This benchmark (100th day in office) itself is a bit of construct that was popularized in the Americas during the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, the concept is believed to have its roots in France, where the concept of “Cent Jours” (Hundred Days) refers to the period of 1815 between Napoleon Bonaparte’s return to Paris from exile on the island of Elba and his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, after which King Louis XVII regained the French throne.
In the Americas, the first 100 days was not of much significance for elected officials – until Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) assumed office as President in 1933. He took swift action to address the nation’s deep financial crisis and began pushing the programs that made up his New Deal, including 15 major bills which would reshape every aspect of the economy, from banking and industry to agriculture and social welfare. FDR’s extraordinary productivity translated into enormous popularity, and thus, the first 100 days became a symbolic significance – a benchmark to measure the early successes of elected officials.
Governor Kayode Fayemi will mark 100 days in office on Thursday, but how has he fared?
Ekiti State’s plight on October 16, 2018, the day Dr. Kayode Fayemi assumed office, was desperate. Their experience before that day was what I would refer to as a once in a half decade, probably once in a decade type of catastrophe. A quarter of the state’s workforce was is in debt. Thousands of families were living below poverty line. Education lost its attraction. Unemployment rose. There was deep financial crisis, billions of incurred liabilities, poor state of infrastructure, astronomic debts, degraded values and ravenous corruption masquerading as governance in the State. Workers and Pensioners were owed months of arrears and pension. Poverty and despair sprouted up. The public was desperate for action.
In his inaugural address, Governor Fayemi expressed confidence that his administration could solve Ekiti’s quagmire. “As much as today marks the beginning of a new phase in our history as a people, it also signals the end of an era, or more appropriately, the end of an error.” He reiterated, “We assure you that we are well prepared to get off the block from day one. We take full ownership of the challenges ahead of us and together, we strongly believe that we shall overcome.”
Governor Kayode Fayemi – who like Franklin D. Roosevelt took office during a severe socio-economic crisis – has worked to improve the lives of Ekiti people and deliver on his promises to return the State back on the path of prosperity, honour and peace. His clear vision, dynamic leadership, governance agenda and uncompromising commitment to the ideals of social justice are responsible for the fast economic recovery and speedy value restoration in Ekitiland.
Of course, there are many issues, sectors, projects and citizens’ expectations desiring urgent attention. The barbarism, crass ineptitude, jungle justice, loquacious ignorance, mediocrity, decadence, dehumanizing circumstance, abandonment, hopelessness and misplaced priority that pervaded Ekiti land during the last administration was, without a doubt, a consequence of having charlatans, kleptomaniacs, crass opportunists and political brigandage at the corridors of power. While electorates restored hopes of socio-economic revival in Ekiti State on July 14, 2018, the manifestation of the restoration unfolded in earnest on the 16th of October 2018.
Governor Kayode Fayemi has, since, continued to soldier on carefully, but fearlessly and carefully too, confronting Ekiti’s developmental challenges head-on. As a resolute Governor brimming with burning desire to expediently turn the tide, albeit positively, he has carefully mapped out various short, medium and long term interventions to bring succour to Ekiti people and restore the lost values and dignity just as he promised throughout his campaign. His administration has made an impressive start by achieving several milestones than any government in the first 100 days.
Taking Bold Actions in the First 100 Days
In his first 100 days, Governor Kayode Fayemi has taken bold actions to restore Ekiti State to its rightful place in the comity of States, reposition government agencies, instill justice and order, and hold government accountable. At a historic pace, he has achieved synergy with legislatures and signed more executive orders than any governor in a decade. He constituted four visitation panels for stocktaking of major institutions and agencies. Motion and processes have been setup to aid speedy implementation of the recommendations arising from the findings of the panels. Extensive work has commenced on examining the state of government’s finances with a view to ascertaining the true picture of what he met on ground. More importantly, he has taken adequate measure to stabilize the ship of the state, and restore the confidence of all stakeholders in Ekiti State project.
The Most Effective Education Reform since Awolowo’s time
Governor Kayode Fayemi has made education reform a priority, and teachers and parents are supporting this initiative. He has signed an Executive Order on free basic education. This means free, compulsory and uninterrupted access to formal primary and secondary school education. He revoked Education levies and made it unlawful for any government agency or local authority to impose a levy or any fee for purposes of education in any primary and secondary school in the state. He also paid WAEC Examination fees for 14,000 pupils, thus, giving them free opportunity to sit for the 2019 senior school examination in Ekiti State. He paid N21.7m to make JAMB forms free for 3000 out-of-school youths in the state.
Furthermore, he secured $3m World Bank grant for Tech Education. This programme would focus on technical and vocational education skills and would be private sector driven. It will also make technical colleges to return to their original purpose of establishment. He also approved N250 million counterpart funding to access the 2018 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Conditional Grant Scheme. This will be used to fund intervention in Education and Health sectors in four Local Governments.
He has achieved synergy with Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agency for the enhancement and sustenance of free basic Education in the state’s primary schools and Federal Government plans to rapidly deploy and domesticate SDGs in Ekiti State. The Governor is going to seize this opportunity by leading the most effective education reform since Awolowo’s era – and one of the most holistic free basic education policy in Nigerian history.
Aggressive Infrastructure-Driven Development
Within his first 100 days, he has revisited the commercial and technical viability of abandoned projects and schemes in the state with a view of reactivating them for economic growth and industrial development. These include vast network of roads, many community-based projects and flagship tourism asset – Ikogosi Warm Spring resort.
Governor Fayemi’s administration is also investing in water and sanitation sector with efforts to rehabilitate some of the dams within the state in collaboration with the European Union and World Bank. Last month, he flagged off the $55m Ero Dam treatment plant, rehabilitation and replacement of transmission main pipelines. This huge intervention makes it less difficult for Ekiti State Water Corporation to drive the water sector reform process with the investment in human and infrastructure to deliver a transformed and effective water service within the state. Likewise, the rehabilitation of Egbe Dam is continuing swiftly and upon completion, should meet 85% of the water requirement in the State together with Ero Dam. The small treatment plants in Efon-Alaye, Erinjinyan, Okemesi/Ido-Ile, Igbara-Odo and Ipole-Iloro should provide the remaining 15% coverage when fully in use.
As of today, many abandoned projects are receiving attention. Electricity has been restored to some areas that were in total blackout for almost four years including Erijiyan, Ipole Iloro and Ikogosi. Contractors have been mobilized to return to the sites to complete roads or renovate many of the economically viable, but abandoned projects. All the ongoing projects of his predecessor are receiving attention.
Strategic Partnerships and Investments
Governor Fayemi has met and shared his vision of a business friendly state with the hierarchy of corporate organizations, multinationals and development agencies and the reception has been quite impressive. He has strategically ensured the return of some corporate organizations and donor agencies that fled the state during the previous administration. Commitments have been made on increased investments and interventions in critical areas. Meetings with every sector and stakeholders involved in the Ekiti project are yielding results.
He recently signed a strategic partnership with a leading mobile technology firm based in Dubai, Mondia Group, for the roll out of a new mobile child health service. The new pact came barely a week after he signed the Universal Basic Health Provision in Abuja. He has also secured $120,000 grant for Ekiti State under the National Strategic Health Plan.
Improved Workers’ Welfare
Since Governor Fayemi assumed office, Ekiti State workers and Pensioners have been paid salary for four months consecutively without delay. His track record on prompt payment of salaries and pensions was one the reasons why he won the election. He scrupulously understand that in a society where workers live below poverty line and salaries remain unpaid; there will be abject poverty, economic frustration, jaundiced perspective of democracy and citizens’ apathy with the democratic process. This is why he has always made workers’ welfare a priority.
Last month, he judiciously used the last tranche of the Paris Club Refund (N3.9b) to pay one month of the outstanding arrears the previous administration owed state and local government workers, teachers and pensioners, in line with his promise to Ekiti workers and people. Also, in order to motivate teachers for proper building of excellent students in Ekiti State, he approved N200 million as car and housing loan for teachers.
Recently, he paid 6,203 teachers N143m as Rural Teachers allowance and Core Subjects allowance. Indeed, he is delivering on his promise to make Ekiti State a place where people can thrive and live their lives in dignity; a place where workers do not labour in vain. According to him, “…Never again shall we sacrifice prompt payment of salaries for indulgence in pursuance of projects of minimal benefit to the people.”
Restoring the Values
“Yet from the ashes we rise and shine as we look towards the light. The light of knowledge and intellectualism that we are known for, which illuminates our minds and reflects in the good character and pristine values we hold dear. These are the same values that have been eroded in recent years, which we seek to restore.” This was Governor Fayemi’s statement during his Inaugural address on October 16, 2018. It clearly expressed the disappointment, sadness, and fury of Omoluabis at the apocalyptic social conflagrations; the precipitous fall in Ekiti values, political madness that muddled the Fountain of Knowledge and political bestiality that bulldozed its mountainous fountainhead
He went further to say that, “…never again should we give up our reputation as a honourable and knowledgeable people, to be known as apostles of stomach infrastructure..” Here, he meant that he will embark on necessary reforms that will banish what Prof. Niyi Osundare referred to as ‘the uponju (desperate, extreme need) and deprivation that have turned a proud people into alaterunje exponents of the stomach infrastructure infamy.’
The task to restore the values of Ekitiland was not just a slogan for Governor Fayemi’s campaigns but a clarion call for a collective rescue mission to chart the course of sustainable development out of the quagmire that confronted the State. As of today, primitive despotism and medieval barbarism is being replaced with civility, integrity, character, visionary idealism, service and sanity.
Ekiti is returning to Omoluabi 2.0. In reference to Wale Ajadi’s book, ‘Omoluwabi 2.0: A code of transformation in 21st century Nigeria’, Her Excellency, Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi meticulously interpreted Wale’s Omoluwabi 2.0 framework to mean embracing positive change (olaju), engaging in self-mastery (oju inu), teaching and understanding good character (iwalewa), and building and using social capital (eniyan laso mi). According to her, Wale’s analysis of the concept of Omoluwabi takes it out of the realm of a solitary, simplistic definition of the Yoruba Omoluwabi as a ‘gentleman’ or ‘good person’ and elevates it to the status of a full- fledged alternative African leadership paradigm.
Governor Fayemi has started on the right and solid footing. His specific priorities at the outset of his administration is getting Ekiti people back to work, restoring lost values, improving livelihood, creating prosperity, providing relief for the vulnerable and elderly, and getting industry and agriculture back to their feet.
He is delivering on his campaign promises. Free education is restored, abandoned utilities are getting priority attention, strategic partnerships are being secured for infrastructure and industrial growth, salaries and pensions are being paid without delays, justice and rule of law is restored while the security architecture is being reconfigured. Things are shaping up gradually and the people are happier and hopeful.
His commitment to meeting the yearnings and expectations of Ekiti people, and above all to speedily fill up the infrastructural gap that was created during the past four years of socio-economic and political wilderness have proven him the right leader to restore the lost glory of Ekiti State and return it to its rightful place in the comity of States.
His start has been the most impressive of any Governor in a decade but the biggest tests are ahead of him.