Proprietor of Afe Babalola University, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), has lamented what he called the poor state of development in Ekiti State, where he hails from, concluding that politics had eroded the values of the state.
Besides politics, Babalola also blamed the misfortune of his state on the discovery of oil in 1956 at Oloibiri, Bayelsa State, which, he said, diverted his people’s attention from agriculture, which, according to him, was their economic forte.
He said this on Thursday at the maiden edition of Ekitipanupo Colloquium on Development, which held at Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos.
The theme of the colloquium was, “Restoring Ekiti Enterprise Values and Defining the Pathway to Lasting Socio-Economic Development.”
Babalola said: “It is on record that apart from Gombe State, Ekiti State receives the least allocation from the monthly Federal Government allocation to states. It will interest you that Ekiti land was contributing 44 per cent of the total revenue of the old Western Region through the instrumentality of agricultural produce.
“But all that would appear to have disappeared, no thanks to the advent of oil which drew people away from their otherwise lucrative pastime of farming, which used to fetch them handsome income in the days of yore.”
Babalola said though politics, in itself, was a good thing, it had not been played properly in Nigeria.
He said it was regrettable that in the name of politics, successive leadership of Ekiti State always jettisoned uncompleted projects by their predecessors, while they embarked on their own, which they also did not usually complete before leaving office.
He attributed the trend to what he called the falling moral value of respect for the elders in Ekiti State.
He said, “Unfortunately, this is a country where newly-elected political office-holders don’t see the need to build on the foundation laid by their predecessors because they find it difficult to distinguish between politics and governance.
“This, in many cases, has led people taking over the reins of government from their predecessors to always abandon the projects of their predecessors and start their own particularly when such predecessors are not from the same party with the new helmsman and in almost all of such cases to the disadvantage of the generality of the people.
“Today, it can be safely asserted that politics has destroyed Ekiti State because our age-long value, mores and ethos of respect for the elders would appear to have been bastardised, desecrated and destroyed and gone with the winds.”
He also expressed the concern that Ekiti State had already or might soon lose its acclaim as the state with the largest number of well-educated individuals in the country.
He said it was out of this concern that he founded the Afe Babalola University in Ado-Ekiti.
He said, “It is lamentable that the passage of time has vitiated the validity of many of the perceptions of Ekiti. For example, it is being noted that the younger generation are less resolute in the pursuit of academic excellence as there are many failures in the school examinations.
“Many of the youths are now slothful, with some desiring to earn payments for work not done. It is said that there are now the Ekiti who are vicious and contemptuous, envying others without making an effort to excel.”
Babalola also called on Ekiti indigenes abroad to come home to develop the state.