Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
The government of Ekiti has said the state’s socioeconomic growth is hinged on a diversified economy driven by a skilled and healthy workforce. This plan, the government says, has begun to yield result as evident in the partnership it has forged with development partners and the private sector.
The state commissioner for Information, Tourism and Values Orientation, Aare Olumuyiwa Olumilua, made this known while addressing a press conference to kickstart activities leading up to the first year anniversary of Governor Kayode Fayemi being sworn-in office for a second term, with the theme, “Walking the talk…Restoring values, Enhancing Impact.”
Part of the activities lined up for the one year celebration is the foundation laying of the Ekiti Airport, a new Ministry of Justice building, traditional rulers’ chamber, among other projects. This is in addition to the commissioning of no fewer than 50 projects spread across the state’s 16 local government areas.
Olumilua in the press conference said government was already in partnership with private investors and development partners that would eventually attract to the state over $100 million in financing for the Ekiti Knowledge Zone, Special Agriculture Processing Zone, Ado-Akure Road, and Ekiti Airport, as well as $5 million to revive the moribund Ikun Dairy farm.
These projects, according to him, will ensure that Ekiti becomes the hub of the service and knowledge industry in Nigeria, cement the state’s place as a leading agricultural hub, and also improve access and connectivity for business and recreational travellers.
“Other projects include the World Bank funded NEWMAP and RAAMP projects which will improve the water supply to Ekiti people and open up rural access roads to enable the easy evacuation of our farm produce.”
“Ekiti State is about to conclude a joint venture partnership with Promasidor Nigeria Limited to revive the moribund Ikun Dairy Farm. The Shareholder Agreement for the new company to be formed to manage the dairy farm will be signed this month, with Promisador as the core investor, while the State will retain a minority interest through its investment company, Fountain Holdings. This will attract a new investment of $5 million into Ikun Dairy Farm, which will be used to buy equipment, provide the appropriate herd of cattle, and develop an outgrower scheme for providing feed for the cattle.”
He affirmed that government would continue to invest heavily in education and healthcare of the people to ensure a skilled and healthy workforce. He explained that human capital forms the basic requirement to attract investments and other rewards to the state adding that the state’s development plan is hinged on the need to lay a solid foundation for sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
The Commissioner confirmed that government would leverage on the state’s competitive advantages and history by focusing on agriculture and agri-business, knowledge and economy services, tourism and hospitality and solid minerals, saying it would prioritise development of the Ekiti Knowledge Zone and the Special Agriculture Processing Zone that will make Ekiti the destination of choice for investors.
“Our people still remain our greatest asset, and we will continue to invest heavily in education and healthcare to ensure that we have a skilled and healthy workforce. Human capital is one of the most important requirements to attract investments, and our goal is to improve both education and healthcare outcomes, by ensuring that our people get the requisite quality contemporary education, which will qualify them to take up the jobs that will be created by new investments in the State.
“Building a diversified and inclusive economy, leveraging our competitive advantages and history by focusing on agriculture and agri-business, knowledge and economy services, tourism and hospitality and solid minerals, while we will not ignore other sectors, these sectors will be the main drivers of growth. Our infrastructure spending will be focused on building the right enablers for the sectors to grow our economy, and be the engine of job creation,” he stated.
The Commissioner, however, berated the immediate past administration, saying “the Fayemi-led administration inherited a severely eroded State with our once pristine values as a people seriously battered. Every facet of life in Ekiti was touched, albeit negatively: civil servants, teachers, local government workers, indeed all public servants were owed salaries; economic activities had grinded to a halt and there was hunger in the land, while criminals and criminality held sway in Ekiti. Investors fled, development partners vanished, donor agencies disappeared, and the dreaded “Yahoo Yahoo boys” were about the only visible set of people in the society who had a free flow of the much desired cash. Morale was very low. The number of out-of-school children multiplied, as parents who were not paid salaries had problems keeping their children in school.
“Upon the recommencement of the Fayemi-led administration, the job of rebuilding and refocusing the State started in earnest. To make the State rise from its ashes like the mythical Phoenix, the job of rebuilding had to start from scratch. Guided by the administration’s 5-point Agenda of Agriculture and Rural Development; Social Investment; Infrastructure and Industrial Development; Knowledge Economy and Good Governance, Governor Fayemi has successfully put our State back on the firm path to sustainable peace and development, which would survive administration after administration,” he concluded.