By Toba Jegede
Caught in the traffic of congratulatory messages pouring in for the first executive governor of Ekiti State, Otunba Richard Adeniyi Adebayo over his Tuesday’s announcement as a minister-designate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I consider it timely, prompt and worth my while to put pen to paper reechoing what he represents in our body polity and the lesson thereof. For the records, in 1999, Otunba Adebayo as a young man of 40 years laid the foundation for the present day Ekiti which has since become a pride to all sons and daughters of the “Land of Honour’’ even twenty years after.Through his futuristic mien and modest carriage despite being born with all the privileges of life, the young Niyi maintained a classless disposition towards his people of Ekiti, a trait which has not departed from him even in his current over sixty of age.
To mention a few, Adebayo sustained the erudition which Ekitis are known for when he smoothly midwifed the bilateral running and eventual decentralizing of the then Ondo State University (OSUA) between the new Ekiti and old Ondo States. For those who are aware, under Adebayo, it is still on record that the state-owned university and others in its category like the former Ondo State College of Education Ikere Ekiti, School of Health Technology Ijero Ekiti never suffered the perennial paucity of fund often associated with tertiary institutions.
Within his years as a governor, Adebayo shunned the shenanigans of white elephants associated with gubernatorial toga and focused on rural electrification and road projects which later opened Ekiti hinterlands and many of its 132 towns and villages to vehicular accessibility and easier human movement. The health sector also received its fair share of attention and priority when he increased the number of both general and cottage hospitals from about seven in the entire state to over twenty, before he left office. Too numerous to mention are his track-records in the agriculture, tourism, manufacturing,housing and information/media sectors of the state. It is noteworthy that the now rested “Ekiti Now Newspaper”where this writer cut his teeth in print journalism was floated by Adebayo Administration in 1999 to adequately educate and inform Ekitis about the policies, programmes and direction of his government. Till date, no successive government in Ekiti has been able to run any state-owned newspaper twenty years after Adebayo left office.
Despite all these feats, the former governor in his hand over note to his predecessor, Ayodele Fayose on May 29, 2003 left behind unspent funds in the coffers of the four-year-old state. At the time, Nigerians were inundated with how states across the countries were brandishing debt profiles left behind by their predecessors, but Ekiti was an exception. All the records of transfer of properties, liabilities and assets of Ekiti from the former Ondo State were accurately documented and gazetted for the next generations of Ekitis under the supervision of Otunba Adebayo, such include the Owena Motels, Ekiti shares in the Oodua Group of Companies among others.
In the political turf, Adebayo has carved a niche for himself as one of the most gentlemen to have governed any Yoruba state in the ilk of Great Olusegun Osoba of Ogun. Both in and out of office till date, no political or financial scandal has been associated with him. Twenty years after, no poster of Otunba has been found on the street of Ekiti seeking any political office. One can safely say that he stands out as one of the oldest old progressives who have weathered the storm since the beginning of the fourth republic.
From Alliance for Democracy (AD) through which he became governor in 1999 to Action Congress (AC) to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to All Progressives Congress (APC) where he currently holds the position of the Deputy National Chairman (South), Adebayo has not disappointed Ekiti his place of birth, South West, Nigeria, God and humanity. Adebayo’s forthrightness, progressive ideology and standing were particularly put to test in 2003 when the Olusegun Obasanjo and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) tsunami swept through the entire South/West geopolitical zone taking away all the juggernauts but left behind Lagos State, under the “unwavering” Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. There were reports that the PDP forces of the era reached out to Otunba through his father, the Late Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo, former military governor of old western region to join the bandwagon, but he refused and gave his reasons. Strangely, Otunba told those who cared to listen then that he could still live a meaningful life outside political office and that politics is not a do-or-die-affair for him. Two decades after, that resilience, staying-power and stable political character has paid off.
As President Mohammadu Buhari sent a list of 43 ministerial nominees to the senate on Tuesday, the speculation that Adebayo’s name is on the list has been finally put to rest. In the first place, of note is the fact that twenty four after the announcement, no counter-action or negative reaction has trailed his nomination either from Ekiti, South West or with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) his professional family. Rather, it has been messages of best wishes, good luck and promises of supports across borders about the task ahead.
To the distinguished senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria before who the former governor will appear any time this week, I call for mutual reasoning to understand the unique political personae which Adebayo represents in South West and Nigeria to fuel his accelerated screening and confirmation without much ado. For a man who has sustained two decades of no political stain, I think the honourable senate should dig no further. At this stage in our national life, men of social and political standings of Adebayo are needed to put on their thinking cap to salvage the only nation we can call our own. I therefore join other well-meaning Nigerians to drum support for the unassuming minister-designate to have a smooth sail before the senators.
Lastly, some of us who have the privilege of knowing Otunba Adebayo at a closer range, we can say without any fear or favour that he is a round peg in a round hole. Suffice it to say that he can function optimally in any portfolio he’s assigned as a member of President Mohammadu Buhari’s cabinet. It is my hope that this appeal will get to the ears of those in charge of the screening so that our land will not run short in supply of men and women with uncommon modesty, leadership attainment and selfless service for the benefits of mankind and our yet unborn children.
Toba Jegede writes from: email@example.com
– The opinions and views expressed in this article are solely those of the writer/author, and do not necessarily represent or reflect the editorial policy of Fasttrack News Nigeria.