By Tunde Popoola
First time in the history of Ekiti State, past rulers of the State are speaking with one voice. They are queuing behind a governor who has only spent one year in office and beyond political party lines, they are declaring the second term of the one-year-governor as a fait accompli.
For Governor Biodun Oyebanji, it was meant to be just a Church Service to thank God for his first year as Governor of Ekiti State. And as he has done since he assumed office, he reached out to former governors of the State, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, Chief Ayodele Fayose and Dr Kayode Fayemi. But at the Thanksgiving Service, the governor got more than what he probably bargained for, a second term endorsement by his three predecessors.
It was Fayose, who led the endorsement band and played the lead role.
“We are all together for Biodun Oyebanji. I am not a member of your party (APC) and I will not be. I am with you (Oyebanji) hundred per cent. We are going to support you. You have come to visit me at my house seven times. You are doing it differently and you will get a different result. This church will pray for you and you will do it (governorship) a second time,” Fayose said in the presence of a surprised congregation.
Also speaking, Adebayo described Fayose’s assertion as “the position of we, the former governors” and simply said “Thank you very much.”
For Fayose, a PDP leader, who has maintained that he will never for any reason join the rulling party, APC, it was a rare demonstration of statesmanship. It was a major way of showing that it should always be Ekiti first.
And for who Fayose has always been, he did not act alone. Otunba Bisi Kolawole, the PDP candidate who contested against Oyebanji in the last year’s gubernatorial election was fully in the picture. Kolawole also attended the Thanksgiving Service and was there when the three former governors spoke in unison, adopting Oyebanji for a second term.
So what earned Governor Oyebanji the endorsement of the big three? What kick-started the second term campaign for a governor who has spent just one year in office?
Obviously, nothing more than his gentleman approach to governance. His style of not taking anyone as his enemy and looking out for everyone, especially Ekiti leaders irrespective of political difference.
Ostensibly, the governor has been able to face governance so differently, having learned from Adebayo, Fayose and Fayemi.
No doubt, he is lucky to have Governors Adebayo, Fayose and Fayemi as mentors and advisers and for this, he has been able to give the state a new political order, uniting all major stakeholders behind himself.
Governor Oyebanji himself knows that he is lucky and he did not hide this when he spoke during the Thanksgiving Service.
He said he counted himself lucky to be standing on the shoulders of the former governors, whom he described as “giants”.
Most importantly, he sees himself standing on the shoulder of God and he did not hide that too. He said; “Today is about God in our life as people of Ekiti State. It is not because I am the best person in the state or because I know how to do it; it’s not because I am the most brilliant, all is by the grace of God. For the little we have achieved, I give God the glory.”
One year gone, and second year on, with 2026 still far, it is already getting certain that God’s willing, Oyebanji, will comfortably ride on the shoulders of the three former governors in Ekiti State to get another four years as governor of the State.
Popoola, a public affairs commentator lives in Ado Ekiti