During the last yuletide the euphoria was high and aspirants in the coming governorship election in Ekiti State were embroiled in a game of wit for relevance. However, rather than play to the gallery, one of the leading lights in the race, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, was consulting and brainstorming with some of the best minds from the state who are currently in diaspora.
Certainly in Ekiti State of today, the center seems to have been heartlessly severed. The current occupants of political offices in the state have stagnated its economy and battered its people. It is a state where the government celebrates and glamourizes poverty and lack. It was therefore obvious that many of the aspirants exploited the ravaging poverty in the state to sell themselves to the electorates. Gifts came in different forms from all manners of aspirants, all in an attempt to lure the visibly hungry people to support their cause.
The incumbent governor Ayodele Fayose was not left out. He went a step ahead of others to announce Christmas clothes for about 10,000 indigent children but saying nothing about their parents who are being owed close to a year salary by same government.
But as the celebration was in the air, Ojudu who is the incumbent Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, was putting finishing touches into his plans to lift the state back to its pride of place.
The bid to reorganize and reposition his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, which he started about a year ago is already yielding desired fruits. Ojudu has also been talking to both the old and the young across the state on how to revive the state. “It is a project that we have to pursue with vigour and unwavering joint effort. We have to sacrifice our today together for a better tomorrow,” has been his message everywhere he goes.
And having spread the message across the state with resounding success, support came from the Ekiti indigenes in Diaspora . They extended an invitation to him to partner with them in the bid to rescue Ekiti State.
Under the programme, Ojudu would visit the United States of America and hold Town Hall meetings in five major cities, New York, Houston, Atlanta and Maryland and Los Angeles.
Accompanied by three members of the Ekiti Rebirth Organisation, ERO Nigeria, Messrs Femi Ajiniran, Tunji David and Segun Ajibulu, Ojudu joined the USA coordinators and members- Joe Tolu Olugbamila, Kayode Omoboya, Beatrice Ayorinde, Olumide Olamosun, Mina Parker, and Olumide Adakeja for a tour of several US cities for consultations and discussions on the future of Ekiti state.
Ekiti in Diasporas were particularly impressed with how he wants to tackle unemployment in Ekiti State by creating agricultural settlements in the sixteen local governments of the State to absorb the unemployed.
At every stop, Ojudu took time to listen to the concerns of Ekiti in Diasopra as he profusely took notes of their recommendations and suggestions. He took time to explain his vision for the state while also responding on burning political issues in the country as a whole.
On the myriad of problems in Ekiti States and Nigeria which renders political leaders unpopular, Ojudu said it is time politicians came up with programmes that will address the needs of the people collectively.
Reports from the different states visited by Ojudu during the parley show that a new Ekiti is possible with Ojudu in the saddle, says Dr Emmanuel Dada, a university professor based in Houston.
Throughout the Town Hall meetings, Ojudu was very clear about his vision which is to rescue the state from mismanagement, misappropriation of state funds, non-payment of workers’ salaries, unemployment, endemic failures, mental slavery and the insult called Stomach Infrastructure. The Senator’s presentation of his FINE Agenda was met with resounding applause and standing ovation at the Town Hall meetings.
As a mark of honour, Dr. Olubunmi Obayemi came from Virginia to Bowie in Maryland to give her touching testimony of how Ojudu got her through Medical School. Mrs. Bolanle Opanuga of Taxpoint presented the company’s Merit award to the Senator in recognition of his love and passion for Ekiti State. The Senator’s citation read at the Town Hall meetings invoked sympathy and emotional outburst among Ekitis in Diaspora. When they were reminded of the Senator’s role in Nigeria’s political struggle, Human Rights activities, imprisonment without trial, and ordeals in the hands of Nigerian Military Juntas, it was in unison that Ekiti in Diaspora agreed that he can surely rebuild Ekiti State as governor.
The team later visited Sahara Reporters where Senator Ojudu granted an interview to Sahara TV. It is significant to note that Ojudu is one of the few Nigerian politicians who can boldly walk into Sahara Reporters without any fear of being accused of corruption.
The climax of the Town Hall meetings was the presentation of an award to Senator Ojudu by the Atlanta City Council. The award which was signed by the President of Atlanta City Council, Felicia Moore and other members of the council is in recognition of the senator’s service to humanity and contribution to the development of the legislative arm of government at the Nigerian Senate.
The award which ceremony took place a day earlier before Ojudu arrived Atlanta due to flight cancellations in New York was received on his behalf by Engr. Soji Tinubu. He was presented with the award at the Atlanta Town Hall meeting. A similar award by the Georgia State House of Representatives was presented to Senator Ojudu for his role in fighting for democracy in Nigeria.
In Los Angeles, it was more of a pan Nigeria reception than Ekiti. Scores of Nigerian professionals came from the west coast to hear the journalist cum politician talk. As soon as the Nigerian community leaders in LA knew he was in town, they wanted to meet this man they’ve heard about for decades – first as a brilliant journalist, then as a prisoner of conscience and eventually a politician.
And, he didn’t disappoint. If every politician was like Senator Ojudu Nigeria will be a few miles from economic heaven. Chike Nweke, the publisher of African Life and Times in Los Angeles graciously opened his home and Senator Ojudu opened his heart.
Even though I’ve known him for more than two decades, he is still a fighter at heart, a fighter for the people and the common good. And, that is an uncommon thing. I have seen this man fight for journalists’ welfare when I was a teenager and now firmly settled in my fourth decade, I still see him fighting for the people, this time the people of Ekiti. It’s a fight that flows through his vein and is part of his DNA.
Many people came out of this weekend gathering and meetings in Los Angeles with one clear conclusion – Senator Babafemi Ojudu is the only alternative for Ekiti. Those who didn’t know him now support him. Those who knew him now follow him passionately. And everyone was moved to action, the action of changing Nigeria state by state – with Senator Ojudu starting in Ekiti.
•Gboyega Adeoye is a Media Consultant writes from Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State.