On Friday May 4, 3013, Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi announced the name of Professor Modupe Adeola Adelabu as candidate to replace late Mrs. Funmilayo Olayinka, the state’s Deputy Governor who died of cancer on Saturday, April 6, 2013. The governor thereafter sent Adelabu’s name to the Assembly which ratified it on Tuesday May 7, 2013.
Adelabu became the third woman to have occupied the exalted position after Mrs Abiodun Olujimi of People’s Democratic Party(PDP) who was appointed by governor Ayo Fayose as first female Deputy in September 2005, and late Olayinka of Action Congress of Nigeria in October, 2010. In his remarks, the Speaker, Adewale Omirin, explained that the conduct of the screening at the parliamentary session was borne out of the Lawmakers’ decision.
The nominee, according to him was subjected to intense questioning for close to thirty minutes but expressed joy Adelabu did not disappoint the lawmakers. Said Omirin: “We conducted the screening at the parliament based on the decision of the Lawmakers. The Lawmakers drilled the nominee for over 30 minutes but she did not let us down. She answered us intelligently and we didn’t expect anything less.”
Speaking at a well attended swearing-in ceremony, Governor Fayemi disclosed that the appointment of Prof Adelabu was received with “overwhelming approval” from the people. The 63-year old Professor of Education was sworn in by the State Chief Judge, Justice Ayodeji Daramola, at a colourful event held at the Lady Jibowu Hall, Government House, Ado- Ekiti.
Another highlight of the occasion was the presence of the elder brother to the deceased Deputy Governor, Chief Segun Famuagun. Dr. Fayemi who expressed confidence that the new Deputy Governor would perform well, urged her to continue to endear herself to the hearts of the people as she steps into the large shoe left behind by her predecessor, late Mrs Funmi Olayinka.
His words: “I have no doubt in my mind that Adelabu is a round peg in a round hole. Not because she is a Princess of Ado-Ekiti. Not even the fact that she was married to an Ijero Prince while her mother was Princess of Ise-Ekiti. I am not denying the fact that leadership trait has been genetically impacted in her. “I will allow you to enjoy the honey moon now. But let me tell you that you will begin to hear stories you have never heard about yourself in the social media. You must learn to live with them because it is one of the prices one must pay as a leader and you must develop thick skin.”
While noting that the new Deputy Governor already had the leadership qualities that would make her succeed, Fayemi traced Adelabu’s lineage to three royal families in Ado Ekiti, Ise Ekiti and Ijero Ekiti where her parents and her late husband hailed from, saying that this must have given her the experience needed to lead.
The Governor while charging Adelabu to justify the confidence reposed in her by the people of the state, advised her to ignore subversive criticisms and rumours peddled in the social media by detractors; saying that the late Deputy Governor succeeded in warding off the unfounded rumours and criticisms by her selfless service to the state.
In her acceptance speech, the new Deputy Governor extolled the virtues of her predecessor, late Olayinka, saying that she really served the people tirelessly and would continue to be remembered for her selfless service to the people. She promised to continue with the good works started by Olayinka and see them to completion.
She pledged her unalloyed support to the people and government of Ekiti State and assured that she would justify the confidence reposed in her by the Governor, saying she had accepted the new assignment “in faith and not in fear” and stressed that the State would thrive better during her time.
At the event were the Wife of the Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi; first civilian Governor of the State, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Alani Akinrinade; the Ooni of Ife, Oba Sijuade Okunola; Deji of Akure, Oba Adebiyi Adesida; Chairman, Ekiti State Traditional Council and Owa Ooye of Okemesi, Oba Gbadebo Adedeji; Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Adeyemo Adejugbe; Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Dr Adewale Omirin; a former Lagos State Commissioner for Establishment, Mrs Teju Philips, and the State Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Chief Jide Awe, among other dignitaries.
The appointment of Adelabu, who until her appointment was in charge of the State’s Universal Education Board (SUBEB) as chairperson was not unexpected, after all. Her name had been various connected with the number two position of the nation’s fountain of knowledge since 2006.
A number of factors may have worked in her favour of which was her excellent performance in her former position at SUBEB. Though, not a politician, Adelabu seemed to have learnt the game of politics faster than those he met there. She is arguably one of the most likeable faces in Fayemi’s government today. Picking a politician, according to watchers of political events, might have generated bad blood among contenders and introduce political tension in the state. And more significantly, she was not one of those who lobbied for the job, as she herself has confirmed.
Moreover, it was believed that the governor’s wife would be more comfortable with her choice, since both are alumni of University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU) and had worked closely in the state.
Indeed, it is believed that being elderly, she has a profound wealth of experience which both governor Fayemi and his wife would drink from.
Parts of her success stories was the emplacement of many innovations into the system, many of which earned SUBEB recognition both at home and at the federal levels. One of such was the rating of education in the state by the Federal Ministry of Education as the best in Nigeria in the year 2012.
Addressing journalists, Prof. Adelabu appealed to politicians in the State to cooperate with the government in building a state all Ekiti people can be proud of. “Irrespective of our political differences, this State belongs to all of us. We should all come together and forget our political differences to build a solid State because whatever happens now, either good or bad, will be for all of us.
We are already in a new dawn in Ekiti under Governor Kayode Fayemi. We should cooperate and work together for the State to move forward.” Commenting on the new appointment, Prof Adelabu said she was happy to have been appointed, saying she never expected that she could find herself in the position until her name was announced by the State Government.
Asked whether she is fully prepared for the position, she remarked: “My position as SUBEB Chairman has prepared and qualified me for any position in government. I will first study the ground and know how to contribute my own quota. Though, we already have a template, which is the 8-point Agenda and within this platform, I am going to contribute my own quota. Nothing would be strange to me because I am part and parcel of this government.”
Prof Adelabu was born on May 23rd, 1950, in Ado Ekiti, to Prince and Mrs. Samuel Adepoju Adejugbe. She attended Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti (1962 – 1967) and Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo (1968 -1970). She holds a B.A. (Ed) (1975); MPhil (1981); and PhD (1990), all from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile- Ife.
The princess started her teaching career as a Graduate Assistant in 1976 in the Department of Educational Administration and Planning, OAU, where she rose to the post of Professor in 2008.
She served as Head of the Department of Educational Administration several times and also served as external examiner in some
Universities, including the University of Ibadan; University of Lagos; University of Ilorin and Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti.
Adelabu has served as Council Member of National Teachers’ Institute (2001- 2003), Council Member, Christ International Divinity College (an affiliate of Acadia University Canada) Erinmo (2005 – 2010); Member Planning and Implementation Committee Joseph Ayo Babalola University (2004- 2005); Member of Council Joseph Ayo Babalola University (2005 – 2010).
She was also a foundation member of Board, Ekiti State World Bank Assisted Poverty Reduction Agency (2000 – 2003); Member of Oxford Round Table, Oxford England, among other bodies.
A seasoned scholar and administrator of international repute, Prof Adelabu’s major research area is on policy and personnel issues in education, including the roles of the state in education; teacher education as well poverty and gender related issues in education, particularly in rural areas.
She has published over 30 articles in both national and international journals. The don and politician has been involved in consultancy work for the World Bank, Universal Basic Education Commission in Nigeria, United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and other international agencies.
She has also served as resource person for UNDP, UNICEF and UNESCO on various educational issues. She was also part of the 15-member Education Reform Panel that worked on Ekiti State government’s reforms in the education sector.
Adelabu is the recipient of the 2013 Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award (African Administration Icon) organised by the All- Africa Student Union (ASSU).
By Yaqoub Popoola
This article was first published in The Daily Independent
Last modified: May 26, 2013