It’s been weeks since the governor of Ekiti State, H.E. Biodun Ayobami Oyebanji announced and inaugurated his executive cabinet. Even though he took a lot of time to arrive at the list, my initial reaction to the long list of appointees – including the Special Assistants, was to complain about the burden of having too many appointees and the financial burden this brings on the state. By the time you’re reading this, Governor Oyebanji would have spent more than 300 days in office.
However, after a critical look at the list, portfolios, and the calibre of men and women who have now taken their offices, I am more than excited to hold my breath for now and wait for results.
In recent times, we have come to realise that many of those who contest for political offices do so without proper plans or ideas on what (and how) to achieve when they get to the office. I think many commentators have attributed this to the wickedly attractive resources available to the political officeholders in Nigeria.
We have seen, times without numbers, how the political class demands ordinary citizens to make sacrifices for the development of the country while they live the disgusting la vida loca. They go on to owe salaries of people who earn a minimum wage of 30,000 a month while their cronies – if you like, appointees, go on to earn millions in Naira without contributing any tangible idea(s) to our collective good.
In the case of BAO, as his growing support base and the good people of Ekiti State like to call him, he has shown glimpses of something different. To assert that, I will remind you of an interview granted on Channels Television by a former governor of Ekiti State, H.E Ayodele Fayose where he commended BAO and noted that when he errs, he (Fayose) will be the first person to come on air and speak of the wrong things.
It is the same feeling that I got recently when I visited Omuo Ekiti and Ado Ekiti after a long period being away from the hilly state. The people said BAO is a combination of Fayose and Fayemi. You know what that means? A top-notch grassrooter with the required finesse to do what is right for the people.
This is not about BAO but his list of appointees. I have since closely monitored the activities of a new ministry he created, the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Digital Economy. As a graduate of Sustainable Development, I was thrilled by the good work being led by Seun Fakuade, the commissioner for the new ministry.
Amongst others, I have also taken a keen interest in how the S.A. on Social Investment, Mrs. Yemisi Ayokunle will fare given the current precarious economic situation in Nigeria at the moment. I asked around the Ekiti House of Assembly and I was told Honourable Yemisi Ayokunle was a brilliant parliamentarian who led discussions around women, young people, and the underserved. It then means again that BAO has picked right.
In some Theories of Change, Education is the most important. For Sustainable Development, Innovation, Technology, and Economic growth, tertiary education has been regarded as the ultimate bedrock. Seeing that BAO specifically appointed an adviser/assistant for Tertiary Education gives me enormous joy.
This, coupled with deliberate actions to have a specific focus on social investment and innovation, means the governor understands the interconnectivity of the struggle to emancipate Ekiti State. This appointment was also made as the proverbial round peg in a round hole as Associate Professor Akeem Abdul-Azeez was given this mercurial job (tertiary education).
As an undergraduate at the University of Ado Ekiti now Ekiti State University, the then Dr. Akeem Abdul-Azeez was a reassurance of the good that UNAD would birth. He carried himself with an aura that demystified demagogues who paraded ivory towers in Nigeria.
He was also regarded as a beacon of light in the Muslim community while being fully respected across board. His teaching in the Sciences made him popular beyond what he wanted. I knew Dr. Azeez preferred his work in silence and never wanted ‘noise’ around him but BAO’s task for him will need him to shed off that part of him as he works assiduously to deliver on the oath he swore to.
I am hopeful that with this cabinet list, the future is bright for Ekiti State, however, all hands must be on deck.
Olaitan Olawore writes from Ibadan where he moonlights as a Fish Farmer.