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The ‘Omoluabi’ in Ekiti State

John Kayode Fayemi is a true Omoluabi. He earned that description and accolade for several actions highlighted poignantly on Saturday 16 November 2019. On that day, the governor of Ekiti State made a grand appearance at the wedding of the son of his immediate predecessor Segun Fayose in Lagos.

His hosts received him with as much grandeur and bonhomie. Their handshakes and show mutual affection and regard for the occasion that brought them together became a significant talking point. It was a demonstration of honour and commitment to cherished values.

Marriage is one of three critical junctures in life. The others are birth and death. Individuals are fully conscious of their wedding day. We are too unformed to know about our birth; we certainly are lost in the matter of death. The world over, people celebrate marriage as one of the pathways that enables man to fulfil the commandment of his Maker to increase and multiply.

Marriage is thus a communal celebration. Nigerian cosmology states that we suspend quarrels on significant events such as burials, births and weddings. Those who are so minded can return to the fight, but men of virtue grounded in the culture observe what seems to the uninitiated as a mere nicety. It is a principle-based decision to do the right thing.

“An Omoluabi is a person of honour who believes in hard work, respects the rights of others, and gives to the community in deeds and action. Above all, an Omoluabi is a person of integrity. The Omoluabi concept is an adjectival Yoruba phrase, which has the words – ‘Omo + ti + Olu-iwa + bi’ as its components”, is how an author captures this in Wikipedia.

The Yoruba concept of Omoluabi equates with Aristotle’s virtue ethics. Other groups in Nigeria have their notions of virtue, the good citizen and normative and consequential ethics.

A leader does things that serve the best interests of his people. Once elected to office, he serves all the persons in his constituency and not a percentage thereof

Kayode Fayemi’s presence confirmed his status as leader of all Ekiti people, friend and foe alike. A leader does things that serve the best interests of his people. Once elected to office, he serves all the persons in his constituency and not a percentage thereof.

JKF is the James Hardley Chase boy who became Ekiti’s philosopher leader. He epitomises the notion of readers as leaders. He is also very Ekitian in the area of knowledge acquisition, retention and production. A man from the land where scholarship is a virtue, Fayemi has a PhD from the upscale University of London. He taught, deployed his training to investigating and clarifying issues and has produced knowledge captured in no fewer than ten books.

I recently had the privilege of sitting with this leader of the association of governors in our land. The setting was his private office in the elegant building he envisioned as residence for the chief executive of the state. Back on the seat after a four-year hiatus, JKF speaks exuberantly about his vision for the state and his passion for getting things done. However, experience has tempered this exuberance. He, therefore, pauses mid-stride sometimes to be sure nothing escapes from him that critics and opponents can misuse and deploy for noxious politicking.

JKF was one of those who thought of empowering tomorrow’s leaders with ICT skills. The state gave a laptop to students. Experience has taught him not to go that route. Ekiti State is now building and equipping ICT labs in schools because they would serve generations of students rather than the patently selfish laptop concept.

Courage laced with wisdom and diplomacy inform his engagement with the federal government on the repair of the Ado-Akure federal highway that reminded me so poignantly of federal roads in my South East. Ekiti State has secured the approval in principle to engage of the African Development Bank. It then ran into the wall of the presidential directive stopping states from fixing federal roads.

It is a complicated matter. State governments misbehaved by making outrageous expenditure claims. They could not stand scrutiny. An enraged President Buhari then ordered the stoppage. The solution has become an albatross. Federal roads are awful nationwide. Governors bear the brunt of the criticism in most states as the person citizens can immediately reach. State governments willing to commit funds to the effort battle with the presidential brick wall.

Fayemi, a war scholar, is willing to pursue the matter diligently and patiently. Get the approval first. Do the road in conjunction with his Ondo State counterpart Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu. Then follow through to the Federal Government while preparing all documentation to ensure that whenever it happens, Ekiti State will get its refund. No tantrums.

The Ekiti Airport sounds like a prestige project on the surface. Fayemi is willing to take the criticisms that stream his way over it. Why? Vision. A 12-year study informs the Ekiti Cargo Airport concept. “The airport is a critical component of our growth strategy to make Ekiti a knowledge hub, a medical tourism destination, an agro cargo vehicle and an Infotech hub as well as a regional hub serving neighbouring states like Kogi, Osun, southern part of Kwara and Akoko part of Ondo State”.

Ado Ekiti is gradually becoming a medical tourism hub because of the excellent facilities at the world-class ABUAD teaching hospital. Tie in the projects around the three pillars of agriculture, education and technology as anchors for Ekiti State development, and it makes sense. With an Omoluabi at the helm, significant progress is a specified destination in Ekiti State.



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