Kayode Fayemi, the Governor of Ekiti State, is a renowned academic, author, leader and politician. He needs no introduction in the political sphere of democracy, especially in the South-Western parts of Nigeria, because of his contribution to the ‘guerrilla war’ against tyranny and military dictatorship, which he supported in no small measure as an international voice against the General Sani Abacha government.
Fayemi took his pro-democratic activism up a notch when he launched the first ever secret citizen radio against the government. This aligned with and placed his student journalism-activism experience on a larger scale. With the collaboration and intellectual support of his friends in the United Kingdom who constituted a relentless diaspora and diplomatic force, the reign of General Sani Abacha was made utterly uncomfortable.
Among other things, Dr. Fayemi is also a strategist who holds degrees in History and International Relations from the University of Lagos, and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He proceeded to earn a doctorate in War Studies from King’s College, University of London. He is also a Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Ibadan. A proficient policy expert and thinker, Fayemi has developed policy development interests in Natural Resource Governance, Democratisation, Constitutionalism, Security Sector Governance, Civil-Military Relations and Regionalism in the Global Context. He has also lectured in countries in Africa, Europe and the Americas.
According to the CASA Foundation for International Development, Kayode Fayemi was the main technical adviser to Nigeria’s Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission (Oputa Panel), which investigated past military abuses and currently serves on the Presidential Implementation Committees on Security Sector Reform, NEPAD and the Millennium Development Goals. He was technical expert to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on small arms and light weapons and United Nations Economic Commission of Africa on governance issues. He is also a member, Africa Policy Advisory Panel of the British Government. At other times, he has served as a consultant to the OECD on Security Sector Reform and chaired the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative’s Committee of Experts on developing guiding principles and mechanisms of constitution making in Commonwealth Africa.’ Fayemi, according to WorldCat, has 25 works in 56 publications in his fields of interest, popular among which are ‘Nigeria: Crisis of Nationhood.
Comrade Kayode Fayemi would have thought that the years of political ‘warfare’ which undid the wellbeing of his people were over when democracy was installed into government and governance structures of the country. But electoral malpractices forestalled his dream of becoming the governor of Ekiti State in 2005. As a governorship candidate of the Action Congress, he had to fight in the courts to regain his electoral rights that were rigged. It took another timeline of five years to displace the legal barricades and to be justified winner of the elections. Fayemi has brought to bear his portfolios of intellectual interest in his role as adviser to multilateral and development agencies.
The first four years of Governor Kayode Fayemi saw great transformation in the State. He started the first social welfare package for the elderly, engaged the free education ideals of Obafemi Awolowo, for the poor, and provided every secondary school pupil with laptops in order to keep them acquainted with information technology skills.
Ekiti State witnessed a great turnout during the West African Examination Council exams because of Fayemi’s vast investment in the state. He also gave numerous scholarships to Ekiti State students and sponsored education and culture programmes such as the Ake Book and Arts Festival.
As Minister of Mines and Steel Development under the Muhammadu Buhari government, Kayode Fayemi created and sponsored agendas to reposition the Nigerian mining sector in order to create jobs for the teeming Nigerian youths and to diversify the economy of the country. He was also Chairman of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), a position which gave him the opportunity to engage best mining industry practices and brainstorm on the problems of the industry alongside practitioners, players and entrepreneurs in the industry. In the time frame of his ministerial role, Dr. Kayode Fayemi did not only understudy the terrain afresh, but he also implemented some of the policy ideas from his National Resource Governance research and policy background. He put in place a roadmap with set objectives for the revamping of the viable mining sector. He also worked on the establishment of a regulation body to curb excess and illegal mining, and to equip mining cooperatives so as the maximise the human and technical potentials of members of the mining cooperatives.
As Minister of Mines, Fayemi had expressed to the Oxford Business Group the opinion that his ministry was enhancing activities as outlined in the road map in terms of regulatory certainty, incentives for investment, infrastructural development and geological data generation, while reorganising and formalising small-scale mining. In this capacity, he also led his Ministry to resolve many legacy litigations around assets such as steel and aluminium plants. The government, during his time as minister, had increased funding to the sector, and an intervention fund of roughly $100m was equally made available. This was an unprecedented allocation which had helped the Ministry under Fayemi to focus on exploration activities and access to finance for projects that have the opportunity to cross over from exploration to production. According to him, ‘We also benefit from the mining investment fund we have in partnership with the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, which provides opportunities and access for junior-level mining professionals, helping them to develop the full value chain from geological prospects to production and processing. Recently, there was also the discovery of a large deposit of nickel by an Australian company in Kaduna State, and we are increasing our efforts on processing for asphalt construction.’
In recent times, Fayemi has been a party man interested in shaping the party structure for a formidable outing for the election year. His contributions to the party have received some criticism but have been regaled with praise by many APC governors in the Governors Forum. He has also had to grappled with the backlog of teacher’s benefits in a state whose economic fortunes remains an experiment, due to the faux-federalism that is practiced in Nigeria. Ekiti State and many others rely heavily on the revenue from the federal government to attend to both daily and interventionist governance of the state. The Governor had to negotiate with the teachers and continues to do so with the public teachers, public doctors and the civil servants in order to make sure that they do not down tools.
Undeterred by the problems confronting the state, Governor Kayode Fayemi has approved a new education policy in the state. The policy guarantees the teaching of Information and Communications Technology in the state. The entire policy reflects the consistency of vision and values for the education sector from his first governorship years. The standardisation of the education policy of Ekiti State with human capital development, infrastructure, awareness and communication, governance, finance and monitoring and evaluation as thematic areas shows the futuristic paradigms that the Governor for his people. He has also intensified efforts to build vocational capacities of indigent Ekiti people so that they can also become self-sufficient.
In June 2020, the Ekiti State Government commissioned a mobile laboratory to help curb the deadly COVID-19. The molecular laboratory installed at the Ekiti State Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti. In May, the governor signed an MOU with Oodua InfraCo LTD to activate a 606KM broadbrand Infrastructure that will benefit and engender an IT complaint Ekiti people. In March, the Government of Ekiti State partnered with a Dutch firm, and has partnered with Dangote Group, Stallion Group and Promasidor to revitalise the state that once used to be one of Nigeria’s agricultural sources. In January, The Ekiti State Government partnered with Momdia Group, a Dubai based telecoms firm for the entrenchment of a new mobile child health service. Since the government of Kayode Fayemi assumed office, there has not be a day of rest.
The Governor is quick to realise that there is so much that can be done without relying on the revenue of the Federal Government. He has shown that the best way to make governance work is to reach out to partners under a transparent and forthright leadership. For Fayemi, there will always be challenges for leadership in volatile African states but it will take communication and service delivery to disrupt the years of distrust that have permeated the consciousness of the Ekiti people and Nigeria as a whole.
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