This essay was submitted by Olayinka Areola
Ekiti state was created on 1st October 1996. It is in the Southwest region of Nigeria. There are 16 local government areas in Ekiti state. The last census conducted in the country in 2006 estimates the population of the state to be about 2.2 million people. The land is naturally endowed with numerous mineral deposits such as granite, kaolinite, tin ore, limestone, and gold among others.
As a gubernatorial candidate in 2023, this essay is my manifesto, a declaration of my intentions and objectives for the state. First on my list is working towards a significant increase in Internally Generated Revenue of the state. According to reports from the National Bureau of Statistics, Ekiti state generated an internal revenue of N8.6billion in the year 2019, which translates to an increase of about 32% when compared with the N6.5 billion generated in 2018. However, despite this increase when ranked in comparison to other states and the FCT, the state ranks 30 out of 37 in the year 2019. This implies it is one of the states with the lowest Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). There is also the 2019budget of approximately 129. 9billion, with total capital expenditure and recurrent expenditure atN57.2billion and N72.7billion respectively. The state was able to finance only about 6.6% of the total budget with its IGR. Being a state naturally blessed with so many mineral resources, the problem of revenue generation can be resolved by focusing on developing means to increase the production and exportation of these different mineral resources. I would leverage on giving structured grants to people involved in the exploration of these different mineral resources. It should go a long way in increasing production. Granite, tin ore, and limestone among others are resources from which substantial revenue can be generated for the state if produced on a large scale.
Cocoa is another major commodity from which revenue can be generated. Although from the period when oil was discovered in the country, the cocoa industry in the country died. However, it is still in high demand in the international market and has many uses. Being one of the top 5 cocoa producing states in the country, I would focus on supporting farmers involved in cocoa production to increase the level of production. Going into a partnership with other top cocoa producing states can also be a way forward. A major aspect I will want to focus on is the further processing of the cocoa produced, this should increase demand and aid exportation. An example of what cocoa can be further processed into is cocoa powder among many things. Although the price of cocoa has been fluctuating recently due to low demand and production arising from the effects of COVID-19 worldwide, it is expected to get better as soon as the World economy starts recovering from the effects of COVID-19 and demand is back to normal. All these should go a long way to resolve the problem of low internally generated revenue, however, an increase in borrowings may be required to be able to fund these capital investments. If the funds are efficiently utilized, the returns from these investments over time would be able to cover up the principal amounts borrowed and interest payments also arising from the borrowings. I will seek the advice and help of professionals such as economists, investment banks, and professional negotiators, and so on to help structure and negotiate these loans on a favorable term. I would also pay much attention to ensuring that proper documentation and accountability structures are put in place to guide and monitor public officers that would be responsible for disbursing the funds to relevant parties. Once the problem of revenue generation is resolved it is easy to address any other problems being faced in the state. In the process of addressing the problem of revenue generation, the problem of employment would be resolved and the standard of living of indigenes would get better. This is because as grants are being given to some businesses in some sectors and government expenditure increases, new businesses would be created and some other businesses can achieve growth. This would lead to an increase in demand for labour, therefore reducing the rate of unemployment in the state.
In addition to solving the problem of employment in the state. I would also focus on women and youth empowerment. Based on statistics, gender distribution in the state is closely aligned between males and females in the state as 50.7% and 49.3% represents the percentage of males and females respectively that makes up the population. Also, in terms of age distribution about60% of the population lies within the 15-64 age bracket. Empowering women would be of benefit to families and even the state at large because this would increase the income from tax. It would also reduce the level of dependence of the female gender on the males for survival, especially in situations of sudden early demise of their spouse. It would also reduce the number of children that would have to drop out of school when a parent dies, especially the father. Youth empowerments would also go a long way. I would want to focus on educating youths both through formal education and vocational trade, because the truth remains that even if formal education is totally free not everyone would be interested. Although, I would still ensure that that at least complete secondary education even if they would want to go into vocational trade because I believe that even in running a successful vocational trade some level of formal education is required. The youths of today become the leaders of tomorrow, so investments in youths today is one that would generate return in the long run and would really help ensure that in the future there would be even more capable leaders.
There is also the issue of bad roads. Good roads is an important factor for easy transportation of goods and services. One thing I would want to focus on is on the construction of durable roads so as to make transportation easier for individuals and businesses. I would rely on the advice of the professionals and those in the state ministry for transportation. However, I would really want to focus on ensuring that the projects are well monitored and also ensure there are clauses on what would happen if the roads constructed get damaged within a specific period of time. This should also help increase the revenue generated from the various tourist centers in the state as people from other states can find it easier to visit the tourist centers when there are good roads.
Another thing I would really like to focus on is on healthcare. The outbreak of the corona virus pandemic has really helped to realize the importance of adequate health care facilities. I would provide up-to-date medical equipment and ensure that doctors in government hospitals are paid really well with little or no difference from those working in private hospitals. This should reduce the need to travel out of the state or country in order to address medical problems and reduce the death rate. The actions highlighted here, among many other things are the major things I would like to put in place for the good people of Ekiti state if I am elected as governor. I believe these are the key areas of challenge for the Ekiti people. Achieving these goals would be for the benefit of all. I would like to solicit your supports and plead for your votes in order to make this dream a reality.
Long Live Ekiti!!!!!!!!!!