In “Paradise Regained” written by John Milton, the English poet quipped that “The childhood shows the man, As morning shows the day.” Probably only the discerning would have recognized how this immutable truth intricately weaved itself around Dr. John Kayode Fayemi on yet another date with history on Tuesday, October 16, 2018—-a day of his inauguration as the governor of Ekiti State for the second time. Defined by a value system permanently etched in his subconscious that, at intervals, makes itself heard in a still, but above a whisper that it is only when society’s politics is married with intellection in solving complex societal issues can a people ascend the next ladder of civilization and modernity as we know it.
So, the equanimity that trailed him into adulthood and coalesced to his recurrent struggle for a fair, just and equitable society could only have issued from his childhood. Thus, the poet’s first condition that “the childhood shows the man” was fulfilled on this day. Milton’s other component—-which man has never, and most certainly will never have any control—-also reared its head on this day as the early morning rains brought succour into a geographical space that has long been famished in both spiritual and material sense of the words. So, rather than the scorching and suffocating sun reasonably expected at this time of year that would have made the day very uncomfortable not only for Ekiti people in general but the congregation at the pavilion ground in particular, the early morning rains that descended into Ekiti universe brought calm into the land where all creatures became joyful and animated. Thus, the second condition by which a man’s trajectory can be measured and predicted was also fulfilled—-on this day.
After taking the oath of office and that of allegiance, it was crystal clear that Governor Fayemi and the stars were in harmony and in perfect alignment which set the stage for a remarkable inaugural speech. Inauguration speech—-it should be said, and by nature—-is a pointer to the direction of travel of a State Chief Executive in the course of his/her constitutionally allotted time in office. It is therefore against this backdrop that Fayemi’s inaugural speech was presented.
Christened “Reclaiming the Land of Honour,” the speech took a people whose history was negatively impacted by his predecessor a step back in the hope that they will be properly guarded in the future and that the inhuman condition to which they were subjected will never repeat itself. It was also a speech that seems to have drawn a line in the sand with a proclamation that never again would anyone take the “Land of Honour” and the “Fountain of Knowledge” to another dark era of ignorance and want as exemplified by the state’s former governor who succeeded, for the most part, in changing the psyche of a generation that now takes delight in advertising the fact that their ignorance is just as good as the knowledge of their forebears. But the line in the sand couldn’t have been more pronounced with the opening poem of the inaugural speech titled “This Land Is Ours” written by none other than the First Lady Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi. Fundamentally, it was a speech that clearly mapped out the direction that the administration will follow for the realisation of the greatest good for the greatest number of its people.
In his characteristic “Omoluabi” persona, Fayemi paid homage to the state’s ancestors “upon whose labours our generation is building upon; our forebears of ages past who bequeathed to us a rich history of honour and dignity” as well as the ancestors who “taught us that only in fighting together can we truly win” which eventually culminated in the “creation of Ekiti State on October 1, 1996.”
While the governor said his speech clearly marked “the beginning of a new phase” in the history of Ekiti State and its people, he also insisted that Tuesday, October 16, 2018 was not as much “the end of an era” but “more appropriately, the end of an error.” It couldn’t have been anything but an error for a people whose discipline, principle, honour and integrity are what legends are made of to have exhibited such cavalier attitudinal disposition that allowed a certified brigand to rule over them and presided over the socio-economic and political conditions that affected their existence that they became cowed and subjugated by his ruthlessness.
To further lend credence to his assertion, Governor Fayemi said it was “the end of an error” by virtue of the fact that Ekiti people went “through a horrible wilderness experience in the past four years” that “our reputation as a people has been sullied and we have become the butt of jokes due to the crass ineptitude, loquacious ignorance, and ravenous corruption masquerading as governance in our State during this past administration.”
While the governor said his administration will never shirk its responsibility as it is its duty to ensure that the “present state of affairs” are thoroughly reviewed, documented and widely disseminated “so that all can know what has become of our commonwealth,” he was also unwilling to forget very quickly how one of the odious and disingenuous scare tactics deployed to hoodwink a significant segment of the electorate against his electoral chances (which eventually failed) at the poll that he reiterated that his “coming back to office is not a revenge mission, but rather a healing balm on a painful wound.” Perhaps, nobody could have been unenviously placed to feel this ‘painful wound’ than Governor Fayemi himself who saw, within a spate of four years, virtually all his works and labour on behalf of Ekiti people in his first term in utter ruins by wanton and criminal acts of his predecessor that he was unable to do anything about.
Perhaps this was what informed what can be described as the October Declaration as he reeled out a catalogue of his predecessor’s egregious transgressions in which he said: “Never again should we give up free and qualitative education for herculean fees and taxes levied on our school children; never again should we give up free healthcare and functional hospitals for a total neglect of the health sector; never again should we give up integrated infrastructure development for bridges that lead nowhere; never again should we give up a burgeoning tourism sector and a revitalised Ikogosi for decrepit structures now overrun by reptiles; never again should we give up the peace and unity of our State for increased crime rates and general insecurity; never again should we give up transparent and accountable governance, with the requisite checks and balances of independent Judicial and Legislative arms of government, for draconian one-man shows; never again should we give up our reputation as a honourable and knowledgeable people, to be known as apostles of stomach infrastructure. Never again shall we sacrifice prompt payment of salaries for indulgence in pursuance of projects of minimal benefit to the people. NEVER AGAIN.”
Governor Fayemi reminded Ekiti people that the campaign slogan to “Reclaim our Land and Restore our Values” should not be jettisoned in the aftermath of his electoral victory but should rather be seen as an enduring and sustainable mantra in socio-economic ‘re-engineering’ and “a clarion call to all to embark on this journey with us” in realizing a vision for a state where “people can thrive and live their lives in dignity. A place where young people do not roam the streets looking for jobs that are not there, a place where people are not so hungry they resort to pilfering food to survive. A place where the cycle of generational poverty can be broken, and in which our elderly can reap the fruits of their labours over their children.”
In the “governance agenda” of his administration, Governor Fayemi identified Social Investments, Knowledge Economy, Infrastructure and Industrial Development, and Agriculture and Rural Development as the four areas through which the administration will pursue its developmental objectives and deliver its promises to the people. In line with his socialist/welfarist political inclination and imbued with the moral values never seen since the time of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his political cohorts, which has shaped and defined his political career, it bears mentioning that the Social Security Scheme popularly known as “Owo Arugbo” to which Governor Fayemi maintained the highest fidelity throughout his first term was the first of its kind in Nigeria’s governance history.
As a state known for having “the highest number of professors and academic pioneers per capita in Nigeria,” it was not only a no-brainer but the utmost necessity in the global village in which the world found itself, and a global economy now fundamentally driven by knowledge to want to embark in the kind of education that lays special emphasis on such fields as “teaching, research, skills development, creative arts, strengthening tertiary institutions and educational entrepreneurship.”
He said Ekiti Knowledge Zone, which was among the novelties that his predecessor deliberately left to die, will be resuscitated by his administration. As an important component to “Poverty Reduction and Revenue Enhancement,” the Infrastructure and Industrial Development pillar has its own impressive track record in the governor’s first term as was witnessed through many “community-based projects” such as the Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort “flagship tourism asset” and employment generation water bottling business entity known as Gossy Water. In an agrarian environment like Ekiti State, Agriculture and Rural Development is a sine qua non which is the fourth pillar that will be deployed “in order to achieve sustainable food security, create employment opportunities and foster agro-based industrial development for poverty alleviation and wealth creation.” Also, the Youths in Commercial Agricultural Development (YCAD), for instance, was one of the initiatives on record that this pillar proudly birthed.
In bringing a historic inaugural speech by which a new dawn was opened to a close, Governor Kayode Fayemi pleaded “for the patience and understanding of all Ekiti sons and daughters who are very eager to once again feel the impact of a purposeful and egalitarian government” affirmed by “the eventual and irrepressible victory of truth and justice over falsehood and injustice” which is the pedestal on which his second administration now stands.