Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
The United Nations (UN) has reaffirmed its resolve to support the Ekiti State Government in its drive to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the state.
According to a press statement by Yinka Oyebode, UN’s Resident Coordinator, Mr Edward Kallon, disclosed this at a meeting with Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi in Ado-Ekiti on Thursday.
He highlighted the pillars of the UN reforms in Nigeria to include collective support for the government to implement the SDGs, peace building and prevention.
Kallon said the potential areas of partnership with the Nigerian government include advocacy for legislation on establishment of the National Commission For Peace, Reconciliation And Mediation and deepening understanding of the SDGs and localization at the state level in partnership with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
The UN official, commending Governor Fayemi’s social security programmes, said the UN would work with the state to actualise its SDGs vision.
Governor Fayemi at the meeting stressed the need for the country to address the issues of employment among the youth, increasing inequality, poverty and insecurity.
He expressed the willingness of his administration to work with the United Nations in the area of peace-keeping and conflict management.
According to him, “It is no longer a debate that we have democracy, but we have to be careful not to be overrun by the explosive demographic growth that you spoke about; the nature of the extreme poverty but particularly the increasing inequality and what that has brought about by way of the violent extremism and the impatience of the youth that are at the receiving end of these challenges, and we face it daily.
“We are recruiting teachers and, it will shock you, Ekiti is one of the smallest states, on the first day of our recruitment, we had 6500 applications online; by 12:00 noon this afternoon, we had 9,000 for teaching positions that will start mid-September in our basic schools.
“That depicts a picture of the enormity of the challenge. This is what increasingly led to the radicalization of people who feel there is no hope; so, we have to find a way to eke out a living and government had to be more innovative and creative about tackling these challenges.
“On advocacy, clearly, we are desirous of close collaboration with the UN systems in order to push for a world of peace, progress and development that can help us address this governance deficits that we are dealing with that undermines sustainable development over the long term,” the governor said.
Fayemi further noted that government will soon organise bond offerings to offset the outstanding gratuities of state pensioners.
“We are interested a lot in the bond and we have a practical challenge here; for example, in our state, we are looking at a way of developing innovative bond to address it. We have a lot of people who have retired from service and their gratuities have piled up over past couple of years running into billions of naira that we are not immediately able to pay, and I don’t think it is fair for all these people who have devoted years of their lives to serving the state.
“That is why we started the social security scheme for the elderly as a safety net to address this sort of issue; but for us, we think it should be possible for us to develop a bond that can enable us pay off all these and then find a way to offset that bond over a long term,” the governor suggested.