help us.”
Bamidele also pledged to construct all the roads that link the farm settlements to the towns. He said if elected governor, his government would be all-encompassing and all-inclusive, adding that priority would be given to qualitative and affordable education, while the health sector would also be given adequate attention.
Fayemi/Bamidele Tango over Failed Factories
For sometimes now, Fayemi and Bamidele have been trading words over industrial development in the state, especially the conditions of some factories in the state. The LP candidate has accused the Fayemi administration of paying lip service to industrial development in Ekiti State.
Bamidele recalled that Fayemi had on the day of his inauguration on October 16, 2010 boasted that he would transform the state from its monoculture economy through industrialisation. He insisted that this transformation had remained a mirage, as the state continues to be a civil service state due to the state government’s lack of attention to that critical and pivotal sector.
Specifically, Bamidele questioned the contributions of the Ire Brick Industry and Road Material Company (ROMACO) in Igbemo to the economy of the state in spite of over N2 billion that had been expended to resuscitate them.
Noting that industrial development was sixth on the Fayemi’s 8-point agenda, Bamidele urged him to explain how far he had gone in the development of the agro-allied industry, exploitation of mineral deposits in the state and other allied matters capable of driving the economy.
“We want Fayemi to tell us where he has built his industrial parks. We want him to tell us the rate of turnover of Ire Burnt Brick Industry.” However, Fayemi accused Bamidele of consistently demonstrating ignorance of the current socio-economic realities in the state, saying he does not deserve the votes of the Ekiti electorate.
The governor said Bamidele should do a thorough check at the relevant agencies before coming up with his position.
There is no doubt, though, that the state government has taken some giant steps in the area of industrial development in the state in line with the governor’s 8-point agenda.
Fayemi said Ire Burnt brick was back to life and recruitment of staff (well over 100) of different categories had been concluded and they had started resuming. He said the Belgian technical partners had resumed work and the various equipment, including fuel to power the engines, had been supplied, while production was scheduled to start in the first week of June after all the staff would have resumed.
According to the governor, ROMACO has been given out on a long lease to a technical partner who makes monthly returns to the state government. He said it was the need to promote small and medium scale enterprises that informed the decision to partner with the Odua Investment Company to convert the moribund Odua Textile Mills toEkiti/Oodua Enterprise Development Centre.
The centre houses, among others, a skills acquisition centre, Electronics and Computer village, Fountain Metropolitan Motor , Builders’ Mart, Eyiyayo Tricycle Scheme, Kero Direct and a fabric market.
Fayemi said the government was also building a crop of young entrepreneurs through mentoring and financial support, including the Youth in Commercial Agriculture (Y-CAD) and the young entrepreneur scheme.