In 20 Months, Fayemi Changes Ekiti’s Landscape, By Raheem Akingbolu

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Over the years, Akannasan curve along Ado-Iyin road has remained a nightmare for motorists, recording casualties at short intervals. Though successive administrations between 1999 and 2018, had tried to mount bumps to mitigate speed on the bad road, the number of mishaps only reduced; it didn’t stop.

To this end, experts within and outside the state have continued to clamour for construction of the new Ado-Iyin Road, which would provide ample opportunity to avoid the dangerous twist along the road. But despite the conviction that the option was the best, none of the previous administrations summoned the courage to dabble into the construction – perhaps, because it’s capital intensive.

At the twilight of Fayemi’s first coming in 2014, he had identified the road and the Ado Ekiti flyover, as being on his priority list if he won the 2014 election. Unfortunately, he lost the election to former Governor Ayodele Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who eventually constructed the flyover.

But on assumption of office two years ago, despite the lean resources of the state, Fayemi immediately commenced construction of the Ado-Iyin road and mobilised contractors to site within the first sixth month of assuming office.

As this reporter found out last week, the construction of the 2-lane dual carriage 7km 4-lane with 8.8m width is ongoing with the assurance that it would be completed by December 2021. Knowing full well that the project would put an end to the incessant accidents between Iyin and Ado Ekiti, Ekiti people are already in ecstasy, waiting for its commissioning next year.

According to Ayo Akinyemi, a Civil Engineer, who was formally with Ekiti State Local Government Commission before joining a federal parastatal, the construction of the road would be a relief and a great achievement for the Fayemi administration.

“It is sad that politician play politics with anything. If any of our elected officer is doing something that would be beneficial to all, regardless of whether we share the same political view or not, it is patriotic to commend such leader rather than running him down to score cheap political goal.

“Having been involved in many road constructions while working with various local governments in Ekiti, I know how tedious it can be to dabble into construction of a road like the new Ado-Iyin road, because we have unfriendly topography and thick forest in Ekiti,” Akinyemi said.

Also penciled down for completion between December 2020 and June 2021 are Oye-Ikun road, which is 34.4km and 7.3m width; Ado-Ilawe-Igbara Odo-Ibuji road, 3km construction and 7km rehabilitation; 13km Aramoko-Erijiyan-Ikogosi road, Agbado-Ode-Isinbode-Omuo road, which is 30.5km and 7.3m width as well as the 25.6km Ilupeju-Ire-Igbemo-Ijan Road.

Unlike the new Iyin road, which is considered a leeway for motorists and people of the state, whose patience have been maximally tasked as a result of frequent casualties, the Ilawe-Igbara Odo-Ibuji road will provide alternative for people from Ekiti West, Ekiti South West, Ijero and Efon Alaaye Local Governments to link Ondo State through Igbara Oke and Ilaramokin, rather than accessing the neighbouring state through a longer route – Ado-Ikere-Iju road.

Speaking during the tour, a supervising engineer at the construction site, Kehinde Bakare, who went down memory lane to how his people from Ekiti West used to connect Akure through the road in the 80s and 90s before it became a shadow of itself, said it was always a delight then to travel to Akure and bypass Ado Ekiti.

While assuring Ekiti people that the governor was committed to finishing the project very soon, he was quick to add that compared to the part of the road handled by Ondo State, the Fayemi administration is committing more resources to the road to provide quality work with concrete drainage system, which was not considered by Ondo State.

“I’m speaking not only as a project supervisor but also as a would-be-beneficiary of the road, when completed. Incidentally, I’m from Ekiti West and growing up, we found it much easier connecting Akure through this route, which was then our state capital before Ekiti was carved out of the old Ondo State. No doubt, the honeymoon will begin for us again when this road is completed.

“Coming to the project, I think Dr. John Kayode Fayemi and his team deserve our applause for not compromising standard. With what is being done, what Ekiti is putting in place here will be a legacy project that generation yet unborn will be glad for. As you can see, the drainage system is well built with concrete and the asphalt lane is super. In a matter of months, the challenges we encounter daily on the road will be a thing of the past.”

The next place of call on the visit was the road that leads to Arinta Water Fall in Ipole Iloro and the popular Ikogosi Warm Spring, all in Ekiti West. Perhaps, because of his sophistication and global worldview, Governor Fayemi on gaining political power in 2010, made it crystal clear that he was desperate to further reposition the iconic Ikogosi Warm Spring, which has put Ekiti on global map.

To achieve this, the governor had then embarked on total overhauling of the tourist center by turning it into a beautiful masterpiece. Following the total makeover, Ikogosi became an instant success story that started attracting thousands of people within and outside Ekiti.

The achievement didn’t only shore up the profile of the administration and its revenue base; it became a reference point, as many were quick to call it the second Tinapa resort in Nigeria. However, the honeymoon didn’t last – no thanks to the bad roads from Aramoko, capital of Ekiti West, through which people from Lagos and Abuja easily connect both Ikogosi and Ipole Iloro.

During the buildup to the electioneering campaign for his second coming, Fayemi was said to have assured the people of the local government, through the current lawmaker, representing Ekiti West Constituency 2 in the State House of Assembly, Tajudeen Akingbolu, a lawyer, that the road to Ikogosi and Ipole was on the priority list.

Akingbolu, who was then preparing for House of Assembly election told his people that they could go to sleep, assuring them that Fayemi would fix the road immediately he assumed office. He was vindicated as the governor indeed walked the talk by coming down within the first one year of the current administration to kick-off the road.

Speaking on the ongoing work on the road, the Alara of Aramoko Ekiti, Oba Adegoke Olu-Adeyemi, one of the leading first class monarchs from the state, described the project as a thing of joy for Aramoko and the people of Eka-meta, referring to Erijiyan, Ikogosi and Ipole.

He said: “As you can see, Ekiti West houses the major tourist centers in the state – the Warm Spring and Arinta Water Fall. We also have Ori-Oke Erio, a religious pilgrimage center that has become well known for spiritual excursion. Besides, our people are majorly farmers and we have been clamouring for this road to open up our farm settlements.

“Again, Aramoko as a nodal town has a major market that serves as meeting point for farmers and traders from this axis and other part of the state to display their wares and farm products. On completion, the road will boost Ekiti economy and reposition our various tourist centers.

“On behalf of other traditional rulers and people of this axis, I commend Dr. Fayemi for the project and we implore him not to allow complacency to set in. He started well and we are praying for him to end well. Succinctly speaking, we can’t wait for the road to be completed.”

In fulfillment of his campaign promise to restore the Ekiti value and uphold the state’s commitment to education, the Fayemi administration is also doing a lot in the education sector. For instance, while the former administration was lackadaisical about the plight of the Ekiti State University College of Medicine, which has made many students spend close to 10 years for a 6-7 years course, for lack of basic infrastructure and manpower to boost accreditation, Fayemi administration has looked in their way and produced the first set of medical doctors in the college.

A concerned parent of one of the final year students in the college, Alhaji Abdul-Azeez Apempe, who was on a visit to his medical student child when this reporter visited the school last week, commended the state governor for the feat recorded by producing the first set from the college but called on the administration to declare a state of emergency on the institution to pave the way for other students to graduate.

“For many years, parents and students were hopeless until Fayemi came and saw to the graduation of the first set from the college. We were excited and grateful for the achievement. However, we are still appealing to government not to relax in its effort to see other students through.

“No doubt, if the successive administrations had shown interest in the College, the shortage of medical personnel we are experiencing in the midst of the current coronavirus pandemics would have been ameliorated. We shouldn’t forget in a hurry that the Governors of Western states between 1979 and 1983, established Universities in Ago Iwoye, Ado Ekiti, Ekpoma and Lagos to produce university graduates that would become middle class administrators in their various states.

“After achieving this, the managements of Lagos State and Ogun State Universities had since produced medical practitioners in hundreds. It is also an irony that the Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, which was established many years after, has overtaken Ekiti State University in the area of producing manpower in the medical field.

“Considering the important place of medical personnel in the society, Fayemi should not pay lip service to issues concerning the EKSU College of Medicine. As a well-travelled man and scholar of international repute, I know he will not let us down,” Apempe said.

Beyond the College of Medicine, record has also shown that the current administration in Ekiti, has embarked on building and equipping standard Model Secondary Schools in Ado-Ekiti, in honour of Senator Ayo Fasanmi, David Oke, Prof. Banji Akintoye and Chief Deji Fasuan. There are also works going on to give a new look to many primary and secondary schools in Ekiti.

Meanwhile, in partnership with the World Bank, the state is also committing huge resources to the provision of potable water across the state, through rehabilitation of Ero/Egbe Dams and Piping of Water from Ero Dam to Ado-Ekiti.

When this reporter thought the tour had completed after two days of driving round various communities in the three senatorial districts of the state, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Yinka Oyebode, impressed it on him, the need to visit the Ekiti Civic Center which, when completed would house shopping mall, cinemas and event center.

He also insisted the fact finding mission would be half-done if no attempt was made to visit the Ikun Dairy Farm, which is being reactivated and the additional two secretariat buildings (Phase V and VI) at the State Secretariat, Ado-Ekiti, which was billed to be completed by October this year.

At the various sites, it was found out that the administration is not relenting about fulfilling its campaign promises as contractors spoke glowingly on how the governor was daily mounting pressure on them to hasten their work as well as give Ekiti the best.

However, one major observation discovered by this reporter was that the fight against the Coronavirus must have slowed down work on some other projects like the Ekiti Elderly Peoples’ Home and Recreation Center and the Faculty Buildings at College of Agriculture and Technology, Isan-Ekiti.

For now, some of the projects that have been completed are construction of access road to the Bon Hotel, along Iworoko Road, Ado-Ekiti; purchase of ICT equipment and upgrade of data center for Government Business; purchase and installation of 3KVA online and 7.5KVA offline solar inverter at Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital.

Also concluded is the purchase of vehicles and equipment for establishment of Regional Amotekun Security Outfit; procurement and installation of Molecular Laboratory for COVID-19 tests; Engagement of Consultant for Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP); positioning of Ekiti as Arts and Tourism destination as well as inauguration of Ekiti State Festival of Arts and Culture (EKIFEST) among others.

From any angle one chooses to evaluate the administration in its second year running, there is no gainsaying the fact that with close to 40 projects, either completed or currently ongoing, by the end of 2021, Fayemi and his team would have fully repositioned Ekiti and a challenging set agenda for his successor.

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