EKITI 2018: My Agenda For Life More Meaningful
Senator Babafemi OJUDU
I, Babafemi OJUDU from …….., Ado- Ekiti, am putting myself forward as the next occupant of the Office of the Governor, Ekiti State in 2018.
A. Why is this important?
In the last couple of years, the development of Ekiti State, that beautiful State on the rolling hills and her people, known for hard work, dedication to duty, integrity, honesty, contentment among other positive values, has been put on hold due to poor governance. The hopes and dreams of many, men and women, girls and boys have been shattered. The economy has nose-dived; the infrastructural and physical development of the land as well as the wellbeing of the people are at a standstill; social services are almost non-existent; the values that made Ekiti the pride of the South-West have been eroded. All these are traceable to a myriad of factors bordering on lack of capacity for public governance and leadership of the present administration.
Due to neglect, Ekiti State, a society with a rich history, with sons and daughters who have excelled and continue to excel in all fields of endeavor within the country and in many parts of the world; an agrarian state with huge economic potential, has become a shadow of herself. A State well respected in the country and beyond because of her contribution to national development has now become the butt of jokes everywhere, described as banal and egregious, due to the leadership choices made over the years.
Most people, young and old, now wake up daily and sit around waiting for handouts, instead of how to earn a living. At present, there are already two generations of people who do not believe in the sanctity of labour. This sad situation has led to endemic poverty, crime, indolence, hate, disease, squalor, drug addictions, illiteracy, sexual abuse, lying, back biting, and all other vices and attitudes that stifle growth and development.
It would seem that the present government has set the state back to even worse than the years before Ekiti was granted autonomy from Ondo State in 1996. The present driver would seem to be driven by ego and the love of power for the sake of having it and not for enriching the lives of the people. As presently constituted, excessive power, benefits, the appurtenances of office as well as deceit are the trademarks of the government in Ekiti. Sadly, service has taken a back seat. Today, Ekiti is plagued by a serious and endemic case of disillusionment and hopelessness. We are confronted with an indolent society where work ethics no longer exist, where people want to have a good life without working to earn their living.
Throughout my adult life, I have strived to uplift my society. I have contributed to national development by fighting oppressive governments to a standstill. I can say without being immodest that I have dedicated my life, whether as a private or public citizen, to making the lives of people more abundant. Ekiti Is Where My Heart Lies and this is the time to restore the dignity of Ekiti people, the time to put her back on the path to greatness, it is the time to take the lead, it is time to ACT.
B. My Vision
A State where life is more meaningful for the people
C. What will happen when we get there?
We are making this quest to turn Ekiti around and thus make it a shinning example of what governance should be about at all levels. Therefore, ours shall be a government dedicated to SERVICE. Our PARTNERSHIP with the people shall be engendered by TRUST. We shall erase cynicism, which has been the bane of governance in Nigeria by being open, transparent, honest and unpretentious.
Studies have shown that the sustained growth of any society cannot stand on just one pillar. It usually is a product of a combination of different pillars. We shall pursue vigorously in the next four (4) years, an Ekiti development formulae of KNOWLEDGE + ENTERPRISE = WEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT. As such, our Strategy Thrust for the transformation of Ekiti from 2018 shall be on the following four (4) Pillars:
1. Foster Economic Growth
2. 2. Invest in the People
3. 3. Nurture Enterprise
4. 4. Ensure Wellbeing
It is expected that the operationalization of these Pillars would bring about a reduction of poverty, an improvement in the living standards of the people, a boost in employment creation, and personal motivation for a productive economy.
1) Foster Economic Growth
2) In the words of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore in 2005, economic growth is the best social welfare programme. This is because it facilitates the creation of jobs and an improvement in the living standards of the people.
Presently, the economy of Ekiti State is public-centric as government remains at the centre. The unemployment rate of 20.60% for Ekiti state is above the national average of 19.7%. It is also higher than the rate in the other south-west states.
We shall therefore direct energy towards evolving a private-centric economy that is market-driven, which shall guarantee self-reliance and dignity. We shall foster a nationally and globally competitive economy by doing the following:
1.1) Trigger a Revolution in the Agricultural Sector
There is no gainsaying the fact that Ekiti is an agrarian society. Our land is fertile. Although the resources with which so much was achieved in Western Nigeria in the First Republic were derived substantially from the farmlands in Ekiti, it is heart-wrenching that our people have given up on farming. As far as they think, agriculture is no longer a worthwhile venture, whereas it is a sector that has propelled nations to self-sufficiency. A case in point is Malaysia). We shall therefore work aggressively to get Ekiti back to land. Getting the people back to work and dirtying our hands in a positive way is the way to get Ekiti developed and back into reckoning in Nigeria. This we will do through large-scale commercial farming, the wider application of modern technology, and the production of high quality and value-added products. We shall incentivize agriculture so that it moves in leaps beyond subsistence level and becomes more appealing to the younger generation. Agriculture shall be a veritable engine of growth.
Specifically, to guarantee food security, we shall:
a) Concentrate on the complete value chain (processing, packaging and marketing) of the following crops for export:
i. Palm produce
b) Encourage investors to set up big plantations while also recruiting out-growers and managing them on behalf of the government and financing institutions
c) Support livestock farming
d) Ensure that every citizen of the state including institutions are mobilized for the agricultural revolution. Civil servants, students, traditional rulers will be mobilized to have their own plantations with active encouragement by the way of providing inputs etc.
d) Build farming communities in the mold of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s OPTIMUM COMMUNITY where young men and women will be willing to domicile and be productive. Each of the communities will be provided in a very creative manner what make for good life. These communities shall also be encouraged to become resorts for tourism.
e) Facilitate relationships and cooperation amongst between businesses for ease of access to marketing clusters.
f) create employment for X number of Ekiti youth through farming
g) Launch a Commodities Exchange Portal linked to our outgrower program with the Private Sector where international buyers can source various cash crops not just from EKiti but from environs for export.
h) Support women farmers with skills, inputs and communication devices to increase their capacity and enhance their growth in the sector
1.2. Tourism Development
Ekiti state is a hotbed of beautiful landscape, arts and culture as well as unique tourism appeal. Developing this sector can help enhance the hospitality industry in the State.
To maximize the tourism potential of Ekiti State, we shall:
a) establish and promote an eco-tourism corridor/route from Efon-Alaaye to Ikole.
b) establish a tourism & hospitality institute as one of the specialised service-based institutions
c) partner with travels & tours Leveraging the Route project, we will promote Adopt-a-Mile initiative in our schools, beautifying Ekiti road passages and promoting community engagement in our tourism sector
d) develop a tourist attraction centre in each of the 3 senatorial districts
e) develop short, medium and long term Tourism strategy and regulatory framework
f) explore a PPP arrangement that makes Ikogosi Warm Springs a world-class tourists destination
g) invest in the security of lives and property on Ekiti roads
h) revamp the Ekiti State Tourism Board for greater efficiency
g) engage X number of Ekiti indigenes and others in the tourism sector
1.3. Infrastructure & Energy
We shall :
a) partner with investors to leverage our ability to power state utilities to put the entire infrastructure of the state on a renewable energy grid solution that will work 24/7. This will completely eliminate diesel rackets, contracts and dirty power from the annals of Ekiti state. Our state houses, street lights, schools, hospitals and fire houses will be lit up this way as well as special designated economic zones for industries & innovation under co-state directed development terms.
b) embark on “Operation Fix the Roads” designed to make Ekiti state accessible again, while pursuing an aggressive partnership with the Federal Ministry of Works & Housing as well as National Assembly to provide for Ekiti roads
c) connect key townships with paved roads, construct more gravel farm to market roads that will be designated as such to improve rural access and improve surveillance of Trunk C roads for access and maintenance by LGAs
d) work with our sister states and the federal government to develop a gas pipeline network on long term basis for the Southwest region, or work with NNPC to develop spurs that will pass through Kogi state to make Ekiti a Gas IPP Mecca.
e) explore partnering more aggressively with FGN in rail development in the planned SW rail corridor now under study – ensuring Ekiti is included.
f) establish a Granite village to generate wealth from the abundant granite reserve
g) power our schools, leveraging various renewable energy methods with students encouraged to design and install their own systems especially in our secondary and tertiary institutions. This Ekiti Renewable Energy Grant Program for Schools will unleash the creative energies of our young, and encourage community partnership in practical education.
1.3 Re-organise Fountain Holdings Ltd
Ekiti State is well endowed with resources that can be mobilised to improve private sector participation in economic development. However, the investment engine of the State seems to be lacking in vision and capacity to ensure economic growth. Therefore:
a) reform FHL substantially and develop a sustainable growth strategy that takes into account the realities of Ekiti people.
b) identify and encourage activities that are consistent with our comparative advantage
c) rebrand FHL as Ekiti Economic Development Board (EEDB)
d) organize training programmes for EEDB staff to upgrade their skills
e) make the autonomous board responsible for the promotion of industrialization, entrepreneurship and growth including the creation of sustainable GDP growth for Ekiti, development and management of industrial infrastructure, provision of tax incentives to investors, promotion and marketing of investments
f) Establish a one-stop-shop for investors within the EEDB
2. Invest in the People
3. The development of human resources and investments in the people has fostered economic success in some countries of the world. An example is Singapore, a third world country that moved itself into the first world in a matter of X years. It is regarded as soft infrastructure. This was the thinking of most families in Ekitis who in the 50s and 60s ensured that as many of their offsprings as possible achieved educational attainment. That had significant impact in the life of the society as it facilitated prosperity and was a boost to the self-esteem of not only the beneficiaries of the opportunity for an education, but for the entire members of the household.
Specifically, we shall focus on:
2.1.Education & Knowledge Production
Education is truly the bedrock of development in any society. Its is unfortunate that despite the achievements recorded in this area decades ago, Ekiti people have given up on education because it no longer seems profitable, just as they have left the land. They have abandoned the classrooms the same way they have abandoned the farms. What they do today is to fraudulently acquire certificates with the hope of using to secure employments that will not task their brawn or brain.
Going by the one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the quality of the education a child receives has implications for the sustainable development of their communities. It states that:
“By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development”.
Therefore, we shall make significant investment in education, skills training and research and development. We shall:
a) carry out structural reforms in the education sector by making education a means to an end, from basic education to tertiary level. Unlike before when the value of education was in the paper qualification, we shall deploy education for economic growth. In this regard, the Stanford University in the US where most, if not all the ideas that brought about multi billion dollars industries in the Silicon Valley were generated, will be our model. We shall also explore the Boston model where the quest for knowledge and the satisfaction of that quest has become an economic endeavor.
b) rejig tertiary institutions to be the incubator of ideas that generates industrialization and innovation.
c) bring about a true fusion of town (society) and gown (the academia) for the benefit of all.
d) build a new Ekiti brand around knowledge production and enterprise. e) make our tertiary institutions to address the immediate needs of the society. They shall become active participants and very critical stakeholders on the developmental journey to reposition Ekiti.
2.2. Repositioning of Teachers
We shall restore all cadres of teachers to their pride of place as nurturers of society.
a) Their training and conditions of service will be redesigned in such a manner that the profession will attract the best brains possible.
b) As obtained in Finland, their jobs will be highly valued, they will be incorporated as major stakeholders when discussing and taking decisions on issues affecting the state and not only in their sector and only the best students will be considered as teachers.
c) We will create new administrative units in the three senatorial districts
d) We will improve teacher-pupil ratio across our schools by leveraging on existing social investment programmes of the federal government
2.3. Establishment of Specialised Institutions
a) place an emphasis on technical education and knowledge-based learning.
b) invest in specialised institutions of learning that will get young people engaged and enable them to create wealth. These institutions will provide industry-relevant training, ranging from schools in different area of agricultural production and processing to artisanship in the areas of building and road construction, automotive, industrial design, tourism and hospitality, arts and performance, sports, fashion, photography, corporate security, nursing care for the elderly and disabled. Other areas are ICT, shoe making, fishery, weaving, architecture, movie production, distillery and brewing, packaging, legal drafting etc. These institutions shall be designed in such a way that they will attract students from within and outside the state. In addition, they shall accommodate the needs of a wide range of students by providing courses ranging from 3 months to 3 years. These schools and institutes are expected to have a marked effect on the economy of the state. There will be traffic of students as well as their parents and this will have salutary effect on hotels room sales and development of new one, commercial property development, local transportation, distributive trade, employment, etc.
2.4. Development of a Multi-stakeholder support strategy
a) Government shall enter into partnership with private entrepreneurs who are in need of specialized labour to set up these specialised institutions.
b) Similarly, we shall borrow hugely from the bank of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm available to our diaspora. Therefore, Ekiti indigenes in the diaspora (domestic, regional and international) shall be mobilized to participate significantly in the education sector
c) We shall seek the assistance from development agencies and international financial institutions
d) We shall actively and programmatically source scholarship opportunities for our deserving students in areas of critical need.
2.5. Provision of Incentives to attract and retain Skills
a) provide inducements for training and retaining talented Ekiti people as well as for attracting highly skilled professionals from other parts of the country.
b) identify the best talents from across the sectors and constitute a talent pool. Provide them with mid-career training and retraining to refresh and renew them.
c) ensure that beneficiaries of local and international scholarships return to help the state attain greatness.
3. Nurture Enterprise & Innovation
4. There is no doubt that the economy of Ekiti is on a low-level equilibrium. It is thus critical to jump-start growth by directing the energy necessary for entrepreneurship and investments.
5. Consequently, we shall:
6. 3.1. Develop strategies that help trigger the entrepreneurial potential of our people.
7. 3.2. Make Ekiti the hub of production, knowledge and creativity. We shall in conjunction with the private sector EQUITY FUND to promote start ups and creativity
8. 3.3. Partner with the private sector to develop one agro-allied park powered by renewable energy and housing various processing industries for key cash crops in each of the 3 senatorial districts.
9. 3.4. Set up an Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies for short term training courses on how to manage businesses, investments, access to finance, and manage their portfolio. This specialised institution will teach basic accounting, business planning, mentoring, business communications and other studies relevant to entrepreneurial activities.
10. 3.5 Build enterprise development into the education curriculum at all levels for self-reliance.
11. 3.6. Connect investors (national & foreign) to local businesses
12. 3.7. Partner with NIGCOMSAT and Telecom Majors to connect pilot schools online, unleashing the next level of innovation education in our communities.
4. Ensure wellbeing
4.1. Health & Welfare
a) We commit to launching the first state-wide Basic Micro-Insurance Health Scheme, starting with civil service, organized private sector, trade associations and pensioners – linked to a strengthened PHC network of clinics
b) We will access the un-utilized primary health care (PHC) Fund available at the federal level to renovate and equip the PHCs. They shall be fully linked to specialist and general hospitals, with functional diagnostic and pharmaceutical centers. Projects will be modularized for fast completion and use
c) We commit to developing the master plan for Ekiti Medical Corridor, as well as underpinning legislation and secure 2 anchor projects from private sector & international partners for world class medical facilities
d) We will issue a Diaspora Bond to attract Ekiti’s best brains home back to a world class medical village to be built in the medical corridor with robust private sector participation
e) Further linking health and education, a PHC initiative that leverages the 705 public owned educational institutions as points of discharging much needed basic healthcare to the rural population leveraging on the school child and their families.
4.2. Youth Engagement
One major thrust of our intervention will be youth mobilization and engagement. In addition to receiving an education and earning an income, young people will:
a) engage in competitions and recreation pastimes for youths to absorb their energy and talents. There will always be an activity of interest at regular intervals in different areas of life, for local and national competitors. These events will attract reasonable prizes.
b) establish a sports institute as a feeder for needs of sportsmen and women to hone their competitive edge, build a positive brand for the state, build their leadership potentials and ultimately assist them to realize their potential and give vent to their God given talents.
4.3. Provision of Subsidized Housing
The objective is to raise homeownership among workers on a large scale. It is anticipated that in addition to contributing to the housing sector, this action will contribute to sustained economic growth.
In partnership with private developpers, decent homes equipped with modern amenities will be offered for sale at below the market price to about 10,000 people.
4.4. Explore national and international Safety net programmes for the improvement of the lives of our people, even as we will leverage the school feeding program to improve student welfare
How do we make sure this works?
Provide an enabling environment for a better quality of life;
Sign a social contract that emphasizes openness to new learning and innovations, acceptance of others, efficient service, readiness to work with the people;
Be with the people on the streets, on the farm, at construction sites, in the classrooms and in the laboratory of ideas;
Be driven by solution;
Set clear objectives as well as a realistic and achievable plan;
Ensure a just and equitable society, with equal attention paid to small and big matters, tangible and intangible, women and men, boys and girls, old & young;
Show example in modesty and prudence;
Undertake vigorous reorientation of our people to seek a kind of knowledge that will put emphasis on enterprise for the purpose of creating wealth;
Take quick and decisive actions;
Prioritize effectiveness over political considerations;
Assemble the best brains locally, nationally & internationally to drive the agenda;
Demonstrate commitment, seriousness, honesty of purpose and humility.
Prioritize the use of limited resources
Explore access to resources
Build an efficient and effective team and trust the capacity and dedication of members
Embark on sensitization tours to the 177 wards to share our picture of what a NEW Ekiti will look like if the government and the people worked together
Acess & assess all development plans produced by the state till date and identify those policy recommendations that suit the current realities of the state
Campaign vigorously for attitudinal change and we shall no longer celebrate or romanticize poverty.
Take actions informed by knowledge from whoever has it and wherever it is available.
This is a broad sketchy enunciation of our agenda for the state. We will recruit experts to flesh it up to the minutest of details up to execution strategies and timelines.