BY SEGUN DIPE
“Life isn’t a matter of milestones but of moments” -Rose Kennedy
Over time, the idea of 100 days in office has been used to measure the success or failure of governments. How right or wrong is this?
100 is a number, it is a factor not a whole. 100 days in office is a tradition, a ritual that officeholders are wont to mark without any consideration for its significance or purpose. It says little or nothing about the landmark reached and it is not enough to determine efficiency or otherwise.
According to the famous American author, 100 days should not be the ideal yardstick to establish the success or otherwise of a leader or government. He further stressed that success or otherwise in 100 days does not really translate into an enduring success afterwards.
The marking of 100 days should not be blamed on Nigerian leaders as it did not originate from them. Like all else imported, they have so celebrated it in Nigeria that it has become jejune, naive, simplistic and superficial.
Pundits wait for an elected office holder’s 100 days in office to analyse his high and his low. Rather than be object focused, they are subject focused. Rather than see it as a prism through which the mood in the environment is measured or the barometer to gauge or control certain influences to which the new government is responding to, wailers will see the 100 days as an opportunity to bash the office holder while hailers will see it as an opportunity to hail him.
Success is a process, nay, a journey, not a destination. Sometimes during that journey, there are stones thrown at you which you would have to convert to milestones. Nelson Mandela, symbol of African struggle for independence was of the belief that one must celebrate, not any particular day(s) but those milestones as one journeys through the road.
Milestone is a stone by the side of a road that shows the distance in miles to a specified place or an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development.
With increasing distance and challenges along the way, knowledge fades and fades rapidly and, sometimes, the leader reaches a dim boundary, where he is compelled to measure shadows and search among ghostly errors of measurement for landmarks that are scarcely substantial. This is when it would dawn on such leader that counting landmarks are more important than counting days.
Now, if we must count the first 100 days of Governor Oyebanji in the Ekiti saddle, we should neither hail nor boo his strides. Rather, we should ex-ray the good, the bad and the ugly circumstances that have influenced the landmark.
The first good Gov. Biodun Oyebanji built upon in his first 100 days in office is the continuity factor. Continuity of democracy, seamless baton exchange and continuity of governance.
Had the transition been an unsmooth one as we had in the past before the last one between ex-Governor John Kayode Fayemi, and current Governor Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, the story would have been different from what we have today. We would have been talking of BAO still trying to navigate his way through and blaming his predecessor for false steps. There would not have been anything to build upon, but a lot to cry about. The succession was smooth and so the environment is peaceful today.
The second good is the activities Oyebanji quickly embarked upon. Because he is not looking for any vain glory, the governor made maintenance of existing infrastructure his low hanging fruit. He worked on roads and light up the highways. He looked at all the pacts in the critical sectors like education, health, agriculture, etc., and ensured that the tempo was sustained. He pushed the credit rating of his predecessor further with the development agencies and inherited not just all his friends, but converted his predecessor’s perceived enemies to friends as well.
First is the global economy. The economy refers to the wealth and resources of a particular area, and this time, we are talking of the entire world. The global economic instability heralded Oyebanji to government. Ekiti is not insulated from the meltdown the world economy is experiencing. Economic instability and inflation often go hand-in-hand. The factors that influence an economy are currently out of balance. When an economy becomes unstable as we have presently in Ekiti as the rest of the world, there is inflation, which is a decrease in the value of money. This leads to higher prices, higher unemployment rates, and general angst among the people who are trying to survive financially. In other words, people are naturally not happy with the state of the state, whereby people who are supposed to invest are not doing so and people cannot afford to buy much, either. This causes the economy to slow down even more.
The second bad is the rating of the State among the comity of States in the country in terms of all financial indices. Ekiti enjoys low credit rating and has no bragging right to financial independence. Ours is the poorest among the South Western States and second poorest in the country, talking about what we get from the federation account. The state cannot perform much in the area of internally generated revenue either, considering the low yield of investments at the moment. Ekiti, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has a total IGR of less than N7bn and a total GDP of $2.8 billion. This is the reality Governor Oyebanji is contending with.
The first ugly to war with in his first 100 days in office is the perennially excruciating fuel crisis. It got so bad that a particular party in opposition had to accuse the governor of deliberately stopping the filling stations from selling petrol during its mega rally in the state capital. Place this side by side with the comparably lean pockets of the people in the poor state, then you will understand why the street is not smiling let alone laughing at the moment. However, like every ugly scene, it is a phase that will sooner than later pass.
The second ugly scenario is passing already. The poor security architecture, characterised by the spate of kidnapping. This is also a national malaise and when compared to other states in the federation Ekiti has faired well in curbing it. No one can blame the development on the governor, even if any had happened in the course of the first 100 days at all. But, if you ask me, it isn’t increasing, it is decreasing in the state.
The BAO factor:
There is no denying that the person of Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, BAO is warm and affectionate. He is widely acceptable to all and sundry. He is a governor without boundary, spiritually inclined and gives assurances of better days ahead. He does not pretend to be what he is not, neither does he promise what he cannot do.
No sooner he mounted the saddle than he started engaging everyone on the way forward. He promised to chart a new course for Ekiti development through a six-pillar roadmap, which includes Human Capital Development, Agriculture and Rural Development, Infrastructure and Industrialisation, Arts, Culture and Tourism and Governance. Not in the first 100 days but during his four years in the saddle.
BAO quickly showed a transparent determination to boost the State’s economy, by commencing talks with agencies of the Federal Government and development partners in Abuja, FCT. He attracted a boost in agriculture, he gave a midas touch to education and health by continuing from where his predecessor stopped. He may not have initiated new ideas yet, but he is putting enough energy into making a success of the existing ones. The infrastructures are receiving a boost. Government facilities are being well-managed. The workers have no reasons to grumble as they get their dues as and when due. BAO has started strong, he is going on strong and he will surely finish strong. No half measures. That, to me, should be his 100-days’ rating.
.Dipe is the Ekiti State Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress.