By Dare Babalola
As the countdown to the June 21 gubernatorial election in Ekiti State begins, the candidates have been delving into their respective individual histories to convince the electorate to vote for them.
For former Governor Ayo Fayose, his singsong has been that he is no longer the Fayose that was governor ten years ago. From one rally to the other, especially in locations where many of his actions had alienated the people from him, Fayose repeatedly claimed that he is now a born again and would be a different governor if given another chance.
It has been another ballgame with the incumbent governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who is leveraging on the execution of his 8-point agenda to convince the electorate that he deserves a second term on the crest of his performance.
The flagship of the Fayemi government is the infrastructure development of the state. Fayemi has used his campaign rallies to point at many roads he has constructed or rehabilitated in all parts of the state, bringing the attention of every community to how they have benefitted under the scheme.
He had promised in 2010 that the scheme is to establish optimum communities that will improve citizenfs lives and attract investments so much that by 2014, all parts of the state is accessible by major roads, making water dams in the state functional to increase water supply by 80percent and engage in private-public partnership for independent power projects. To actualise the vision, he embarked on the construction of 5 kilometre road in each of the 16 local governments bringing the total to 81.5 kilometres in the first phase.
The second phase covered another 91 kilometres across the 16 local councils. In all, a total of 958 kilometres of federal, state and local government roads have been rehabilitated, reconstructed and/or constructed in the last three and half years. The highpoint is the dualization of major highways in the state capital complete with road furniture that has transformed the face of Ado Ekiti into a modern state capital.
The government is also currently laying 400 kilometres long water pipelines to provide pipe-borne water for every community in the state as envisioned in the 8-point agenda.
The vision of the Fayemi Government is to establish a knowledge economy that will ensure that skilled manpower, for which the state is renowned, becomes an economic advantage.
In three years, the government renovated 836 primary schools and 183 secondary schools. The government also established 24 new primary schools in 2011 and another 18 in 2012 bringing the number of primary schools from 776 in 2010 to 836 by 2012.These initiatives has led to remarkable increase in primary school enrolment which jumped from 155,296 in 2010 to 170,768. This trend has been repeated in secondary school enrolment making Ekiti State the highest per capita in terms of public school enrolment in the country.
In its effort at promoting e-learning and making the students competitive in the global economy, it distributed 33,000 laptops free of charge to students and 18,000 laptops to teachers at a subsidised price. The government also introduced the payment of Rural Allowance to teachers in the rural areas.
It introduced the payment of Core Subject Allowance to teachers of subjects like Mathematics, Physics, and Biology to promote the teaching of science and ensure that Ekiti students are competitive in this age of technology.
In tertiary education, the government restored peace and industrial harmony to Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti; reduced fees paid in higher institutions and introduced various scholarship schemes to help many indigent and brilliant students of the state. Between 2011 and 2013, a total sum of N315.7Million was disbursed as scholarship to 2,329 students while bursary awards of N148.2Million were paid to a total of 9,919 beneficiaries.
These initiatives have not taken time to yield fruits.
Although Ekiti State has always been renowned for high literacy level, the level of literacy in the state has further gone up from 67 percent in 2011 to 72.2percent by 2012. In the formal sector, the state has recorded many recognitions of the advancement in education. The state has won the Best Overall Performance State in the Annual National Mathematics and Science Competitions by Science Teachers (STAN); first position in Mathematics for Senior Secondary School Category in the National Quiz competition organised by MAN in 2013; first position in ANCOPPS National Stage Quiz/Essay Competition in 2013; Best Male Student in 2013 WAEC Result and for two years running; has produced the best student in the Nigerian Law School.
It is in recognition of these remarkable strides that the World Bank recently announced a USD10Million support for the state under the State Education Programme Investment Project (SEPIP).
Beyond the walls of the hospitals and the health facility centres, Fayemi introduced a regime of health missions through which specialized teams of medical personnel travel across the communities to provide healthcare services to the people.
At the last count, 363,050 persons have benefited from the programme. Another 7,850 persons have benefited from the Ilera Lafin programme through which health care services are taken to the palaces of the traditional rulers for the benefits of the communities, bringing number of beneficiaries of the health outreach programmes to 370,900.
The benefits of these initiatives are beginning to manifest. The State now has the lowest Infant Mortality in the country. It has the lowest maternal mortality in the country as well.