By Segun Dipe
Barring any last-minute hitch or glitch, and God forbid it, Senator Babafemi Abdulganiyu Ojudu, an indigene of Ado Ekiti, will on Friday 9 March 2018 be sandwiched between cheering mammoth crowd in his home town, Ado Ekiti, the capital city of Ekiti State, Southwest of Nigeria, where he will declare his intention to seek the 2018 All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship nomination in the July 14 Governorship election in the state.
Ojudu, as popularly known, or SBO, as close associates prefer to call him, will invoke the spirit of Progressivism, raise his thumping right hand up, punch his fist in the air for as many times as he can, open his palm, separate his index finger from his mid-finger at intervals to make the Awo sign, and respond to the chants: “Ojudu…Ojudu…Ojudu…Ero Witi witiiii…!!!”
*The Significance of March 9:*
In the world history, so much has happened on March 9 to make the day a significant one to declare an ambition meant to liberate a people. It was this day in the year 1522 that Martin Luther first preached his popular “Invocavit Sermons” reminding citizens to trust God’s word rather than violence. On 9 March 141 BC, Liu Che, posthumously known as Emperor Wu of Han, assumed the throne of the Han Dynasty, transformed China and ruled for 54 years. The influential book on economics, “The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith, was first published on March 9, 1776. Same day in 1920, the Allied forces of World War I (France, Belgium, and Great Britain) began the victorious invasion of Germany, by moving into three major German cities of Düsseldorf, Duisburg, and Ruhrort.
March 9 is also observed annually as the National Crabmeat Day, which is an American food holiday. The Crab signifies prosperity, success and high status in Chinese symbolism.
And now, 9 March 2018 will be making another history as the day Ekiti would begin its journey of liberation from the hands of a harsh taskmaster. Ojudu’s declaration will be an outcome of a year-long consultation across the state. He kick-started a reconciliatory move within the APC in March 2017 to fix a missing link and to present a formidable party, capable of taking power from the incumbent PDP.
*Journey to Declaration:*
The March 9 journey will begin from Ojudu’s house along Iworoko road. The train will move from one track to the other until it gets to the APC Secretariat conspicuously located at Ajilosun axis in Ado Ekiti. There, Ojudu will finally declare his intention to run. He will talk about his mission to rescue Ekiti State from the grip of Governor Ayodele Fayose and his cohorts who have inflicted social and economic problems on the people in the state. He will talk about how he intends to develop the state, moving it away from the poverty mentality – stomach infrastructure – being promoted by the incumbent administration, to real prosperity and people empowerment.
Ojudu knows Ekiti inside out and he is no stranger to freedom fight. He has said that Ekiti State is yearning for freedom under an oppressive regime that has taken food from their table and replaced their dignity with humiliation through sundry wicked extortions. “Our people have been battered, raped and terribly humiliated. We need to go back and found our pride which is embedded in hard work, discipline, decency, respect for and value of human dignity,” Ojudu has lamented.
*25 Reasons for Declaration:*
Below, therefore, are the 25 reasons Senator Babafemi Ojudu, an astute journalist, humanist, activist, politician, intellectual, strategist, former senator and currently the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, will have to declare his intention to vie for the governorship of the state, and, as well emerge as the flagbearer of his party, the APC, in the July 14 governorship election in Ekiti State.
1. Ojudu is a political activist, dauntless journalist, and seasoned administrator He was one of those, who fought for the return of democracy in Nigeria with other respected pro-democrats. He was unfairly incarcerated for fighting for entrenchment of democratic rule in Nigeria. He suffered other forms of persecutions, but his spirit remained unshattered until democracy was achieved.
2. Ojudu is a fighter, a principled and honest person. He has in him the spirit of Sun Tzu, the Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher. He is unstoppable, once he sets himself out to confront a challenge.
3. Ojudu’s political credentials and political nexus in Ekiti, Nigeria and abroad cannot be underestimated. He is a true bridge between the poor and the rich. He is a poster boy of hope and a man who connects well with all social classes.
4. Ojudu has the right mix of intelligence and doggedness. He is the most tested and trusted to face the common enemy and troubler of Ekiti, in person of Ayodele Fayose, who has put all his weight behind his deputy and surrogate, Professor Olusola Eleka as the person to fly the PDP flag at the election.
5. Ojudu is a man of integrity, whose words are always his bond. Despite being in public service for well over 30 years, no record of corruption, not even an allegation of it is traceable to him. It is certain he will not compromise such virtue and values for any pecuniary gain.
6. Though the ignorant and lazy ones, who prefer reckless and indiscriminate sharing of money without minding the source would easily bad-mouth him as stingy. Ojudu is a benevolent leader, who prefers empowering and teaching people to fish rather than doling out cheap money,
7. Ojudu, as a man of the people, is a relentless interventionist. He is loved by Ekiti people for always leading from the front whenever he discovers that his people are being oppressed. On several occasions, he will cry out like the Biblical Moses: Let my people go!
8. Ojudu is respected in the international community. In the Hall of Fame in New York, Ojudu’s name is written in gold among the promising leaders in the world. This will come as a great asset to Ekiti if such person governs it.
9. As the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ojudu is a bridge builder, who plays politics without bitterness and whose experience and connections cut across party lines.
10. Ojudu’s focal point is to make Ekiti State return to its true nature as a place where people respect elders and where there is the dignity of labour. Ekiti State is agrarian in nature, with Ojudu in power, the State can be self-sufficient in yam, rice, and corn production. The state can even feed the whole of South-West within the next four to five years.
11. Ojudu promises to run a government that will restore the economy of the state through adequate focus on agriculture, investment in the people through human capital development, optimizing education and knowledge production.
12. Ojudu, on declaration, will be unfolding a penetrable manifesto to Ekiti people as encapsulated in the FINE agenda which stands for: (i) Foster economic growth, (ii) Invest in the people, (iii) Nurture enterprise and innovation and (iv) Ensure the well-being of the people.
13. Ojudu is an accomplished indigene of Ado Ekiti. He was born on 27 March, 1961 in Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State to the late Alhaji Afolabi Ojudu and Madam Raliat Boluwade Ojudu. He attended Emmanuel Primary School Ado-Ekiti and was later admitted into Ado Grammar School also in Ado-Ekiti for his secondary school education.
14. Ojudu has always stayed close to his root and remained active as an indigene. He is Patron, June 22 Club, Ado Ekiti, member, Ado-Ekiti Development Organisation (ADO), and member, Ado- Ekiti Progressive Union (APU). Ojudu is a member of the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club and Chairman, Board of Trustees, Raliat Boluwade Ojudu Memorial Public Library, an on-going project in memory of his late mother.
15. Ojudu is the only Ado indigene vying for the governorship position of the state in this year’s election. Being the state capital and the foremost city in the state, Ado commands the highest voting strength as reflected in the 2014 election statistics, which put the number of valid registered voters in the town at 134, 141 from 13 Wards and 455 Polling Units. If Ado indigenes decide to back their own, this may become an advantage for Ojudu.
16. Ojudu does not discriminate. He treats both the high and the low, the rich and the poor equally. He picks all his calls, notwithstanding the cadre of the caller. If, for any reason, he misses a call, he would definitely call the person back.
17. Ojudu’s love and passion for Ekiti state knows no bound. Ojudu is APC and APC is Ojudu in the state. He has been in the progressive fold predating the beginning of this Republic. From AD to AC to ACN to APC, Ojudu remains constant and his loyalty has never been in doubt.
18 Ojudu, as a Senator was an active member of the Senate ad-hoc Committee, which probed the police pension fraud. He was the lawmaker who raised the point of order that compelled the Senate Committee on Defence to order the military to relocate to Maiduguri to face Boko Haram insurgency squarely.
19. Ojudu is well-educated. In 1976, he won a scholarship jointly sponsored by activist lawyer Gani Fawehinmi and Jùjú musician King Sunny Adé for indigent students of the then Ondo State. In 1980, he gained admission to the University of Ife, Ile-Ife to study English. He took an interest in journalism while at the university, joining the Association of Campus Journalists and reporting for COBRA, a Campus Journal. He also co-founded a journal called The Parrot, which he edited until graduating in 1984. Ojudu worked as a reporter in The Guardian on the completion of his National Youth Service Corps scheme, concurrently, he enrolled for his Masters degree in Political Science. In 1996, Ojudu went to the USA as a fellow at the School of Communications, Howard University, Washington, D.C. Since then, he has continued to win several academic and professional laurels
20. Ojudu as a philanthropist has helped many people to realise their dream and purposes in life. He has personally sponsored the educations of several and invested in the professional career of many others.
21. Ojudu, though an indiscriminate employer of labour, was able to employ many Ekiti youths into the organisation, even when he doesn’t know anything about their parents. As one of the founders of The News/PM News group, a media organisation that famously fought military dictatorship in this country, Just walk in, tell him you are from Ekiti and prove that you have some modicum of intelligence, then you are sure of getting a job through Ojudu.
22. Ojudu is a politician with the master key that can unlock Fayose’s secret political safe. In 2006, he led the push that removed Fayose and chased him out of the town. In 2011, he convincingly defeated Fayose to win the Ekiti Central senatorial ticket. Ojudu remains confident that Fayose is beatable and he will do it again at the governorship level this year.Normally, incumbent Fayose is constitutionally out of contention for the governorship election, having been twice sworn-in as Governor of the State. But he is not a disinterested party, as he has anointed his deputy, Prof. Olusola Eleka, as the one fit to succeed him.
23. Ojudu is a fighter and a Human Rights activist. he was once chairman, Human Rights Committee of Nigerian Union of Journalists, Lagos Branch; Secretary, Ethics Committee; Chairman Concord Chapel of NUJ. In 1999, he was appointed Member Board of Trustees of International Freedom of Expression Exchange [IFEX], a conglomeration of Freedom of Expression Organisations across the world with headquarters in Canada. He served as founding Administrative Secretary to Campaign for Democracy (CD). In conjunction with Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti and Mr. Alao Aka – Bashorun, he worked assiduously to organise the 1990 National Conference that was aborted by the Babangida regime.
24. Ojudu is well-travelled.His journalistic duties had taken him to several parts of the world from Asia to Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, Canada, United States, name it. He has also in the process of his career garnered prestigious awards both locally and internationally.
25. Ojudu knows governance inside out. He has seen government and governance up close enough to be more familiar with the challenges, than many other co-aspirants.
Given the chance, Ojudu has assured his people of doing the extra-ordinary in winning back the confidence of Ekiti people for the progressives. He has promised that his immediate focus would be repairing both the economy and reputation of the state. This is the responsibility that has fallen to our generation, meeting it will require rallying support for Senator Babafemi Ojudu, with the full trust that he will surely walk his talk. The time is NOW!
Dipe, a journalist and Political analyst, writes from Ado Ekiti