Compliments! At the risk of being tagged an OBJ and a Tony Mohmoh (two famous serial letter writers) of Ekiti State, I write again to offer my unsolicited counsel on the way forward for our party, APC, currently battling to reclaim our beloved Ekiti State from the invidious interloper called PDP.
No doubt, you have emerged the flag bearer of our party for the July 14 general election, it then behooves me to direct a letter like this to you. By the way, I am not writing to tell you that I goofed in my first open letter to you when I unequivocally told you to pull out of the governorship race.
I still believe you shouldn’t have run for governor again. I made my reasons clear in the open letter, and I believe I am vindicated with the avalanche of insults hauled at your person when you visited one of your co-aspirants after the primaries and the pending court case about your candidacy. These are some of the things I wanted you to avoid when I urged you not to run for governor again.
I know people reading this letter will think it is a congratulatory message. It is not. It is my prerogative to congratulate you if I feel like. If I am going to congratulate you for anything, you know we have our channels of reaching each other without recourse to undue publicity of the congratulatory message.
When you reclaimed your governorship mandate through the courts, I was one of the first people to congratulate you. When you picked Professor Modupe Adelabu as your deputy, I immediately congratulated you for the choice. When I launched a book at Afe Babalola University in 2012, you congratulated me. When I became an Associate Professor in 2014, you congratulated me. We have always congratulated each other on our achievements without making it public.
As expected, many people who have been hiding their faces and were afraid of identifying with you before the primaries are now milling around you shouting “JKF Lekan si!” Some even go to the ridiculous extent of discrediting the aspirant the supported at the primaries so that you can accept them into your camp.
There was a case of someone who branded a car and donated the car to an aspirant before the primaries when you won the primaries, this person retrieved the car from this aspirant and rebranded it with your name. These are the characters we have in Ekiti politics today that anger people like me. Highly unprincipled people!
No doubt you need everybody to win at the general elections, but be careful with such people; they are political jobbers who want to be close to you for their selfish interest. Do not place any premium on such people because they will abandon you for another candidate when the chips are down the way they abandoned their former principal. I trust you, you know how to use and dump such people when the time comes.
Now the thrust of my letter: We want APC to win the July 14 election. We want to rescue our state. We are tired of Fayose and his politics of deceit. We are tired of non-payment of salaries. Above all, we want a new lease of life for our people by rebuilding our state.
So, to win the July 14 election, you need the co-operation of your co-contestants and their supporters. To achieve this, I want to recommend that you work closely with Senator Babafemi Ojudu and Hon Bamidele Opeyemi. Congratulating you on in the media is not enough, the three of you must lock yourself up in a room to iron out your differences and put your fine manifestoes together to rebuild Ekiti State.
Other aspirants are equally important; they are great guys. I know a few of them whom I hold in high esteem. As we all know, Chief Segun Oni is a fine gentleman any time any day that cannot hurt a fly. I still remember Dr. Orire of the famous Orire Hospital in Ado. My late mother (Madam Thatcher, the woman leader of the defunct AD) used to tell me good things about him when she was alive.
I knew indefatigable Hon. Femi Bamisile (BAFEM) through my brother, Odunayo Ibitoye who was so sure that BAFEM was going to be the next governor of Ekiti State until he lost the primaries. BAFEM is a great guy and always ready to see the party succeeds.
My Childhood friend, Ewu Olofinluyi, with his diminutive stature, always does great things; Bimbo Daramola of the “Shoot me” fame who was the DG of your campaign when you ran for governor the second time is another young man whose ability to make things happen cannot be underestimated, and so many of the aspirants that I have read about in the course of the struggle for the soul of our party and the rescue mission for Ekiti State.
I decided to pick Ojudu and Opeyemi because I know you were friends before the three of you came into Ekiti politics. I call the three of you the “Three Musketeers of Ekiti Politics.” As a member of the human rights community, I also know the three of you are respected members of the human rights community.
Our comrades are watching, and they are not happy with what is happening in Ekiti Politics with the three of you at loggerhead because of power. They are waiting patiently to see you demonstrate what you have been preaching these years.
Apart from being an Ekiti indigene like the three of you, I had the rare privilege of knowing your contributions to the human rights community which I wouldn’t want you to rubbish at the altar of political expediency. I remember your role in radio kudirat and how you came all the way from London to Ghana and Republic of Benin with Makin Soyinka to see our comrades in exile in these countries during the heydays of our struggle.
From your pocket, you rented a two bedroom apartment for our comrades in exile in Ghana who had no accommodation. You and Makin took the risk to visit the family of Comrade Moshood Fayemiwo in the Republic of Benin when Fayemiwo, the publisher of the defunct Razo Magazine was kidnapped from the refugee camp in the Republic of Benin and smuggled back to prison in Nigeria. This risk you took at a time when Nigerian security operatives looking for you had infiltrated everywhere in the West African sub-region.
In case of Ojudu, we all know how he suffered at the hands of the Junta. As a regular customer in almost all our notorious prisons, he once wrote his Will in prison when he felt he was not going to come out of prison alive. Despite the fact that Ojudu was on the wanted list of the Junta, he remained unbowed and refused to go into exile. He chose the popular NADECO route to sneak in and out of the country.
Opeyemi’s role during the June 12 struggle can never be wished away. His law office in Abuja was the rallying point for lawyers like the late Gani Fawehinmi handling the June 12 annulment case. His student movement records in Ife, Benin and NANS remain enviable to date. Not to talk about his roles in the famous anti-SAP riots. I still remember how we used to meet at Dr. Fredrick Faseun’s hospital in Mushin, Lagos to strategize the way forward for Nigeria. He had to go into exile in Washington DC when Abacha men were after him.
With these noble contributions to our political struggle in Nigeria, I think this is the time to celebrate the three of you. It will be great if you can use your commitment to humanity to turn things around so that Ekiti can be a reference point for all the states of Nigeria. I still believe the three of you can rescue and rebuild Ekiti if you put all acrimonies behind you.
To demonstrate to Ekiti people that you genuinely want to rescue them, I am suggesting that you wear your JKF T-Shirt, with Ojudu’s “ERO” cap and put Opeyemi’s “Bibi ire Scarf” around your neck while on the campaign trail. The three of you should dress like that throughout the campaign to put your enemies to shame.
I know you have been going around talking to your co-aspirants, which is good. But there is a silent majority out there which you need to reach very quickly. These people don’t talk; when they see you coming, they will run. They see you as their enemy. They think your coming back as their governor will inflict further pains on them.
The only person they know is Oshoko who feeds them with lies and a cup of rice to top his lies all the time. The three of you should lead other aspirants to fish out these people and let them know the truth. Beg them, knock at their doors day and night, enter their houses, visit them at their “Paraga Joints,” if necessary have a taste of their drinks; after all, that will not kill you. But be sincere with them.
The civil servants, teachers, local government workers and pensioners who have not been paid for months are not fools. They don’t want any Oshoko continuity, they want a change, but they want an agent of change they can trust. I know they have a problem with you and your administration, but by the time they see you with Ojudu, Opeyemi and other aspirants campaigning together, they will know that you mean business this time around and they will change their mind.
Comrade, there is so much at stake for you in this election. If you lose, that may spell doom for your political career and afflation to the human rights community. Those we have been fighting for years will now have the temerity to say with authoritative chest-thumbing that you are not better than those you were criticizing or fighting. And it will be difficult for you to return to the human rights Community.
Mike Ozekome was almost lynched by our younger comrades at Gani Fawehinmi’s posthumous birthday because of his anti-people’s roles in PDP. He was whisked out of the venue by older comrades who knew his contribution to the human right community. Here is Ozekome who we tagged Junior Gani those days when he was working in Gani’s law chambers. What an irony of life!
Senator Shehu Sanni was shouted down at another Fawehinmi’s posthumous birthday when he attempted to defend President Mohamadu Buhari as a man of integrity. The general impression from our comrades at the occasion was that comrades who go into politics often forget the people they were fighting for as soon as they get political power and that they get carried away by party politics.
With the performance and dwindling popularity of our comrades in politics, one begins to wonder whether one should remain in activism to put those in power on their toes rather than seeking political office that will rubbish one’s reputation. The outcome of Ekiti political imbroglio will surely tell which route to take for people like me who cherish good name and hard-earned reputation.
I think the mistake made by most of our comrades in politics is that they easily get consumed by party politics and end up compromising the interest of the masses. Instead of letting their newly found associates in politics know what they stand for from the onset to enable them to change the face of our politics, they join the political jamboree and they are unable to come out of it.
Ekiti is blessed with many activists who would have made life better for our people if those of you in politics genuinely tap into their potentials. These are people with impeccable records who could tell you the truth when you are going wrong. But unfortunately, you distance yourself from them immediately you get to power.
In Ekiti alone, we have a very longs list of activists who could have better the lots of our people. The list includes Femi Falana, Professor Bolaji Aluko; Professor Eddie Olanipekun, Dr. Gbenga Eniola; Bayo Oguntuase; Wale Adeoye, Steve Adaramoye; Bisi Dada; Awopetu; Biodun Oyeleye; Taiwo Otitolaye; Gboyega Adeoye; Bode Oluwafemi; Olusola Omotunde; Wale Balogun, Diran Obalola, and many others. These are people I expect, any activists from Ekiti going into politics to surround him or herself with and not the vultures who don’t have the interest of the people at heart.
Sowore Omoyele’s adventure into party politics is beginning to prove a point that one can run for political office without bribing anybody. From the onset, Sowore surrounds himself with people of like minds. He makes it clear to those who care to listen that he is not running for President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to buy votes but to take Nigeria back for the betterment of the Nigerian masses. The message is resonating very well in well-meaning Nigerians home and abroad. Within two months, Nigerians in the Diaspora donated more than $40,000 to support his presidential bid.
This is the type of partisan politics I expect from you and the other comrades in Ekiti politics. I know you will say that Chief Fawehinmi and our own Falana tried it and it didn’t work, at least they proved a point and left the stage with their reputation intact. Political office should be seen as service to the people, so I don’t see why anyone should buy votes to serve the people.
This apart, the body language of some of your supporters and their reckless utterances all over the place after the primaries is uncalled for. It is as if they have just won lottery or jackpot. My fear with this type of behavior is that they will end up driving others members of the party away from you. So, you need to let them know it is not yet uhuru. You also need to let them know that the coast is not clear at all as we all know.
I am particularly worried that Segun Oni’s camp had to cry out that you did not accord it due recognition as a stakeholder in the Ekiti project. Oni has sacrificed a lot for your political aspirations to date. He crossed from his PDP to APC because of you despite the fact that you chased him out of office and removed his portrait from the governor’s office to show that his regime was illegal.
I am also worried that you have not deemed it fit to call Senator Babafemi Ojudu since you emerged the candidate of our party. “Kilo de?” When I didn’t see Senator Ojudu’s congratulatory message to you on time, I reached out to him to know why he has not congratulated you and he said he wanted ERO to meet first. Truly, when ERO met, the movement congratulated you and directed its members to work for your victory. One would have expected you to leverage on this good gesture and reach out to the organization.
From the look of things, it is like you don’t need Ojudu and Oni’s groups to win the election. Who then will work with you to win the election? My brother, I can assure you that the 77 wise men council cannot win this election. Ekiti people are wiser than that. They prefer their people to speak to them rather than any foreigner who will make empty promises and vamoose.
On the use of Federal might to reciprocate what PDP and Fayose did to you in 2014; please do not use evil to pay evil. Although Fayose and his PDP deserve it, it will unleash terror on the Ekiti people because Fayose will let loose his thugs to wreak havoc on our people. So, it is not worth it to resort to violence in the coming election for the sake of the people you want to serve.
It is instructive to reflect on what brought Ekiti APC to this level such that the party almost plays to the hand of Fayose and PDP in the state. I believe that the leadership of APC in the South West and the National Working Committee of the party should be blamed for allowing 33 candidates to run for one office. One would have expected them to use party supremacy to cut down the number of aspirants to a manageable number before it snowballed into crisis in the party.
Also, one cannot but blame Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for allowing the three of you, his political sons to run for the same office at the same time. I know he once tried to stop Opeyemi from running for governor when he ran against you in 2014, but Opeyemi ignored him, which later boomerang and was believed to be partially responsible for your defeat at the election and Opeyemi’s dwindling political fortune in the state to date.
All said and done; it is not too late to write the wrongs done to the Ekiti political space if the three of you truly want to rescue our people. It is by so doing that we can win the July 14 election and begin the task of rebuilding our dear Ekiti state. Anything short of that, Ekiti people may be forced to dump the three of you and look for their messiah elsewhere. This will spell doom for the three of you and other comrades from Ekiti state with genuine intentions who may wish to run for political positions in future.
Please, reflect on this unsolicited counsel before you hit the ground running again. I wish you and our party the best of luck as we prepare for the July 14 election. Let us link hands together to rescue our state from PDP and Fayose’s dangerous hold on our political space.
Bunmi Aborisade, a Journalist and human rights activist lectures at College of New Rochelle, New York, USA.