Oyebanji’s Mission For Consolidation: The Journey So Far
By Wole Olujobi
The push for the mission to consolidate on develpoment strides by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government of Governor John Kayode Fayemi has reached a critical stage as Ekiti people brace to break the jinx of succession hiccups that has often hampered the consolidation of development strides to grow Ekiti State.
Flying the ticket of APC is Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji (BAO), a bureaucrat, politician and academic with sterling records of performance, who has criss-crossed the length and breadth of Ekiti State to see first hand the level of development by the present administration to enable him plan a blueprint for his consolidation agenda.
Oyebanji’s mission began in hushed tones. It later developed into a rumour. By the time the bell tolled, it emerged the reality of the moment, and rapidly the momentum became unmistakable when he hit the Abuja National Secretariat of APC to obtain nomination form to contest Ekiti State governorship election.
His journey back to Ekiti State on December 10, 2021, for an elaborate reception by the party leadership at the APC state secretariat was a denoeument of long process of waiting as the clock ticked for the commencement of the electoral process that will culminate in the June 18, 2022 governorship poll.
His return to Ekiti State to the warm embrace of APC leaders, members, trade groups and members of the public
was a political outing in recent times that did not attract the usual pay-out to supporters, as self-sponsored groups stormed the road to celebrate the man of the moment, and to task him to help shape their lives for good.
From Ikere end of Itaogbolu, Ondo State border town to Ekiti State, snarling human and vehicular traffic choked life out of that stretch of the road to the state capital where thousands of party leaders and supporters waited to dare the pangs of the afternoon burning sun. He was received by top leaders of the party, including former State Chairman of APC, Chief Jide Awe; Mr Adewumi Abejide, past and newly elected State Chairman, Barrister Paul Omotoso; former Ekiti State Head of Service and current Federal Commissioner in the National Population Commission, Deji Ajayi; Chief Remi Oguntuase, Tade Aluko, Folorunso Olabode, Sunday Adunmo Galaxy, Rt Hon Dapo Karounwi, Rt Hon Taiwo Olatubosun, Hon. Febisola Adewale, Gbenga Agbeyo, Engr Muyiwa Fatoba, Gbenga Okito and Femi Awe.
Others included the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Biodun Omoleye; Tolu Ibitola, Ademola Obanise, Mrs Bunmi Obanise, Hon Sola Fatoba, Segun Dipe, Kunle Dada, former APC State Vice Chairman, Chief (Mrs) Kemisola Olaleye, Erelu Dupe Ogundipe and Oluremi Ajayi Babington, among others.
High Chief Awe, who led the charge at the event moderated by the APC State Publicity Secretary, Segun Dipe, and Taiwo Olatunbosun, introduced Oyebanji to the party’s top echelons as other party leaders, members and supporters hooted, drawing a long applause amid clapping and drumming by the surging crowds of Oyebanji’s supporters.
Awe counselled the opposition parties to look elsewhere for what to do, as APC was poised to win the 2022 poll back to back to sustain the legacy and development agenda of the Fayemi-led administration.
Oyebanji himself left no one in doubt as to the potency of his energy, competence and readiness for the task ahead. In an urbane air of an accomplished cleric, the seminal former SSG held his listeners captive as he spoke softly and flawlessly in a polished Queen’s English interspersed in Yoruba expressions at the crowded rally.
Narrating his odyssey in the political tram of Ekiti State that placed on him several positions of responsibility and authority, he assured Ekiti people that he would not fail them in the challenge ahead, even as he insisted that his campaign would be issue-based.
Promising to work for the sustenance of the unity of the party in the run up to the 2022 governorship poll, the APC aspirant added that the interests of Ekiti people would rule his mind in taking critical decisions if elected the governor.
He warned his supporters against violence against other aspirants, adding that he would continue with Fayemi’s legacy of non-violence policy that has put Ekiti State in an enviable position as one of the most peaceful states to live and do business in Nigeria, while also pledging to sustain the omoluabi credo for which Fayemi and former Governor Adeniyi Adebayo are renowned.
Soon after the reception, Oyebanji embarked on statewide tours on consultation visits to stakeholders in company of tumultous crowds of supporters everywhere he went.
During visit to the tourism hub of Ekiti State at Efon-Alaye, traffic chaos menaced movement flow at consultation reception venue as a long convoy of the foremost govermorship aspirant curled through the maze of Efon rolling hills in the consultation trip that also took Oyebanji’s team to Ilawe and Igede to seek support of party leaders and supporters ahead of the January 22, 2022 governorship primary.
At Efon, Igede and Ilawe, Abejide and Awe noted that the love for Oyebanji stemmed his integrity and relationships with a cross section of the people over the years. They urged leaders and supporters to work for Oyebanji’s success.
Expressing delight at the huge turnout of supporters in the three towns, Oyebanji said he had never betrayed the progressives fold during the times of victory and loss, noting that this had made him to cultivate friendships that bound him to a solid political fraternity among party leaders, assuring that they would be the doors for other members to his government.
He recalled his role as the Secretary of the Committee for the Creation of Ekiti State as a young graduate, explaining that his governorship aspiration stemmed from his intent to contribute more in the consummation of Ekiti State’s dream for development.
He said: “I have spent 11 years working with Ekiti State govermment since its creation 25 years ago and so I know the terrain and I understand what our people need. I have learnt the ropes from Governor Niyi Adebayo and Governor Fayemi and so if anybody is deceiving you that he will fix Ekiti State, ask him where he got his experience.”
During his visit to Ise-Orun, Ikere and Emure local governments, support grew for Oyebanji as more leaders and groups joined the mobilisation train.
Olatubosun described Oyebanji as a thorough-bred Ekiti man who had all his education in Ekiti State and who owed his successes to his Ekiti background that shaped his world view, including understanding the needs of Ekiti people.
He listed various government positions held by Oyebanji in the past, saying that he held those positions to affect the lives of Ekiti people positively and stressed that the experience of such a personality was needed by the party leadership to continue the development agenda of Governor Kayode Fayemi to shape the lives of Ekiti people for good.
Describing Emure, Ise/Orun and Ikere local governments as very special to APC, he praised the local governments’ leaders for their impressive turn-out to support Oyebanji’s aspiration.
Oyebanji’s convoy also rolled in to Omuo-Ekiti, a cold semi-savanna north town of Ekiti South senatorial district in a blaze of pomp that also saw the team visiting Gbonyin Local Government in consultation visits that ended in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital.
It was the fifth in the six-day consultation stops to seek support for his ambition in the January 22, 2022 governorship primaries ahead of June 18, 2022 governorship poll.
A member of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Lateef Akanle Kongo, presented Oyebanji to Ekiti East leaders for endorsement. In thunderous ovation, the hall burst into songs accepting Oyebanji as the candidate of Ekiti East Local Government.
Oyebanji called for a minute silence for the fallen members of the party, including Hon Juwa Adegbuyi, Baba Temiodara, Sanya Adesua, Elder Samuel Oluwalana and Hon Ademola Atobaje.
He said the state party leadership saw special qualities, including diligence, brilliance, hard work, compassion and commitment, among others, in him and pressured him to accept the challenge of leadership and he accepted.
Oyebanji was also at Moba, Ido-Osi, Ijero to seek support. At Otun-Ekiti, Oyebanji was presented with a Holy Bible, which the leaders said would guide him through campaigns and eventual victory in the June 2022 poll, even as the aspirant burst into holy hymns and people joined in chorus.
He prayed for God’s protection for all so that they do not work in vain, saying that the main contestant is the party, with him as the symbol of the party. He said he was the most qualified to do the job among other aspirants.
He said: “I will remain truthful in my life to Ekiti people to enable me enjoy the confidence of our people. It is a pledge I plan to keep so that together we can work in trust to make Ekiti great.”
Homeboy Oyebanji at Aramoko-Ekiti headquarters of his Ekiti West Local Government also spoke in Aramoko- Ekiti, concluding his week-long visits across the state during which the state leadership of his party presented him to the local governments’ leaders on his ambition.
Oyebanji was also at the state party secretariat same day to submit field reports to the party leadership after a week-long visits to the 16 local governments of the state.
The party leaders and supporters at Ekiti West Local Government as early as seven o’clock converged on Aramoko-Ekiti in the last consultation stop to present the politician to the leaders of the tourism hub of the state.
Narrating Oyebanji’s political journey in Ekiti State, including his roles in the creation of Ekiti State, Olatubosun explained that his experiences working for two governors for 11 years had equipped him with deep knowledge of government to lead the state.
Olatubosun, who said Oyebanji was a unifying factor among Ekiti people, added that the purpose of the visit was to inform the leaders and residents of the local government the reasons for choosing Oyebanji as the next governor by the leadership, explaining that the choice was premised on his popularity among ordinary people on the streets who saw Oyebanji as a generous and accessible politician who also had all his education in Ekiti State and shared the aspirations of Ekiti people.
Oyebanji told Omotoso and other state executives at the party secretariat that his consultation tours went peacefully
He narrated his education journey that ended at Ekiti State University where he also worked during which he was appointed the Secretary for the Creation of Ekiti State Committee, explaining that it was during his visit to Otunba Niyi Adebayo to assist in Ekiti State creation drive that he knew the former governor who later appointed him to various political positions for four years before was appointed again for seven years by Governor Kayode Fayemi.
Explaining that he had learnt the ropes through the two governors, he added that it was his experience, accessibility and acceptability to Ekiti people that compelled the leaders to urge him to run and he accepted.
Omotoso expressed delight at the peaceful outing of the aspirant, thanking in particular the leaders that accompanied the aspirant. He added that the same gesture would be extended to other aspirants, stressing that whoever the party would pick as the candidate would be elected on merit and according the party’s rules.
Omotoso assured that the party would not be misled in the choice of the system to be adopted for primaries.
At the January 22, 2022 party primaries, Oyebanji emerged victorious and jubilation erupted across the state.
As Oyebanji presents APC’s manifesto to Ekiti people on Tuesday April 26, 2022, the coast is clear for engagements with the people on how he plans to consolidate on the gains of Governor Kayode Fayemi’s administration for the progress of Ekiti people.
* Olujobi is Deputy Director of Media and Publicity, BAO Campaign Organisation
25th April, 2022