Inaugural Speech

This is Your Victory/The Voice and Choice of the People/New Dawn

Protocols

My Dear Ekiti Compatriots,

It is possible.

In all things, as the Holy Books compel us, we must learn to give thanks to the Almighty. To those who still doubt the miracle of our living God, yesterday’s declaration of the actual winner in the April 14, 2007 Gubernatorial election and the supplementary election on April 25/May 5 2009 in Ekiti State is more than ample evidence that our God is good, all the time.  Forty seven years ago, our great leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in his famous allocutus stated that “after darkness, comes the glorious dawn”. With profound gratitude and great humility, I stand here today before this distinguished gathering and declare that this is the arrival of such a dawn. From a dismal tunnel into which electoral robbery has drawn our beloved state, even made worse by the sheer incompetence and incontinence of the violators of our collective right to political choice, their Lords Justices of the Appeal Court have rescued our state and delivered your voice and choice back to you, the good people of Ekiti State. It is not ‘Kayode Fayemi and ‘Funmi Olayinka who have won a victory here today. This struggle has never been about us.  It’s been about you and the corporate sovereignty of Ekiti people.

This has been a long and tortuous journey strewn with blood and tears along the way.  For forty two long months after that election, you insisted on pitching tents with the truth and decided on a new politics for our time. In all these tiring years and depressing months, through all the legal rigmaroles and social perversions, you held on to your faith even when the path was uncertain. In spite of the temporary triumph of perfidy and what looked like an endless stream of inequity, you good people of Ekiti, and our numerous friends and supporters both within and outside Nigeria, stood firmly by us; we remained your choice and your voice. You reflected what Ekiti history teaches us from the period of the ancestors about resistance to oppression, about courage of conviction and about justice as the first condition of our humanity. At a point, the sheer impudence of the electoral thieves provoked our people to ask: Ki la ti a se yi si o, Ekiti kete? But the response that you gave to the challenge was outstanding. You did not respond by force of arms, nor resort to criminality and brigandage. Instead, you pursued your conviction with dogged determination within the ambits of the constitution and the law. You heeded my plea that I do not want to be Governor over dead compatriots and that we must pursue justice without shedding blood. You bore all the indignities and suffered all the tribulations in the firm belief that, in the end, justice shall prevail. Today, your inviolate belief in democracy and your unquenchable thirst for justice have been echoed in the hallowed chambers of the Nigerian judiciary. Your choice and your voice have triumphed. At last, the siege is over. History is made, like the day our forefathers repelled the ajeles at the historic Ekiti Parapo wars.

It is possible.

Today, we, the Ekiti people, begin a new journey to meet our manifest destiny as the vanguard of enlightenment, not only in Nigeria, but in the rest of Africa. We went into the election believing in the sanctity of the vote, in our determination that our people’s votes should count in order to ensure that we can be held accountable.  Today, we enter into a sacred social contract with you, our people. Let this message be heralded in every corner of our marvelous state, let it be echoed in the four corners of this amazing country and beyond the shores of Nigeria; let it be repeated by generations to come: that on this day, at this place and in this historic time, a judicial verdict provided an opportunity for the light that is Ekiti State to shine again; the shining light which had been consecrated by those who came before us, is today snatched from the jaws of defeat and delivered to the doorsteps of victory. Never again in the history of our state of enlightenment shall a government not duly elected by the people be imposed on them.

It is possible.

For some time, our civility and restraint was misunderstood as a sign of weakness and fear. We did not resist the tyranny of the military and erected barricades against the run-away autocracy of the militariat, only to submit to the bloody machinations of civilian marauders. We were resolute in our belief that the state for which we have given, and will still give, our all, will never by our retaliation or reaction, be turned into the graveyard of democratic politics. The struggle was waged on our core principle of restoring a heritage of values known to Ekiti and Yoruba people. Yes, it is true that we have had a bitterly divided state in the past three and a half years.  Ekiti was always in the news for all the wrong reasons, not celebrated for any enduring and worthy exploits. Indeed, we responded to the tricks and treacheries of the powers by the sheer morality of our authentic mandate; we did not fight, we struggled. We struggled to ensure that, through all the uncorrupted avenues for legal justice, the mandate that you freely gave retained its sanctity in the face of daunting odds. It is a fulfillment of my constant refrain that our freely given mandate will neither be compromised nor stolen.

For the avoidance of doubt, dear compatriots, what we struggled against were not the individuals who stole our votes, who benefitted from the robbery and those who, through political or even judicial means, sought to consolidate the electoral heist. Those we struggled against and those who this judgment has given us the renewed will to defeat are tyranny, illiteracy, poverty, diseases and the darkness that has been imposed on this land of honour and fountain of knowledge.  My compatriots, now we must recover the spiritual and moral direction that many used to celebrate us for – courage, character, competence, compassion, candour and integrity. Ekiti was founded on these ideals and we now have a sacred duty to take them back.

We had named this a collective rescue mission. The vision is clear; the mission is here. It is to make poverty history in our land. While it is going to be a daunting task, it is not an insurmountable challenge to move beyond our most recent wounds.  In fact, our only choice is to continue on the path of reconciliation and renewal towards a model state – because this state is bigger than us all.

It is possible.

As I am ushered into the Governor’s Office in Ado-Ekiti, make no mistake about it, I will ensure that you, the good people of Ekiti State, own this government. I will do this by re-designing my agenda through the village square and town hall meetings I promised; democratizing governance, modernizing agriculture; improving on infrastructure; promoting free and qualitative education towards the development of functional human capital; providing free health and social security to the disadvantaged sectors of our state, ensuring industrial development; tourism and sustainable development and promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the state of our State calls for an urgent, bold and swift action. What happened in Ilorin yesterday had strengthened my bond with you. My 8 point agenda would be pursued with vigour and life would be more abundant for our people .Governance shall not only be transparent and accountable but the good of our people would be the template. There would be employment opportunities and youth development shall receive urgent lifeline. Women would never suffer discrimination as they would become vital indices in our development calculation. Child and maternal mortality rates shall be reduced and eventually stamped out. Agriculture, our mainstay would come alive while tourism would add value to Ekiti, a state of aesthetic splendor. Your health will be my wealth as we set about fulfilling our promise of an affordable, accessible healthcare for every Ekiti citizen. Education, our heritage and weapon against ignorance shall receive a religious attention. For the good of our people and to the Greater Glory of humanity, I declare Education free for all primary and secondary school pupils. Children at birth up to five years of age, pregnant women and senior citizens are exempted from paying medical bills in all government hospitals. In addition, we shall introduce a social security scheme for all our senior citizens that are 65 and above within the shortest possible time.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen – This event is occurring as the world reviews a decade of the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs].  I do not believe that this timing is just a mere coincidence or an occurrence by happenstance. It is also five decades after the gargantuan accomplishments of our sage as the premier of Western Nigeria. Even the sage must be turning in his grave about the deteriorating developments in his zone and the entire country as a whole. It is therefore an opportunity for those of us interested in societal transformation to recommit and rededicate ourselves to the values promoted by Chief Awolowo and renewed in the MDGs. Our challenge as a successor generation is not just to restore the fundamental tenets of the Awo credo in our actions. Yes, education, health, development of the human capital and freedom from poverty must remain inalienable rights for our people but in accomplishing the necessary tasks, we will not privilege ideology over facts. Not dogma over common sense. Our primary objective will be what works best in the ultimate interest of our people.  We shall do development with our people and not for them.

I must caution that this would not be smooth-sailing. The road will be rough, the climb is bound to be steep but that also represents the history of our people – a history of continuing struggle. We owe it a duty to repair the damage done by the departing authority even as we re-start the clock of progress in our State. For about three and a half years, governance became an exercise in trial by error. Ekiti government house became a theatre for comedians where policy somersault and executive recklessness became the script. It was forty months of a game without rules, a journey without maps. Health care delivery became death scare delivery and the neglected hospitals became centres where you pay through your nose to shake hand with death. Peace became a rare commodity in our cultural warehouse and lives became disposable with unnatural expiry dates, through the guns of assassins and kidnappers and the bullets of armed robbers. We recorded more political killings in these sordid forty months than in the previous twelve years of our existence as a state. A strange catechism of politics without integrity was handed to our youths who were living witnesses to unpardonable electoral robberies. Infrastructure and public utilities became public nightmare. Education system became impaired while deception became an article of faith. Official relationship with our elders, leaders and traditional rulers was maintained mainly with pecuniary inducements rather than through conviction.

Compatriots, I have reiterated many times that the struggle was not a personal war between political adversaries but a compelling call to a crusade for the redemption of our dear State which we have all toiled to build. In the spirit of reconciliation and renewal, we must have the courage and the determination to build bridges across divides and unite in common effort.  We must be honest and admit that attaining greater heights in Ekiti State will require more than just government. There is no magic wand about it. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us.  Yes, government must lead, but each of us must do our part in rebuilding this beloved state of ours. Yes, we must provide more opportunities and ladders to success for our young men and women, but parents must still guide and protect their children. True, we must ensure a politics of meaning and eschew bitterness in political relations.

In this sense, I want to assure all that there will be neither recrimination nor retaliation under this administration. Without a doubt, we will undertake a comprehensive review of what had transpired in the last forty two months as should be expected, but this is with a view to strengthening the fabric of democratic governance and correcting the ills of the past, not an exercise in witch-hunting.  During this period, the civil service which is the key implementing agent of government had its flag flown at half mast. The fire of a vibrant workforce was extinguished and the artisans were in sackcloth, mourning the arrested opportunities of Ekiti, our State of hope. To begin this process of renewal, we shall require all Permanent Secretaries in our civil service to revert back to their positions as of May 28, 2009 immediately while suspending all irregular civil service appointments.

It is possible.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, our celebration today is not a celebration of our victory as politicians or as a party, our celebration is that of the triumph of justice and equity, the victory of Ekiti people’s inalienable right to choose their leaders, a celebration of the triumph of human spirit over the indignities of the age; a triumph of hope over hopelessness. But it is also a celebration of a new beginning, one for which all Ekiti people must roll up their sleeves to begin the rebuilding of our state which was hampered by gross electoral robbery.

We cannot but salute our leaders who put what money could not buy – their honour and their humanity – on the line so that the government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish in Ekitiland. They were not seeking personal victories or favours; some of them were not even from these shores; theirs was, and still is, an irrevocable commitment to the ideals of democracy, the promises of justice and the illuminations of egalitarianism.

For the avoidance of doubt, even if, fundamentally, our task begins with Ekiti State, it goes beyond the limits of our state, because we cannot be truly free until our compatriots are all free. Therefore, let this be only the beginning of greater justice, within and beyond Ekiti state. This land which had flowed with milk and honey, both which has now been sucked and licked dry by a most unprecedented kleptomania, must be returned to its pride of place in the comity of nations. Ekiti people, as we celebrate the centenary of Obafemi Awolowo, the High Priest of Enlightenment and Egalitarianism, I hereby reaffirm my willingness to work with others to ensure that Ekiti State and our country, Nigeria, marches again, unimpeded, towards her manifest destiny.

Yes, it is possible.

I thank you.

God bless you, God bless Ekiti State, and God Bless Nigeria.

Dr. Kayode Fayemi,
Governor of Ekiti State

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