-By Segun Dipe

For everything there is a season, A time for every activity under heaven. -Ecc 3:1

History is made today, 16 October 2022, as Hon. Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, BAO officially takes over the mantle of leadership dropped for him by Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, JKF. Four years ago, same day, the situation was not as cosy as it is now. Fayemi was bade welcome for his second term in office amidst pumps and pageantry but there was no one to officially hand over to him as he is doing to Oyebanji.

What was hitherto impossible has been made possible. For the first time in the democratic life of the Ekiti State, a governor is handing the baton to a successor from his own party. Kudos goes to the electorates who have seen the need to enhance stability through continuity, ensuring that the values laid down by the outgoing governor is sustained by the incoming governor.

The transition period is a pivotal moment of the democratic process. Smooth transition like Ekiti is witnessing for the first time today will not only support government’s sustainability, but also build a momentum for transforming visions to improved action.

The problem with a truncated continuity is that it imposes great strains on a political order: the continuity of rule will be broken, established patterns of action interrupted and the future suddenly becomes uncertain. This scenario is the commonest among African leaders, who often think handing over power to a successor is a mark of weakness or a sign of defeat. But history shows that the ability to hand over power is indeed a mature and honourable act especially by true democrats.

Democracy is like a relay race, which is not a one-man show. Someone must start the race and hand over the baton to another person. After all, the leaders of hundred years ago are not the same leaders we have today. And today’s leaders must have retired in the next fifty years. Even if they choose to perpetuate themselves, nature will force them to the contrary.

A foolish leader is someone who doesn’t think of the day he would leave office for another person to continue from where he would stop. On the other hand, a wise leader takes his time to prepare his successor and ever ready to hand over to him his power and heritage, if and when the need arises.

Fayemi has served out his time and BAO has learnt enough under his feet to be able to continue where he, Fayemi, has stopped. Both JKF and BAO share a lot in common, most importantly, neither of them is ready to trade their integrity for a pot of porridge. They are both morally upright and just like Fayemi’s tenure has been scandal-free, that of Oyebanji will also be the same. That, in simple term, is the continuity much talked about.

Dr. Fayemi must be commended for breaking the jinx of succession and proper handing over in Ekiti. Add to this the fact the he is the first governor to have completed two terms in the history of the state without being truncated at any point, then, one can say that a hero of democracy has emerged in Ekiti.

Interestingly, Oyebanji is not a stranger to power. He has been around since the beginning of this fourth republic when Ekiti joined democracy. Oyebanji has even been there since the creation of the State when he played the role of the Secretary to the Committee agitating for Ekiti State.

So, Oyebanji has the blueprint of the State and will not allow the values to go down a jolt. Oyebanji had worked for the two governors to have ever emerged from the progressives, at the peak of which he was the Chief of Staff to the first executive governor, Otunba Niyi Adebayo between 1999 and 2003 and the Secretary to the State Governor in the second term of Fayemi between 2018 and 2022, respectively. Little wonder he answers to the sobriquet _”omo ti a bi ninu ogba…,”_ meaning: one who’s born in the yard, referring to his deep knowledge of governance in Ekiti.

What is Fayemi dropping in the plate for Oyebanji? Apart from the normal paraphernalia of office and documents in form of hand-over notes, Fayemi will be passing the baton of omoluwabi values, a scandal-free conduct, to his successor, Oyebanji.

And hasn’t Oyebanji himself assured that he may not be putting his feet into Fayemi’s shoes, knowing how bigger they are, but would certainly follow his predecessor’s footsteps? And no one should dare to speak ill of the Fayemis to him, he said, warning that he would ward such person(s) off from his office?

Fayemi saw the need to better the lots of his people by creating an enabling environment for them and ensuring that salary was paid as and when due, without making a big deal of it. Oyebanji will certainly do same and even more! No learning curve. The new governor will continue from the point where his predecessor stops and raise governance higher. No story.

Oyebanji is even bringing more food into the plate. Foremost, it must be mentioned that Oyebanji is not planted by Fayemi or anyone for that matter. He is not a plant, he is a man of principle and integrity. Already many have come to see him as a marquee personality under whose shade everyone will bask without bias. Just like Fayemi keeps his words, Oyebanji keeps his too. He’ll rather not promise than renege.

Fayemi focused on education, agriculture, knowledge economy, infrastructure development and good governance. Oyebanji has inherited all of these and will expand their scope even further. Fayemi developed a goodwill that attracted investments from far and near. Oyebanji will not deviate from that stead. Salary payment was no big deal in Fayemi’s time, it is unlikely to be in Oyebanji’s time. The teachers were made to smile in Fayemi’s time, they will laugh aloud in Oyebanji’s time. Fayemi was highly rated at the federal level, which rubbed off on the developmental prowess of the State, Oyebanji will adopt the same strategy.

Oyebanji rode to power on the popularity of both his predecessor and his own as a founding father of the State. His marquee personality is his unique selling point in approaching issues from an unbiased angle. How Oyebanji will navigate the troubled waters of inadequate resources and insecurity is something he has kept close to his chest, but which requires the cooperation of all and sundry. He will surely hit the ground running, having assured himself that he dared not breach the contract he has entered into with the people at any point in time.

Goodbye Fayemi. You started well and finished well. You have etched your name in gold in the hearts of all. Oyebanji, welcome to the fray. The challenge is herculean, no doubt, but it is surmountable trusting your experience and ingenuity. Just like David was built to conquer Goliath, you are also moulded to govern Ekiti well. God willing.

_-Dipe wrote from Ado Ekiti as a political analyst.