By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Governor of Ekiti State Kayode Fayemi has said shortage of funds forced the federal government to stop states from rehabilitating federal roads.
Fayemi gave the clarification in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday at a colloquium tagged: ‘Building a Sustainable Economy Through Values Orientation and Innovative Thinking’, marking the first year of his second term in office.
The governor said he would have loved to fix some of the federal roads in the state but for the stringent warning from the Minister of Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola, that there won’t be a refund on such interventions.
Speaking particularly about the collapsed Ureje bridge along Afe Babalola University during a flooding a couple of weeks ago, Fayemi said: “I would have loved to do some of these roads but the federal government said leave our roads alone.
“They made it clear that if any state rehabilitates any road, there won’t be refunds and this is because there is no money.
“This year, FG budgeted around N250 billion for roads. If the government is to complete Lagos-Ibadan, Kaduna-Abuja and Kaduna-Kano expressways, it will cost a sum of N500 billion out of about 36,000 kilometres of roads waiting for rehabilitation.”
However, the senator representing Ekiti North Senatorial District, Mr. Olubunmi Adetumbi, and former Minister of Sports, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi, have advised the country to redistribute its wealth and foster entrepreneurial education, to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor.
They said though very large number of the youths are educated, but disclosed that the education curriculum must be critically rejigged to ensure that the right education are given to graduates.
Adetumbi, who was one of the discussants, said there must be need for the states of the federation to be innovative and think of how to increase the internally generated revenues through public-private partnership to build and sustain the economy under a corrupt free atmosphere.
“In order to build a sustainable economy, there must be a partnership between the government and the people. The major problem of our economy is poor environment and growing businesses which Ekiti didn’t have in good numbers and once business environment is bad, then the economy will continue to be repressed.
“Ekiti has a poverty rate of 57 per cent. This should be a concern to us all. Our employment rate is 14 per cent, second highest in the South-west. Ekiti has no reason to be poor or has high umemployment rate, because of good atmospheric and soil conditions it has.
“Governor Kayode Fayemi has started with youth entrepreneurship and we have to build on that to turn around the economy of this state and it has to be accompanied with value reorientation among our youths.
“Value reorientation is very important. But the greatest influencers now are politicians and that is why we as leaders must be careful and be good leaders. We must be careful with the ways we live our lives, because we are the greatest influencers in the society,” he said.
Adetumbi advised Ekiti to key into the concept of digitised land registry, describing the initiative as the best way to generate revenues for any state.
Former Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, regretted that the wealth of Nigerians are concentrated in the hands of few people, which he said signposted the level of inequality in the system.
“Even President Muhammadu Buhari while declaring open the Nigeria’s Economic Council in Abuja recently emerged the first president in the country to bring the issue of inequality to the front burner of national discourse.
“The president said the wealth of the nation is concentrated in the hands of a few from five states of the federation. In inequality, Nigeria was ranked 157, making it the most unequalled country and the poverty capital of the world. The GDP does not show the reality of our state of economy.
“The issue now is, when the rich people are flying around in private jets, which isn’t wrong, let us help the poor to be able to travel to their villages on good roads.
“We are talking of education and our youths are going to schools, we must also ruminate on the kind of education that will make our youths relevant, which I believe is by embracing entrepreneurship,” he said.