Some eminent Nigerians on Monday paid glowing tributes to Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, for his contributions to nation building and development of his state and the country.
The torrents of tributes came the way of the Ekiti Governor at the valedictory lecture and conference organised as part of activities marking the fourth anniversary of the Fayemi administration and the inauguration of the incoming administration of Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji.
Among the distinguished personalities who eulogized Dr. Fayemi were the Kebbi State Governor and Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), Senator Atiku Bagudu; Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum; former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and one time Edo State Governor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and National Chairman of Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Hon Wale Osun.
A common feature of the remarks made by the eminent guests was that Governor Fayemi still has greater roles to play as an important player to steer the country to the path of true federalism.
The lecture which was held at the Obafemi Awolowo Civic and Convention Centre, Ado- Ekiti was also attended by a former Executive Secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and United Nations Special Representative in West Africa and the Sahel Region, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas
Senator Bagudu hailed the contributions of Dr. Fayemi in both PGF where, according to him, the Ekiti Governor played a leading role and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) which he chaired to the admiration of his brother governors.
“Governor Fayemi is unmistakably committed to the Nigerian dream; he believes that governance should be used to chart a new frontier for the development of our country and for the benefit of our people.
“I don’t think President Buhari will allow him (Fayemi) to rest. Just last week, I knew the kind of comments President Buhari made about him. We are lucky that we have scholar-leaders like JKF who tell the world that Nigeria is an investment destination,” Bagudu said.
Governor Zulum described his Ekiti counterpart as an “unconventional leader, a team player and an unrepentant believer in a better Nigeria.”
Describing Dr. Fayemi as a great thinker who chose to organize a forum to reflect on issues affecting the polity like politics, governance, economy, among others rather than throwing an owambe party.
The Borno Governor lauded Dr. Fayemi for initiating a programme like Youth in Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD) which has attracted youths to agriculture in Ekiti, saying “such legacies are better than naming structures after oneself.”
Prof. Zulum advised Ekiti Governor-elect, Oyebanji to emulate the cordial relationship between him and his predecessor (in Borno), Senator Kashim Shettima when he (Oyebanji) takes office, noting his relationship with his predecessor was built on mutual trust, humility and sacrifice.
He said: “It is not easy to preside over a (Nigeria Governors’) Forum that has a Zulum, an El-Rufai. We are proud of the way JKF presided over NGF. He is humble and straightforward. His personality and integrity are not in doubt.
“BAO (Oyebanji), I hope you emulate the cordial relationship between me and my predecessor which was built on mutual trust and humility and above all, sacrifice. The Governor-elect, have time, you have to begin now.”
Chief Odigie-Oyegun said Dr. Fayemi has become a pathfinder on Nigeria recalling that they became close when they were in trenches as members of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO).
The former APC National Chairman commended Dr. Fayemi for assembling a team of crack technocrats who put together a team that produced policy papers which communicated the party’s purpose to Nigerians.
Chief Odigie-Oyegun recalled the role played by the Governor in 2014 in ensuring the safety of the party’s national leaders who were safely evacuated from Ekiti during an unprecedented military siege on the state during the governorship election of that year.
While expressing satisfaction with the victory of the APC in the June 18, 2018 governorship election in Ekiti, he prayed that the party would remain in power under Oyebanji’s leadership for a stretch of eight years to allow the state to enjoy 12 years of continuity and stability.
Hon. Wale Oshun, in his comments, said Dr. Fayemi has done his best for Nigeria, urging him not to relent in agitating for a better Nigeria and playing the kind of role played by the 18th Century Ekiti warrior, Fabunmi of Okemesi “to put our country back on track.”
He said: “Kayode has friends across the country, we have a country that is in turmoil of sorts. Our country must be on a developmental road that will benefit everybody whether you are Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and other ethnic nationalities.”
The Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Funminiyi Afuye, lauded Governor Fayemi for respecting the legislative institution and granting the Assembly its well deserved autonomy.
The Speaker who was represented by the Deputy Speaker, Hakeem Jamiu, attested to Dr. Fayemi’s virtue of diligence in governance and commitment to the development of the state.
He said: “As a governor, he still writes books, he attends to exco files, he replies to text messages, Dr. Fayemi is an enigma. He is always calm in the face of challenges. This is a kind of leader you must look up to.”
Afuye also paid tribute to the wife of the Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, for complementing her husband in governance and putting in place a policy framework that protects the rights of women and children.
The Head of Service, Bamidele Agbede, noted that the civil service in Ekiti has never had it so good in the history of the state, noting that Dr. Fayemi has instituted a merit-based preferment in the state civil service.
Agbede said the continuity in governance achieved under the leadership of Dr. Fayemi would help the civil service to deepen the gains already made in the last four years.
Earlier, a distinguished scholar, Professor Wale Adebanwi of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia USA, had delivered the valedictory lecture titled, ” A Scholar in Power: Reflections on Democracy and the Future of Nigeria”.