The Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, on Wednesday re-launched the social security scheme for elderly citizens in the state with a pledge to commit more resources to social investments and human capital development.
The social security scheme, which pays N5,000 stipend to indigent elderly citizens of the state, was introduced in 2012 during Governor Fayemi’s first term but was scrapped by the immediate past administration.
The re-launch of the social security scheme was the highpoint of activities commemorating the first anniversary of the administration in Ado-Ekiti on Wednesday. The beneficiaries, who are 65 years and above, got N20,000 each as the Governor insisted they be paid the three months arrears dating back to July when he re-introduced the scheme.
The social security scheme was re-launched in a carnival-like ceremony with community leaders, ethnic associations and market women in solidarity march past.
Earlier, the Governor in his state of the State Address disclosed that his administration had defrayed N31,105,658,370.89, amounting to 26 per cent of the total debt inherited by his administration from the immediate past government of Ayodele Fayose.
The Governor said the sum was expended to defray salaries, pension, gratuity, subvention arrears and contractual claims and obligations owed by Fayose.
Fayemi however assured that despite the burden of inherited debts, the year 2020 would witness a massive commissioning of projects and institutionalizing of more life-changing programmes.
The governor who described the failure of the immediate past government to meet its obligations to workers and pensioners as a violation of fundamental human rights stated that his administration is focusing on how to offset the remaining backlog of salaries, pension, subvention arrears and contractual debts.
He added that his administration has equally tackled financial challenges to complete key projects which would be commissioned this week.
Fayemi said: “You are aware that the past administration owed salary, pension, gratuity, subvention and contractual claims. Since we came on board, despite economic challenges, our administration has, to some extent, fulfilled most of our promises. We have also offset part of the arrears and debts owed by the past administration. We have so far defrayed a total sum of Thirty-one billion, one hundred and five million, six hundred and fifty-eight thousand, three hundred and seventy Naira and eighty nine kobo in salary, pension, gratuity and subvention arrears, and contractual claims and obligations, which represent about 26% of the total inherited debt.
“We have been consistent with the payment of salaries and pensions of our workers. It is a violation of fundamental human rights for people to labour in vain. Our focus now is on how to gradually offset the remaining backlog of salary, pension and subvention arrears and contractual debts. Just like I assured the civil servants at the maiden edition of the resuscitated interactive session with them, I want to restate again that your arrears are not bad debts.”
While revealing plans for the second year of his administration, Dr. Fayemi said his government would not rest on its oars as legacy projects such as the AfDB supported Agro-cargo airport, the knowledge zone, Ado Ekiti ring road, Ado-Akure dualization, Agric processing zone and World Bank supported projects would be actualized.
The Governor said he has kept his promise to restore dashed hopes by bringing life back to moribund Ikun Diary Farm through a partnership with Promasidor Milk company “with plans to produce 9000 litres of milk daily over the next two years”.
Fayemi added that the state government is in partnership with NNPC on a biofuel project as an alternative source of energy.
He said his government is not mindless of the people’s yearnings and expectations as government is planning to drive the State’s economy by transforming the power sector, water sector, road infrastructure since the thriving of a developing economy is hinged on these three critical sectors.
Distributing the cheques for N20,000 each to the beneficiaries, Governor Fayemi said his mission was to make Ekiti a place where the cycle of generational poverty can be broken and in which elderly citizens can live a more decent and healthy life.
The governor said though the scheme attracted both commendations and criticisms during his first regime, there were testimonies that the social safety net programme brought succour and relief to the elderly while the monthly injection of N100 million through the scheme had positive impacts on the economy of the State.
Dr. Fayemi, who lamented that the immediate past administration abandoned the scheme and returned the beneficiaries to the “unfortunate life of poverty, suffering and neglect,” said it is now being expanded in partnership with the World Bank to create a new lease of life for the people.
Governor Fayemi said the goal of his government was to make Ekiti a place where poverty is history by reducing its current poverty indices of 56 per cent to less than 20 per cent by 2020.
He thanked the World Bank and other Development Partners for supporting his government in building an Ekiti that everyone will be proud of.