Oyebanji At 56 : A Tribute

By Wole Olujobi

He straddles Ekiti State political space with the grace and panache of a dutiful ensign. For him, duty to one’s state knows neither age nor gender: it is a matter of passion.

Those who are born to lead are endowed with embedded intrinsic potentialities nurtured by the environment and they grow with their dreams to deliver on their passions.

The story of Governor Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji (BAO) tells of a young man with a humble beginning with lofty dreams to turn challenges to opportunities, to succeed in life. For him, passion sustains his dreams. But then, he, while growing up, enjoyed the aid of celestial grace that rules over the affairs of men.

Oyebanji was lucky to be born in the month of December to share in the graces that underline the strength of his zodiac pantheon of Sagittarius represented by the archer: a sinewy lad who aims at a target in a sport of hunting expedition to post scintillating victory.

As a rule, the Sagittarians are always on a quest for knowledge, conquests and goals; and they have abiding faith in their capacities to turn challenges to thrilling opportunities to achieve the objectives of their missions.

They launch their many pursuits like blazing arrows, chasing after their sentimental indulgences with a flaming passion to achieve their objectives to serve higher callings.

Renowned for optimistic outlook and a love for exploration, do not blame the Sagittariuses for their loyalty and determination in pursuit of their callings and dreams.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, born in December, according to Gregorian and Julian calendars, whose holy birth gave rise to Christmas as Christians’ festival when Oyebanji was born and through which he derived his name ‘Biodun’, had thought us great lessons on how quest for conquests leads to salvation.

The quest for conquests led Oyebanji as a young man to be diligent in his studies, knowing full well that education holds the key to the conquest of all challenges in life.

Born on December 21, 1967, in the Ekiti State tourism belt that harbours Ikogosi Ekiti warm spring town, to the family of Pa Kunle Ezekiel and Madam Esther Oyebanji, he began his education at the Baptist Primary School, Ikogosi-Ekiti. With his educator father, the young Oyebanji joined in the duty tours of his father as a teacher to attend Awo Community High School, Awo-Ekiti; C.A.C. Grammar School, Efon-Alaaye; and District Commercial Secondary School, Aramoko-Ekiti.

In 1989, he earned a first degree in Political Science from the Ondo State University (now Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti); and later obtained a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Ibadan. This was what Oyebanji needed to continue his quest for other conquests.

Married to Dr. (Mrs) Olayemi Oyebanji, an associate professor at the University of Ibadan, who is also Ado-Ekiti Princess, Oyebanji in 1994 was appointed the Secretary of the Committee on the Creation of Ekiti State.

His appointment into the committee was not without the acknowledgement and appreciation of his spirit as a young man with a vision and passion to develop and nurture his native Ekiti subregion in the South West geo-political zone as a development hub within the context of Nigeria’s national identity.

Though a young man, Ekiti leaders marvelled at Oyebanji’s presentation at a public forum where the strategies for Ekiti State creation were being debated. And like a devoted archer that aims at his target, Oyebanji scored his goal and was among the eminent Ekiti people on the scroll when Ekiti State was eventually created on October 1, 1996.

This was the beginning of his ascension to the leadership positions in the state, as he, at 32, was named one of the government functionaries in the administration of Governor Niyi Adebayo, the first democratically elected governor in Ekiti State in 1999, including holding the position of the Chief of Staff later in the administration.

In 2010, he served as Commissioner for Integration and Inter-governmental Affairs and later led Ekiti State Office of Transformation, Strategy and Delivery (OTSD) under Governor Kayode Fayemi, while in 2018, Oyebanji was appointed Secretary to the State Government (SSG) by Fayemi after he was re-elected for a second term.

In 2021, Oyebanji resigned his position as the Secretary to the State Government to pursue his governorship aspiration. On December 8, 2021, Oyebanji declared his intention to contest the governorship election in 2022 and won in the June 18, 2022 poll, thus making him the first person in Ekiti history to lead a ruling political party to retain power after a succession ballot.

In government, he deployed the archery in his six-point agenda to score his goals, and in his second year in government, he has made tremendous progress in road rehabilitation and construction, restoration of electricity to communities that were in the dark for more than 10 years, youth development and job creation through micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) financing and support, digital skills, vocational skills, Ekiti Knowledge Zone and sports development, even as human capital development is given top priority as in education, infrastructure, healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and social investment.

Great leaps have been made in agriculture and rural development and industrialisation, independent power project, arts, culture and tourism and governance, while also ensuring completion of the ongoing projects and has flagged off the construction of the first ring road in Ekiti State, even as he has eliminated despondency among the ranks of government workers through regular payment of salaries, as pensioners also have something to take home monthly to keep body and soul.

Not given to soapbox sophistry and other equivocating tactics of deceptive politicians, his is a plain language of a disciplined and aggressively enterprising leader with an eye on a golden spot in the dialectic of history. And so far, Oyebanji, a patriot and visionary with a generous heart, who can go to great lengths to lend support for the vulnerable, has lived his dreams, and his scorecard is a living memento to the ideals he has nurtured over the years as a go-getter in his archery to exploit his potential in aid of humanity that earns him the sobriquet “the people’s governor” among Ekiti people.

And so the People’s Governor sir, in your governance style, you lift the spirits and hopes of Ekiti people for a prosperous future by securing the present to preserve the spirits to build and secure the future. Therefore, the future belongs to you in the journey you charted for yourself as a young man with abiding spirit to achieve lofty heights for your people. Simply put, yours is ‘leadership unusual’.

As the clock ticks to mark a yearly run in your age cycle today, cymbals and tambourines for the birthday boy!

Long live the visionary of our time!
Happy birthday to the People’s Governor!

* Olujobi, a journalist, is Commissioner in the Ekiti State Local Government Service Commission, Ado-Ekiti

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