Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said shortage of funds forced the federal government to stop state governments from rehabilitating federal roads.
Fayemi made the clarification in Ado Ekiti yesterday at a colloquium tagged: ‘Building a Sustainable Economy Through Values Orientation and Innovative Thinking’ to mark 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 refund on such interventions.
Speaking particularly about the collapsed Ureje Bridge at the Afe Babalola University caused by flood few weeks ago, Fayemi said: “I would have loved to do some of these roads, but the federal government has said we should leave their 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, the federal government budgeted about N250 billion for roads. If the government is to complete the Lagos-Ibadan, Kaduna-Abuja and Kaduna-Kano expressways, it will cost the sum of N500 billion out of about 36,000 kilometres of roads waiting for rehabilitation.”
However, 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 citizens.
They said although a very large number of the youths is educated, however, the education curriculum must be critically rejigged to ensure that the right education is given to graduates.
Adetumbi, who was one of the discussants, said there must be need for the states to be innovative and think of how to increase the internally generated revenues (IGRs) through public-private partnership (PPP) to build and sustain the economy under a corrupt-free atmosphere.
According to her, “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 as well as growing businesses, which Ekiti State didn’t have in good numbers, and once the business environment is bad, the economy will continue to be repressed.
“Ekiti State has a poverty rate of 57 percent. This should be a concern to all of us. Our employment rate is 14 percent, second highest in the Southwest. The state has no reason to be poor or has high unemployment rate because of the good atmospheric and soil conditions it has.
“Governor Fayemi has started with the 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.”
Adetumbi advised the state to key into the concept of digitised land registry, describing the initiative as best way to generate revenues for any state.
On his own, former Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, regretted that the wealth of Nigerians is concentrated in the hands of few people, which he said signposted the level of inequality in the system.
He said: “Even President Muhammadu Buhari, while declaring open the Nigerian 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 country 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, but we must also ruminate on the kind of education that will make our youths relevant, which I believe is by embracing entrepreneurship.”