KAMARUDEEN OGUNDELE examines the emerging political intrigues in Ekiti State as the four-year tenure of Governor Kayode Fayemi nears an end and the Governor-elect, Mr. Ayo Fayose, prepares to takeover
The tenure of Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, is expected to come to an end on October 15 while the Governor-elect, Mr. Ayo Fayose, would takeover the rein of power from October 16 for a four-year term. Although he failed to secure a second term, that the outgoing governor transformed Ekiti is not in doubt. Fayemi introduced a lot of far-reaching policy changes in the education sector specifically and also touched other key sectors of the economy in a bid to develop the state. Some of his policies were met with resistance by civil servants, especially teachers, who vehemently opposed the Teachers Development Need Assessment test.
As the Fayemi-led All Progressives Congress government winds up, there are insinuations that the state executive council meeting have not been holding regularly. But Fayemi’s Chief Press Secretary, Olayinka Oyebode, maintained that governance was ongoing despite the defeat of the governor in the June 21 governorship election. He said, “The state executive council meeting is still held on schedule. The governor is still alive to his responsibilities. This month alone we have had two meetings. There is no iota of truth in the allegation that the meeting doesn’t hold. Government is on course. We still do everything needed to be done, administratively. The various projects are on course.”
Since the declaration of Fayose as the winner of the June 21 governorship election, there has been great politicking between the Peoples Democratic Party and the APC.
The PDP has issued statements warning people to be weary of dealing with the outgoing government.
In a statement issued on July 3, the Publicity Secretary of Ekiti PDP, Kola Oluwawole, warned civil servants against tampering with the treasury of the state. The party also warned workers against illegal employment and issuance of backdated letters of appointments. The party warned that anyone found wanting will face disciplinary action when the new government of Fayose is inaugurated. Oluwawole claimed that Fayemi, at a meeting with top civil servants, directed workers to come up with a supplementary budget for the local government election scheduled for end of the month.
But the state Commissioner for Information, Tayo Ekundayo, said there was nothing wrong in a legitimate government giving directives to civil servants.
He said, “As a party and government, we have a tenure that will end on October 16. Whatever we do within now and then, we have the legitimate right to do. For anybody to issue a directive now to civil servants in respect of that is arrant nonsense. I can assure you that there is nothing illegal that Governor Fayemi will do before his tenure lapses because he is a lover of democracy and the rule of law.”
Oluwawole alleged that Fayemi’s spending spree had amounted to about N3bn within two weeks. According to him, a sum of N184, 863, 211.19; N406, 293, 791.08 and another N604m was collected within a day for the purchase of furniture that would be used at the new Government House.
He also alleged that the governor approved N1.9bn for the procurement of medical equipment for Oba Rufus Adejugbe General Hospital Ado Ekiti, all within one week. The warning by the PDP, however, seems to be taking its toll as the state had difficulties paying July salary of workers.
The ugly development opened another flood of allegations and counter-allegations between the PDP and the state government.
The PDP accused the governor of refusing to pay local government workers and teachers because they worked against his re-election bid. Fayemi, on the other hand, said the PDP should be blamed for meddling in the running of the state and directing banks not to grant facilities to the state government.
The PDP said, “Fayemi has decided to punish those he perceived did not vote for him in the election, among whom were local government workers and teachers. Fayemi should let the people of the state know what is delaying the payment of the salaries of these people.
“He had money to pay his political appointees and even sent money to his illegally-created local council development areas. Fayemi should pay these workers without further delay,” it added.
But Ekundayo said the PDP was responsible for the workers’ predicament.
In an interview with our correspondent, he said, “We have paid all the civil servants except local government workers that we owe July salary. We have never owed workers’ salary despite paucity of funds.
“Teachers have started receiving their salaries. This thing happened because of the meddling of the PDP in the affairs of the state. We used to obtain facilities from banks to settle salaries in the past, pending when we will receive allocation, but the PDP advised banks not to deal with us. The banks thereby became circumspect in dealing with us. The meddling is not in the interest of the state. Otherwise, we would have paid all the workers. It is the PDP that should be blamed.”
Feelers from the state indicated that civil servants are eagerly awaiting the inauguration of the new government, which has promised them a new deal. The prudence and accountability of the Fayemi administration is frowned on by a good number of civil servants, who look forward to a Fayose era, when ‘milk and honey’ would flow freely in the state.
A source said, “You can imagine some people worked against the interest of the governor not because he did not perform, but for selfish reasons.”
Another intrigue playing out in the state is the creation of 19 Local Council Development Areas. Despite the opposition from the PDP against the action, the state government went ahead to create the LCDAs. After seeing that the propaganda against the creation of the new LCDAs failed, the opposition party in the state changed its tactics, accusing Fayemi of plotting to use the 19 new LCDAs as means to siphon about N10bn out of the state’s treasury before October 15.
The PDP alleged that the money was part of the accumulated slashed allocations due to the original 16 local government areas and other foreign and local aids collected by the APC government since its inception in October 2010.
But Ekundayo in his reaction refuted the allegation, saying “such money is not available in the first place. If what they are saying is true which I know is not, they should wait till October 16 when this government will leave and they would have access to the financial records of the state.
“I am not aware of any N10bn the new local governments will have access to, these people are stark illiterates who don’t know the financial records of the state. They know nothing about governance. It is a total lie and it is meant to cause confusion in the polity,” Ekundayo added.
Fayemi on August 5 swore-in the chairmen for the 16 existing local governments and the 19 LCDAs. The governor said he took the step in order to meet the “long and persistent clamour of our people for the creation of new local governments.”
But Fayose vowed not to fund the new councils, saying he will not divert statutory allocations meant for the 16 local government councils of the state to the LCDAs. While Fayose was saying this on a phone-in programme on the Nigerian Television Authority, Ado Ekiti; the President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employee, Ekiti State chapter, Mr. Bunmi Ajimoko, appeared before the House of Assembly, where he denied criticisng the legislators for passing the bill leading to the creation of the new LCDAs.
He said the union’s decision to stop its members from reporting at their duty posts at the newly created LCDAs was only to ensure their safety.
Ajimoko debunked the allegation that the union was acting the script of the opposition parties as being rumoured in some quarters.
“Our union has never played partisan politics with the issue of LCDAs creation in the state. The welfare and safety of our members have been our paramount agitation,” he said.
According to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Idowu Adelusi, Fayose explained that what Fayemi created were LCDAs and not LGAs.
He said, “I want the people of Ekiti State to understand that what Governor Fayemi has created are Local Council Development Areas and not local governments. Nobody can create local governments in Nigeria without complying with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. And I don’t think he has done anything bad. But as for me, in order not to breach the constitution, I will not allow the diversion of allocations meant for the 16 local government areas in Ekiti to the LCDAs. Allowing that is diversion and it is a breach of the constitution which I will swear to obey and uphold.
“There are 774 LGs in Nigeria and their names are in the Nigerian Constitution including the 16 in Ekiti State. I am very certain that the Ekiti people who elected me will not encourage me to breach the constitution,” he said.
In the midst of the politicking, Fayemi found the time to settle the conflict between Kota and Omuo Ekiti, two neighbouring communities in the state. The two communities which were part of Ekiti-East Local Government Area before creation of the 19 LCDAs in the state were at loggerheads over the citing of a local government secretariat on a parcel of land claimed by both of them. At a peace meeting attended by the Commissioner of Police, traditional rulers of the two communities, and heads of security agencies, the governor warned that anyone caught fomenting trouble in any part of the state would face the wrath of the law.
He stressed the need to sustain the level of peace currently being enjoyed in the state.
The state government also set up a 30-man multi-ministerial committee as part of efforts at preventing and ensuring prompt diagnosis and management of cases of the Ebola Virus Disease. The committee raised by the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Olusola Fasubaa, comprises members from different relevant sectors including health, information, road transport workers, women groups, police and other security agencies.
Selected hospital wards in three general hospitals have been set up across the three senatorial districts in Ode, Ifaki and Okemesi. Ambulance services are available in the hospitals in case of emergency and movement of patients.
Also, the state, on August 12, 2014, began the enforcement of anti-smoking laws by signing the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2014.
The signing ceremony took place during a public presentation of the rules and regulations in Ado Ekiti by the Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Eniola Ajayi, in collaboration with the New Initiative for Social Development and Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids. Ajayi explained that the rules were “designed to ensure full enforcement of the spirit and letters of the law. If the area designated for smoking is to be within an enclosed building or a partially enclosed place on any premises, only one such smoking area may be designated.”
The law prohibiting smoking in public places in Ekiti was enacted by the House of Assembly and assented to by Fayemi in March 2012. It restricted smoking to designated areas in an outdoor or open space. The law imposes a fine ranging between N10,000 and N250,000 on offenders or imprisonment for a term of three to six months, or both.