Award winning essay that made Fountain Newsbreaker proud at JKF Inaugural lecture

Femi Oguntayo 

Reclaiming Our Land, Restoring Our Values: My Ekiti Dream

By Abasi Femi Oguntayo

Anytime we see or hear the saying, ‘Reclaiming Our Land, Restoring Our Values’, what comes to our minds? We definitely think of either the Ekiti that was or the Ekiti that is to come. There were values and there are values. We absolutely have lost these values and our land is gradually lost to hunger and poverty. The Ekiti that was known to be the pride and hope of the Yoruba nation is gradually becoming a laughing stock amongst states of the federation. Where did we get it wrong? What are these values which we have lost and how do we plan to restore them? How do we reclaim our land and make it a fertile one which will return to be the moneybag of the nation?  All these thought provoking questions are not rhetorics at all as this essay proffers the necessary antidotes. One thing that is however sacrosanct is that all hands must be on deck to make Ekiti great again. Just like Dr Kayode Fayemi's mantra in his first coming, Ekiti project should be a Collective Rescue Mission.
Femi Oguntayo with the Governor of Ekiti, Dr Kayode Fayemi 

Ekiti, the land of honour, was declared a state on 1st of October 1996 alongside five other states in the country by the military government under the then Military Head of State, General Sani Abacha. Ironically, the late dark googled General is today being referred to as a Dictator but to an ordinary Ekiti man, Abacha remains our Benefactor even in his grave, for granting us our heart desired. The Fountain of Knowledge State, as it was then called, was carved out of the old Ondo State territory and it covers the former 12 local government areas that made up the Ekiti Zone of old Ondo State.

On creating Ekiti State, it had 16 Local Government Areas (LGAs), having had an additional four carved out of the old ones. Ekiti State is one of the 36 states (including Federal Capital Territory) that constitute Nigeria and is reputed to have produced the highest number of professors in the country. With a single town in Ekiti State, Okemesi, reputed to have over 30 professors as at 1995, several pioneer academics also hail from the state, which is why it was formerly referred to as the ‘Fountain of Knowledge’. Ekiti is the only state that has all her towns having Ekiti as suffix except for Efon Alaaye and it has over two million people living in it, according to the 2006 census.

Politically, the State has six times elected governors since her creation. These governors are; Otunba Niyi Adebayo (1999-2003), Mr Ayo Fayose (2003-2006), Engr. Segun Oni (2007-2010), Dr Kayode Fayemi (2010-2014), Mr Ayo Fayose (2014-2018) and now Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Governor-Elect), who will be sworn-in as governor on October 15, 2018. Meanwhile, if legal interpretation is put into consideration, it will be said that there were five elected governors as the Supreme Court has ruled that Engr. Segun Oni's regime was a nullity and does not exist in the face of the law. However, we cannot but mention his tenure because there is no vacuum in governance.

Before October 15, 2014 in Ekiti State, the people of Ekiti were seen as people of honor and integrity wherever they found themselves all over the world. In terms of academics, politics, governance, respect for elders, honesty and resoluteness, Ekiti people stand out and were respected everywhere for that. It was so because that was how they were and used to be until the advent of Mr Ayo Fayose as governor of  our dear State. He was impeached by the State House of Assembly on fraud related offences. He thus became the first and only Ekiti son to be impeached as governor in Ekiti State. It was not therefore a little surprise to the whole world when Fayose returned to government in 2014 in a controversial election. This no doubt portrayed the land of honour in bad light.  As envisaged Fayose's return has in deed spelt doom for Ekiti considering the wanton looting, unprecedented serious sufferings by the people and the destruction of the legacy laid by the previous administrations particularly, great developments witnessed under the first four years of Dr Fayemi's administration as the Governor of Ekiti State.

In a State like Ekiti State where majority of the workers are civil servants and receive their pay from government, payment of workers’ salaries promptly should be the topmost priority of any government. This became one of the major problems facing the people of Ekiti State – working and not getting paid! It was as bad as walking on the street and a head of the family who is a civil servant will walk up to you to beg for transport fare to his place of work, because he has not been paid for months. Private initiative too no longer prosper the most private companies like banks and Coca-Cola depot were chased away by the governor rendering Ekiti youths jobless and turning them to beggars in their own land. This was a lost value that needs to be restored, our land needed to be reclaimed from an adjudged greedy tyrant who wants to turn the whole State to his personal possessions.

The Ekiti of my dreams is a people united in love, united for greatness and united for rapid development. A people, that is self sufficient and creative, who people of the world will look onto, respected among nations of the world for their integrity, respect, knowledge and honesty - the people that can truly be referred to as ‘ eni iyi, eni eye ’, a new mantra carved for us in the first administration Dr Fayemi.

The Ekiti of my dream is the state that will set the pace in terms of educational development programmes, where the people will value education as it has always been in the past, where we will be top ranked as the most literate people in the country, not through the backdoor of bribing Examination bodies to come first in examination ranking. I dream of an Ekiti where the leader, will value his people, where the leader will treat his people as his topmost priority, where the leader will take the payment of workers’ salaries with all seriousness and not punish them with it but make their welfare his major concern. I dream of an Ekiti where everyone, young and old, working and non-working classes of the society will be happy and there will be peace in the land, this is the Ekiti of my dream!

With the present state of our State, we need serious set of people in different sectors of the government, we need to put the round pegs in the right holes. By this way only can our state grow and we will leave this present stage of hunger and poverty that we are and move to a better and greater level as a people. One of the major basis of stagnancy in Ekiti State is misplaced priority. If we can do things the different ways this time around by having leaders and people of like minds who can think outside the box, our State will get to the top and we shall be a pace setter for other states of the nation.
The incoming government of Dr. John Kayode Fayemi had a great agenda called the 8 point agenda, in its first term and I believe, if this agenda be revisited and continued, in the next four years Ekiti will develop rapidly like Lagos.

As a youth, I will play my part by projecting our dear state to the world through all the means available to me. There is a need to change the orientation of our people and make them see why we need to start thinking differently. We need to start seeing the need for us to move forward, the need for us to stop eating from the ruins that fall from the table but be the employers of labours. We are blessed with a lot of natural resources. Why should we then lack in the midst of plenty? Thus, the need to re-orientate our people on a lot of empowerment programmes, on how to be their own masters and be employers of labours that we will not need to depend on government for everything and this way our state will develop.

Reclaiming Our Land, Restoring Our Values – My Ekiti Dream, this is my Ekiti dream! Ekiti State is a blessed State. A state that has the potentials to stand on its own and fend for its people. Why should this state now be lagging behind amongst states in the south western part of this country? The time to rescue our State is now. The change is back and the change is here. It is time for the true progressives to make Ekiti State work again; Ekiti must be great and with Dr John Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti shall be great again.

Once agian, Abasi Femi Oguntayo is my name, I write for Fountain Newsbrneaker and I'm from Okemesi Ekiti


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