By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Ekiti State Government has finally expressed its readiness to build an airport facility as part of efforts to attract investors to the state and make it the economic hub in all facets.
To actualise the dream, the state is at an advanced stage of discussions with the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) for a sum $100 million required for the construction of Ekiti Knowledge Zone, Special Agriculture Processing Zone, Ado-Akure Road, and Ekiti Airport.
In the same vein, the government has entered into a partnership with Promasidor Company for the investment of $5 million to revamp the moribund Ikun Dairy Farm located at Ikun Ekiti, Moba Local Government of the state.
The Commissioner for Information, Mr. Muyiwa Olumilua, revealed this in Ado Ekiti on Saturday during a press conference tagged ‘Walking the Talk’ marking the one year anniversary of Governor Kayode Fayemi in office.
In 2015, the government of Mr Ayodele Fayose started the airport project with a projection of about N3.5 billion along Ado-Ijan road but was stalled due to a court case instituted by those whose farms were destroyed and were not allegedly paid adequate compensations by the government.
Olumilua said the airport project and others are accorded priority “because it will ensure that Ekiti becomes the hub of the service and knowledge industry in Nigeria, leading agricultural hub, and also improve access and connectivity for business and recreational travelers”.
The commissioner said the state will also scout for investors to drive the Ikogosi Warm Spring and Resort, Fountain Hotels, and Ire Clay Bricks Limited and make them operate in full capacities to create revenue and jobs.
He said the shareholder agreement for the new company to be formed to manage the Dairy farm will retain Promisador as the core investor, while the state will retain a minority interest, through its investment company, Fountain Holdings.
“This will attract a new investment of $5 million into Ikun Dairy Farm, which will be used to buy equipment, provide the appropriate herd of cattle, and develop an outgrower scheme for providing feed for the cattle.
“When the farm is fully operational, it will create hundreds of jobs directly, and indirectly and also improve the economy of the host community, surrounding communities and Ekiti State at large,” he said.
Olumilua expressed the readiness of the Fayemi-led administration to defray the N57 billion owed by the last administration being the accumulation of outstanding salaries of workers, pensions, gratuities and other emoluments.
“Governor Fayemi has ensured regular payments of salaries since he came last year October. Before the advent of this administration, workers and our people were owed salaries for reasons known to them and all they were getting is a sachet of rice and between N200 and N500 under the stomach infrastructure scheme. We have been able to change the narratives.
“Before we came, all major business owners and development partners had fled Ekiti. The only visible people doing businesses in Ekiti are the Yahoo boys. But we are gradually returning the trust and reclaiming our glory back,” the commissioner said.
He said a total of 85,000 pupils are being fed daily through the federal government-powered school feeding scheme, adding that the programme in conjunction with the free education policy have shored up enrolment in schools.
“It is now compulsory for all children of school age to be enrolled in schools and any parent who defies this executive order will be held accountable,” he said.