The people of Ekiti State are still basking in the euphoria of having a new governor, a ritual that happens once in every four years.
History was made on Tuesday, October 16, when Dr. John Kayode Fayemi was sworn into office alongside his deputy, Otunba Adebisi Adegboyega Egbeyemi, at an impressive inauguration ceremony at Ekiti Parapo Pavilion, Ado-Ekiti.
For the residents and guests who made it to the inauguration venue and others who watched the event life on the television sets, Fayemi has a huge burden of expectations and he has expressed the determination to perform.
Based on his performance in his first term, which ran from 2010 to 2014, Fayemi, having been armed with previous experience in governance, is not expected to act as a novice having had a three-month interregnum between his electoral victory and installation.
With the hoopla of the swearing-in over, Fayemi later on that day announce the appointment of the first set of principal aides to set the machinery of governance in motion.
The governor appointed former Chief of Staff and Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, as Secretary to the State Government.
Former Chairman of Ijero Local Government and ex-Special Adviser, Governor’s Office, Mr. Biodun Omoleye, was appointed the Chief of Staff, while Mr. Olayinka Oyebode returned to the office of the Chief Press Secretary, which he held during the governor’s first term.
The appointments drew applause in many quarters but knocks in some, especially among the Muslim folks, who had expected that one of their own will clinch the SSG job as it was during Fayemi’s first term.
On Wednesday, Fayemi followed up with Town Hall meetings in Ekiti North and Ekiti South senatorial districts.
The governor, the deputy governor and the wife of the governor, Erelu Bisi, party leaders and other admirers moved to Ido-Ekiti, Ekiti North senatorial district headquarters and Ikere-Ekiti, Ekiti South senatorial district headquarters to thank the people for his July 14 electoral victory and to unveil what is in store for the people.
Town hall meetings are key features of the first tenure of Fayemi and they are used to preparing budgets in which the chief executive asked people in villages, towns and cities to submit at least three projects in order of priority to be incorporated into the budget. This resulted in projects like palaces, civic centres, transformers, school rehabilitations, construction of community roads, health centres, markets etc, which are still standing in those communities to date. Apparently impressed by the governor’s decision to visit them barely a day after coming into office, residents in the two senatorial districts turned out in large numbers to receive Fayemi and Egbeyemi. Traditional rulers, community leaders, opinion leaders, politicians and other residents, who didn’t belong to any political party, waited enthusiastically for the governor at Odo Udo Primary School grounds, Ido-Ekiti and Ereja Park, Ikere-Ekiti where the parleys were held. Fayemi unfolded some policy thrusts of his administration which, he said, would go a long way in ameliorating the suffering of the people. The governor, during the town hall meetings in the two locations, announced the cancellation of the education development levy imposed on pupils in private and public schools by the Ayo Fayose administration. Under the Fayose regime, pupils in primary school pupils paid N500 each as tax, while students in secondary schools coughed out N1,000 per term.
The imposition of the levy sparked outrage in the state and it later turned to a court battle spearheaded by the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti with the verdict being awaited at the Court of Appeal. Also at the town hall meetings, Fayemi also announced the return of free education in public primary and secondary schools where students paid sundry fees under Fayose. The order for the scrapping of the education development levy and return of free education threw the crowd that thronged the town hall meetings into a frenzy. In Ikere, as the ovation that greeted the policy statement was yet to die down, Fayemi further disclosed that Ekiti pupils in public schools would be enjoying free meals latest by December. Besides, the governor said the welfare of civil servants, who were traumatized by irregular salaries and low morale, would be a top priority for him as he settled down to his gubernatorial duties. Fayemi further gladdened the hearts of the residents by revealing that the monthly payment of stipends to the aged people and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) established during his first term would come back.
The policies,he said, are geared towards making life easier for the citizenry, especially the senior citizens, bring government closer to the people thereby reducing less pressure on the state government and offer opportunities of career progression to council workers and politicians at the grassroots. By Thursday, Fayemi hit Abuja for the first time since coming to power to attend the meetings of the National Economic Council (NEC) and the Nigerian Governor’s Forum (NGF). He was the cynosure of all eyes at the two meetings as personalities like Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other governors, led by the NGF Chairman, Alhaji Abdul Azeez Yari Abubakar, welcomed him back to their fold. Fayemi’s presence in Abuja denied him the opportunity to attend an Inter-Faith Prayer/Thanksgiving Service held at the Government House grounds as part of activities to mark his inauguration. Hide original message But the deputy governor held forte for the governor at the inter-faith service where he (Egbeyemi) said the government will not discriminate against anybody in spreading dividends of democracy. Egbeyemi said: “Whether you are a member of APC, PDP or any other party, if your children are in public schools, they will enjoy free education because this government is a friend to everybody. “We will do more than what we did during the first tenure. I moved round with the governor during the campaign and there are projects to show in all towns and villages. “We have said we are not probing anybody but we want to look into the books because workers want us to pay them, pensioners want us to pay them and we are going to work out how we will pay them.” With the action-packed first week, Ekiti people have tasted the stuff the Fayemi administration is made of and they will, of course, continue to ask for more in the next four years.