On October 15th 2010, I was relaxing with a plate of pepper soup alongside some friends in the Adebayo area of Ado-Ekiti. I had barely finished when I received a call from my dad to start coming back home. Driving through the city, I noticed traffic was building up across major roads. What began as a small gathering of a few people had become a large crowd by the time I got to Irona. People were shouting, celebrating with wines, beer and Ogogoro in one hand, and brooms in the other hand. There was jubilation everywhere. The junction of my street was already blocked. The crowd was banging the doors of my car and later allowed me to pass after some of them recognized me. I have never seen that kind of celebration before. Young and old, men and women, everybody was congratulating each other.
After several months of tension and legal battle, the ‘enemy of the people has been sacked from office. An Appeal Court sitting in Ilorin has declared the election of Governor Olusegun Oni void. In his place, Dr Kayode Fayemi was sworn in as the new governor.
Before that day, Engr. Segun Oni was already the most hated political figure in the state. The hatred had no limit. Some even went to the extent of placing his statues in different ‘ori atan’ (refuse dump) across the state for people to pour dirt on them (according to their belief, that will make more people hate him).
Any rational mind will want to know the man’s offence that generated animosity of such magnitude. Oni never owed civil servants. He was paying pensioners regularly. In fact, he was the first and only governor in the history of the State that made a deliberate policy of paying gratuity and all the benefits of pensioners three months after they retire. He was passionate about grassroots development through Local Government autonomy. He never touched money meant for local government areast. Chairmen were constructing roads and building schools. They commissioned hospitals and other infrastructures. The roads he constructed himself were durable and still standing today. He paid bursary to students. He also built decent estates (Irewolede Estate) in Ado and Ifaki.
Yet, they gave him derogatory names like ‘dejo’. They said he was dull. The preferred candidate was said to be a friend of Barack Obama so they hope he is coming with a magic wand to solve all problems. Some also accused Oni of being imposed on the party. The odious lies against him spread like a bush fire during the harmattan. Emotions trumped reality. Ekiti people were deceived. Hoi polloi fell for it. His dismissal was what people wanted. The court pronouncement merely sealed their fate.
The great Greek statesman and General, Pericles said ‘’time is the wisest counsellor of all’’. Fast forward to 2022 (12 years after), reality has set in. All the values Oni represented are what Ekiti people crave today. Retired civil servants now go to ‘Ori Oke’ (mountains) for fasting and prayers so they can be paid their benefits before they die. Local Government chairmen are now glorified civil servants who look forward to whatever stipends the Governor gives them. They are no more allowed to do projects, just their salaries. We no longer have a viable grass root system to cater for the primary needs of people in the remote areas. The constitution recognizes three tiers of government; Federal, State and Local Government. In Ekiti, it is only Federal and State. Everything that belongs to the Local Government has been cornered by the governor. Students only read about bursaries in the dictionary.
Everything that looked simple during Oni’s government suddenly needs a supernatural power to make them happen.
Now, the people need a radical change. They want a leader they can trust to restore sanity to the system. They needed a leader who will be a friend of civil servants, market women, farmers, students and traditional rulers. Segun Oni is the one that ticks all the boxes. Time and chance have happened to him. He has been vindicated. His campaign has now been championed by civil servants, youths and retirees. Even when he was denied the ticket of PDP and moved to another party, everybody moved with him. Today, he is by far the most popular and acceptable candidate among the voting bloc. Ekiti people now know the truth.
Lies may travel for years but the truth will surely catch up with them one day. Whether the agents of lies will allow the truth to be restored to its rightful place is a decision the Ekiti electorate will have to make. Anyhow it goes, the truth has won.
• Dr Ropo Apalowo writes in from Ekiti State.