In line with Electoral Act and in accordance with the extant rules of the PDP, the immediate past Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Ondo State, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), was on Monday, August 22, 2016, elected as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) standard bearer for the November 26 gubernatorial election in the state. To all political observers, the orderliness, transparency of the process and spirit of sportsmanship devoid of bitterness that characterized the process signposts a better future for democracy not just in Ondo State, but in Nigeria. Jegede scored 760 votes to defeat his opponent, Hon. Saka Lawal, who scored 22 votes.
As the race for the November gubernatorial elections hots up in Ondo State, political analysts and keen observers have noticed the emergence of a new crop of “new breed” politicians who have become forces to reckon with in the unfolding scenario. These are successful professionals who have had chequered careers both in the private and public sectors. Leading the pack of these new kids on the block is Barrister Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), an aspirant on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and the immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the State.
Despite the ethnic agenda and the arguments for rotational politics being advanced by a minority section of the political class in the State, feelers across the state indicate that the indigenes of the sunshine state are more interested in the competence and integrity of the man who will be their next governor, rather than where he comes from. Majority of Ondo State indigenes at home and abroad have rejected the ethnic card being played by some politicians, saying good governance and economic development are what matter to them, and not the repulsive issue of ethnic balancing that some politicians are striving to achieve in order to cause division and affection among the populace.
It is against this background of a level playing field and an issue-based politics that Barrister Eyitayo Jegede has emerged. Jegede is clear headed and very focused on why he wants to be the Governor of Ondo State. While picking up the expression of interest and nomination form, he hinted that his major goal is economic rejuvenation of Ondo State. Asked what his focus will be if elected, Jegede, who had a successful legal practice before joining the administration of Dr Mimiko in 2009, said: “Our number one agenda is economy; our number two agenda is the economy and number three agenda is also the economy”. He reiterated his position that he is contesting to become the next Governor of Ondo State in order to harness the State’s enormous natural resources to buoy its economic fortunes and enhance the living standards of the people.
Analysts are of the view that the art of governance cannot be sentimentalized to the level where a charlatan is put into a sensitive position of authority, especially the position of Governor of Ondo State, a model for other States not just in Nigeria, but in sub-Saharan Africa. In the assessment of Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) he possesses quintessential genetic traits and impressive resume that works in tandem with his ambition. He is a gentle man to the core with high ‘ambidextrous’ disposition, amiable, reticent, respectful and above all, God fearing with class and finesse.
The qualities that stand Jegede out, giving him an edge over his competitors are indeed the factors that would most likely determine the outcome of November’s election in his favour. The twin factors of experience and competence play the first crucial roles in swaying public opinion, and without a doubt, Eyitayo stands head and shoulders higher than any other competitor as the most qualified to assume leadership after 8 years of remarkable world-class growth in Ondo State.
Eyitayo devoted better part of his career to Ondo state, hitting the ground running, certainly, won’t be an issue for a Governor like him. When analysts say Eyitayo Jegede’s combination is not just intellectually fortified, but also understands governance in practical terms, they are in effect submitting that it will be a costly gamble to hand over the affairs of such an important state to any other candidate without the requisite experience and working knowledge of government precisely in Ondo State. The excellence that the Jegede’s team portends, therefore, helps the argument for continuity that PDP preaches.
Thankfully, Jegede is not entering November’s contest with any popularity deficit. His effective communications strategy has proven that he could beat his opponents. With more opinion polls and endorsements affirming his superior visibility, Jegede’s consistent edge over his opponents, in terms of followership on every social media platform in the past 3 months, has also established that not only does this Akure-born technocrat have better acceptance but that the contest might not be as close as some people imagine.
This reality is however a strong factor that will work in favour of PDP in this contest. It is no news that a country without the rudiments of rule of law would be vulnerable to perfidies and held hostage by power-mongers. On this note the indefatigable, principled and irrepressible people of Ondo state who are known to politically conscious and informed have the final say when it comes to deciding who succeeds Governor Mimiko. At a time like this, Eyitayo Jegede-SAN stands out as a credible successor to the outgoing Governor of the state. Added to the mix is the fact that the outstanding feats of Eyitayo Jegede remain overwhelming and far reaching to his detractors and forces from the opposition.
Barrister Jegede said he was overwhelmed with the massive show of love and support by the people of Ondo State which transcend religious, ethnic and party affiliations. He promised to justify the confidence reposed in him by offering good governance which will consolidate and improve upon the achievements of the Mimiko administration. He dismissed insinuations that he was being sponsored to represent the interest of certain individuals, saying he is old and mature enough to take his decisions. “I did not become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) by being sponsored. I have paid my dues as a legal practitioner in this country, and I have worked hard to rise to the pinnacle of my profession. I had a successful legal practice before I was invited in 2009 to serve the good people of Ondo State as the number one legal officer. To the best of my ability, I have served diligently”, he said.
Barrister Jegede said nobody could query his right to aspire to be the governor of the state because he is eminently qualified by all standards “I am a bona fide indigene of Ondo State and a law abiding citizen. Having served my state as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice for seven years, I think it is legitimate for me to aspire to a higher office so as to continue serving the good people of Ondo State. However, my ambition to become the Governor will be subjected to all legal and constitutional procedures, especially the primaries scheduled for August 22. I believe in due process and I am a committed party man. Therefore, I am ready and willing to abide with the outcome of the primary elections”, he added.
Mr Jegede is hopeful that the current crisis in the party will not affect his chances in the elections, stressing that the issue will soon be resolved. He said he was in the race to win. “We are coming into this race with tested and trusted years of service with integrity. Our chances are exceedingly bright and we are sure to win this race. We are in this business for service and our priority is the economy. We will partner those who will bring in their money and skills. We will have a friendly business environment that will help create jobs for our teeming youths as well as facilitate needed money in the economy”, he added.
Barrister Eyitayo Olayinka Jegede (SAN) was born on 26th April, 1961, to Chief Johnson Jegede, the Odopetu of Isinkan, Akure, and Mrs Caroline Oluwatola Jegede (nee Asokeji) from Ipele town, in Owo Local Government Area. His late father retired from the public service of Ondo State in 1982 having joined the service of the Old Western Region in 1948. He was the Supervisory Councillor for Health in Akure Local Government and Treasurer of the Anglican Diocese of Akure. Eyitayo Jegede’s grandfather was Chief Gabriel Jegede, a prominent trader and merchant dealing in heavy equipment, chains, machines etc.
Eyitayo’s family pedigree is of high repute. He is the fifth of the seven children of his parents. He attended St. Stephen’s Primary School, Modakeke, Ife and was at Aquinas College Akure from 1973 to 1978 for his secondary education. He was one of the prefects at Aquinas College and took active part in Sports in the best traditions of the family. He had his Higher School Certificate education at Christ School, Ado Ekiti. He was the school volleyball captain both at Aquinas College, Akure and Christ School, Ado Ekiti. He also captained the University volleyball team at the University of Lagos where he studied Law from 1980 to 1983.
Mr. Jegede qualified as a lawyer in 1984 after the one-year mandatory programme at the Nigeria Law School. For his NYSC, he was posted to the then Gongola State (now Adamawa) where he eventually started his law practice. He was a counsel with the law firm of Murtala Aminu & Co., Yola for 12 years and practised extensively in the northern part of Nigeria where he built an enviable legal practice with special interest in litigation, Commercial and Corporate law. In 1996, he established the Law firm Tayo Jegede & Co. with offices in Yola and Abuja.
Eyitayo Jegede has made many friends and built enduring relationships across the country. He was appointed a Notary Public by the Chief Justice of Nigeria in 1992 and was elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria on 16th December, 2008.
He had been actively involved in political cases and election petition matters, an area of law where his industry and practice is well noted and respected. In 2009, he was appointed the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Ondo State, where he served in the first four years of the administration. Following the re-election of Governor Mimiko in 2013, he was re-appointed the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, a position he held till 22nd July, 2016 when he resigned to contest for the gubernatorial seat.
He achieved many milestones. He ensured the review of the Laws of Ondo State for the first time since the creation of the State in 1976, and actively supported the provision of facilities for the establishment of the Court of Appeal, the National Industrial Court and the Zonal Offices of the Federal Ministry of Justice, all in Ondo State. Realising also that there was need to improve on the administration of criminal justice in the State, he worked closely with the office of the Chief Judge of the State to establish the first High Court within the precincts of the prison to fast track prosecution of criminal cases especially those that have to do with capital offences, the first in the Country. Recently, with the cooperation of some NGOs and other prominent legal practitioners and judges, the new Criminal Justice Administration Law was enacted and signed into Law. The whole idea is to improve the Criminal Justice System.
Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) has since 2010 been entrusted by his colleagues, the Attorneys General of the 36 States, with the responsibility of coordinating the activities of the Body of Attorneys General as the Chairman. He is a member of the Council of Legal Education in Nigeria, the body responsible for setting standards for legal education in Nigeria. Besides, by the virtue of his office as Attorney General of Ondo State, he had been a member of the Body of Benchers for seven years. This body is responsible for the call to bar of successful law students. He served twice as the Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association in Yola before coming to Akure to serve.
He has a deep interest in the education sector. He was a member of the five-man implementation Committee that was saddled with the responsibility of establishing the American University of Nigeria based in Yola, Adamawa State. He served as the pioneer Secretary of the Board of Trustees working with prominent Nigerians and foreigners alike in the Governing Board of the University, and providing the policy guidelines and regulations for the University. He was a member of the Governing Board of ABTI Academy and subsequently became the Chairman of the same Governing Board. The Academy, is a British style secondary School, located in Yola, Adamawa State which has created a niche and standard for itself.
A keen sports man, Mr. Jegede represented Ondo State as a member of the Volleyball team during the National Sports Festivals at Kaduna in1977 and Ibadan in 1979 where he won laurels for the State. As an active sportsman himself, Mr Jegede has consistently sponsored sporting events in Ondo State; the latest of which is the National Interclub Volleyball competition that held in Akure, Ondo State in December 2015.
He is a passionate philanthropist and community friendly public officer that identifies with all members of the society. Many acknowledge that he is accessible and affable. Mr. Jegede is of the Anglican Communion.
He had served as the Chancellor of two Dioceses in the North, the Diocese of Jalingo, Taraba State and the Diocese of Yola, Adamawa State. His record of community service is both commendable and enduring. Mr Jegede SAN had periodically sponsored Moot Court trials amongst Universities in the South West, and those from Edo and Kogi State. This modest support in the Legal Education sector has become a yearly event. He has assisted various communities in the state in provision of water and electricity. His support for the less privilege, physically challenged, widows and the elderly had been consistent and impactful. He is a family man with strong family values. He is married to Eno Jegede and both are blessed with children.