Who will Save Ekiti?
Judging by the degree of political impasse and socio-economic banditry rocking the lives of our largely rustic people of Ekiti over the last few months, my call for a rescue mission won't be misplaced or out of priority. A mission that will restore peace to Ekitiland, redeem our age-long image as a people of integrity and reinforce our homogeneous trait of industry.
This is a people with records of a plethora of committed followers than an elected leadership, dating back to 1999. It was in that year that baston of self-determination and identity fell on us, three years after the state creation. The Ekitis I know have been roundedly cajoled, used and dumped by their supposed leaders especially those elected as past governors till date. This always ends in a situation of social antinomy where politicians do the opposite of what the people expect of them.
Hinging this on the recurrent foliage of deceits coming from these men in toga of past and present governors, I hold strongly that there's a need for bail-out. Where all thinkers in Ekiti at this crucial time will put on their thinking caps and be ready to embark on a search to salvage the birthplace. A search that will securely produce the true "Omoluabi leader" that we have all yearned for in almost two decades of our statehood. A search that will look beyond the horizon of politics and party fanship which in the past had done us no good.
Going down the memory lane, it has been a case of one pretender after another. From one "ajebota" Niyi Adebayo to the ever garrulous Ayodele Fayose in 2003, then to the political docility of Segun Oni and later to an high-handed Kayode Fayemi before returning to the current Egypt under 'Pharaohic" Fayose. No doubt, the story is still the same. No respite for Ekitis at home. The proverbial grasses were never greener under either of the above-mentioned personae, if brought under practical scale of preference of what dividends of democracy means.
Quite of recent, the entire nation is inundated with an unusual infamy on Ekiti. Arguably one of its kind in history, Ekiti is again reeking under unpleasant smoke of maladministration. First as a flash point of kidnappings, robbery and ethnic violence. Second as a source of most unbecoming political jabs from a sitting governor. Third, as a grounded epic-center for a Governor vs Assembly mem political dichotomy. A governor under whose nose a state government seems more interested in playing to the gallery of national politics at any given opportunity than meeting his local mandate. Today, Ekiti is in the news for various reasons; mostly for negative feedback and only God knows what awaits out tomorrow.
The latest of such administrative ineptitude just gave birth to arsons and killings that occurred as a result of a clash between Ekitis and the Hausa/Fulani neighbours in Ado Ekiti, the state capital. This scenario alone has painted the state in a bad light, making it queue along a comity of states with ethic disturbances. A mention of Ekiti at any public forum elicits an atom of disdain and array of negative questionnaires during social debates with non-Ekitis. Most of who now keep a watch on our various political emergencies. An emergency that threw up Ayodele Fayose as an elected governor through June 21st 2014 election in the first place. Due to the fact that a forlorn people will most likely make forlorn decisions, Ekitis are left to judge if there's any lease of life six months after his election or not.
From the foregoing, it will simply amount to a disservice on the sons and daughters alike against their birthplace to feign ignorance and allow endless dose of this social anathema fester into their doorsteps. Most worried about are the plights of our kinsmen dwelling today in all the 132 towns and villages documented in Ekiti geography.
It is an irony that a state blessed with unrivaled records of intellectual giants like Prof. Niyi Osundare, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), Chief Femi Falana (SAN), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Prince Julius Adelusi Adeluyi, Prof. Akin Oyebode, Gen. Adeyinka adebayo (rtd) and a host of others should become an attraction for "boole kaja politics" (come down and let's fight kind of politics).
Now, the clarion call is that Ekiti needs a thorough-bred politician who had his political cut his teeth under the pupillage of an highly respected leader. Not just a leader, but a leader who has proven his mettle in both regional and national politics. A good example that comes to mind here is the likes of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Though I stand to be corrected but the truth remains sacrosanct. Yet, I still stand to be corrected if any of the so-called past governors of Ekiti had served in any lower political capacity before being elected into office. By this, I mean either as a local government councillor or chairman, commissioner, member of state or National Assembly member. It is apparently disheartening that these men were not technically prepared before mounting the seat to do such an onerous job of leading a state populated with intelligentsia.
Suffice it to say that we can not rule out experience in any facet of our lives, including political leadership. Ekiti to me, is too advanced to be governed by mere accidental "His Excellencies". Those who are thrown up by mere political expediency and mere electoral magnanimity of fringe voters.
Repeatedly, Ekiti has been unlucky with a scenario where political novices become the charge d' affairs, ditching out policies that are puritanical to human survival. Not minding the predominant civil service nature of the state. They ended up making a mess of daily struggles of our beloved kinsmen at home. This is akin to the policy somersault witnessed under Fayemi and inability to manage unmerited glory of office as currently witnessed under Fayose.
Though the focal point of this effort is not to ballon the Fayose administration or totally pocket that of Fayemi as one without a human face; but to drive home a point over their human lacuna. A situation that must repeat itself. In fact a story was told of the height of Fayose's naivety in public office in 2003. The melodrama he spewed has it that as a governor then, he had called for a party to celebrate his first access to billions of naira in state treasury. The tranche of the huge sum in question had come as state monthly then. Jovially, Fayose told his close associates that he was ready to commit suicide and die with the billions that ordinarily belonged to Ekiti people.
At the time, the state was taking less than N2 billion as its share from the monthly federation account. Only God knows what "His Excellency" will do today that the state takes above that. In equal measure, the procedural approval given to a N60 million "water bed" as one of the fittings in a N3.5 billion Government House project can best be described as lack of experience in public office. Illogically, Fayemi's approval of that contract alone was an affirmation of the vain glory of a state governor. A man who basked in euphoria of office and wanted to maximise a life-time pleasure in office held in trust. All these luxury came at the expense of Ekiti masses. Raising a serious question if such a wasteful appropriation is an hallmark of any progressive politician anywhere in the third world countries.
This time around, I strongly suggest that the stakeholders and all thinkers alike must put heads together. Bury all political hatchets and differences in a bid to prepare an enviable tomorrow for next generation of Ekitis. They should take time to ask questions, vet credentials of aspiring governorship hopeful and other political office seekers. Questions should be asked as to their political journeys. Where have they been and what have they done? What contributions have they made to the development of the state either in public offices or private individuals?
Enough of travesty of state governance in Ekiti and mockery of the "Land of Honour". Let the search begin now, traversing political, religious and zonal boundaries of Ekiti. Those who have political acumen and brain should be allowed to rescue the state from the jaws of mere political mediocrity possibly laced with a PHD. There should be a scouting for the best brains who laid the foundation for student unionism in the old Nigeria, those reputed in those hay days of serious selfless campus politics. Many of them are men and women of Ekiti extraction and they still live in our midst. The man who will save the ailing education sector in Ekiti must have a track records as a product of the system. Those whose footprints of achievements in previous offices are indelible, either within or outside Ekiti.
The Messiah we all await must have survived the rigour of early life of an Ekiti boy and later made it to the top through a dint of hardwork. A self-made man with Nostalgic memory of a village boy. One of us, who has dwelt in our midst for years who will understand our plight better. We say NO to a repeat of a scenario where a former governor still doesn't have a country home in Ekiti after four years 16 years after leaving office. Or a situation where a house was hurriedly erected in the hometown of a governor few months after being elected into office. All are indications that they are far from home, and indeed far from us. Yet only pretending to be our leaders. In 2018, we want an original Ekiti boy who has passed through that path and knows it better. Let the search begin, there's light at the end of the tunnel.
Julius Toba Jegede, an Ekiti descendant writes from No 40 Benue Crescent, Garki Abuja