By Raheem Akingbolu
In a terse but highly instructive press statement, our amiable Principal, Governor Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji (BAO), last week, pleaded with friends and political associates not to roll out the drum this Wednesday, 21 December, to mark his 55th birthday.
In the statement signed by the Special Adviser Media, Yinka Oyebode, the governor said he wouldn’t want any birthday gift, newspaper advert, gathering or party in commemoration of his birthday. Instead of advert placements, gifts or parties, Governor Oyebanji said anyone willing to celebrate with him should make donations to the less privileged children in the state. Specifically, the Governor said that such plans should be converted to gifts and support to schools for the physically challenged in the three senatorial districts of the state vis: School for the Deaf, Ikoro-Ekiti; School for the Blind, Ikere-Ekiti; and School for the Mentally and Physically Challenged, Ido-Ekiti.
Despite the express declaration, those of us who know the strong bond between Mr. Governor and people of Ekiti State, had predicted immediately that there would be subtle opposition to the stance. The reason is simple; in the last four years, Oyebanji has sowed seeds in many people and touched many lives. To this set of people, including yours sincerely, the 55th year birthday is one occasion people had waited earnestly for to celebrate a man who God is using to redefine governance in Ekiti State. I hope and I believe Mr. Governor would not penalize me for this little tribute because I have gone through the statement issued by SA Media several times and I didn’t see any aspect that frowns at paying tribute without incurring any cost.
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Before he assumed office as Governor, Mr. Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji (BAO), was everywhere, though unannounced, donating and lifting people. Fortunately and unfortunately, BAO is not a noise maker and he doesn’t belong to that school of thought that would make politics out of every move. Between 2018 and June this year, records show that Mr. Oyebanji has donated to schools, individuals and even religious houses. The beauty of it all is that he didn’t limit his service to humanity to a section of the state or members of a particular religion. His act of giving cuts across the entire state.
During the electioneering campaign, it’s always gratifying listening to people who were meeting BAO for the first time but would remind him of how they called him for one assistance or the other and he responded positively without asking for a formal meeting. Two of such encounters would linger in my memory for years. On a visit to the Muslim leaders in Ekiti State, the president of the League of Imams and Alfas in South West Nigeria, Sheikh Jamiu Bello Kewulere, held everybody spellbound when he narrated how BAO as Secretary to State Government provided necessary facilities needed by Ekiti Muslim community to host the Sultan of Sokoto who is also the leader of the Muslim Umma, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar during an official visit to the state. In a similar encounter with the leadership of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), BAO and his team were shocked when one of the association’s local government coordinators stood up and asked BAO if he knew him. Of course, the then APC gubernatorial candidate answered in the negative. Then the man narrated a story of how one diligent Christian youth was at the verge of losing his or her studentship before someone encouraged them to call the then SSG. According to the man of God, they did so and BAO sent a huge sum to them to take care of tuition and other logistics.There was also the case of another Pastor who said BAO had sponsored his evangelical programme on radio for four years. There are hundreds of such testimonies flying around in Ekiti and people really want to dance and celebrate BAO today. Sugbon, t’oba laase.
But seriously, many Ekiti people had started planning sizeable celebrations to commemorate the governor’s birthday before the statement was issued. As one of his lieutenants, who believes in his style, I’m also in support of this noble call but we will explore every laudable platform to tell the world that Ekiti has gotten not only a leader that would redefine governance in BAO but also a unifier who has brought peace to the land.
It is always gratifying for me each time I have the unique opportunity to use landmark birthday celebrations to express my appreciation to those who are doing a lot to support humanity. Having made landmark achievements in public service, Oyebanji has come to Ekiti to give the 26 years old state a sense of purpose and direction.
Aside from deliberately and consciously recruiting and assembling some of the best brains to manage all sectors of the state economy, Governor Oyebanji, a quintessential administrator has demonstrated well grounded capacity in human management within his short time in office With the way he’s going and by the time he finishes, his name will be written in gold and remains indelible in the annals of Ekiti’s political history, not only as a highly cerebral, bold, courageous and learned mind, but one, whose contributions to national discourse and body of knowledge would remain profound.
Here is a rich mind in governance, a homegrown brilliant administrator, who is passionate about his state’s development.
As a thorough-bred Ekitiman and a disciplinarian par excellence, BAO’s selling point is his calm disposition to issues and his ability to use superior intellect to convey his position on any issue. He loves intellectual engagement and likes to interrogate any issue before decisions are taken. Governor Oyebanji remains one Ekitiman whose sense of patriotism is not in doubt.
At 55, with the special grace of God, Governor Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji is just starting with us in Ekiti.We are convinced that he will bring to bear his intellect to Nigeria at large. Happy birthday sir!