Biodun Oyebanji is eminently qualified to govern Ekiti State, contends John Ekundayo

In the run up to the 2007 gubernatorial election in the Centre of Excellence, Lagos State, the ruling party threw up a relatively unknown administrator and lawyer as the party’s candidate. He was solidly and solely endorsed by the incumbent Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu to the angst and awful disposition of party chieftains and stalwarts who perceived Babatunde Raji Fashola, the preferred consensus candidate, as a political neophyte. It was greeted with a quiet disapproval, dissatisfaction and disaffection. Many saw Fashola as a novice in the political chess game of Lagos that is well versed and versatile in content and colour; and wondered how he would meander and manoeuvre through the murky and muddy water of the State of Aquatic Splendour advanced politics and politicking. However, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the mentor and master strategist saw tomorrow in Fashola and stood his ground without wavering to the chagrin of his teeming adherents and admirers, who are committed party faithful.

In the dedication to the book authored by this writer titled: “Out of Africa: Fashola: Reinventing Servant Leadership To Engender Nigeria’s Transformation” (published in 2013 by AuthorHouse UK), it was succinctly and saliently stated inter alia: ‘This book is specially and specifically dedicated to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the erstwhile Governor of Lagos State, political mentor of Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, who with intellectual and prophetic insight saw Fashola as “a gold in the rubbles” if picked and properly polished. He did that against all odds and the outcome is the subject of this book’.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Biodun Oyebanji than any other candidate within his party, APC, is Ekiti born and bred. It is to his credit as a homeboy that he attended primary, secondary and tertiary schools in Ekiti. Ekiti celebrated 25 years of existence last year and Oyebanji was the Secretary of the Committee that worked assiduously for the carving, crafting and creating of Ekiti out of the old Ondo State. He was the youngest among the eminent members of that resilient committee with Baba Deji Fasuan as the indefatigable and indomitable leader. What a unique selling proposition as a contender and contestant for the Ikogosi Ekiti born technocrat and politician. In his own words, when recently interviewed in THISDAY newspaper, he simply posited along this line: “. . .I have been a lecturer, I have been a player in the banking sector, I have served the state government for 11 years and I have served on the board of a federal government agency as Chairman, Governing Board, Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (June 2009 – Dec. 2010). Besides, I read a lot and I have a passion for books on development, the global economy, African socio-economic movements and books that deal with strategies for growth . . .”

Oyebanji has proved his mettle as a mentee.

In the leadership scholastic inquiry, there is the mentor – protégé relationship (referred to as MPR). It is one of the dyads in leadership – followership study. In it, a mentee or protégé could start from the process of initiation and reach saturation; at which point, the protégé could stand on his own with all garnered credibility, capability, capacity, credentials, competence and connections from his mentor; and network of other mentors and mentees connected with his mentor; and consequently, stand head and shoulder above another colleague who has no mentor. One great benefit of the MPR dyad in organizations and polities globally. To surmise and summarize it, a wise man once aptly amplified it thus: “if you have a father, you will go far!” In paraphrasing it, I would rather say having a father makes you see farther as you can sit upon his shoulder. It is not a mean feat in governance, in Nigeria’s context, to have been mentored by two governors while one served in diverse core and crucial agencies of government and not ONE record of disloyalty! This writer having served in government can attest to this allusion with a sense of modesty. In this regard, Oyebanji of the arrays of eminent and well qualified candidates of his party, stand head and shoulder above them, in content and context, as one that is apparently most experienced in Ekiti governance. He is versatile, capable, credible, competent and well acquainted with places and people within Ekiti context. Without mincing words, he has proved his mettle as a matured mentee!

The primary election in the ruling APC comes up in a few days’ time. In essence, party members should be wise to vouch and vote for Oyebanji as he is a strategist keen in the development of Ekiti and apparently not for pecuniary gain or parochial interest. He is a people-oriented personality, a team player, with a knack for evidence-based performance as he was wont and wired to. A case in point will suffice. It was sometime in 2013 This writer was preparing for the wedding of his first son. I did not know Oyebanji and no one introduced me to him other than we both belong to the same online platform, Ekitipanupo (eminent intellectuals of Ekiti origin are members from varied and diverse pedigrees). I notified all members of the wedding in advance to which I was greeted with a show of camaraderie and comradeship the forum connotes. Few days later, I got an email in my inbox that I thought was seemingly a scam in content. However, upon painstaking reflection, I discovered it was genuine. There was a request in it asking for my assistance in developing the capacity of Monitoring and Evaluation (M and E) in Ekiti as I was involved in the Lagos experience. In M and E practice, Lagos leads other federating units in Nigeria. I was amazed when we spoke on the telephone and Oyebanji stated that he had been following my posts in the forum and could repose such confidence in me. I took up the gauntlet and with my team we were able to deliver as proposed with Oyebanji not uncharacteristically attaching any string to our consultancy service. He was then serving in the first term of Dr. John Kayode Fayemi as the Commissioner, Economic Planning, Budget and Service Delivery. The time we are in Ekiti and nationally calls for square pegs in square holes so as to mutually achieve set goals within the nick of time. Oyebanji can smell such competent, capable, credible and cerebral talents from far and near to make Ekiti reach the zenith, socio – economically and politically. Ultimately, this writer wants to infer that, like Babatunde Raji Fashola (BRF), Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji (BAO) could be another discovery of “gold in the rubbles!”

Dr. Ekundayo, Harvard-Certified Organizational Strategist, and also a Leadership Development Consultant, can be reached via 08155262360 and drjmoekundayo@hotmail.com