Strength in His Heritage

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Ademola Babalola writes that Adebayo Adelabu, one of the contestants for the office of governor of Oyo State comes with sterling academic and professional achievements highlighted by a proud heritage.

While his attempt may not be taken seriously by many, Chief Bayo Adedibu is striving on with a single-minded resolve, leaving no stone unturned in the bid to clinch the Oyo State gubernatorial ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC. From the ridiculous to the sublime, myriads of reasons have been adduced to scoff at his ambition.

A few who are sympathetic to his cause think the banker turned politician may not have the sheer grit to sail the murky waters of Oyo state politics. They wonder why a man serving out his first term as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria in April, 2019 with a possibility of being reappointed for another five years which will end in 2024, would have the audacity to sacrifice such a highly privileged position for uncertainty.

To Adelabu every negative point raised by cynics is surmountable given his decade of consistent planning towards achieving the seemingly herculean task. His understanding is that of man who has a date with history. Armed with sterling pedigree, academic records and professional expertise; coupled with wide exposures, he is daily putting the naysayers on the edge as he confronts the task ahead with unmatched finesse. A clear pointer to his serious disposition towards the governorship ticket is the unprecedented funfair which attended his declaration of intention.

As if pre-empting how far Adelabu could travel in his quest to become governor of Oyo State, President Muhammadu Buhari in his reply to Adelabu’s resignation letter appreciated his services in various departments of the CBN since April 9, 2014 when he joined the apex bank as Deputy Governor.

The President’s letter of May 24, 2018 read in part, “While appreciating your services in various departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria since 9th April 2014, I wish you the very best in your future ambitions and continued commitment to public service in our country and specifically, as you seek to play a more active role in politics in your home state. Please, accept my very best wishes.”

Adelabu, a leading gubernatorial aspirant of the ruling APC in the state had earlier on April 15, 2018 notified President Buhari of his disengagement from services of the apex bank through the Governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.

In his letter headlined ‘Notice of Disengagement from Service’, Adelabu thanked the Federal Government of Nigeria for appointing him as a Deputy Governor of the bank from April, 2014.

He said, “I have had the opportunity to oversee and provide leadership and direction to three directorates (Financial System Stability, Corporate Services and Operations) of the four directorates in the CBN. This cuts across 17 out of the 27 operating departments at the bank. In addition to these responsibilities and by virtue of my role at each point in time, I have had the opportunity to serve as chairman or director on the board of various other government agencies and parastatals.

“These include: Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria Ltd (AMCON), the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company Ltd (NSPMC), Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Nigeria Interbank Settlement Systems Ltd (NIBSS), Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC).

“This wide exposure within and outside the bank has greatly enriched and complemented my private sector experience of about 23 years and consequently heightened my interest in serving the public further.

“Incidentally, my appointment was followed by a turbulent period in the economy of Nigeria. It was a period when oil prices had plummeted from a high of $112/barrel in June, 2014 to a dismal $28/barrel in January, 2015. The sharp decline put an enormous pressure on the Naira and the exchange rate spiraled out of control. The foreign exchange reserves fell below $24billion by October, 2016 and inflation rate, as at the beginning of 2017, had skyrocketed and fell slightly short of 20%. The economy had entered a recession by the second quarter of 2016. However, with our dogged determination and uncommon focus at the CBN, coupled with the prudent, ingenious and bold fiscal policies of the present government under your amiable leadership, the economic indicators started looking up. Our foreign exchange reserves have moved up to over $46billion and the inflation, having been on a downward trend since January, 2017 has been successfully tamed. The Naira exchange rate had stabilized and the general economic outlook is very bright.

“These successes in addition to my heightened interest in servicing the public further, has given me the impetus to rededicate myself to the service of Nigeria. They have also emboldened me to make a difference and buy into the various calls of Mr. President to free our country from the shackles of underdevelopment. Just a few weeks ago, you stated during a meeting with Katsina senior citizens in Daura, Katsina State that “the Nigeria of our time is in need of sacrifices that all citizens can make to free it from corruption, poverty, crime and underdevelopment.

“Although the first term of my appointment will end on April 8, 2019, I have decided to heed Mr. President’s patriotic call by starting the onerous task of nation building from my immediate constituency, Oyo State where I have resolved to play an active role in politics.

“I would like to complement the national efforts of Mr. President at the sub-national level by contesting in 2019 gubernatorial election in my state. My aspiration is to become the next executive governor of the state, so help me God,” Adelabu’s three-page letter read in part.

Several interest groups in Oyo State have since come out to back the aspiration of Adelabu, urging him to run for the governorship of the State.

He is a descendant of legendary Ibadan politician in pre-independence Nigeria, Adegoke Adelabu (Penkelemesi), a prominent personality in the politics of Ibadan city and subsequently that of the Western region before the country’s independence in 1960. He was Nigeria’s Minister of Natural Resources and Social Services from January 1955 to January 1956 and later became an opposition leader to Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the Western Regional Assembly until his death in 1958.

Given that background, Adebayo Adelabu is seen by many as a suitable successor to the incumbent Governor Abiola Ajimobi. He also eminently qualifies for the office judging by his pedigree and contribution to the stability of the Nigerian financial sector.

At the epochal declaration of his intention to run for the 2019 race, Adelabu on June 20, 2018 advanced reasons why he was interested in politics especially the highest political office of the pace-setter state. “I am interested because I have passion for the progress of my state and in the happiness of my people. I believe that talent, knowledge, training and experience are nothing if they are not put into achievements in the direction of human progress. They are like books on dusty shelves. They are inconsequential until when their contents are advanced towards uplifting the society.

“All acquisitions from the universities, work knowledge and professional practices, as well as, insights from private endeavours would go down the grave at the appointed time. The possessor might therefore put them into diligent actions for humanity. The useful man must do something useful if his existence is to have real values. These statements constitute a glimpse into the guiding principles of my desire.

“My disposition, principles, and aspiration are in line with the noblest ones in the world. I shall put them into actions in the service of the holy cause of human progress by God’s grace if my desire is blessed with God’s disposition. I, Adebayo Adelabu, a grandson of a founding father of our great country, Nigeria, the late Honourable (Alhaji) Adegoke Adelabu, whom Nigerians eulogise as ‘Peculiar Mess,’ (Penkelemesi) hereby present myself to be of service to humanity through my desire to contest for the highest political office in Oyo State.

“Our governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, is providing vibrant leadership in the direction of Restoration, Repositioning and Transformation of the state which has resulted into a watershed achievement for the current administration. Governor Ajimobi is a unique figure of destiny whose restorative management of the affairs of the state is giving new direction, new determination, and innovative developments across the length and breadth of the state. The governor’s era is indeed a re-awakening, a renaissance and a rebirth. Therefore, it is essential that subsequent leaders should build upon the solid foundations laid by our governor in order to avoid putting past efforts in vain.

“There is no presumption in my desire. There is no conceit in my nature and intention. My background is well known in Oyo State and Nigeria in general. Those who are fully familiar with my background know that it contains noble heritage of service to humanity, youthful years, ground breaking academic careers, distinct professional practices and dedication to human progress through private endeavours,” he said in his declaration speech.

With the coast getting clearer by the day for Adelabu to pick the gubernatorial ticket of the APC, the task may largely remain how to confront other candidates of various political parties springing up by the day. For now, Adelabu, a first class graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University with a career experience spanning over two decades in these organizations; PricewaterhouseCoopers where he rose to the position of Senior Manager; General Manager and West African Regional Head of Finance at Standard Chartered Bank; Executive Director, Chief Finance Officer and Board Member, First Bank of Nigeria Plc; and Deputy Governor, CBN, may be the candidate to beat in next year’s governorship election in Oyo State.