All Progressives Congress in Ekiti State is staging a comeback, to reclaim power from Peoples Democratic Party, as Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojudu, storms the state with a â€˜unity to repossessâ€™ message. Anayo Okolie writes
Ekiti is a state of about three million people traditionally reputed for their literacy, bravery, and dignity. Whether as Fountain of Knowledge, as the state was formerly nicknamed, or as Land of Honour, as it is currently called, Ekiti conjures up images of sophistication, refinement, and decency. That is under normal circumstances.
But today, under the Peoples Democratic Party government of Governor Ayo Fayose, Ekiti State is increasingly being made an object of ridicule by many standards. What with dilapidated infrastructure, failed promises, poverty, and hopeless, the lot of the people have not been a happy one since the about two and a half years of the present administration in the state.
Worried by the condition of his people, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojudu, recently made a strategic and symbolic visit to Ekiti State. Ojudu was on a mission to strengthen the unity of his party, All Progressives Congress, in the state and properly position it for victory in the next political battles. He was determined to dissect and appreciate the internal and external problems of the party and find a lasting solution with a view to reclaiming the governorship seat APC lost to PDP in 2014, and restoring order, sanity, and good life in the state.
The visit was at the instance of some youths in Ekiti North senatorial district. During the visit, Ojudu held consultative meetings with stakeholders at various levels, and undertook visits to party chieftains and traditional rulers. He wants to sanitise the APC and prepare it for the governorship election slated for June 2018.
Engr. Michael Oluwagbemi was one of the facilitators of the tour. Oluwagbemi said, â€œThe suffering is much; the poverty is so endemic that we need to throw in our caps, as youths and technocrats in the state, to find a way around the current shenanigans going on. Our people are being blindfolded to real governance. Daily, they are being annoyingly shielded from the actual realities of governance and we are here saying enough is enough.â€
Oluwagbemi said the fight for fairness in Ekiti State was not a move by any one political party. â€œIt is a fight we must collectively engage in, as youths of Ekiti State to ensure as well as guarantee a better future both for ourselves and our children,â€ he stated.
As a mark of the unity of purpose among the youth, the reception for Ojudu had the participation of youths from across the state. The youth of Ekiti State converged on Ikole, the Ikole local government headquarters, to receive the former senator, who is now in the Presidency as adviser on political affairs.
Ojudu and his entourage moved from the palace of the Elekole of Ikole, Oba James Adewumi Ajibade Fasiku, the Aladesekole 1, paramount ruler of Egbeoba Kingdom, where they were given a royal welcome, to Ipao Ekiti, Odo Oro, Usi and back to Ikole, venue of the reception, with the message of cohesion and unity. The youth acknowledged lack of unity as the bane of development in the state.
Speaking at the palace of Elekole, Ojudu declared, â€œIâ€™m glad to pass this message of hope to leaders of our great party, the All Progressives Congress, in Ekiti State. I am glad to speak to millions of our supporters, our sympathisers, our members, our potential allies and the amazing people of Ekiti whose hope has been dashed and who, as I can see, are anxiously waiting to benefit from the new dawn across the nation.
â€œMy message is straight and simple. First, I wish to thank our leaders and our compatriots for their steadfastness and their perseverance. I must commend your efforts over the years. I thank you for keeping the flag flying, regardless of the major setback in 2014.
â€œThe poverty and want in our land is staring us in the face. The misery in the land is tormenting. We have to provide the required alternative, driven by the people. We have a bigger challenge before us. We have a mountain to climb. We have a destiny to fulfil. Our people in Ekiti are waiting for us. As 2018 approaches, the electorate are anxious. But they are also worried about the real and imagined divisions among us.
â€œThe future of our great party lies in our unity. We are getting ready for another pitched battle. We cannot afford to go to the field divided. We need unity of ideas, unity of personalities.â€
Ojuduâ€™s call for unity set the ball rolling, as the APC leaders and members spoke about their grievances by turns and also tried to proffer solutions. Everyone was eager to see a formidable APC front ahead of the next governorship poll in the state.
There were meetings with the partyâ€™s state executive committee, APC Youth Movement, religious leaders, community leaders, students, professionals, artisans, market women and men, etc. The meetings dealt with the issues inhibiting the party and how to resolve them to be able to present a common front ahead of the poll, where Fayose would be seeking a second term.
An APC chieftain in the state, Abejide commended Ojudu for the peace initiative. Abejide said, â€œThis is a good initiative and I have been waiting for this day to come. But beyond this visit, you people at the top that all of us are watching in Ekiti must close ranks. When people see you dining together it will trickle down and all the divisions will disappear and our party will be strong, very strong again to present a common front to unseat the PDP in our state.â€
In a similar vein, Bunmi Ogunleye, who received Ojudu, the state executive members, and youth leaders from across the state at his residence, promised to support the ace journalist.
Ogunleye said, â€œI am assuring you that you always have the support of the youth of Ekiti State. I have personally tested you and I am convinced, just like the teeming youth that I lead, that you are a true ambassador of this state. We need someone like you in government. We need someone like you to be our leader. We need someone like you as our governor. And we pray this will come to pass one day.â€
Ojudu told journalists after the consultative meetings, â€œThe people are obviously yearning for change and the response I got from the people, from our consultations, from our visitations, is that people are ready for the change. We have seen the burning desire in them to experience a change from the present bondage and enslavement.
â€œThe feeler is that we just have to get closer to the people. There is also the need to give them adequate information. We have to find a way of bringing them together, of uniting them and get closer to them in Ekiti State. We need to inform them about government activities that have direct impact on their lives and we need to inform them on how they can participate so that they can benefit from them. We need to let them know some of the things that the federal government is doing for Nigerians because many of them are not just aware. We need to come down a little closer to the grassroots.
â€œI was so glad that I embarked on this unity trip, trying to introduce some of the federal government policies to them, trying to correct some wrong impressions that have been sold to them. I also appreciate the opportunity I have, telling them that the federal government meant so well for them. We tried to allay their fears and let them realise that if we are able to organise ourselves, we shall once again recover the state from those who are riding roughshod over it and put Ekiti back on track once again.â€
The presidential aide added, â€œLet me say that we made attempts in the first term that we governed the state in 1999, to lay a solid foundation.
But the foundation was not completed before somebody else came and uprooted the foundation. Now, we are drifting and we cannot place ourselves anywhere. No plan, economically, socially. In all of the sectors, there is no plan, no well thought out plan. No sign of anything on ground to propel the government on the next thing to do. We donâ€™t even know what propels the action of the government. All we have is sporadic actions, buying roasted corns on the streets, building bridges to nowhere and all sorts of frivolities.
â€œFayose had come, held down the Ekiti people and continue to rape them. And our people are crying, they are shouting, although their voice is muted as they are being raped by their governor. The society is bleeding.â€