FAYOSE: Coping With Fund Paucity
BY the time Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State took oath of office on October 16, last year, the dwindling national revenue was already crippling economic and social activities of most states of the federation, with Ekiti being one of those hard hits, as it can barely survive without allocation from the federation account.
Its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is less N200m per month. Besides, its monthly allocation has dropped from about N4b being collected between 2013 and early 2014, to less than N1.8b. Yet, the state is hugely indebted to some banks and stock market.
]Fayose had no choice, but to work within the reality of the finances of the state, by pruning down government expenses, which started with the reduction of the ministries from 24 to 14. More importantly, the governor did not only start off his administration with a four member-cabinet, which increased to 13 recently, the number is a far cry from his predecessor’s 24. Not only this, less than five special advisers or assistants had been appointed so far.
Fayose did not mince words with the new political appointees, urging them to see their appointment as a call to service and not another avenue to enrich themselves, because of the meager resources of the state. He also appealed to their followers not to put unnecessary financial burden on them, so they will not be disappointed.
In fact, Ekiti political appointees received salaries after workers must have been paid, while running grants of the ministries and parastatals have been drastically cut down.
For the government, payment of workers salaries seemed to be the major priority and Fayose has been faithful in doing this. Ekiti is one of the states in the federation that is paying its workers as and when due.
Though, Ekiti has ceased to be a huge construction site, which it was known for during the regime of Dr Kayode Fayemi, Fayose is also not allowing the present economic downturn to stop physical development in the state.
To cope with the fall in revenue, on resumption of office, Fayose applied to the banks to grant him six months moratorium from payment of debts, which was granted, this gave him leeway to pay salaries and embark on pockets of projects, but immediately the holiday period ended, the state, most times, combined two months allocation from federation account to pay a month salary of workers.
There is, no doubt, the regime of austerity measure is having a toll on the welfare and provision of social amenities to the people. Town sweepers employed by the Ekiti State Waste Management Authority (EKSMA) were the first to feel the impact of the new financial regime, as their stipend was reduced from N10,000 to N5,000 monthly. The affected workers staged a peaceful protest for some days, but when they saw the hammer that fell on other workers in their category, they returned to their duty post.
The government outrightly disengaged hundreds of youths working in Ekiti State Peace Corps, Ekiti State Traffic Management Authourity (EKSTMA), Youth For Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD), while about 25,000 old people under Ekiti State Social Security Scheme that were collecting N5,000 have ceased to gather every month to receive the stipend.
Besides, the streetlight being powered by generators, in some parts of the state capital that used to illuminate Ado Ekiti between 7pm to 6.30am now comes onfor four hours — specifically, 7pm to 11pm.
However, the paucity of fund that slowed down development in the state has led to a verbal war between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The APC that fired the first salvo criticised Fayose for allegedly abandoning his predecessor’s legacy projects, accusing him of doing so in bad faith.
The Publicity Secretary of the party, Taiwo Olatunbosun, wondered why a development-oriented governor would abandon an edifice like the Oba Adejugbe Hospital, which was already completed by the Fayemi administration, such that overgrown weeds now adorn the once beautiful edifice.
He said: “Oba Adejugbe Hospital was completed and commissioned by the Fayemi administration, while contract for equipping the hospital was already awarded, but Fayose, on assumption of office cancelled the contract and has abandoned the hospital to be overgrown with weeds.”
Olatubosun regretted that Fayose had also abandoned Funmi Olayinka Civic Centre, which was 70 per cent completed before Fayemi left office, alleging that Fayose stopped work on the project after contractors allegedly refused to pay gratification of ten percent of the money already paid.
“The Civic Centre is composed of an event centre, modern e-library, art gallery, cinema, archives and research centre. We wonder why the governor cannot complete this project instead of starting another building in the nearby Heroes Park, where the late Deputy Governor Funmi Olayinka was buried thus disfiguring the park. This is sheer pettiness and unwarranted insult to the memory of the dead,” Olatunbosun stated.
He also chided the governor for allegedly leaving Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort into ruins, regretting that the facility had already assumed dilapidation, which it was after equipment and facilities at the resort were carted away during Fayose’s first term. He accused the governor of deliberately leaving the resort in its present state while allegedly planning to sell the facility to his cronies.
“It is unfortunate that while Fayose laments daily over paucity of funds, he has deliberately left many projects that could fetch the state money to rot away, simply because they were projects of his predecessor,” he said, citing Ekitiparapo Pavilion, which ought to have started generating income for the state, but has been deliberately neglected after completion.
But the government in its response said Fayose would not spend the state’s scarce resources on execution of white elephant projects, declaring most of the unfinished projects of the immediate past APC government as “wasteful spending of public fund.”
Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said it was shameful that Olatunbosun could claim that the Fayemi-led government commissioned an uncompleted Oba Adejugbe General Hospital, Ado-Ekiti.
However, Olayinka said, “instead of wasting the state resources on Funmi Olayinka Civic Centre, the Fayose-led government is constructing a befitting edifice; Funmi Olayinka Women Development Centre, which will have a modern library and that to us is more beneficial to the people of Ekiti than a Civic Centre.”
While the politicians continue to exchange tirades, many people, including the government, are on brain racking exercise on how to be less dependent on Abuja for survival and develop the potentials of the state for a better future.