Governor Ayodele Fayose Of Ekiti State On The Occasion Of Nigeria's 56 Independence Celebration And The 20th Anniversary Of The Creation Of Ekiti State On 1st October 2016

By Lere Olayinka

My good people of Ekiti State 1st of October is a day of double joy for the people of Ekiti State. First, as Nigerians, it is a day that commemorates the independence of our dear country Nigeria from British colonialist, which was attained on 1st October, 1960.

The day became more unique on 1st October, 1996 when Ekitiland was carved out of the old Ondo State to become one of the federating units of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Being a fulfilment of an age long struggle for self-determination, the day would ever remain evergreen as a historical milestone for ages.

It is indeed a dream come true. Our journey to statehood within the federation of Nigeria that began in 1996 is 20 years old today. I congratulate Ekiti Ketes, both at home and in the diaspora, for this watershed. It is joy that mere words, no matter how well crafted, cannot fully express. Let us thank the Almighty God for making us what we are today.

Ekiti people will forever remain grateful to the late General Sani Abacha for the creation of Ekiti State. I also like to place on record the determination, ruggedness and focused struggles of our royal fathers, statesmen, elders and all those who were involved in championing the course of the creation of the State either directly or by proxy. I salute these men and women of great vision who saw what many did not see.

They sacrificed personal comforts and resources to liberate us from the miseries of under-representation, grave marginalization, deprivation and deliberate neglect that became the hallmark of our corporate existence as a people in our previous provincial or territorial alignment.

I also commend all past leaders of our State, at various levels, particularly those who have been privileged to be Chief Executives at one time or the other. They all contributed their quotas as time will permit them. I thank God immensely for the special grace and privilege granted me to superintend over Ekiti State today as we celebrate our 20 years of existence, just as it was in 2006 when the State was 10 years old. I have been singularly opportune to be at the helm of affairs in the State at these critical junctures of history to add value in our march to greatness.

Fellow compatriots, there is no gainsaying the fact that the events that culminated in the creation of our dear State had an expression in the oneness of purpose and the resilience of all for which became the driving force that gave our forebears victory over the invading forces during the ancient Kiriji war of the 19th century. The lessons of that war were not lost even by the actualization of our unique identity.

The strength drawn from our forefathers in that historical experience stood gallantly against oppression and indignity represented to a large extent the resolve of our statesmen to be unperturbed in their move for us to attain our own territorial identity in spite of what appears unrealizable. Though to some, we got our State on a platter of gold, but for those who knew the intricacies involved, it was a battle fought and won by the deployment of intelligence, courage, and desire for liberation.

As we mark the 20 years of that eventful milestone today, we are well justified, as a people, to roll out the drums in high profile celebration. My government has however opted for a low-key celebration because of the financial realities of our State. However, our attainment and achievements are worthy of celebration.

Some did not believe in this course at the beginning, commendably, all of us came out as a united family and took ownership of the new State at her creation. We cannot deny that 20 years is very little in the life of any state but 20 years is age of maturity. Above all, we have not done badly in the comity of states and within available resources.

We have jointly disprove the doubting Thomases who believed that the new state without take-off grant would collapse like a pack of cards We have demonstrated to the whole world that we have what it takes to survive and succeed as an entity. Everything has to be done to sustain our feet on the path of peace and progress. My people, there is the need for us to appraise our standing with a view to consolidating on our gains and sharpening our strategies for further growth and development. Since we have not reached our destination, it is not in our character to rest on our oars.

History is replete with records of the survival of the Ekiti man: when all hopes seem lost, when movements are stifled and when breathing is hard, the Ekiti man displays rare strength, remains resilient in the face of daunting challenges and wins unusual battles. At this point of our history, we have to come together irrespective of religious, social, political and economic considerations to reinvent the Ekiti of our dream. We are no doubt at a critical juncture of our statehood in view of the prevailing circumstances around us which in most cases are externally induced.

However, these are no justifications to remain lethargic in forging ahead to bring government to the nooks and crannies of the State in fulfilment of the yearnings of the people for a State of their own. I like to assure the good people of Ekiti State that this administration is deeply committed to the values that make the people of the State distinct. We will continue to bear our names not only by what we say but by deeds and actions.

I call on you all to join hands with the government as we redraw our plans of survival in the midst of myriads of challenges confronting our country today particularly as our nation battles economic recessions. Being conscious of the fact that leaders are often made at difficult times, I am resolute as I offer myself to chart the course of making our State a giant among other States by leading a government of truth, transparency and accountability as a basis for state growth.

This government will leave no stone unturned in addressing the problems confronting us a people and pursue more vigorously its six point agenda aimed at having a multi-sectoral turnaround of the State. Already these efforts are yielding results. From various projects sites in Ado-Ekiti to Ekiti North, to Ekiti South and Central and indeed in all nooks and crannies of the State, issues of infrastructural decline in road, water, electricity and other facilities are being tackled.

In Ado-Ekiti for instance, apart from stretches of road network already completed and now in use, the construction of ultra-modern market as well as the overhead bridge are ongoing. I am convinced that there is nothing impossible for a willing and determined heart. Ekiti is not only able to rank among the best in this country today but has the potentials to be the very best. The recent ranking of Ekiti State as first throughout the federation in the 2016 NECO results is a pointer in this direction.

I therefore urge you all to let us expand the frontiers of our strength and shrink the mass of our weaknesses. It is therefore imperative that we should use the occasion of this Anniversary Celebration not only to dine and wine but to support the government as we reflect on our past, re-shape our steps, navigate the rough hedges of our landscape and meander through the mucky waters to take our people to the next level of human dignity through responsive governance.

To me, breaking the vast fallow grounds, climbing the hills and crossing the deep waters is the worthy testimonial of our celebration. We must be conscious of the truth that indeed so much is yet to be done. We should therefore not be carried away by the euphoria of the Anniversary, rather we should have a deep reflection on how best to build a State that generations yet unborn would be proud of.

I call on all people of goodwill to have a stake in the development of this State. I run an open government and will be happy to have all stakeholders to be part of the Ekiti Project to build a formidable structure for sustainable development in the overall interest of our state. May I assure you all that this government will continue to do everything legitimate to sustain the existing peace in the State.

I appeal to all residents to ensure peaceful co-existence for the good of all of us and all criminal minded individuals will be kept away from the State as the government would mobilize all resources at its disposal to ward off all acts of criminality in order to sustain the peace, law and order that we currently enjoy. Going forward; let us all contribute our quota to make Ekiti achieve the dreams of the founding fathers.

I once again congratulate you all on this milestone and wish our dear fatherland unhindered peace, progress and unparalleled development to the glory of the Almighty God. Thank you all for listening.