Samuel Popoola

 

 

Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, while fielding questions from State House correspondents after a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari, late last year, on whether he would probe his predecessor, was reported as saying: “I am sure I have never said anything about a probe and I do not say anything about probe. Looking into books is the duty of any new governor, you need to know what you found in place, and I just talked about visitation panel into the education sector in the state. …It is just accountability, not probe. …there are institutions that are charged with the responsibility to do that and it’s entirely up to them if they want to probe the governor or not. It is not my business, I leave Fayose to God and I have said that before.”

This stand of Governor Fayemi is currently generating hot debate in the state known as the Fountain of Knowledge. The question being asked is: did Fayose fare well in his second term? Not a few Ekiti, especially the elite, maintain that Fayose, in his uncouth language, attitude and rough-hewn ruler ship, gave the indigenes a poor image in the eyes of the world, and he has many questions to answer over his disastrous management of especially, the state’s finances.

They were even further agitated by the revelations from the same Dr Kayode Fayemi in his  State of the State address on Thursday 24, January 2019 to mark his first 100 days in office, Governor John Kayode Fayemi noted that the debt profile of Ekiti State as at 16 October 2018, when he took over from Fayose stood at a whopping N155,791,785,214.08.
According to the governor, the figure, which was revealed by PriceWaterHouse Coppers, the globally acclaimed auditing firm hired by Ekiti State government to objectively assess the financial position of Ekiti State as at 16 October 2018, showed the state’s debt details were as follows: Loans – 57,694,460,298.79, Salary Arrears – 16,777,257,608.52, Outstanding Leave Bonus – 4,402,585,167.53, Outstanding Corpers’ Allowance – 28,883,959.00.
Others include Outstanding Subventions – 4,770,676,870.98, Pension and Gratuity Arrears – 39,775,919,872.02, Outstanding Contractors claims – 28,575,946,572.25, Outstanding Furniture Allowance – 470,266,137.09, Outstanding Severance Allowance – 586,144,167.5, Monetised Vehicles Arrears – 101,243,387.24, Outstanding Warrants – 386,777,450.64, Outstanding FIRS Obligation – 184,215,623.43, Traditional Rulers Arrears – 150,214,204.10, – Judgement Debts 95,048,963.35, Other Outstanding Liabilities – 1,792,144,931

Even though the people of the state, were aware of his imprudent and fraudulent dealings while in office, they were jolted with the staggering amount  of funds misappropriated by the former governor.

Before the revelations, an aide of Dr Fayemi, Segun Dipe, had earlier accused Fayose of ruling with deception.in a statement he made on Mr Fayose, he had said; “Due to his avarice, he has thrown the state deep into a humongous debt of N120billion. He didn’t do so to meet the needs of the people, but he wasted it on his personal needs. Three good examples are the needless Fajuyi Bridge in Ado Ekiti, the new High Court, which has been criticised as ill-conceived, ill-executed, and his much trumpeted Oja Oba market, which he rushed to build without minding the structural defects, yet went ahead to swindle the innocent and undiscerning people of their hard earned money by making them pay into a fake government account for fraudulently allocated defective stalls.

“Fayose,” Dipe alleged, “used his power to grab generational lands from the people, demolishing their houses and erecting personal ones in their places. Only God can tell how many properties Fayose now owns in Ado Ekiti.

Other critics of the former governor concurred with Dipe on the huge debt he left behind for Fayemi, especially as many legacy projects of his predecessors were abandoned. They questioned why the initial estimation of N5.7 billion to complete the 1.2km flyover in Ado-Ekiti was jacked up to N11.2 billion. It was said to have passed through four stages of variations. Again, the market project was said to have an initial projection of N3 billion, but was allegedly inflated to N4.2 billion when election was approaching.

The legacy projects Fayose abandoned include the popular Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort in Ekiti West, Oba Adejuyigbe Hospital in Agric area of Ado Ekiti and the Fountain Hotel. Under him, two banks; Guaranty Trust Bank, Ecobank and the Coca Cola distribution depot were also forced to relocate from the state. The popular Gossy Water bottling company, which has registered Ekiti in global record, was also closed down.

According to the General Manager of Ikogosi Resort, Mr. Gbenga Adewale, while conducting Dr. Fayemi round the tourist centre recently admitted that the current state of ruins of the resort could have been avoided if government had not abandoned the resort for years.

Adewale informed the governor that the resort did not get any intervention fund from the immediate past administration for its running hence the dilapidated state of the facilities therein. He added that more than 20 rooms are currently inhabitable as the roofs are leaking while doors of many other rooms including the conference hall have spoilt.

The civil servants, who had wished for better days under Fayose, compared to the Fayemi’s years, were not only owed months of unpaid salaries, they were also shortchanged in the area of their various allowances. The old folks, who were getting social security allowance, were denied. Young men and women, who were recruited by Fayemi into the state traffic management agency, EKSMA were summarily dismissed.

Fayose turned the Ekiti State House of Assembly into a rubber stamp legislature. The legislature is known to be the intellectual nerve centre of government, where executive policies, actions and laws for good governance are passed, analysed, criticized and reformed.  As much as there must be harmonious working relationship between the arm and the executive, mediocrity in terms of representation should not be encouraged.

However, knowing well his plan ab initio, Fayose had cleverly made sure he assembled those he could maneuvre. When the lawmakers were to be elected in 2014 during PDP primary, the governor used his position to browbeat the party leaders to accept his already drawn list that included those who could not muster enough bravado to initiate impeachment or looked at him in the face anytime he brazenly trampled on the constitution.  Those who could read between the lines, like Gboyega Aribisogan, Hon Ojo-Ade Fajana, Hon Sunday Akinniyi and Segun Adewumi, were later suspended or impeached  leaving  those who could aid impunity being perpetrated by the former governor.

One more reason why there’s agitation for Fayemi to probe Fayose is the issue of how the immediate past governor spent the bailout funds and his bogus airport project.

Fayose’s opponents lament that after receiving N18.4 billion bailout funds and soft loans from the Federal Government he refused to pay workers’ salaries. Apart from the bailout funds, there are allegations of his diversion of over N59.6million meant for projects under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adeniran Alagbada, even urged Governor Fayemi, who recently paid him a visit that, “it will be of great service to Ekiti State if you can also look into the issue of airport because after former Governor Fayose received N10billion bailout funds from the Federal Government, he presented to the EKHA, a N2.5billion airport project and we approved it. Till date, no airport, no plane, not even a helipad. Please help us investigate that too.

The question now reverberating on the lips of concerned Ekiti indigenes is how and where all the monies frittered away to? Was it paid into government’s coffers or private accounts?  This is why some concerned Ekiti people believe, Governor Fayemi should review his decision not to embark on a wholesale probe of his predecessor.

The people of Ekiti State want Fayose to be probed and they want their governor to initiate steps to recover some of the state assets embezzled by the former governor an be judiciously used to provide necessary infrastructures for the citizenry.
Samuel  Popoola, is a socio-political critic based in Ikere Ekiti

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