Sir: As the good people of Ekiti State prepare to repeat history on Saturday, June 18, this year, when they will troop out to elect a new governor for another four years, many are certainly waiting with bated breath to see who will emerge victorious in the election.
The highly disillusioned and pauperized people of the Land of Honour need a breath of new life. Obviously, the massive failure and disappointment that the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration at the national level has continued to trickle down to Ekiti State in the last four years to the chagrin of the resilient people.
The political chess game will be a straight fight between the APC, represented by Mr. Biodun Oyebanji and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), represented by the highly politically-experienced Asiwaju Segun Oni. Other parties, led by the slumbering People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will surely be spectators on the election day, having lost the energy to stand on their feet in the mission to rescue Ekiti State. Having ruled the state between 2007-2010 when his tenure was truncated by the Court of Appeal in controversial circumstances, Oni had proved his mettle convincingly, making the people of the state crave for his return.
It is on record that Oni’s Midas touch and quick fixes propelled the economy of Ekiti State to greater heights during his brief tenure, even as his administration had an impactful effect on all sectors of the state, be it education, health, agriculture, the civil service, local government, traditional institution, tourism, security, sports and youth development, as well as youth employment and empowerment and a host of others. What Oni achieved in all these sectors with his brilliant team will remain permanently etched in the psyche of Ekiti people.
Specifically, on the economic front, the Human Development Report (HDR) of 2009 put Ekiti State at number 34 out of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on statutory allocation, whereas the same HDR ranked the state number 24 on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita and number 10 on Human Development Index (HDI).
What this means is that the Oni administration did not only depend on statutory allocation to survive but made efforts, to expand and shored up the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state. No other administration in the state has been able to achieve this feat ever since then.
Besides, a massive renovation of schools was carried out across the state, while a full boarding house was introduced for schools willing to have a full complement of laptops for each of the pupils and VSAT facilities in the schools. The Oni administration also pioneered the School Feeding Programme for pupils, a programme the APC-led Federal Government adopted and is executing haphazardly today.
Of course, several roads were rehabilitated and new ones constructed across the state. Many of such roads still remain solid to date and the benefiting communities remain grateful to Oni for the roads. In the history of Ekiti Civil Service, the then Oni administration was the first to ensure that workers’ salaries, leave bonuses and other entitlements were promptly paid.
In Ekiti today, a large number of highly educated youths are Okada riders and internet fraudsters, popularly called “Yahoo Boys” because there is no deliberate programme to empower them and provide them jobs, contrary to what was obtained during the Oni administration which provided thousands of jobs for the army of unemployed Ekiti youths.
As the June 18 poll draws near, Ekiti people know who genuinely have their love at heart and those who will perpetuate the hardships they have endured in the last four years. They surely will vote wisely.
Steve Omolale is a Lagos-based journalist.