“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” – Alexander the Great.
If you talk to most people, you will discover that they actually mean well in their criticism of what government does. But they don’t have much of a breadth on knowledge or understanding of what the real issues are, when it comes to governance. They listen to pundits who feed them with what they are supposed to think and they keep repeating that until pretty soon they say, “Oh, well that must be true.”
While such pundits cannot be stopped from informing the people, they should also not be estopped from saying exactly what they see. That Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, is becoming the most talked-about governor in the areas of value restoration, development and social investment is beyond mere adulation or propaganda. The discerning ones within the opposition party have equally confirmed his exemplary leadership and described him as a visionary leader who knows where to head and how to get there.
Ekiti faces developmental challenges and capacity constraints as a small state. Even when its government aspires to higher standard of living for the people, it must struggle with the limited material and human resources. Its size and Gross Domestic Product are relatively small and can easily pin the state down. Going by the 2015 ranking, Ekiti is the least favoured among the Southwestern states. Its GDP stood at $3.6 Billion with per capita of $1.133m and a labour force of 1.4m.
Lagos led the pack with a whopping GDP of $50.8 Billion, per capita of $4,182 and a workforce of 7.7m. Oyo came second with $27.3 Billion GDP, $3,596 per capita and 4.4m labour force, followed by Ogun with $18.5 billion GDP, $3,660 per capita and 2.4m workforce, then Ondo with $11bn GDP, $2,423 per capita and 2.4m workforce. Osun is also ahead of Ekiti with $10bn GDP, $2,199 per capita and 2.3m workforce.
Fayemi did not find these statistics scary, intimidating or discouraging. Whereas people are wondering how the wonder-working governor has been able to navigate the first year of his second term in office seamlessly, he, on the other hand, has been saying it’s no big deal at all. In the same state that somebody grumbled about the weight of workers and pensioners salaries, emoluments, pensions and gratuities, where school children were being taxed, where social welfare packages initially introduced by Fayemi himself in office were cancelled and laudable projects allowed to rot away, Fayemi returned and restored all these lost glories within the first one year.
Whether Fayemi is seeing this as a problem, a challenge or an opportunity is left for the pundits to unravel. And the best way to do this is to check the rating of Fayemi’s government in the last one year. Despite the less-competitive economy and paucity of funds, Fayemi’s Ekiti has continued to attract rave reviews as a leading light in how a state should be run. The World Bank congratulated the state as the best performer under the National Urban Water Sector Reform Project and the third best performing state under the Community and Social Development Project. The Progressive Governors’ Forum commended Ekiti State for recording the highest number of initiatives in the Forum’s Development Initiative Tracking, spreading across empowerment, job creation, healthcare, etc. The Central Bank of Nigeria rated Ekiti State high on the Ease of Doing Business Chart. The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development recognized Ekiti as the Best Performing State on domestication of Women Rights Instruments.
On a personal level, but also in recognition of his leadership qualities, Fayemi emerged the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum barely six months after mounting the saddle as Ekiti Governor, the first Governor from the southwest to be bestowed with such honour. Same month that Fayemi became the NGF Chair, his wife, Erelu Bisi Fayemi also bagged the Zik Prize for Humanitarian Service Award. All these point to the values Fayemi has been creating for the state that had hitherto been regarded as debased.
Fayemi exposed the secret of his success thus: “Government’s policies and programmes the world over thrive on the involvement of the people…as a Government, we cannot do it alone or succeed in isolation. A tree does not make a forest. We need the support and cooperation of the corporate world, Donor agencies, Federal Government and of course, Ekiti people to succeed as a government. For us therefore, to build on the gains of the past, all hands must be on deck to move our dear State forward economically, socially and politically.”
Fayemi is an unrepentant enthusiast of value creation and best practices, making Good Governance, agriculture and rural development, knowledge economy, infrastructural development and social investment his article of faith, and the five pillars upon which he is building second term in office, codenamed JKF2.0.
Just within a short span of JKF2.0, investors are falling over themselves, wooing and allowing themselves to be wooed by Ekiti State Government. The World Bank and African Development Bank have accented to supporting the state with $100 million loan to build the Ekiti Knowledge Zone, Special Agriculture Processing Zone, Ado-Akure road and Ekiti Airport. The state government has also partnered Nigeria’s leading food and beverage giant, Promasidor Nigeria Limited for a $5 million investment to revamp the moribund Ikun Dairy Farm located at Ikun Ekiti.
These are just a tip of the iceberg of what Fayemi has been able to attract to the state. He is a leader with a futuristic vision and he knows how to turn his ideas into real-world success stories. Pundits who study him well will attest to the fact he is a visionary leader. He would plan ten years ahead and nothing could derail him from implementing such plan. He does not lose focus, notwithstanding the noise or chaos around him.
That Fayemi scored high marks in the first year of his second term was therefore no fluke. While observers regarded it as his first year, insiders were quick to point it out that it was a continuation of his long-term plan during his first term in office, codenamed JKF1.0. Then, he had introduced landmark initiatives across the state and had recorded monumental achievements.
To understand where the governor is leading his people, pundits need to measure him with the following parameters: Honesty and integrity, confidence, ability to inspire others, commitment and passion, good communication, decision-making capabilities and accountability. And if they are able to score him high in them all, then, Ekiti people are assured that they have the right captain steering the ship, and the only place they can be led at this point is to their _Eldorado._
Dipe is the Senior Special Assistant to Gov. Fayemi on Public Communications.