By Dare Dada
As a keen observer of the political happenings in Ekiti State as well as an economist, the propensity for Economic prosperity is quite on the downward trend despite the socio-Economic dexterity of the state and potentials for industrial viability.
Back in the days as a toddler, we will all gather at the rustic popular okesha axis where we take a trip to Ijamoro, passing through Omi Awedele. As young people that we were, we were determined to leave the town of Ado for the city where we perceived as more Civilized and devoid of stark poverty and deprivation. We were hard-working, determined and focused. We could see opportunities but could not annex it because there was no one to help. Ekiti was more like a state forsaken by the then Ondo State government despite being a major integral part of the state. They saw an average Ekiti man or woman as very stubborn and only willing to write petition at the slightest opportunity. They gave us schools (Federal Poly Ado, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ado Ekiti) and never explored or exploited the Economic opportunities around us to create wealth for our people. We struggled on our own for everything such that the only perceived opportunity is to struggle through school and travel to the city for greener pastures.
Back in the farm, fruits ranging from pineapple, cocoa, oranges, sancarine, cherry, pawpaw etc were in abundance. Some of these farm produce waste off in the farm and no opportunity to convert them to industrial use. We only took them home, sell part, consume some while the remaining waste away. Due to lack of exposure, we had thought nothing else could these fruits be used for except consumption and sale of some to make money to buy Christmas or Easter clothes.
As we moved to the city after University education, we were proved wrong as our exposure to the city continued to gradually revealed as we make research that lots could be done with these farm produce wasting away in the farm. There and then, I began to imagine how wealthy our people in Ekiti could have been if we could explore those opportunities having being equipped with the right skills in order to convert these fruit into Industrially packaged goods that could earn us some fortunes instead of it wasting away and only for agrarian purposes.
The creation of Ekiti State came with so much funfair, excitement, hope and our fathers who fought for the creation of the state saw it as an opportunity to break off from the Economic stronghold of Ondo State such that Ekiti people could actually develop at their own pace, determine their own Economic fate and inject fresh ideas from their numerous professors and Doctorate degree holders who indeed were willing to contribute their quota to the socio Economic prosperity of their beloved state. Though we had a little years of military administration experience. Advent of democracy in 1999 again gave us the golden opportunity to dictate the pace of our Economic freedom by our people and for our people.
In 1999, we had the first executive Governor who ensure Ekiti made some developmental landmarks which could best be described as a move targeted towards industrialization which was what birthed Ikogokosi warm spring Gossi water produced my UAC. Successive government had tried to improve on what their predecessor had done but that is said to have totally collapsed since 2016 as the Gossi water doesn’t function anymore due to bogus and unsustainable overhead. In same location where Gossi water is being produced, I was made to understand electricity is now a luxury while the fascinating and only Mecca like tourist attraction is now a shadow of itself with activities reduced by over 80%. Majority will lose jobs while the downward trend in Economic activities will also impact the economy of individuals in same town negatively.
As a matter of urgency, state of emergency needs to be declared on the economy of Ekiti state which must be accomplished with 30 years strategic Industrial master plan that is viable, sustainable and achievable. Administrative interregnum is another issue which will affect the administration of this master plan as successive administration does not tend to want to continue with the projects of their predecessor. This master plan must be gazetted and enacted into laws of the state with the proviso that any amendment must not only be subjected to State House of Assembly review and ratification, it must be subjected to public debate which must involve the stakeholders in the traditional institutions, the public sector and private sector.
This is essentially imperative because anyone who fails to plan will always plan to fail. Ekiti of today requires men and women with fresh ideas that can creatively inject fresh thinking targeted at improving the Economic index of the state, initiate a process of economic delivery that will culminate into Industrialization of rural areas to enable us at least reduce Urban rural migration.
Kebbi of today has recorded over 10,000 millionaire farmers with just 10billion loan obtained from Bank of Industry to kick start/part finance rice revolution in same state. Though this is a Public Private Partnership but the life of the state has never remained since this initiative was birthed. It is easier to borrow and expend on white elephant projects like bridges and pavilion in our dear Ekiti state than invest in sustainable projects that can help increase the IGR of the state.
In the same vein, Dangote has signed an agreement with Kebbi State govt to construct another rice mill factory in Raha town in Bunza Local Government Area this year while the land offered by the govt free of charge has been cleared in preparation for the construction. Same is being done in Jigawa by Dangote groups as well! Are we too unconcerned to attract same to our dear state? In what area do we really want to be known for aside petition writing and pull him down syndrome ravaging our state? What national problem do we really need to start solving to help galvanise the economy of our dear state? The time to Rethink is now!
The thinking of the people in government must change. Ekiti IGR can witness over 600% increase in 24 months without taxing the students in school, over taxing their parents and market people. Too much of financial burden most times result in low productivity most especially when your only source of income is not sustainable.
The time to take Ekiti to the next level is now. During the coming election, do not just cast your votes. Ask questions, know the background and track record of the candidate to vote for because 4 years is too long a time in the life of a state and only the sound minded who have history of great achievement in private life can reflect same in public domain for the betterment of our people.
We must prove those who tell us we prefer poverty to Economic liberty wrong as we strive to collectively build a state that is worthy of emulation by other states who are also on their toes for Economic giant strides.
Dada is the Director of Welfare and Special Duties, Otunba Segun Adewale Campaign Organisation