*“A great leader’s courage to fulfil his vision comes from passion, not position.”*
The first 100 days in office took on symbolic significance during the first term in office of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States (1933-1945), and ever since, the period has been considered a benchmark to measure the early success of an administration.
Whether you are a successful administrator, or a complete flop, such first 100 days in office is there to decide. Mounting the saddle after a rough rider is usually not an enviable development. Not only are you trusted into a spotlight, you are also forced to walk on a tight rope. Such an unenviable job leaves you vulnerable to plenty of mistakes and pitfalls.
But the reverse is the case for the incumbent Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi. Rather, it is a huge boon to his career. Just like a discerning mind has opined that it was only good that Fayemi’s two-terms did not run back-to-back, so the people would not take his developmental style of governance for granted, he has made a good show of the opportunity of his return. He has also given it his best shot to demonstrate to the people of Ekiti that, although they had made a great mistake in tolerating four years of misrule foisted on them, their decision in voting him in as their governor for a second term, would definitely write off the deficit.
In the words of George Washington, the first President of the US, “to form a new government requires an infinite care and unbounded attention; for if the foundation is badly laid, the superstructure to build upon must be bad.”
Truly, the foundation upon which Fayemi is building his second term in office had been badly laid by his predecessor in office, but the incumbent governor is not someone who would dwell on such as an alibi for failure. Government, after all, is a continuum. He accepted the challenge to return the state to its good old days as quickly as possible and has since been walking and working, non-stop.
Fayemi’s achievements in less than hundred days of mounting the saddle has been overwhelming. He started by traversing the length and breadth of the state to have a first-hand assessment of the spoilage that had taken place in his absence, then he promised to inherit the damage without questioning, and, realising there was no time to waste, he rolled up his sleeves and started working from the very first day in office.
During his inauguration on 16 October 2018, Fayemi assured Ekiti people that he was not on any vengeance mission and as such would not be deploying any negative energy. He listed four pillars on which he would hinge his governance this time around as social investment, knowledge economy, infrastructure and industrial development, as well as rural development.
Many may have been disappointed that despite the magnitude of the heist committed by his predecessor in office, Gov. Fayemi has yet to make any categorical statement about the financial status of the state on his assumption. However, the governor has opted to allow for a holistic professional auditing by credible auditors, and has hired the services of PriceWaterHouse Coopers to do objective findings.
Notwithstanding, the early hard work has yielded some quick wins. Despite the fact that little or nothing has changed financially in terms of revenue, the governor has shown a rare managerial acumen. The bold steps taken towards restoration of core values of hard work, integrity, justice and fairness became noticeable within a short time. The one-week-one-trouble conduct of the immediate past administration has suddenly given way for the one-week-one-achievement of the present administration.
Development of human capital instantly took the front burner with education becoming the earliest beneficiary. Hardly had he settled down to work than Gov. Fayemi abolished the development levy mindlessly imposed on the primary and secondary students in the state. To further ease the burden of getting the children educated, the governor declared education free from the primary to the senior secondary school levels, and for their teachers, he announced a buffer of N200 million as housing and car loans. He also paid for the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSSCE) and the University Matriculation Examination (UME) of all the SSS3 students in all the public schools in the state, not minding that the exams were still several months away.
At the tertiary level, Gov. Fayemi set up visitation panels to look into the activities of the key state-owned institutions with a view to repositioning them for optimal performance. The different panels have since submitted their reports, leading to an overhaul of the leadership of the institutions and appointment of governing councils for effective administration.
Add to these, the flag-off of a capacity building training for about 7000 selected women and youths across the 16 local government councils of the state, then one would have a good idea of how much quick wins Fayemi has scored in the area of capacity development within the short period
The programme is in furtherance of the efforts of Government to promote policies, programmes and activities to enhance capacity building, which ultimately leads to job creation and sustainable livelihood, a re-enactment of the collaboration between Ekiti State and the federal government through the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) during Dr. Fayemi’s first term in office, but which was abandoned by his successor/predecessor. It focuses on Agribusiness Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme. (AGSMEIS), Micro Enterprises Enhancement, Beauty Therapy, and Demand Driven Skills of choice.
Going forward, the governor plans to bring back the Youths Volunteer Scheme, which will recruit no fewer than 10,000 young school leavers.
The state broadcasting service, BSES, which was closed down as a result of some reckless misconduct of its management in the past, has since been reopened as a result of Government’s positive intervention and has started operating in a more professional way.
After education, empowerment and job creation, health comes next, and, as they say, health is wealth and it equally ranks high in the priority list of Gov. Fayemi. Already, the governor has signed the Universal Basic Health Provision agreement with the federal government and has started health mission across the state to keep his people healthier.
The security situation in Ekiti had been an albatross, but Gov. Fayemi has not only assured the citizens of the state that adequate measures would be put in place, he has also taken some practical steps to tackle it headlong. Part of the measures so far taken was a review of the State Security Trust Fund Law, having identified the major reason as poor funding of the various security apparatuses and opted to correct it. At an emergency meeting of the State Security Council held in Ado Ekiti, the governor gave a marching order to security agencies in the state to comb the entire state and fish out the criminal elements.
Payment of salaries became a herculean task during the last administration. It is now a thing taken for granted, since workers can anticipate it at the end of every month, just like it was the case during Fayemi’s first term in office. In less than three months of mounting the saddle, the governor not only paid three statutory salaries to workers, including the pension of retirees, but also topped it up with the payment of one of the several arrears owed by his predecessor. Four salaries within three months. The gesture was as well extended to the past public office holders who got paid their severance allowance held in abeyance since 2014. All those who benefited from the gesture confessed they never had it that good in the last four years.
In the area of utilities, Fayemi has recorded some quick wins too. Those areas where electricity was fast becoming a mirage after four years of blackout, have suddenly been reconnected to the national grid. Water gets a deserved attention with the flag off of the $55 million Ero Dam treatment plant.
Justice and fairness were elusive during the brash reign of the last administration, but they have returned to Ekiti. This became visible with the reinstatement of six permanent secretaries illegally sacked by the immediate past administration and another three that were unjustly demoted were also restored to their original levels.
All the projects either abandoned or left to rot away by the immediate past administration have also received a lease of life during the first hundred days of Gov. Fayemi. This same gesture has been extended to the state secretariat premises, which was left in a parlous state to the chagrin of Gov. Fayemi, who has since announced an injection of N1 billion to restore them to a much better condition. And there was this “non-patronage” ban, illegally slammed on some commercial banks operating in the state by his predecessor, which the governor has removed.
With the new atmosphere of peace and enabling environment in the state, the international agencies that had abandoned Ekiti in the past four years have started giving the state a look-in again for a renewed partnership. Under the IDEAS programme, the state has received $3 million from the World Bank for the three technical colleges in the three districts of the state to boost technical and vocational educations. The governor has also signed a pact with the Momdia Group in Dubai for the roll-out of a new mobile child health care services.
Beyond all these visibly profound quick wins is Fayemi’s understanding of the people as his greatest asset, and his resolve to carry them along in all his plans is legendary. This is evident in his re-introduction of the regular town hall meetings across all the communities in the state.
Fayemi’s footprints on the sands of time in Ekiti in the first 100 days is not only legendary but exemplary. And the trick is very simple: a quicker turnaround in decision making and implementation, rather than showmanship, leaving the substance and chasing the wind.
_-Segun Dipe is the Senior Special Assistant to Ekiti State Governor on Public Communications._