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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

#BlogFeature: Kayode Fayemi - There Was A Governor – Part 1

The article below is very insightful and factual and I knew I must share it on here (with the writer's permission of course) in order to shed more light on the political situation in Ekiti State. I am hoping, one way or the other, this article would get to the current Governor Fayose's attention and he in turn would see and keep up with at least a huge part of what the former Governor Fayemi began. While Governor Fayose may hvae his own grand plan on how to move the state he governs forward, I think adding/maintaining parts of Fayemi's policies to his is the only way Ekiti state can really be as productively developed as possible.


Former Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State

I heard the name Kayode Fayemi for the first time in the mid-'90s. Living in Ekiti for me then was still an experiment. I spent the bulk of my time in Ibadan only paying “long visits” to Ado Ekiti. I had no access to CNN or any form of cable TV in Ado Ekiti. This led to an addiction to BBC Radio. The BBC was always interviewing Kayode Fayemi as a resource person on a wide variety of international developmental issues. I was pretty sure he was from Ogun State. You see, Google didn’t really exist then. Nor Wikipedia. 

Then about 2006 I heard that he was to contest for the governorship seat in Ekiti State. The eventual actualisation of the mandate he got in 2007 took three whole years. His one-term, four-year reign and subsequent ouster is a succinct illustration of what I call The Nigerian Conflict of Desires. By this I mean the paradoxical phenomenon that makes us wish for good governance while rejecting its more practical elements when they get too close for comfort. 

Nigerians want the Police reformed but we also want to keep driving on the roads without a valid licence. We want good roads but we want to reserve the right to empty our refuse into the drainage that keeps the roads dry and thus pothole-free. We want quick service but we hate queues. We want electricity to be stable but we still want to bypass our meters. We cry against corruption but we don’t want to give up the unfair advantages we enjoy by greasing palms in various offices and places of business we visit. Hypocrisy is a Nigerian.

Even though I spend most of my time outside the country for the moment, I was fully on ground in Ekiti during the Fayemi/Fayose elections of 2014. I was an unfortunate witness to the whole drama. Until shortly before the election, Kayode Fayemi was known to be a high performance governor. The result of that election continues to baffle Nigerians especially non Ekitis. This is not only because of the perception of Fayemi but as well due to the knowledge of who Fayose is. This here is an attempt to demystify the results of that election.

The former Ekiti State governor known as Kayode Fayemi lost his re-election bid for the most part because he offended four groups of people. All the bitter rhetoric and untrue stories that turned Okada riders and market women against him were formulated and propagated by these four groups.

1. Within months of becoming governor, Kayode Fayemi changed nearly all the points at which government revenue was being collected into bank pay points. Even if you are paying a mere N200 for an affidavit, it must be lodged in a government account first. A high security, “unforgeable” receipt is then generated by a specially networked printer that you cannot command to do your bidding at the front end. It must detect the payment online before it can print. 

The IGR of Ekiti jumped from a paltry N105m a month to over N600m today. By this move alone, Fayemi became a bitter enemy of state civil servants many of whom hitherto pocketed government revenue unchecked. Many had their own receipts and many charge hapless citizens inflated fees and issue no receipts at all.

2. As it happens around the country, the majority of Local Govt employees in Ekiti were not working for a living pre-Fayemi. They ran their own retail shops, enrolled in full time undergraduate and postgraduate programs (our pastime here is obtaining degrees remember) and engage in all manner of business activities – all the while getting paid by the government monthly. There’s a casual friend of mine, an Engineer who was a local govt staff in Ekiti and took up a fat paying job in Abuja, left the place for a fatter job in Port-Harcourt. I had no idea he was still getting paid by the LG until Kayode Fayemi came on board and made showing up at work compulsory for LG workers in Ekiti. My friend had to run to Ado to officially resign his appointment. 

Not only did Fayemi make showing up at work compulsory, he set about turning the LG into a serious tier of government. While we can blame him for not conducting elections at the LG level, it is clear for all to see that he could not have carried out those reforms with elected officials. He made road projects compulsory for them. Every LGA in Ekiti got 5km of inner city road per year for those four years. The difference this made to transportation is immeasurable. Some towns got the first new tarred inner city road since the '70s. He also made it mandatory for every local govt to build and staff a certain number of Basic Health Centres per year. 

He sacked a number of corrupt senior LG officials, retired the overaged ones, sacked the known certificate forgers, redeployed LG staff with teaching qualifications to the classroom, it was a serious shake-up! Many shops had to be closed in the morning because the owners now had to go to work. Several of them were big businesses with sole distributorships of major manufacturers. The long and short of it is that there was no way LG workers were going to support a Fayemi re-election.

3. Fayemi had an elaborate plan for education in Ekiti. He began with massive renovation of physical infrastructure. Like the reform he carried out on government revenue collection, the previous governor Segun Oni did some work in this area but Fayemi took it to a whole new level. Public schools that had no windows and doors got metal windows and doors, long span aluminium roofing, the works. 

Next on the education agenda was improvement of the quality of teaching, which in my opinion was even more urgent than physical infrastructure. As part of an elaborate plan to improve this vital parameter, the Fayemi administration set out to administer tests that will help to gauge teacher quality. These are standard tests that are used all over the sane parts of the planet. Only an enemy of the nation would deny the gross mediocrity that rules in our public school classrooms by way of poor teaching. The tests would reveal the actual level of teaching and expose the critical areas where re-training was needed. Inevitably, it would expose the very worst cases too. Those simply unfit to be in the classroom. 

How this plan went down is well known to the public. The teachers simply refused to take the tests. They turned it into a kind of human rights struggle. The teachers’ union took it up and banned all their members from taking the tests, even placing curses on anyone who showed up and threatening violence. The tests never took place. Ekiti was set to access several useful funds and international aid to be ploughed into improving our public schools if only the standard parameters of the system could be gauged. The process was frustrated. And so it was that Kayode Fayemi became an enemy of teachers in the state.

4. Ekiti State University (EKSU) is a gem of a university that has the potential of becoming one of the greatest universities in this country and beyond. Going by its history, staffing and its location, it should by now be a school everybody wants to send their kids to. Indeed, it is and continues to be one of the preferred state-owned universities in the country, if not the most preferred. Reason being that fees there have been kept relatively reasonable and it is not exactly the basket case of corruption and both administrative and academic ineptitude that we see in most state universities in Nigeria. 

Having said that, I need to make clear that certain things that were going on in the school are pretty bad. The very worst of it all is the “handout” culture that was reigning there – especially in the Management and Social Sciences, Education, Law and to a lesser extent in the Science and Engineering faculties. Probably the Agriculture faculty is the only place I cannot confirm the existence of this highly lucrative but totally perverse culture.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, the handout culture is a system by which instead of giving out notes to their students, lecturers make their notes into cheap, flimsy booklets that the local printer produces for N200 or even as low as N80. They then sell to students for as high as N1200! As a matter of fact, I know a lecturer who sold the same handout to undergraduates at N500, to postgraduate diploma students at N600, to Masters’ students at N800!!! It was so entrenched and so lucrative they made many millions from it per year and built many mansions and private hostels for students. And it was a system that worked by compulsion. 

An unwritten/unspoken reward system existed for buying and the chances of passing without buying the handout were slim. Some even make students buy the handout BEFORE registering them for the course. At the height of this culture, a Vice Chancellor made every part time student of the school buy a book he wrote – whether it was relevant to their discipline or not. I have seen many wards through this school and have paid for many, many handouts in case you think my story is apocrypha.

Governor Fayemi became an enemy of the majority of EKSU lecturers because his regime brought in a new Vice Chancellor (one Professor Aina from OAU) who worked hard (and is still working hard) to get rid of the evil handout system and also unravelled several other money making schemes and sharp practices that hitherto stunted Ekiti State University’s clout among Nigerian universities. The shameful part is that the school was surrounded by institutions that had gotten rid of the handout culture as soon as lecturers’ pay vastly improved post-Abacha era. Institutions like The Federal Polytechnic in Ado Ekiti, The Federal University of Technology in Akure and Obafemi Awolowo University had outlawed handouts about a decade or more ago!

Another war between Kayode Fayemi and the staff of EKSU had to do with taxation. Like most of the Nigerian civil service, under-taxation was regarded as a right in EKSU. Staff of the institution paid a negotiated tax that falls way below the statutory amount. It ought to be emphasised however that this is a widespread practice in Nigeria. No matter what the law said, unions always fight for reduced taxation and successfully too. Fayemi attempted to right this wrong in all government establishments in the state but he met stiff opposition with the trade unions at EKSU.
And so it was, that Kayode Fayemi became an enemy of EKSU staff, especially the lecturers.

To be continued......................

Article By: Jide Afolayan

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