Ekiti: Lest We Forget The True Heroes
By Julius Toba Jegede
Ten days just after the gubernatorial election of Saturday June 21, 2014 took place in Ekiti State and a winner emerged, it is pertinent that we spare a thought for the tragic heroes and heroines of the exercise. Most importantly, those consumed by pre-election violence and premeditated attacks on innocent souls. Though an exercise which has put Ekiti on a national pedestal as society which needed a change and got it. And an election which has made the 17 years old state attain the status of a threshold of 'people's voice' in the South/West political arithmetic in the build-up to 2015 general elections.
Despite much ado over this resounding and collective feat, it appears that little or nothing is being said about those who paid the supreme price. The price of life. I think also that Nigerians are beginning to be oblivious of those who are alive, yet sacrificed their time, energy and resources to effect this change we now love. The sacrifices that eventually prevented another four years of misrule and another round of policy somersault by the outgoing Governor Kayode Fayemi of APC.
In irony, I have seen various newspaper columnists and commentators at work, postulating one political theory or another. Yet none is willing to mention this category of people. On the streets of every town in Ekiti today, it is very easy seeing hundreds of youths now wearing PDP/Fayose's vests as if they are the true heroes of June 21. That further fuels the veracity of the saying that success has many relations, but failure is an orphan.
It will be too short a memory of ours to have forgotten the blood of victims, tears of their relations in these series of political assassinations. This is aside the bloodletting that became a recurring decimal in these three and half years, especially days coming before election. To those who participated actively, those days were regarded as days of struggle and undercurrent mass movement against tyranny of the incumbent. A battle which, if lost would have sent the crusaders packing from Ekiti for another four years. Thereby making them person non grata in their land of birth, from a place they have grown to love so much over the years.
The euphoria of celebration in the aftermath of June 21 will remain imbalanced if the likes of Foluso Ogundare were not mentioned. If the spirit of Chief Adeleye Awolumate was not appeased with kind words not that the siege is over. If Ayo Murphy Jeje's remains were just allowed to be laid to rest without a thought for him today. What of late Mrs Juliana Adewumi? a 76 years old woman brutally murdered. Over what she believed in. Kehinde Fajuyi and Michael Ipinlaye were among those who will not live to heigh a sign of relief after Fayemi's ouster. And most recently, there was the case of Akinola Taiwo with whose blood the platter of this Ekiti electoral victory was washed.
Just like others mentioned above, Ogundare was murdered in cold blood by anti-democratic forces instituted by APC which bestrode our landscape like an evil colossus. They fought everyone so hard to make today's celebrated change almost impossible. On that fateful day at Emure Ekiti, (November 3rd, 2013) tragedy struck in the sleepy town when APC-propelled bullets ribbed through the torso of the middle age man. He went down the way of others over suspicion that he was organizing a political meeting to dislodge Fayemi, this happened about a year earlier than his actual dislodgement occurred. As a mark of honour to his hurriedly departed soul at 37, the Labour Party chapter in Ekiti State and its governorsdhip candidate Hon. Michael Opeyemi Bamidele organized a befitting burial for Ogundare on the 5th of June this year. It was a tale of sorrow by his loved ones, wives and children. But the only respite lies in the fact that key officials of the outgoing administration of APC are currently in court to answer a murder charge.
Taiwo Akinola is another hero. This was a man in his early twenties who got eliminated in controversial manner during an ensuing skirmish between political goons of those who wanted to subvert the wish of the people to remain in office beyond October 16th, 2014. Though not belonging to any political group, Akinola met his death under an unsafe administration of Fayemi. The usurpers didn't see anything wrong in laying claim to his corpse. They played different ridiculous politics with his bloodied body, including covering him up with an APC-branded vest. Followed by a sudden visit to the monarch of his hometown in Ido-Ajinare to register a feigned bitterness.
The heroism as demonstrated by Adewumi who laid down her life on March 31, 2013 for tomorrow she wouldn't know is worthy of immense commendation. At 76, most of her contemporaries are no longer concerned about politics of their time. But she fought her battle to the graveside and this is the more reason she must be celebrated. Adewumi did not die because she wanted to seek elective office at her advanced age. But she died so that a new dawn will be ushered into Ekiti. She died so that others can live a better living. A living where there will be a clear difference between qualitative and affordable education, maybe for her grand and great-grandchildren. A state where water will not be an essential commodity again as witnessed under Fayemi. And a state where backlog of pension arrears and miscellaneous allowances will become an issue of the past among civil servants.
Because things were done in the manner of business as usual under Fayemi and there was no end in sight soon if they failed to act; the duo of Kehinde' Fajuyi and Michael Ipinlaye became part of history. They were killed the same day March 23, 2011 at Kota area of Omuo Ekiti by the same 'authority people'.
November 18 2010 witnessed the killing of Chief Awolumate at Otun Ekiti, the PDP chieftain was not as lucky as those he was holding a party meeting with his people. Again, APC thugs in their numbers overran them, eliminated him and walked away. Same happened to Jeje on March 31, 2013 when he was shot dead by thugs allegedly led by one Jide Awe, the interim state chairman of APC in Ekiti state. These are indeed the true heroes and heroines who reluctantly surrendered to claws of death brought by their way by their oppressors so that others can have live in abundance under a government that will genuinely be people-oriented in Ekiti in the future not too far.
I therefore use this opportunity to appeal to the incoming government to ensure a way of assuaging pains of the families they left behind. Secondly, the incoming government must revisit all murder and attempted murder cases within this period under review, with a view to punishing all culprits already shielded politically. I think i will also discourage future occurrences and lay a foundation of level-playing ground for everyone involved.
Julius Toba Jegede
A public Affairs Commentator writes from Abuja