By Remi Adebayo
For long, Nigeria’s business of governance was abandoned in the hands of low rump of the society, due to constant aloofness by visionaries and ingenious minds who distanced themselves from the turf meant for the ‘pigs’, according to them. The constant alibi remained their tendency to stay clean and unperturbed not minding that its class is perpetually at the receiving end to assimilate the consequences often associated with such apathetic indifference to governance.
One can submit that before the comeback to democratic era after the military was forcefully ejected in 1999, the political arena was much more unattractive, considering the amount of violence meted out to the political class witnessed in state sponsored murders, incarceration and intimidation that characterized that age, notably the draconian age of the diminutive dark goggled dictator, the late Gen. Sani Abacha.
Since the glorious regional days, an era noted as Golden Era in the Western Region, under the legendary Chief Obafemi Awolowo; a phase that heralded peerless development as the region scored its many ‘firsts’ that set it above its peers in the areas of education, housing, agriculture and economy, which military involvement in the political space reversed, more damages has been done to the polity each time charlatans gain free access to power at the expense of competence and vision.
At personal expense, the likes of Senator Babafemi Ojudu, alongside his colleagues, armed only with pen and of course, rare courage and patriotic passion, dared the the turf, rubbished tormentors in uniforms at great hazards to themselves, their families and fought hand in hand with other patriots, both living and dead in restoring democracy back to Nigeria.
Above all, one gain that no one could take away from the likes of Ojudu is the fact that democracy has come to stay, that today, Nigerians can fearlessly bring their leaders to account and demand accountable leadership from them without experiencing a semblance of the likes of their ordeals, that governance must run down to the governed without backlash. Thank God, they dared!
But I have studied this colossus called Babafemi Ojudu for long; he belongs to the few class of truly altruistic, passionate, loving, energetic and aggressive investors in human capital. He is extremely detribalized, he cares less about your private faith and surprisingly accommodating and accessible. Unknown to many, Ojudu is not mega rich, he lives a very modest life, a lifestyle that lowered my appetite and perception to luxury the first time ever I stepped into his abode.
As Ekiti people plan to elect their leaders few weeks from now, would it be sufficient to stir up their conscience on how they should be thinking or what they should be looking forward to in their leaders? I don’t think so. I said this knowing there is virtually nothing to educate the enlightened people of the ‘Fountain of Knowledge’ state. Ekiti has always been at the front burner in producing the best in academic and scholarship, but how well this has translated into wealth remains a mirage – leadership priority, I would say.
As a youth corps member in 2000 serving in Cross River state, at the inception of his administration, Donald Duke, the former governor of the state was planting grass and flowers in almost every available space of land in Calabar, the state capital. As a young man, we were there making mockery of Duke until I left the state a year later.
But before the expiration of his first term, around the time I met the iconic Ojudu for the first time, I was already ‘salivating’ to return to Calabar, and by providence, I truly did few years later to meet a beautiful, flourishing and tourism attractive state with growing economy. My stay in the state is one of the memorable moments I keep sharing with people.
The youthful former governor claimed he did nothing special but redirected the economy of the state along the interests of his peoples; ‘my people love leisure and I know tourism would be good for us.’ Last Christmas, in spite of recession, fun seekers still stormed Cross River state in their numbers to spend into the economy as the state retains its lead as best and number one preferred tourism destination in Nigeria.
Why is this necessary, as I was writing this, the first page of New Telegraph of today, March 27, 2018 featured an infographic replacing its front page photo, a narration showing rich or poor states according to how much dependent they are on federal allocation to survive, sadly, Ekiti belongs to one, categorized as one of the poorest states in Nigeria. Should this be so? I disagree. And should there be a shift, I say, yes. Does Ojudu looks like the solution, I say, absolutely.
Long before declaring his intention to become the governor of Ekiti State, Senator Babafemi Ojudu had told a Pan-African medium, Montage Africa that should he get the chance to lead his state, one thing would occupy the central space in his economic revival programme, and that is agriculture.
In that interface, he clearly depicted the mournful looks of his people due to hunger, and went further to situate that more than anything, agriculture would first of all get his people fed, nourished and thereafter get wealth. Ekiti has fertile land that grows almost everything.
“Each time I go home and I see poverty, the squalor and disease in my state I am never happy. I have traveled all over the world and I have seen what development looks like around the world.
“The developments were brought about not by ghosts, not by angels of God – they were brought about by human beings and some of these human beings I have related with and they are not smarter or more intelligent than myself. So why can’t I then mobilize people of my ilk to also bring about change in my society?,” Ojudu said in his interview with Ekiti Rebirth.
The Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters equally made a firm commitment, a strong bond with the Ekiti people; “I believe I have the passion. I have the commitment. I have the ideas. I am dogged, courageous, I am a go getter, never say die. Above all, my intentions are pure, patriotic and God sees my heart.
Continued he said, “I am not going to this to enrich myself, not because I want my ego massaged. I am going into this for purely service. The people are aware of that. They know me.”
Yes, the people know Ojudu and he knows his people. However, beyond the rhetoric coming from wasteful and ill-intention lots that have found their way to power without clear-cut programme or answer to myriads of challenges of their people at all levels in the past, here is a gift wrapped in simplicity, clothed in honour and presented with passion.
Certainly, Ekiti’s future can be guaranteed; its decay can be reversed, generations of its unborn children may once again revel in a state with direction, not just one priding itself as pool of knowledge without appreciable developments to show, but an Ekiti that will boast of visible developments, with a leadership the people can touch with the right reasons.
To the best of my mind, and after carefully assessing Senator Babafemi Ojudu, placed side by side his unblemished records and F-I-N-E Deal, a pact with the Ekiti people to foster economic growth, invest massively in them, nurture enterprise and innovation as well as ensure the wellbeing of the people, undoubtedly, Ojudu stands taller as the best man needed, not just to lead Ekiti from November but one with the blueprint and readiness to lay a formidable and enduring developmental foundation like never witnessed for the survival of the people and the glory of Ekiti.
Ojudu remains a gift Ekiti people should accept with pomp and pageantry at the levels of his party, the All Progressive Congress, APC, and when the time comes for the general election.
One thing is clear, Ojudu has a name; he has the history therefore, I do not see him disappointing!
Remi Adebayo, a media practitioner lives in Abuja. He could be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org