The incubus of demagoguery unleashed itself in a way it has never done in any other state in Nigeria. Ekiti became the laughing stock of the nation, the hellhole of country bumpkins ruled by fiat and fear, subservient like oxen who adore their yoke. Friends and compatriots from other states called me, asking, with a combination of shock and disconcertment: hey Niyi, what happened to the Ekiti spirit we used to know; where is that enlightened bearing, that admirable pride, that stubbornly interrogative audacity, that have come to distinguish the Ekiti character for so long? How could Ekiti’s once impregnable rampart against political manipulation have collapsed so calamitously? Why were Ekiti people so mindlessly satisfied with so little? How could demagoguery have succeeded and spread so blissfully in the state of university professors?” – The Poet Laureate, Professor Niyi Osundare, in ‘Still In Defence of Values’, a lecture he delivered on 15 October, 2018 to mark the second inauguration of Dr. John Kayode Fayemi as Governor of Ekiti state.
There will be such tremendous joy all over Ekiti today as home boy and governor – elect, Biodun Ayobami Oyebanji (BAO), gets sworn in as governor of the state. To many, therefore, the title of this article would seem like a dampener. But it needn’t be as all I’ll be doing here is lay the foundation for a plea to our politicians, to take off their “knee from the neck of Ekiti people,” who they have taken through all manner of odyssey since 2003; that is, directly after the administration of the Omoluabi governor, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, the first executive governor of the state when the state last had any modicum of peace in her politics. Since then, among our politicians, it has been ‘bo ba o pa, bo ba o bu lese’, in a state that is the most homogenous in the entire country. This unfortunate situation must now come to an end for the sake of the people who politicians claim, even swear, they want to serve.
Enough is enough.
These politicians, most of who, at a point, were all members of E- Eleven, a social club, must now go right back to the basics, and rediscover whatever it was that saw them operate happily together, in harmony for years, as only that can restore peace to Ekiti politics.They must give this all it will take if they are truly out to serve Ekiti, and not on a mission in pursuit of self love. The time has come for them to bury the hatchet and allow the state to enjoy a new lease of life in which brothers and, of course, sisters, will relate, first and foremost, as partners in service, to a prosperous and flourishing Ekiti.
Today, 16 October, 2022 should be the most ideal day for this plea.
Of course, I am in no way suggesting that whoever is a litigant in a court case should go and withdraw same, as that will tantamount to saying that the aggrieved should better resort to self help. Nigeria is a country of laws and going to court,or the tribunal, is the constitutionally prescribed method of adjudicating whatever wrongs they believe they have suffered. Rather, all am saying is that given the multiplicity of challenges facing Nigeria today, when for more than 6 months now, the NNPC has not been able to remit a penny to the federation account, not to mention insecurity which has rendered farming, our people’s main occupation – extremely dangerous, the least any lover of Ekiti can do is ensure he does not further complicate, in Ekiti, the difficulties that now confront all the states in Nigerian without exception.
With what Ekiti people have gone through since directly after the referenced 2003 date, there is no way anybody would believe that no Nigerian state is half as homogenous as Ekiti.
So what, other than ego, is the problem, the casus belli, between these our esteemed politicians?
A solution has now got to be found to whatever it is. The politics of the state has, for over a decade and a half, been pretty atavistic, and has, as should be expected, very negatively impacted the state’s overall development. I have never stopped imagining what ekiti would look like today if only 6o per cent of its political elite were ad idem, working together, in one mind for her development.
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This must be why Osundare went further in his referenced lecture to say that:”A frightful lot has happened to Ekitiland since 2001 when my first Values lecture engaged the attention of my fellow Amoye Grammar School alumni. Our state has see-sawed from light to darkness, darkness to light, and back to darkness again, as we fumbled from gubernatorial tenures marked by civility and visionary idealism to others characterized by primitive despotism and medieval barbarism. We became the only state in Nigeria clamped down under a state of emergency and humiliated with the imposition of a unilaterally appointed sole administrator, even in a civilian dispensation”.
He said more: “Most, if not all Ekiti politicians, appear to have forgotten everything about the values Ekitis were renowned for in the past. Values, which he said, play a vital role in the determination of what society categorises as acceptable behaviour which, in turn, shapes what gets described as abominations or taboos”.
He actually believes, as I do, that taboos no longer exist for many an Ekiti politician , as all that now matters is electoral victory, achieved no matter how.
It will surprise the reader to know that many of these Ekiti elite politicians are not even on speaking terms.
I can only ask why?
Before I am misunderstood, let me repeat again, as I never fail to do in my writings, that Ekiti politicians, in their personal capacity, are Omoluabis but, unfortunately, most of them simply refuse to let this impact their politics, with serious socio – economic consequences for the state.
It was all the above that inspired the article ‘Ekiti: I Ask Again Must Our Politicians Always Fight To The Death?’ (13 February, 2022) in which I wrote as follows:”Thematically, since the totally unexpected defeat of Otunba Niyi Adebayo in 2003, after only his first term, successive governorship elections in the state, as if Ekiti is under a curse, has always been something of a fight to the death among the contestants. Most astonishing is the fact that the protagonists have always been brilliant young men you would have believed would lay a solid foundation for a thriving, and prosperous, Ekiti. Incidentally, some of them did find their way to the governorship seat but were buffeted by intractable intra, and inter – party squabbles which ensured that whatever they managed to achieve as governor, could possibly have been quadrupled had they operated in an atmosphere of relative peace. This scenario, which started in 2003, has remained with us ever since, to our eternal shame”.
There are other instances when I have tried, both on these pages, and elsewhere, to personally moderate, or get some other highly regarded Ekiti icons, to help in ameliorating the sad situation. For instance, I recall once writing to three eminent Ekiti sons, all of them Senior Advocates of Nigeria, with a plea that we work at the problem together. These gentlemen are all respected by successive Ekiti governors, irrespective of party, but they all excused themselves on the grounds that they would not like to get involved in Ekiti politics.
In the article ‘Putting an End To The Ekiti Conundrum’ – 7 June, 2015 – I wrote, inter alia:”The result is that Ekiti has regressed even more than some states of the country where guns had been booming for years. We have had an emergency administration declared, had a one day governor, just as there had been murders and attempted murders, linked to politics. On the positive side, though, we have had some citizens, and others from outside the state, who during our saner intervals, came to Ekiti to invest billions, especially in the hotels and tourism sub-sector. Today, however, they must be ruing the day they decided to invest in Ekiti as clients have completely drained out as a result of the unending crisis. There’s no way I could have thought that things would get so bad ten persons would be kidnapped in Ekiti within a space of two weeks, as we saw recently.
I did not stop at writing an article, but went ahead to contact, not less than 15 highly regarded Ekiti leaders and distinguished individuals , whose names I need not mention here, to help in facilitating peace between the warring parties for the sake of Ekiti people and the development of the state. One direct result of these contacts was the joint meeting called by Chief Deji Fasuan of the Ekiti Elders’ Committee, and the rump of the Committee for the creation of Ekiti state. Aare Afe Babalola, who I did not contact, later called another Elders meeting both for purposes of restoring peace to a beleaguered Ekiti to which every entry had been barricaded”.
Happily, as Osundare did not fail to mention, there were instances of relative peace when a lot was achieved in terms of infrastructural development. However, rather than being one offs, Ekiti must now design a minimum 50- year, uninterrupted peace period which we will all devote to Ekiti development, working peacefully together, across party lines.
To this end, I intend to very soon, contact some persons with whom I shall plead that we pull together, an all- embracing larger group, from which a task force would emerge to design the Ekiti El Dorado (EED).
Let me conclude this piece with a hearty congratulation to Governor Biodun Oyebanji , our own omoluabi governor, who could not have been better prepared for the office, having served under two of the most consequential Ekiti governors.
The good lord will be your guide and Guardian and keep your family safe, as you give of your very best to the good people of Ekiti.