The Supreme Court’s decision over the gubernatorial conundrum in Ekiti State has finally rested the issue of the gubernatorial election in Ekiti. Even to a non-legal person like myself, it was clear to me that the decision of Segun Oni to challenge the judgement of the Appeal Court on the electoral malfeasance which culminated in his being illegally declared as governor was unchallengeable constitutionally.
This is because all electoral disputes terminate at the Appeal Court. Appealing to the Supreme Court on the grounds of violation of fundamental Human Rights should have been known to be legally dicey. Lawyers have to eat and no lawyer would tell his client that his case is unwinnable. Of course, in the corrupt environment of Nigeria, some people would have goaded Oni in taking the case to the Supreme Court with the assurance that the judgement can be politically influenced. This wild expectation was of course conceivable in the Nigerian environment where anything goes. Mercifully, justice prevailed and the status quo ante remains in Ekiti. The incumbent governor is governor in fact and indeed as well as in law. He is not only in government, he is also in power.
I have said this before about Segun Oni that he appears to me as a gentleman and when he was governor of Ekiti State, a highly respected friend of mine, an academic colleague and a former boss asked me to support Oni and wondered what I had against him? My answer then was and is that I had nothing against him, but that he was in the wrong party. Of course I do not have more than one vote and I do not want to be arrogant that my opinion counts seriously, politically, what I can say with all modesty is that I have played some part in the educational and diplomatic development of Nigeria. I also played some part in the struggle against Abacha which earned me six months detention and which led to the late Chief J.A.O Odebiyi and Baba Archdeacon Alayande wondering why I did not offer myself for position of Senator in 1999 on the grounds that service deserves its reward. My nephew Akin is a politician and I was not going to have a situation where two politicians are fighting in the same mother’s womb.
Thirdly, the Osuntokun brand in Nigerian politics is not inconsequential and I can say without any fear of contradiction that the role of my family in the political evolution of this country would remain imperishable. These, I believe are my credentials that made it necessary for my support to be sought. Now that the battle for the governor’s position has been fought and won, I advise Oni to move on and to support the incumbent Governor Fayemi for the benefit of Ekiti State if he really loves the state and I have no doubt that he loves the state. In any case, there are so many ways of serving the state than being governor. If he offers to serve and genuinely means it, Fayemi would accept the offer. This was clearly stated in the governor’s broadcast to the state after his victory. The governor said he was prepared to forget all the shenanigans that took place when Oni was governor and wipe the slate clean. This should be regarded as the highest form of magnanimity in victory.
Since coming into the saddle in the rulership of Ekiti almost three years ago, Fayemi has demonstrated how prepared he is for the job. Unlike political leaders in other parts of the country, he had a well planned agenda of development which he has scrupulously followed up till date. He did not wait until he was in government before developing his programme. This is why he was able to hit the ground running with his vision and mission. His emphasis on infrastructural development is based on the well thought out belief that any state or country that is not in constant motion is dead. This is why he has crisscrossed the state with excellent roads. His greatest impact in this regard is at the capital city itself. I spent nine of my formative years in Ado-Ekiti and it is now impossible for me to recognise anywhere because of Fayemi’s magic touch. He is not restricting the transportation revolution to Ado-Ekiti alone, he is even building a virgin road to connect my town of Okemessi with Ido-Ile, where there was no road before.
I cite this example as a demonstration of how comprehensive his development agenda is. I have been in education, apart from forays into diplomacy, all my life. I was a director of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and I know a bit about higher education and education generally. This is an area in which Fayemi has excelled and would still excel. His consolidation of the three universities in Ekiti into one is a masterstroke. This is because the state is not in any position to fund one university adequately, not to talk of three. We were deceiving and fooling ourselves under Oni by having two specialized universities, one on Education and the other on Science and Technology. With our gross revenue of less than four billion naira a month, how three universities could have being inflicted on us beats me. Fayemi saved us the embarrassment of this delusional ambition. I must say here that since the history of higher education in Ekiti, it is the Fayemi administration that has ever released substantial amount of capital vote for physical development.
His funding of education is not limited to Ekiti State University; the college of Education in Ikerre-Ekiti has also undergone phenomenal development and transformation. In a discussion with the governor when I was bemoaning the fact that Ekiti State is not rich because we don’t have oil, the governor was clear in his mind that the intellectual solidity of our people is more than millions of barrels of oil. As if I did not know this, officials of DFID, in a private conversation with me said the same thing that in terms of people, Ekiti is the richest state in Nigeria and it is my belief that when Fayemi has finished with us in Ekiti, we would donate him to the centre, so that other Nigerians can be beneficiaries of the programmes of this intelligent young man. It is the quality of one’s mind, rather than the amount of natural resources one commands that matters. The highly developed economies of Germany and Japan with their little or no natural resources with stupendous intellectual prowess and brain power prove this.
This is incontrovertible because I bear testimony to it. He has recognised the nexus between primary, secondary and tertiary education and this is why he has expended a lot of money on computer literacy at the lower level of the educational ladder. I remember my nephew bringing his young Anglo-Nigerian children on holidays to Ekiti and staying in Ikogosi, Hot Spring Resort. I was pleasantly amazed and pleased by the comments of these young people about the environmental beauty of Ekiti and how they would continue to come to Nigeria on holidays to enjoy the goodness of the Ekiti natural environment. I hope and pray that the tourist attraction of Ekitiland would be properly harnessed beyond Ikogosi. All these would require funding and I know our cerebral governor must be addressing himself to this.
By Jide Osuntokun
This article was first published in The Nations
Last modified: June 13, 2013