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NEW YEARS DAY SPEECH: 2014: Our Year Of Stability And Growth
2014: OUR YEAR OF STABILITY AND GROWTH
New Years Day Broadcast 2014
Dr. Kayode FAYEMI
Governor, Ekiti State, Nigeria
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
In o kun o, EkitiKete,
It is with a deep sense of humility and gratitude to God almighty that I address you this first day of January, the year of our Lord 2014.We have come to the end of a very eventful, challenging, yet successful year 2013.As a State and as a people, I express profound gratitude to God for seeing us into a new year. I also take this opportunity to wish us all – individually and collectively, a Happy New Year. May the year bring bountiful blessings to us all.
Dear compatriots, about seven years ago, I came to you asking that you vote me in as your governor. In spite of the general mistrust in the air at the time, you trusted me and gave your votes freely to me. All through the harrowing years of the legal battle to reclaim our stolen mandate, you stood solidly by me and never despaired, trusting me more to be the God-sent agent to bring succour after years of disappointments, despondency and despair. And right into my administration, you have remained unshaken in that trust.
That trust, your trust, has been a burden ever since I embarked on this journey and what forms the fulcrum of my priority everyday on this job is how to strive more not to betray your trust.
The last three years have been eventful and exhilarating in our avowed quest to repair the damage done to our commonwealth and at the same time re-start the clock of progress in the state. Looking back, I can confidently report that things are really looking up and the light of economic growth and development is shining again. We have been able to achieve this through a clinical implementation of the Roadmap to Ekiti Recovery – popularly known as the Eight Point Agenda and I urge everyone to reconcile our achievements with my inaugural speech on October 16, 2010 to see how within a span of three years, we have been able – through self- denial, perseverance and prudent management of scarce resources turned around a seemingly hopeless situation for better. Ekiti today is now an investment haven, a tourist destination of choice, the toast of development partners and a reference point in good and responsive governance because we have confronted headlong the critical questions of development and stagnation. Even though we cannot claim to have reached the promise land but certainly we have left the stage of arrested development, cluelessness and despondency. As a responsible government, our focus is clear, our direction is unambiguous. It is a determined movement to stability and growth.
The sincere building or re-building of any society has never been known to be easy. It requires sacrifice on the part of everyone, sacrifice that sometimes makes us ask whether it is worth it after all. But in truth – in the innermost recesses of our hearts and souls – our inner being answers that question for us even when we try to avoid it. It tells us that if we fail to make those sacrifices, we are ultimately failing to lay an enduring foundation for the generations yet unborn, our children and our children’s children. Certainly, when we might have done our part and are long gone from this earth, none of us will be remembered for the number of houses that we built or the fleet of luxury cars that we rode in. Our sacrifice, deep thinking, selflessness, reasonableness and an abiding commitment to make the world a better place for those around us and those coming after us is the only memory that endures. It was in defence of the trust that you have in the administration that we embarked on the restoration of our core values of Omoluabi the age-old values of Ekitiland – character, integrity, commitment to service, dignity of labour, competence in the workplace and compassion for the weak and the vulnerable. We make bold to say that we have made significant progress in the restoration of Ekiti values and this is reflected in how serious our views now count in the comity of states and in respected circles.
We also recognize the power of ideas, creativity and innovations as the panacea for meaningful growth and all inclusive development. We have consequently re- created the parameters of governance to ensure the greatest goods and happiness for our dear people and to also achieve people’s trust of government intentions especially with those who hold the sacred mandate to represent the people and superintend over their commonwealth. Permit me to at this juncture express my sincere thanks and appreciation to you all for trusting our genuine intentions and believing in us and constantly showing tremendous support everywhere we turn since our assumption of office. This has compelled us to do more with every sense of responsibility. It has also enabled us to increase the openness, transparency, credibility and reliability necessary in public conduct. I can tell you with all sense of responsibility that I am not tired to continue dispensing good governance for the collective benefit of all.
The Year 2013
In the year gone past, our administration continued in our mission to deliver a greater Ekiti where poverty is history, incrementally overcoming the onerous challenges we inherited when we assumed office in 2010, and building upon our achievements in the previous years. Our well documented milestone successes have been made possible by the grace of God, our focus and determination, as well as input and collaborative work of stakeholders across the state and beyond.
I am particularly fulfilled that we have not betrayed the trust you vested in us, as you the people are now the champions of our participatory governance ethos. The cordial and productive interdependent relationship that has existed between this administration and the good people of Ekiti State has made it possible for us to make giant strides in the execution of our 8-point Agenda.
In 2013, we continued in our tradition of establishing a regime of legislations to guarantee a predictable environment of transparent, accountable, efficient and effective governance; and creating a society where everyone irrespective of gender, faith, age or physical ability is given equal opportunities to achieve their God given potentials devoid of fear or intimidation. To this end, several landmark bills were signed into law in 2013 including the historic Equal Opportunities Law – the first in Nigeria bringing to 63 the total number of bills that have been signed into law since we assumed office.
To improve fiscal planning, in 2013, we consolidated our use of the medium term expenditure framework [MTEF] which we adopted in 2012 as part of reforms in our annual budgetary process. The MTEF is an annual, rolling three year-expenditure planning framework that sets out the medium-term expenditure priorities and hard budget constraints against which sector plans are developed and refined. The MTEF 2014 – 2016 has therefore been duly developed and approved by the Ekiti State House of Assembly and is the basis upon which the 2014 budget was developed. This move which has the objective of entrenching sound projecting, discipline and prudence into our budgeting process has been well received by all stakeholders.
We also stayed the course with our efforts to restore professionalism to the Civil Service by ensuring merit remains the core basis of appointments and promotions. This transformative step is with a view to building a virile bureaucracy that is capable of driving people-focused policies and programmes of the government efficiently and effectively, and can sustain our far reaching reforms over the long term. It is noteworthy that we have also addressed the issue of the backlog of promotions for various cadres of civil servants, thereby restoring a sense of fulfillment and career progression for our diligent workforce.
In 2013, we sustainedour flagship Social Security Programmewith its corresponding Food Bank and Soup Kitchen initiatives increasing its coverage to over 25,000 beneficiaries and also enlisted a new batch of 5,000 people into our Youth Volunteer Corps Employment scheme.
In terms of Infrastructural Development, we aggressively pursued our target of making every area of the state accessible by motorable roads by the end of our first term in October 2014. In 2013, our administration hit the mark of 736.715km of roads being constructed across the state. We also made water dams in the state functional so as to increase water supply and coverage by at least eighty per cent [80%], while utilisingpublic-private partnership to increase the generation and distribution of electricity. We have embarked on massive rural electrification projects in communities that previously had no electricity and provided potable water and small water treatment schemes for several underserved communities.
Our Urban Renewal initiative has also progressed beyond the state capital as we have expanded from the state capital to the former District headquarters in Ekiti by commencing construction of township roads in Ijero, Ikere and Ikole. As a follow-up on the successes recorded in the 5 kilometers road project by each of the 16 LGAs, the contracts for the second phase have been awarded and work has commenced in many of them. In addition, as promised in my 2013 New Year’s Day Message, Government has expended N300 million on 84 community development projects coordinated by the newly created Ministry of Rural Development and Community Empowerment, out of which 70 were commissioned during my village meetings in November 2013. Approval has also been given for additional N302 million for the second phase of the projects and the funds will be disbursed to beneficiaries in January 2014. These projects are in addition to about 324 EKSCDA projects scattered in all nooks and crannies of the state. No doubt, all these projects have moved us nearer to the establishment of optimum communities in all our Local Government Areas as promised. The efforts in all these areas have eased the burden of life and living for millions of the residents of these communities and the State at large.
In the area of housing, the vigorous urban renewal efforts of this administration have led to the improvement of the quality of our environment and added value to our existing housing stock. This has no doubt led to increased economic activities within our towns and cities. To open up the towns and cities for planned expansion, preparation of the ‘Ado Capital Territory Master Plan’ has been commissioned as well as the commissioning of the preparation of the ‘Structural Development Plan’ for all growth points and local government headquarters statewide.
As I also promised in the 2013 New Years Day Message to the state, we are advancing the Ekiti Homes Agenda with a vision to provide 5,000 housing units before the end of this administration’s first term in office. Already, this initiative’s flagship Eyiyato estate which seats on 34.98 ha, is working towards delivering 1,000 housing units of various specifications while other stakeholders in the industry are also working towards various targets of housing units to be delivered for the benefit of our people. We are also in discussion with ShelterAfrique – the pan-African Housing Development organization towards the intensification of the Ekiti Homes Agenda scheme.
2013 also witnessed the launch of Phase 1 of an ambitious fibre-optic infrastructure project in Ado-Ekiti. The project covers 8 kilometers from the Government Data centre to Tantalizers, Fajuyi Park, Bank Road, State Secretariat, GRA/Onigari and Christ’s School; all in Ado-Ekiti, and would make premium internet, telephony, cable tv, and a host of other e-education and e-health services available to individuals and organizations in the state. This initiative which is projected to be concluded by the first quarter of 2014 would revolutionalise the way we work, live and play in Ekiti state. 2014 is also going to witness significant developments in the Ekiti Knowledge Zone initiative particularly in the areas of ICT Training and Outsourcing operations.
We also made steady progress towards the completion of our legacy projects including the New Governors’ Lodge, the State Pavilion, and the Civic Centre, all of which are now nearing completion. In 2013, the newly reconstructed Ikogosi Warm and Cold Springs Resort was also opened to the public and has since recorded traffic of over 20,000 people, thereby receiving much needed spotlighting in the national and international tourism circuits.
Agricultural Development and Food Security
In 2013, Ekiti State hosted high profile stakeholders in the Agric sector across Nigeria and beyond in the first AgbelobaAgric Summit. This afforded us the opportunity to showcase our giant strides in repositioning this sector as in the days of old, and to garner the requisite support to once again putEkiti on the global map in the Agricsector. We made progress in reviving our cocoa plantations that will generate employment for tens of thousands of our citizens; particularly the youth when we attain full optimization. We are also focusing on cassava, rice and oil-palm value chains. It is noteworthy that Ekiti has now become the state with the highest output of Cassava in the country.
With a vision to establishing and projecting Agriculture in the state as a viable business, we have improved the conditions of farming in the state, thus guaranteeing effective cultivation, harvesting and processing of agro produce. Our vision is being implemented through our programmes such as the Youth-Commercial Agricultural Development Programme [Y-CAD] which recorded about 187,000 raised seedlings of teak and melina and 688 hectares of cassava cultivated in this year alone, as well as programmes being done in partnership with other stakeholders such as the ADP that is benefiting about 117,000 farmers and the UNDP supported irrigation projects in Ero and Itapaji that will make 1,700 hectares of irrigated farmland available.
We have funded overseas training for agro-workers in cocoa rehabilitation in Indonesia and China and have refurbished the Orin-Ekiti cassava processing plant and upgraded the plant output from 10 tons to 60 tons per day under a private-public partnership with Vegefresh Agro-Allied Company. Apart from Vegefresh, other private sector agro businesses operating in Ekiti state are: AGCO with 2,000 hectares of mechanized rice and soybean; DADTCO with high quality cassava flour processing factory; SPECTRA Nig. Ltd. which has taken over the moribund warehouse in Ikere for cocoa, plantain and cassava processing value addition; New Vision Technology; ZAMBEFF; RENL; DATLEX; GIL and Arewa Cottons that have applied for land for massive production of cotton, etc. We have also rehabilitated and constructed many kilometers of farm access roads. Also, Government is in collaboration with British America Tobacco Nigerian Foundation and FADAMA III project in the construction of a $1 million cassava cottage industry which has created jobs for about 3,000 women and more than 1,000 youths.
In 2013, all the indices in the Agric sector continued to look upwards, currently engaging a large percentage of our state’s population in gainful employment, leveraging our Food Security and contributing to the economic advancement of the state. In addition, we are making remarkable progress in the establishment of the State’s College of Technical and Commercial Agriculture aimed at developing middle cadre technical and mechanized capacity in the agro-allied sector.
Education and Human Capital Development
In the year under review, we sustained our core programmes of Free and Compulsory Education for all students up to secondary school, including special initiatives for the physically-challenged students. Our operation renovate all secondary school [ORASE] project is being applauded by various communities and considered by many as unprecedented and audacious. In all, 836 primary schools were renovated and 183 public secondary schools were covered under ORASE with 559 buildings, either as a block of classrooms or hall/hostel/laboratories renovated and/or rehabilitated. In addition, in 2013, we increased our coverage of free laptops with 25,000 new laptops in addition to the 33,000 already distributed to students and 18,000 to teachers statewide through our e-School programme.
We advanced our development strides in all our tertiary institutions with core concentration on capacity building and infrastructural development. We have also invested a lot of resources in the procurement of instructional materials in all our schools. We are also partnering with the Education Trust Fund (ETF) in infrastructural development in both our secondary and tertiary institutions. In the same vein, we have invested vast resources on knowledge acquisition and skill development to enable our citizens to work effectively in a rapidly changing and complex global environment. Our investments in human capital represent our most critical intervention in the process of state reconstruction. In this connection, contract for the construction of Samsung Engineering Academy at GTC, Ado-Ekiti has been awarded and work has commenced while I have also approved the establishment of a Life Academy at Ilumooba-Ekiti.
Overall, our efforts in the education sector have resulted in significant outcomes in the educational and human development indices, withEkitibeing spotlighted due to sustained outstanding performances above other states.Our performance in public examination in secondary school has jumped from 20 percent to 70 percent in the space of three years. It has also positively manifested in the population and school enrolment levels of primary school students with enrolment jumping from 155,296 in 2010 to 170,768 in 2013, with secondary school enrolment moving in the same direction, making Ekiti State the highest per capita in terms of school enrolment in the country.
In 2013, many awards of which I am very proud, have been won by our students, among which are:
1.“Overall Best Performing State in the Annual National Mathematics and Science Competitions by Science Teachers Association of Nigeria [STAN];
2.First position in Mathematics for Senior Secondary School category in the National Quiz competition organized by MAN in 2013;
3.First position in ANCOPSS National Stage Quiz/Essay Competition held at Makurdi in February 5, 2013 was won by a student of CAC, Efon;
4.Best Male Student in 2013 WAEC was won by a student of Ikere High School, etc.
The World Bank also recently announced a five year, USD50 million support under the State Education Programme Investment Project [SEPIP] to support the state in global recognition of our giant strides in the Education sector.
Health Care Services
One of the major thrusts of the year 2013 was the provision of affordable and functional healthcare to the people. Accordingly, we sustained our provision of free medical services for children, pregnant women, the physically-challenged and senior citizens in the state. We have also established health centres in all localities, while increasing immunization coverage. In 2013, we embarked on our ‘Operation Renovate’ all Secondary Hospitals with 18 General hospitals currently undergoing renovations across the state in Ikole, Ijesa-Isu, Ode, Omuo, Ikere, Ijan, Ise, Emure, Ifaki, Otun, Oye, Ilupeju, Efon-Alaye, Iyin, Aramoko, Okemesi and IjeroEkiti. We have embarked upon a strategic re-development of health management information systems while also focusing upon the rehabilitation of health training institutions. We have greatly improved maternal healthcare, disease control, while also making the regulation of private health institutions more effective. Our commitment to preventive medicine has led to the creation of the Primary Healthcare Development Agency to turn around our moribund primary health facilities and improve access to medical facilities across the state.
Through our investment in medical education, the Ekiti State School of Nursing and Midwifery achieved a 90 percent success rate in the National Nursing Examination. This came about as a result of our massive investment in providing the conducive environment for learning in the institution. We are now rebuilding the administration building that was burnt last year whilst also improving the accommodation facilities in the school. The New Year shall witness work on the School of Midwifery in OrunEkiti.
We have constructed a new Accident and Emergency wing in the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, established and recently commissioned the FunmiOlayinka Diagnostic Centre fully equipped with state-of-the-art screening equipment, while also creating a State Health Data Bank. We have renovated and extended the secondary healthcare facilities in the State, and also procured Ambulances for all our secondary health facilities. Our health sector indices vis-à-vis the national average bear testimony to the significant steps being taken. Ekitistate has one of the lowest maternal and child mortality rates in the country, one of the lowest HIV prevalence and the highest life expectancy in Nigeria.
All other vital indices in the Health sector have been on the rise in Ekitistate with the number of healthcare facilities rising to 495 from about 350 inherited from the previous administration.
In 2013, to jumpstart industrial development in the state, our wholly-owned Fountain Holdings Limited became fully operational as the holding company that manages the investment portfolio of the State and represents the Government in Public-Private Partnerships.
I am happy today to inform you all that, two moribund industries – Ire Bricks Factory [dead in the last 21 years], Fountain Aggregates Quarries in Igbemo and Odu’a Enterprise Centre [formerly Odu’a Textiles – equally comatose in the last 23 years] have been resuscitated. The new initiative is expanding the State’s resources, providing numerous job opportunities, encouraging new skills acquisition by workers and ultimately enlarging the middle class in the State. New Plywood Factoryis being developed in Ilu-Omooba and Omuo whilst a ceramics factory is underway in IsanEkiti.
Apart from the resuscitation of the two moribund factories, there are other public investments under the management of Fountain Holdings Ltd such as Fountain Hotels Ltd., Ilasa Yam Storage Project, Ikogosi Warm & Cold Springs Resort, Fountain Solid Minerals Development Company, Fountain Diary Farms and Ikogosi Water Bottling Company, whose viability and prospects are being enhanced.
The Ekiti State Enterprise Development Agency charged with encouraging, promoting and coordinating investment activities in the State has continued to successfully stimulate economic growth. Three enterprise development centres have been commissioned at Iloro, Aisegba and Ilupeju to train people on entrepreneurial skills.
The number of Small scale industries in the state doubled within the last 2 years with 1,066 recorded in 2011 and close to 2,500 recorded in 2013, with more still springing up as a result of prevailing favourable business environment.
Our development of a knowledge economy has been bolstered with the fibre-optic project mentioned earlier, as well asGovernment’s empanelling of a steering committee for the development of the Ekiti State Knowledge Zone [EKZ] that would soon submit its recommendations.
As stated earlier, in 2013, we concluded the first phase of the re-development of the Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort as the flagship tourist destination in the state. About 116 hectares of land was acquired for the new Resort, with plans for theme parks, high-altitude sports academy, and Resource centre for women, golf course, entertainment centres, and games reserve. We also advanced our plan to make Ekiti State a most attractive destination for relaxation and holidays by developing the Efon, Okemesi, Ikogosi and Ipole-Iloro tourism corridor. No doubt, it is now a place that the world will come to and enjoy the beauty of nature. It is gratifying to note that through our modest intervention, Ikogosi Warm & Cold Springs Resort has been globally recognized and listed among the top seven natural wonders in Nigeria.
We also sustained the hosting of the annual EKIFEST which is an event that celebrates our indigenous arts and culture. Also in 2013, we collaborated with the Council of Obas to produce the Historical Royal Compendium of all the communities in Ekiti State, the first of its kind in the country. The Compendium is the collection of the history of the various towns as put together by our highly respected Royal Fathers in conjunction with their people.
Gender Equality and Empowerment
Our government has deliberately embraced the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] of promoting gender equality and women empowerment. Consequently, our administration built upon our achievements in providing the requisite legislations by signing into law the Equal Opportunities law 2013. We have also sustained our enlightenment campaign for our people to be aware of their rights and privilegesunder such legislations.
To further ensure that we create public awareness on gender related issues, our administration introduced a number of initiatives targeted at women and children. For instance, the number of school-based Child Right Clubs was increased from 37 in 2010 to close to hundred in 2013, while the number of functional Women Cooperative Societies has more than quadrupled since 2010. Many of our women have also be trained in one trade or the other and received financial support to enable them set up their businesses. Similarly, we are providing skills acquisition programmes for out-of-school girls, supporting girl-child education and strengthened the Family Court for the implementation and administration of children and family matters.
The Soup Kitchen and Food Bank have continued to provide succor to indigent women in the state and I want to commend the Wife of Governor for her unrelenting advocacy in this regard. With these giant strides, Ekiti State has become a beacon of hope and a shining light on issues of gender equality and women empowerment in the country.
Whilst evidence is there of the great strides that our government has taken in all of these areas, all of us know that there can be no gain without pain. The journey to recovery has certainly not been painless, but this government is a compassionate government that does not derive any pleasure from inflicting pain on the generality of its people. We must commend our people therefore for their generosity of spirit in enduring short term difficulties for the long term gain to greater majority of our citizens.
In the course of the past year, some of our people either out of genuine ignorance or deliberate mischief, have questioned the rationale behind our borrowings for long-term, legacy projects. The simple explanation is that we are determined to lay a solid foundation for our state. To undertake some of the regenerative projects necessary to accomplish our objective of modernizing our state and making poverty history by guaranteeing rapid development, the resources available from our allocation from the Federation account and other sources barely cover our recurrent expenditure. The choice is therefore simple – and it is to pay salaries and emoluments of our workers and cover other running costs and ignore every single developmental project. Our other choice was to explore creative and innovative means of fulfilling our campaign promises to Ekiti people as a whole – without shirking our obligations to government workers. We have successfully achieved both. Indeed, this was the context of our approaching the capital market in 2011 for a N25 billion bond issuance, N20 billion of which we accessed in December 2011 and the balance of N5 billion which we completed just yesterday for the completion of the various legacy projects. Already, at a repayment rate of N400million per month deducted at source, we have already paid N9.6 billion by the end of December 2013 whilst the value of the projects funded have tripled. Projects like Ikogosi Warm Springs Resorts, The Ire Bricks Factory and the College of Agriculture – all funded from the bond – are not only going to recruit over 1000 people directly and over 10,000 indirect jobs. That is the nature of the regenerative projects embarked upon with the funds and these are projects that will have life-long value to the States long after this government would have completed its work in the state. The same is true of the access facilitated by the new roads within the state in terms of improving the business competitiveness of the state.
2014 – Our Year of Stability and Growth
My fellow honourable people of Ekiti State, 2014 promises to be a very eventful year. Our administration would continue steadfastly with our mission to deliver on our 8-point agenda. In consultation with stakeholders across the state, we have developed the 2014 budget which has been duly signed into law.
The Objectives of the budget are as follows:
1.Commitment to aggressive and sustainable internal revenue;
2.Concerted effort to complete all critical on-going capital projects that are central to 8–point Agenda;
3.Accelerated empowerment of rural community through strengthening the Communities based development initiatives;
4.Radical approach to reducing the level of poverty of the citizenry through provision of conducive environment for job and wealth creation, youth and women empowerment;
5.Improving the effectiveness and functionality of the health sector with a view to coordinate the quality of health care delivery service;
6.Improving the quality and functionality of education;
7.Improvement in socio-economic infrastructure such as rural/ urban roads, water supply and rural electrification;
8.Provision of enabling environment for food security and agro-based industries with immense private sector participation;
9.Aggressive pursuit of the agenda of making Ekiti a destination of choice for tourists;
10.Maintenance of efficient, effective and well-motivated Public Service for enhanced productivity; and
11.Sustenance of good government through budget discipline, probity and accountability in the utilization of public fund.
For further consolidation of our administration’s efforts so far, Government will apply breaks on fiscal expansion, reduce budget deficit and largely use the year 2014 to focus on the completion and commissioning of all on-going projects. For this reason, and to reflect the thrust of governance in this year, we have christened 2014 the year of Stability and Growth.
I count on the sustained support of stakeholders across the state and beyond as we steer the ship of state under the guidance of God almighty, so that we can meet and surpass of goals.
Local Government Reforms
One of the most critical yearnings of our people during my village square and town hall meetings relates to the quest to bring government closer to the people through the creation of local government development areas. Everywhere I turned during the tour, the noise was deafening in relation to the creation of new local government development areas. As a first step I have sought the advice of the Honourable Attorney-General on the constitutionality of establishing LCDAS. I have received his legal opinion on this. In response to this well founded desire, government has decided to establish a Commission to look into the claims from the various parts of the state and we expect that the process will be completed no later than the end of the second quarter of 2014. In addition, it is our expectation that the much expected local government elections that had been delayed due to litigations and counter-litigations would hold this year.
One of the issues that created some misunderstanding between workers and government relate to the restructuring effort of government in the local governments. We embarked on the restructuring of our local government administration to achieve efficiency, equality, sense of pride and accountability. While most of our people are hardworking and slaved day and night to earn their wages in the various local governments, some who saw local government work as an avenue through which they could garner unearned money stayed away from work. Their only relationship with the local government where they claimed to work was the monthly salary drawn from the place – a salary for which they didn’t work. This set of people are those who eroded the sense of pride in local government work, making it appear as if those who work in local governments are lazy, whereas the local government is the closest and the most responsive to our people at the grassroots. This singular reason was why we could not allow those who would let the purpose for which the local government system was created be defeated. Besides, it is injustice to those who are hardworking at the local governments if there are others who earn salaries at the same office for doing nothing. Whilst we have taken on board some of the criticisms of the reform process both from NULGE and the workers – all of whom I met during my tour early December 2013, our commitment to local government reforms aimed at restoring a pride of place to the local government remains unshaken.
Let me also use this opportunity to reiterate my pledge to our pensioners that the much expected payment of 6% and 15% rise in pension will take full effect early in the New Year. Government will also endeavour to clear outstanding gratuities within the limits of the state’s resources in 2014. Our commitment to start the contributory pension in agreement with the Labour Unions is also being explored.
Administration of Justice
The process of reforming our justice system has continued in earnest. We have continued to provide support to law enforcement agencies. In particular we have supported the Nigerian police force specifically with operational vehicles to enable them respond appropriately to incidents of crime. We have provided support to the Nigerian Prisons Service in furtherance of our resolve to treat humanely our sons and daughters who come into conflict with the law. I am also pleased to announce that the Ministry of Justice has embarked on far reaching legal reforms in the administration of justice in Ekiti State. A number of bills have been sent to the State House of Assembly for consideration and possible passage. These are the Administration of Criminal Justice bill, the Magistrates Courts bill, Customary Courts bill, Law Reform Commission bill and the Right of Persons with Disabilities bill. I also note with satisfaction that progress has been made on the Bill for the establishment of the Office of the Public Defender. No doubt when passed into law, this bill will ensure that a greater number of our people particularly the vulnerable have access to justice. The Advisory Committee of Prerogative of Mercy has recommended a number of prisoners for possible release. My office will shortly announce the names of benefiting prison inmates. This will be a continuous exercise with the sole objective of ensuring that persons who come into conflict with the law particularly minor offences are given a second chance to reform and be useful members of the community.
Distinguished sons and daughters of Ekiti, as you know, as part of the Nigerian Federation, it behoves us as a state to reflect upon the Nigeria’s attainment of 100 years as a country in the year 2014.
As a very heterogeneous country with over 250 distinct ethic nationalities, we have come a long way in building a united and functional federation. We have experienced the highs and lows in our trajectory as a nation. Our forebears fought for and achieved independence from the British colonialists and dreamed of building a prosperous nation.
We have fought a very tough war to keep our country as one, and afterwards gone great lengths to reintegrate all parts of the country in peace and unity. No doubt, we have a long way to go but must acknowledge that we have come a long way too. Our progress has been stunted by the demons of corruption and various forms of institutionalized injustice in the polity, leading to poor developmental outcomes across the country but particularly more acute in some areas. Certainly this is not where we are meant to be as a nation considering our vast natural and human resources.
Our very poor level of development in the midst of plenty accounts for the rise of criminal insurgencies and the acerbating of ethno-religious and other micro-nationalist tensions in the country today, stretching our security establishments thin and leading to the wanton loss of lives and property.
Nigeria’s centennial coincides with a new phase of our struggle for the soul of our great nation. 2013 was a very historic year in the political space as we all witnessed; 2014 promises to be even more eventful. I therefore urge us all as a people whose destiny is connected inextricably with our great country Nigeria, to keeping praying even as we support the agitation for the restoration of True Federalism and the entrenchment of equity and justice in our polity.
I must however remind us all that a nation, in spite of the complex institutions and structures boils down to the family unit comprising individuals. Indeed, the fate of Nigeria is in your hands and is dependent on the choices and decisions each and every one of us makes every day. We cannot collectively be complaining of corruption bedeviling the nation when in our individual lives, we cut corners and devise ways to undermine laws of the land and the institutions that enforce these laws.
Therefore, as Nigeria clocks 100 years, I commend us all to rededicate our lives to practicing the ethos of honour and integrity that we Ekiti are known for, in our individual lives, in our families and in our various communities. By the grace of God and the righteousness of our people, Nigeria will overcome her current travails and once again be exalted in the comity of nations.
2014 Gubernatorial Elections
My dear honourable people of Ekiti, as you know, this year 2014 is a year of crucial decision in our State. Our still young republic grapples with the legacy of militarism, its violent imprint on our politics, and a generational perception of political competition as a form of warfare. It is unfortunate that politics is not widely seen as a contest of ideas for hearts and minds but a desperate means to get to power by all means possible.
I take this opportunity to remind all and sundry, particularly those who would be interested in contesting the upcoming election, that the quality of power is defined by the nature of its pursuit. When we mortgage our consciences and values in the pursuit of power, no matter how dignified or admirable our intentions, it costs us bits of our humanity and deprives governance of the moral authority that is its true foundation. We should refrain from inciting our people to violence and other negative tendencies. Ultimately, an anarchic approach in which the contestants for power deploy all means, fair or foul, to win, de-legitimises and de-humanises politics. We cannot afford to lose the grounds we have gained in establishing peace and tranquility in Ekiti over the last few years.
I urge all our people to join us in appealing to every aspirant not to make their liberty a bondage for Ekiti people. We should all focus on issue-based campaign while we sell our candidacy to our people.
I urge all our people to demand of every contestant what he/she can do differently from what my administration has done for you. It is a fact that we have touched all communities in our development drive and these facts – these tangibles – are what we will be campaigning with, not lies, not violence. Ekiti people have a duty to sieve through all promises, all statements, all lies to arrive at the truth and make the best decision that would further galvanise our dear Ekiti State on the already begun journey to lasting development and progress.
It behoves us to remember that great nations thrive on age long adherence to core values, principles, customs and tradition of integrity, honesty and high strength of character. We will continue to drum this up at all fora until we restore our dear state to its age long position of honour. Our government shall continue to provide the required leadership and strive to meet its obligations to all in the face of depleting resources. We also seek the cooperation of all and sundry to join the task of sustaining our modest achievements so far. We are holding the candle for our people to find the pathway to prosperity. There are many tasks ahead and we still have a very long way to go but with you on our side, we shall all get to the promise land. I have no doubt in my mind that we have laid the foundation for the creation of an enabling democratic, prosperous and greater Ekiti state where poverty will become history. As we continue to celebrate, I once again re affirm that along with members of my administration to stand for justice and equity; to re double efforts at building a state we can all be proud of.
I cannot end this address without touching on my concern for the security of lives and property in the state. You will all recall that during the defence of the mandate you freely gave to me, i ensured that my supporters in the face of the most dehumanizing provocations and affront did not breach the peace of the state and I said it then that I do not want to preside over the dead but the living. I am a firm believer in the sanctity of life and on no occasion will I tolerate the attempt by desperate politicians and agents of reactionary tendencies to import violence into the state and subsequently turn around to blame such on the government. We are aware of several subterranean plans to subvert the peace and tranquility of Ekiti State as we march towards the 2014 elections. We are not losing sleep over this because the indomitable anti-slavery spirit of Ekiti people is still alive. As your Governor, I shall leave no stone unturned to defend your lives and property even from marauding neighbours but to achieve this you must be ever ready to provide information to security agencies in the State. I hereby sound a note of warnings to desperate politicians to ply their trade with decorum, decency knowing that EkitiState is greater that all of us. This government shall hence forth view with all seriousness any deliberate breach of the hard earned peace in our state. As we march into the future with confidence, be assured that my sacred social contract with the people of Ekiti state will continue to be renewed to meet expectations and current realities.
I therefore call on all stakeholders, the people, the political elite, traditional institutions, security agencies, e.t.c., to put in all efforts to ensure Ekiti records a free and fair election that would be a model to other states and a reflection of the honourable people that we are.
My dear honourable people of Ekiti State, as I come to the close of this address, I join my faith with yours, that in the year 2014, our good God would crown all our efforts with good success and we shall all witness stability and growth in our individual lives and circumstances and collectively as a state.
I wish you all a Happy New Year 2014.
Thank you for listening.
Governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria, Wednesday, January 1, 2014