Ekiti: The Loss Of Innocence
TO all Ekiti sons and daughters, home in Ekiti State, in Nigeria and in the diaspora, no news is good news these days. One was born in Ado-Ekiti to parents who were from Oye-Ekiti and spent virtually all the teenage years in Ekiti. One still remembers the beautiful fertile land and the undulating hills, spanning Efon-Alaye to Omuo-Ekiti, from Moba to Ikere-Ekiti.
These beautiful hills gave Ekiti her name. One closes one’s eyes and beheld those days of innocence of the late 1960s up until 1980. Those were days when the only house in Ado-Ekiti with a walled fence and a gate belonged to Chief Ajibade, the Egbedi of Ado-Ekiti.
No other house, not even the palace of the revered Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, had a fence. The then revered Oba Aladesanmi Anirare II had no reason to shield himself from his subjects.
You could wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning and make a leisurely trip to your farm and return at ten in the night without being molested by anyone. Virtually everybody was his brother’s keeper. Children could rely on adults to take them home if they lost their ways.
Being the most homogenous of all Yoruba clans, the Ekitis were very protective of each other. All you had to do was open your mouth, utter the local form of greeting ‘o kun o’ and you would be fed, watered and cared for, wherever you went. All these are now lost to history in Ekiti State and it is so painful that one could cry.
Where did we go wrong? Ekiti State of Nigeria, home to about three million people was carved out of the then Ondo State by the Military Government of General Sani Abacha on October 1, 1996.
It was an independent celebration present for the Ekitis who had agitated for a state of their own because of the marginalisation experienced, being part of an incompatible association in Ondo State.
Unlike the other states created before then, Ekiti State got no take-off grant from the Federal Government but all Ekitis rallied round to make sure that the new state had a smooth beginning. Ekiti people have always been fiercely independent, proud, stubborn, single-minded and protective. We resent being dictated to by anybody regardless of his or her status.
We took to Western education as a means of forging on in life without having to depend on our neighbours. We are reputed to have scored a lot of firsts in production of Professors in the country with pioneers like Professors Adegoke Olubummo (one of the pioneer Nigerian Professors in the field of Mathematics), Adeyinka Adeyemi (first Professor of Architecture in West Africa).
Things started going wrong in Ekiti with the coming of the politicians. One must say that Ekiti, even in the pre-independent era, had never been a single-party people.
In the First Republic, the Action Group of Chief Obafemi Awolowo was dominant but had stiff competition from National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe.
The Second Republic of 1979 -1983, before Ekiti State was created, pitted Chief Akin Omoboriowo (an Ekiti man) against Chief Michael Ajasin from Owo – both of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). Chief Omoboriowo decamped to National Party of Nigeria (NPN).
Out of respect for the national leader of the UPN, the Ekitis preferred Chief Ajasin against one of their own. The resultant rigged general election of 1983 and the violence that attended it led to the collapse of the Republic.
With the current Fourth Republic, the Alliance for Democracy (AD), an offshoot of the UPN won the Governorship of Ekiti State in 1999 in the person of Otunba Niyi Adebayo.
The A.D lost to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – an offshoot of NPN in 2003 – in a much-disputed election in which Mr. Ayo Fayose assumed the governorship. Mr. Fayose was impeached by his own PDP House of Assembly members in October 2006.
A state of emergency was declared in the state by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, and retired Brigadier General Adetunji Olurin administered the state till April 2007.
The Governorship election of 2007 was won by Engineer Segun Oni amid extreme violence. Oni was removed by the Appeal Court while the mantle of leadership fell on his rival Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), an offshoot of AD.
The government of Fayemi was defeated, in another disputed election, by a political bruiser in Ayo Fayose who is the current Governor of Ekiti State.
The state hasn’t enjoyed significant peace or development since the advent of the Fourth Republic. The likes of Chief Ayo Ogunlade, Chief Deji Fasuan, Chief Afe Babalola etc, who fought for the creation of Ekiti State must be having a lot of regrets about the monster they helped in creating.
The most present and current danger are the advent of excessive criminalities in the forms of armed robbery and kidnapping of innocent citizens for ransom.
Within the last one week, the former Chief Medical Director of Ekiti University Teaching Hospital Ado-Ekiti, Dr. Patrick Temi Adegun, his wife Kikelomo, an Obafemi Awolowo University Lecturer and a Hospital Staff Nurse have all been kidnapped in Ekiti. Armed robberies have become rampant with banks afraid to stay open sometimes. Criminality begets further criminality.
What does one expect from a State where electoral violence is the order of the day, where Judges were beaten up for daring to hear complaints, where 19 elected House of Assembly Members were ousted by seven members, where the ousted 19 members were only interested in their salaries and other emoluments to the detriment of their constituents while threatening an elected Governor with impeachment?
When kidnapping was rampant in Anambra State, their then Governor Peter Obi pulled all the state’s apparatus – Executive, Legislative and Judiciary together and confronted the menace head-on.
Perpetrators were sentenced to death and their properties were destroyed or confiscated. Criminals look for soft touches.
Ekiti State currently represents one and that is why they are here. Instead of bickering, the current political actors should pull together and save Ekiti State from these hoodlums. Otherwise, history and posterity will be unkind to them. • Bamigboye, Consultant Gynaecologist lives in the U.K.