Kayode Fayemi
Kayode Fayemi

Takeaways from Gov. Fayemi’s declaration for president

NEWS DIGEST – Ekiti state governor Kayode Fayemi became the 12th person to announce his intention to run for president under the platform of the All Progressive Congress after his declaration speech on Wednesday in Abuja.

Even though the party leadership is yet to decide on a structure to choose its 2023 flagbearer, Dr Fayemi’s reputation and his current seat as the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum pits him as one of the frontrunners to win the presidential ticket, along with vice president Yemi Osinbanjo and APC chieftain Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Here are the takeaways from his declaration at a packed Transcorp Hilton.

Improved participation of the public in governance
The Buhari administration hasn’t exactly enjoyed the best relationship with the public despite multiple attempts to foster one. According to a recent poll, only 8% of the Nigerian population are happy with the government, due to insecurity. The federal government has also not had favourable reviews from the public since the October 2020 protest on police brutality and the 2021 Twitter ban.

Dr Fayemi promises to install a civic culture that will see citizens engage in public affairs. This culture, which would improve on Mr Buhari’s, will form an integral part of Dr Fayemi’s approach toward efficient service delivery.

“As part of this commitment, a holistic approach to decentralisation will be embraced and institutionalised so that government and its services are brought closer to the people,” he said. “Our programme of decentralisation will also feed into the goals of a stronger, more united, and stable Nigeria.”

How much participation Nigerians will have and in what capacity remains a question. We may have to wait for the next months for more comments on how he intends to achieve this objective. Even then he has previously shown commitment toward public participation in governance in his capacity as Ekiti state governor, most notably with the Open Government Partnership programme when he became the first governor in the southwest to subscribe to the initiative.

 Changes to and investments in security architecture
Mr Buhari’s inability to mitigate the spate of insecurity in the country has been the major cause of criticism. The presidency also seemed out of ideas on how to fight insecurity having exhausted many options and continued to fall short.

Dr Fayemi is convinced that better results will emerge with an overhaul of the country’s security network and the introduction of socio-economic interventions that see poverty as the root cause of insecurity.

“You need to tackle the forces of hunger, the forces of ignorance, the forces of inequality in our society that are responsible for these challenges,” Dr Fayemi said in a Q&A session moderated by Cyril Stober.

It could well be that Dr Fayemi welcomes the idea of a decentralized police force, which the Buhari administration is opposed to. Even then, there are no indications that security would improve significantly on that note alone.

“The adoption of broad socio-economic measures that enhance our capacity to fight insecurity must be done at the same time as investments in reinforcing the deterrent capacity of the state through its armed forces, security agencies, and policing authorities,” he added.

 Administration is open to capitalism
Another criticism of Mr Buhari’s handling of the economy is the low gross returns of several public investments. The privatisation programme of the Buhari administration has only returned N1 trillion naira which is less than half (N528 billion) of the revenue from privatisation in 2013 during Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency, according to Punch Newspapers.

“The Buhari administration needs to shift gear to free the economy from the restraining leash of state capitalism in many primary sectors,” reports Punch.

Dr Fayemi, however, is suggesting an economy that is more capitalist than the present. Even more pertinent to Dr Fayemi, is the adoption of policies to guarantee maximum returns from this capitalist charge.

“One of my prime objectives would be to accelerate this [expansion of infrastructure] both through public investments and partnerships with the private sector whilst simultaneously ensuring that we enforce accountability and get much greater value for money,” he said.