Aare Afe Babalola
Prior to the Kiriji War of 1877-1893, the 16 independent Kingdoms in Ekiti hardly did anything together and so they were easy prey to the rampaging Alaafin during the intercine wars. But later, Ekiti became a Division for the purpose of administration with Headquarters in Akure dur- ing which time the Obas were under the control of District Officer (DO) who then caused them to meet on the platform of Pelu-Pelu Obas.
With the creation of more states from the old Western State, Ekiti became a Division of the then bigger Ondo State after which we fought for the creation of Ekiti State.
As a major stakeholder in Ekiti project, I had the privilege of being the one who drafted the memo for the creation of the State which I personally presented and defended before Mbanefo Panel in Akure for the creation of Ekiti State which we relishly call “The Land of Honour” and “The Fountain of Knowledge” today.
As a matter of fact, the founding fathers of Ekiti State had a clear idea of the Ekiti they wanted. But the question will naturally arise today as to whether we are having the Ekiti of our dream. Indeed some will ask where we were, where we are and where we want to be in the nearest future.
Relying on its compactness, homogeneity, common language (okun o, o ra o), industry, quality education, large number of highly educated people, tropical climate, fertile land and Ikogosi Warm Spring, the objectives of the Elders was to make Ekiti State a showpiece to all other states in Nigeria.
But despite our collective efforts to see Ekiti state created and nurtured to become the showpiece among the comity of states in Nigeria, regretfully and up till now, Ekiti has not achieved the noble and patriotic aims and aspirations of the Founding Fathers. Twenty-one years after its creation, Ekiti state remains a landlocked, motorway-locked, airport-locked, railway locked, industry-locked and power-locked, a development which adversely affect economic development in the State.
As you all know, there are no motorable roads, no industries and no infrastructures while the Airport approved by the Federal Government on March 13, 2009 for the state was politically frustrated as a result of which the sum of N680 million which had been budgeted for the take-off of the Airport by the Federal Government was never utilised. The Airports in Bayelsa, Delta and Gombe approved by the Federal Government at the same time have been completed or almost completed.
Security Economic Development:
It is a notorious fact that no state can develop if there is no peace. Indeed, security of life and property were taken for granted in Ekiti before the creation of the State and in fact until a few years ago. Before the creation of Ekiti State, the plate number for Ekiti was WP (Western Power). It was common in those days for one to stop if he noticed that any vehicle with Registration Number WP was in distress. We loved one another without measure. All these have been badly affected by party politics. Hitherto, Ekiti was known for respect for elders with their seniors remaining Oga for life. The young hardly looked at the senior in the eyes while lie telling was totally alien to our culture. It was an abomination.
Unfortunately, lie telling has become the order of the day. Hardly can you trust any politician.
With the coming of politics, things have changed. Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, former Governor of Niger State once said that, “if you want to be a politician, you learn how to tell lies”. To underscore the veracity of Dr. Muazu’s postulation, his statement was re-echoed by Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. When a man/woman is dubbed a politician in Nigeria today, he is perceived as a man/woman bereft of morals. But should this be so? I believe that a politician must be a man of honour.
I make bold to say that indeed, politics without moral is a disaster.
The July election:
For some times now, the media, both Print and Electronic, have been awash with very disturbing and worrisome news. There have been allegations and counter allegations among political gladiators trading words of violence and using guttural, unprintable and damaging languages on one another all in the name of politics.
It is unthinkable and unacceptable that hoodlums could disrupt the APC Primaries in Ado-Ekiti. I find it intolerable that supporters of any political party would chant unprintable words on candidates of the other political party. As if that was not enough, there was this recent violent attack on Ikere Road at Ado-Ekiti when former Governor Kayode Fayemi was coming to the state to flag off his campaign. On that particular day, five people were reportedly fatally wounded from gun shots fired by a policeman. I was so disturbed by the incident that the following morning, I had to visit Hon. Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (MOB) and the others who were receiving treatment at Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH) and our own ABUAD Multi-system Hospital.
At EKSUTH, the following conversation took place between me, the CMD and MOB. I was visibly disturbed when I saw MOB, a healthy, dynamic and active young man lying on the hospital bed breathing through Oxygen and eyes closed. Before I could utter a word, surprisingly, MOB opened his eyes and said:
MOB: Baba, thank you for coming.
Afe: I am happy you can talk and even recognize me.
MOB: Baba, is this Ekiti you fought for?”
Afe: Certainly not. This development was not part of our plan for Ekiti State I turned to CMD and said: Doctor what are the prognosis?
CMD: I assure you sir that there is no serious damage. All will be well.
Afe: Please give MOB the same assurance.
CMD to MOB: Sir, do not worry, all will be well.
Afe: MOB, you hear what the Doctor said: Have faith in the Doctor and faith in God. Even if a doctor gives you any drug and you do not have faith, it may not work.
MOB: Thank you sir.
Afe to MOB: You will leave this hospital hale and hearty sooner than later
Afe to CMD: Please send the hospital bill to me, I will pay and I have since paid the bills to Ekiti State Teaching Hospital.
I left the place and visited other victims. I gave them encouragement and assured them that a similar thing will never happen again.
Upsurge in criminal activities
In the recent past, there has been an upsurge in criminal activities in Ekiti State including robbery, killing, stealing, destruction of properties and kidnapping in Ekiti State.
In April, some armed bandits invaded a First Generation Bank in Ifaki-Ekiti, in Ido-Osi Local Government Area of the State, killing innocent Nigerians, including Policemen, bye-standers and a pregnant woman. The state has known no peace since then.
The state was trying to recover from the pain and the shock of the Ifaki-Ekiti incident when about mid-May, men of the underworld struck again in Ilawe-Ekiti, Headquarters of Ekiti South Local Government Area, again killing a Policeman and people who were in the Bank to transact their legitimate business.
For three days running in May, there was a serial robbery attacks along Efon- Alaye and Iwaraja road as detailed below:
In the last two weeks in Ado-Ekiti, there had been killings at Oke Bola, OkeOri Omi, Mathew Street, EnuOdi and Nova Road as well as Akikankan.
The situation was so disturbing that I had to write the Army, the Police, the Directorate of State Security (DSS), Governor Ayodele Fayose and some Royal Fathers in Ekiti State, calling their attention to the menace and offering suggestions on what to do to stem the ugly tide.
The focus for election:
Come Saturday, July 4, 2018, Ekitis will be going to the poll to elect their next Governor. I want to use this medium to appeal to politicians to focus on the development of the state rather than indulging in personal attack, character assassination and recruitment and deployment of thugs.
They should focus on the fact that Ekiti is landlocked, road-blocked, airport-locked, railway locked, industry-locked and power-locked. These are the critical issues that should dominate their campaigns and strategies. What should be the concern of politicians is how to develop Ekiti State and the elders should advise them in this regard. It is the duty and responsibility of both the voters and the candidates to assist in doing all we can to make Ekiti a peace-loving state and a toast of its peers throughout the country.
Blueprint for the Development of Ekiti State:
The following matters are what we should concern ourselves with as a people and as a state in our consideration of a Blueprint for the development of Ekiti State.
• Why is it that all Federal Govern- ment Roads in Ekiti are in the State of abandonment?
For example, the Federal road be- tween Ado-Ekiti and Otun has not been completed after about 20 years of commencement of work on the road, the Federal Road between Ado and Ikare is in the state of disrepair. The same goes for the Road between Ikere and Akure.
• Why was the Airport which was ap- proved for Ekiti State abandoned?
I attach the list of 44 Airports in Nige- ria with some states having more than one Airport.
• Why is it that there is no industry at all in Ekiti State?
Note that Oduduwa textile Industry established during Awolowo regime has been scrapped.
• How much was voted by Federal Government for rehabilitation of Fed- eral Roads in Ekiti this year.
• Why is it that there is no Rail line in Ekiti State? (Before Independence, the Road from Lagos to Ibadan, to Ilesha, Ado-Ekiti to Ikare was designed to con- nect the South with the North through Lokoja, the confluent of Benue and the Niger, was the then the Headquarters for the Colonial businessmen.
• Why is it that the Road from Ilesha to Lokoja was not improved and linked with the Road to Abuja at Okene.
• Why is it that a rail line is not con- structed from Ibadan through Ilesha, Ado-Ekiti, Ikare to Abuja instead of the proposed rail-line from Lagos to the East along this coastal line?
• Why is it that a rail-line is not con- structed from Oshogbo to Ado-Ekiti to Akure to Benin to Asaba and to Enugu either in conjunction with or as a sub- stitute for the road from Akure to Benin to Asaba to Enugu which was the road used by the Colonial Masters to convey goods from Osogbo (the Rail Port) to Asaba through Armels Transport?
• How much did the Federal Govern- ment vote for Federal road maintenance in Ekiti State in the last four years and for which roads?
•How much is actually paid monthly by Federal Government as allocation to Ekiti State?
•Why are our qualified professionals migrating in droves to other states?
• Why do we have spiraling unem- ployment in the state?
• Why is Ikogosi Warm Spring, the only one of its type in West Africa not developed as a major Tourist Centre of note to earn millions of Dollars to both Federal and State Government?
• Wont it be better to ask for restruc- turing of the country and return to 1963 Constitution (with necessary modifica- tion) to enable States to manage their own affairs and develop at their own state as it was under 1960/63 Constitu- tion?
I beleive that the above questions will provoke enough debate on why Ekiti State is either performing well economi- cally OR why it is not. Genuine and unbiased answers to the questions will help us in preparing a blueprint on the development of Ekiti State.
Once more, I welcome you to this august meeting and wish you successful deliberation. I thank you profoundly for the opportunity given me to chair the event. I hope that I have not bored you too much. If anybody is offended by any of my remarks, I offer no apology as I enjoy absolute privilege to express my opinion under Section 39 of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
• TEXT OF THE ADDRESS BY THE FOUNDER & CHANCELLOR OF AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY, ADO EKITI, AARE AFE BABALOLA, CON, SAN, AS THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SUMMIT ON THE BLUEPRINT FOR EKITI STATE DEVELOPMENT IN ADO-EKITI ON THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 2018.