Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ondo State, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede is the most prepared for the job, reckons Michael Orodare
“I have decided to see things for myself in Ondo State. The concretisation efforts of the state governor and what we saw in the state are in conformity with the objectives of the CNPP. One of the ways we will do it is to tell Nigerians that what we have witnessed in Ondo State is an encouragement and that the projects here are worthy of emulation by other state governors.
“I’m advising the current governors to visit one another and learn from one another. If they do that, particularly learning from Ondo State, it would enable them to perform better. I hope they would listen to this piece of advice.”
Those were the words of former Governor of old Kaduna State and Chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa, after a tour of Ondo State in July 2016.
Without any equivocation, it is an established fact that the Mimiko-led government in Ondo State has blazed the trail and set governance on a pedestal that will serve a template for any government in any part of Africa.
Before Mimiko came into office in 2009, Ondo State had the worst
infant and maternal mortality rate in South-west, Nigeria, according to statistics from the World Bank, which prompted the Mimiko-led government to vow that pregnancy must cease being a death sentence in the state.
This led to the conceptualisation of the now globally acclaimed Abiye Safe Motherhood Programme, which has brought profound results for the government and has been recommended as a benchmark for Africa continent by the World Bank.
Also, the education sector in Ondo State like never before has received a great fillip for optimum performance in the last seven years of the Mimiko government.
Aside from building over 50 21st century primary schools across the state codenamed the ‘Caring Heart Mega School’ equipped with modern facilities like internet facility and state of the art computer training center, library and sick bay, primary and secondary schools are also being renovated, learning facilities are regularly supplied to the schools with free school shuttle buses across the 18 local government areas of the state conveying pupils to and from school daily.
The tertiary institutions in the state, which before 2009 were described as glorified secondary schools now stand tall and operate on a higher pedestal among the comity of state-owned tertiary institutions across the country.
Before Mimiko, Akure the capital city, in the words of Ebonyi State
Deputy Governor, Dr. Kelechi Herrick was a “developing rural community”, but the massive infrastructure development in Akure and other cities of Ondo State in the last seven years attracted the attention of the UN-Habitat, which honoured Mimiko with the UN-Habitat scroll of honour for his urban renewal drive, which according to UN “combines physical improvement of the environment with economic empowerment and social transformation of the state.”
The peace and security in Ondo State since 2009 is second to none across the South-west states and this has made Ondo State a better place to work and live. These are just few of the unprecedented legacies Mimiko is bequeathing to the state. In six months’ time, Mimiko will gallantly bow out of office having completed his two terms by February 2017. Who can we trust to take it up from where Mimiko will stop? This seems to be the question on the lips of Ondo State people as they prepare to go to the polls in November 2016.
At this critical time of decision, when various desperadoes and wolves in sheep skin are gallivanting around the state to cajole and seek the support of innocent electorates, Ondo cannot afford to settle below a leader, who can’t radiate charisma, competence, love for the masses, integrity and calmness.
A worthy successor and consolidator of the laudable legacies of Mimiko can be said to have been found in Eyitayo Olayinka Jegede, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Ondo State, a seasoned technocrat with a blend of political experience.
Born to the family of the late Chief Johnson Bosede Jegede, the Odopetu of Isinkan, in Akure the capital city of Ondo state, and Mrs Caroline Oluwatola Jegede (nee Asokeji) from Ipele town, in Owo Local Government Area of the state, Eyitayo enjoys integrity and honesty running through his lineage, as his grandfather and father were the treasurer of St. David’s Anglican Church, Ijomu, Akure at different times before their demise.
Eyitayo Jegede’s educational sojourn started at the St. Stephen’s “A” Primary School, Modakeke, Ife in Osun State through Aquinas College Akure and Christ School, Ado Ekiti, and finally berthed at the University of Lagos, where he was the captain of the University Volleyball team and bagged his law degree in 1983 before he was called to bar in 1984. Again, National Youth Service took Eyitayo away from Akure to the then Gongola State (now Adamawa state), 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, Adamawa State and Abuja. He served twice as the Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association in Yola and he became a SAN in 2008.
Just as National Service took him away from Akure, another call to service brought him back home in 2009, when he was appointed the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice by Governor Mimiko, where he started blazing a trail in public service. He was re-appointed in 2013, and held the position until his resignation in July 2016, in public interest and in pursuance of his governorship ambition on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Before his resignation, Eyitayo was the Chairman of the Body of Attorney Generals in the 36 states of the federation between 2010 and 2016 and remains the longest serving Attorney General and Justice Commissioner in Ondo State.
Eyitayo’s sterling records in law profession, public service and other capacities in the private and public sector is a testimony to the fact that he is well grounded, well equipped to direct the affairs of Ondo State and take it higher than where Mimiko will stop in 2017.
The wide acceptance, commendation and massive endorsements Eyitayo has received from the monarchs, academia, civil servants, artisans, clergy and youths among others, since his declaration and commencement of his familiarisation visits across the 18 LGAs of the state is no mean feat.
Eyitayo’s governorship ambition has rekindled hope, allayed the fears of the people over a better successor to build on Mimiko’s legacies and brought people together across political divides as political players to support the best among all.
For 35-years old Segun Akintade, an artisan in Akure, who had made up his mind to take a long break from participating in political and electioneering activities, since his belief in the APC government he vigorously campaigned for in the last presidential election has been futile with the performance of the federal government, the July 2016 declaration of Eyitayo’s governorship ambition has resonated hope in him.
“I didn’t know him before now. I only hear about him as a calm and
humble gentleman,” Akintade said. “But with what I’ve heard and seen about him the day he came to town to declare his ambition at the palace of Deji of Akure, after he resigned, and with reports from his campaign across the state, even if we have to donate to support his campaign. I am ready to support him.”
His experience, modesty, and integrity speak volume of the type of leader Eyitayo will make as Ondo governor. His associates describe him as natural, calm, intelligent, brilliant and down to earth. His friends always say he is relaxed, funny, witty, a great companion and a man of impeccable character with the love of the people at heart. Mimiko has laid the foundation, the Governor Ondo needs is a consolidator to take the state to the next level and definitely not a bulldozer.
For Eyitayo, who has been an active player and major contributor to the achievements of the Mimiko-led government in the last seven years, consolidating on these achievements and the developmental programmes of Mimiko wouldn’t be a herculean task as it may appear to some ‘newcomers’. This will surely be sweeter in Ondo as a new Sheriff prepares to take the mantle.
-Orodare, a media assistant in the Office of the Chief Press
Secretary to Ondo State Governor, wrote from Akure, Ondo State