Can Akin Aiyegbusi Spring Another Surprise in Ekiti?

On leave-of-absence from one of the commercial banks, Mr. Akin Aiyegbusi was relatively unknown in Ekiti State until he defeated other contestant­s to emerge the governorsh­ip flagbearer of the Social Democratic Party, SDP. writes about the dark horse in t


HEkiti, Ikere has the largest voting population, the you have Ado; the next place is Ikole, that is my town. Ikere is divided among four people already, even if they are not going to vote for me, you are sure that the vote there is going to be divided among those four people. You have Ado, that is a battle for everybody to contest and I am sure, conservati­vely, I should get between 50 and 60 per cent of Ado, then you have Ikole, I am going to have the bulk vote from there.”

As a banker, Aiyegbusi miffed at the bad economic reputation of Ekiti. He thinks the place to start in order to put the state back on the path to recovery is to take some radical steps in agricultur­e. “A state cannot feed itself is not fit to exist. Ekiti collects N2 billion on average on monthly basis from the federation account. If you get that kind of money, you don’t need to spend it immediatel­y, there should be some kind of investment. With the revenue coming from the federation account alone, I can increase IGR. Everywhere in Ekiti, there are money making opportunit­ies. To activate the economy of the state, we need to get investors that will bring in money to stimulate the economy. The farmers will tell you that it is not all about going to farm, if they go to the farm and there is nobody to buy, the perishable goods would have been destroyed before they get a buyer. That is why they will not want to go the farm. They will rather ride commercial motorcycle­s. If you give them good seeds and good produce, and there is a ready market for it, people will come out to farm and the economy will start booming and when the economy starts booming, we will start generating more IGR in addition to the less than N400 million that we currently generate monthly.”

Born in Ekiti, Aiyegbusi schooled in Kaduna-from primary to the university at ABU. His father served his mandatory one year national service in Kaduna, got a job and decided to remain there. Though, he is widely travelled, Ekiti is always on his mind. “We are blessed with one of the most beautiful topographi­es. Ekiti means hills. Ekiti people live among hills. We have a cave in Ekiti that 4000 people can convenient­ly go inside and come out. It is one of the wonders of the world. We have waterfalls. We have Ikogosi. It is a place that is so serene. It is a fantastic location for cinema, if well developed. Ekiti is the ideal destinatio­n for a holiday.”

All the while, Mr. Yemi Akinbode, director general of Aiyegbusi’s campaign kept a close watch as the interview progressed, but said nothing. He spoke with his eyes; passing some unspoken messages that were understood by the governorsh­ip aspirant. The Aiyegbusi campaign is hinged belief that he is ‘most credible alternativ­e’. He is also identifyin­g himself with the Omoluabi philosophy, a Yoruba school of thought which among other things promotes the virtues of gentlemanl­y agreement and selflessne­ss. “The worst thing that can happen to anybody is to beg, when you beg, you lose your self-esteem. It makes it attractive for people like that who have the wherewitha­l to come and force their way into peoples’ mind by giving them water because there is no water, giving them rice because there is no rice, giving them kerosene because there is no kerosene. They use this populism concept to buy peoples heart. That is what we are telling that you can do better. What you have in Ekiti now is degree holders operating commercial motorcycle­s. That is what they want you to do so that they will always come to use you every four years.”

One thing that is not fabricated is Aiyegbusi’s readiness to demystify all the Goliaths of Ekiti politics. He feels all the more fired up after he became the SDP’s flagbearer. I do not have a godfather. Nobody can tell me to take an oath. I am independen­t and free minded. I will do what I think is best for the people of Ekiti. My coming is about the people. It is not about myself. It is not about a godfather. It is not about somebody that I have signed a pact with that if I win this election, 70 per cent comes to you and private pockets. I have not gotten a dime from any one.”

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