The quest to get a credible leader that would redirect Ekiti State to an enviable track that guarantees socio-economic liberation for the bewildered people is fast gaining audible volume. The leaders are putting heads together just as the youths so as to sieve through the array of aspirants currently jostling for the state’s top job.
Unlike ever before, the people seem to be speaking with one voice on the need to provide a common front to oust the incumbent government that they believe has only brought poverty, squalor and a reign of terror to their domain. They clamor to install a government of the people with a clear vision to move the state to excellence. However, going by recent events in the state, it appears that with Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, emerging on the scene the search has further narrowed down.
As you traverse the state from the North, West, East and the Southern part of the state, the chant on every mouth is ERO, acronym for Ekiti Rebirth Organisation, a group led by Chief Ranti Adebisi (AKA Opomulero) with the mandate to ensure that a tested hand, capable of lifting the state from the current abyss, emerge in the coming gubernatorial election, already slated for July 14, 2018.
And since ERO rolled out the drum around March 2017, it has remained unwavering in his preference choice of Ojudu as the preferred aspirant for the job. From the city to the towns down to the villages and farm settlements, the message has been that the people should be focused, resolute and vote for a change from doom to boom. Even now that the number of aspirants in each of the two major parties in the state, the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, keep swelling by the day, ERO is straight on message that the best aspirant for Ekiti governorship seat is Senator Babafemi Ojudu who according to Chief Adebisi, has “an unmatchable credentials and unfettered antecedent far beyond what you can get among all other aspirants put together.”
Ojudu seems to have actually paid his dues. This he demonstrated in his first outing into elective position of the senate, representing Ado Central Senatorial zone in 2011 when he defeated the incumbent governor, Ayo Fayose, who competed with him in the race, flat and hands down.
Also working for him is his decision not to run for a second term in the senate in 2015. “I am not too happy with the situation I found myself in the Senate. For the four years I was there, I found myself manacled. I couldn’t really operate the way I liked because the leadership of the Senate at that time had already marked me and would not want me to air my views. I would want to talk but they would not allow me until I resolved to be raising point of order to ensure I have my voice once in a while,” he recently explained.
To many, this is a decision that only an honest and credible leader could take in a country where political office is seen by many as opportunity to loot, syphon and launder money at the expense of the masses. Ojudu’s past involvements in sundry other activities channeled towards installing stability and good governance in the state has also scored him a high point.
Even as the crowd is gaining daily strength in the quest for Ojudu leading the state from next year when the current administration is billed to expire, the presidential aide has been silent in declaring to contest for the governorship position. Rather than throwin- in his cap and assuage the simmering zeal of the electorates, Ojudu felt that declaring ambition to run was secondary and that effort should first be concentrated on rebuilding his party the APC and refocusing Ekiti State for the challenges ahead.
Using his office as the Adviser on Political Affairs to the President to reach out to APC loyalists, he has been preaching peace, unity, respect for party leaders and cohesion among party loyalists across the three senatorial zones of the state in the past nine months. He has taken his messages to the elders, the youths and the women .
But agitation for Ojudu’s to contest the next governorship election in the state assumed another resonance recently as twenty four youth groups gathered in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State capital, to declare support for him to run as governor .
In their hundreds, they converged at the Fajuyi Town Hall near the Ewi of Ado Ekiti Palace to prevail on the Ado Ekiti born politician to be their leader. The youths declared that they are fed up with the lingering shenanigans in governance and its attendant negative effect on the people. They want a leader of Ojudu’s mould for the mission to salvage Ekiti form its present abyss.
In a letter captioned ‘The Ekiti State we Want, Letter of Partnership Presented to Senator Babafemi Ojudu’, the youths wrote thus:
“Whereas the land of Ekiti is flowing with milk and honey, whereas, the land is blessed with abundant resources, both natural and human, yet little is tapped and developed towards building an egalitarian society where everything works.
“Consequently, majority of the inhabitants still live with abject poverty despite the fact that the land is capable of making many rich.
“Therefore, all hands must be on deck to restore the fortune of our dear state and uphold her honour and glory. This certainly calls for partnership with the best hand in Ekiti towards improved service delivery in government and governance.
“It is upon this that we seek to partner with Sen. Babafemi Ojudu towards greater future in Ekiti land
“To the above we pledge our truth, loyalty and commitments.
“So help us God.”
The youths, a multitude of them clad in orange coloured dress, danced and immersed themselves in the air of celebration. Other spectators converged, forming a great ring around the hall. Women made strident chants some of them strapped their restless infants firmly to their backs. Some boys posed stylishly at standout points to attract young ladies, most of who had just freshened up with an evening bath to partake in the lure to get Ojudu contest. For the first time in the last twenty years, one could perceive the odour of the legendary “Bintou perfume”. It was fun!
And it worked. Ojudu could not hold back emotions. He stepped into the crowd from the podium and danced with them as the youths milled around him singing praise songs. Retiring back to the podium, he expressed delight in the confidence reposed in him by the youths and promised to yield their call to service.
“I have never shied away from service whenever I see things going wrong. This is my state. My parents are from Ekiti State. Ekiti people have a tradition of decency, humility and intelligence. We are gradually losing all that to bad leadership and sincerely, something has to be done to rescue our state from this path to perdition. We need to work together, as youths, as stakeholders and as brothers and sisters to liberate ourselves from the shackles of economic ruins and the shame associated with it. We need to reclaim our glory.
“I will offer myself to serve you. We have no business with poverty. We have arable land that can grow any crop. We will work on our youths and improve their standard of living. We will fix all the loosing ends and present a better state we all can be proud of at the end of service,” Ojudu assured.
Not done yet, the youths presented a booklet containing their hand written names and phone numbers as a mark of genuine resolve and challenge Ojudu to feel free to call any of them at any time from his base in Abuja.
Earlier, the elders of the APC had converged in another town; Igbara Odo, to declare support for the trusted ‘Home Boy’ who has over time been resolute in the struggle to liberate the state and the country. At the residence of one of the elders, Chief George Akosile, the group said the state is in a fix and require a brave person to lead it out of the woods.
According to Chief Akosile “we believe you will use your resources to our advantage. We want you to do whatever you can do to take us out of our present situation. We are currently in captivity in Ekiti. We know you are not a political jobber. You are a lover of Ekiti, a committed lover of Ekiti community who has really uplifted the state.
Referring to incumbent; GovernorAyo Fayose, Chief Akosile said: “You are not the ‘ore mekunu to nmu ogogoro kiri (Friend of the masses that drinks local gin around town). Before it was raw rice he was distributing but now it is the cooked one. He has turned our people to beggars.”
The elders took turn to pour their minds out on the need for urgent change in government. They called for cohesion among the array of aspirants in the APC to present a vibrant candidate acceptable to the generality of the people.
Ojudu promised to run.
By Gboyega Adeoye