Opinion

Erelu Bisi Fayemi: The First Lady we know

There is this unusual saying that when a tree brings forth good fruits all round the season, people will also constantly haul stones at it to get the best and most from it. The more fruits they get, the more they think they can get and the more stones they haul. Peradventure they have the feeling that some other persons are getting more fruits from the tree that produces for all, they’ll start bellyaching, not the people getting more in their assumption but the fruitful tree itself.

This saying goes well for the personality of Erelu Bisi Fayemi, the First Lady of Ekiti State and Chair of Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum. She is one tree that bears wonderfully attractive fruits. Just like one of her recent critiques has observed, she is, of course, smart. She is astute, clever, bright, quick, witty, fashionable and chic. Her core strength is her affability. She knows her worth and she is driven by an energy that goes beyond the physical.

But she will be the last person to bully or exploit anyone’s weakness with her strength, she would rather use it to protect as many as run for cover with her, and she knows when to set boundaries.

I’ve read series of articles recently, accusing Erelu Fayemi of taking stands against some people, most especially against the decision of her husband, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi and I started wondering if they’re talking about the same Erelu Bisi-Adeleye Fayemi that we know.

For free, I’ll tell whoever cares to listen that the Ekiti First Lady we know would never attempt to outshine her hubby, the governor. While she is not politically naive, she defers all of the time to him. Rather than compete with him in any way, she’s his Number One Cheerleader and would always line up behind him.

Yes, Erelu Bisi Fayemi is a feminist, but not at the risk of her role as a mother and a wife. Yes, she believes in affirmative action, the policy of favouring individuals belonging to groups known to have been discriminated against previously, and specifically her womenfolk and girl-children, but not enough to want to impose anyone on the other. She would rather things are process-driven and would never smother anyone. She is too honest to a fault. She carries this virtue into her relationship with other people in both her political and social lives.

Erelu Bisi Fayemi is mannerly, she has high socio-political skills, yet she follows all the appropriate rules of etiquette in her dealing, meaning she’ll be the last to jump the gun.

Let me take you into some secrets that show how politically vulnerable Erelu Bisi Fayemi can be: While she would always advocate that a substantial number of women should be appointed or elected into positions, as a form of affirmative action, she hardly had anyone in particular in mind and would leave the choice of who emerges to the leaders of thought in the area.

My advice therefore is that people should perish the thought that Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, the humanist-activist would impose any candidate on Ekiti State in the coming guber election. The only person she would love so dearly as to want him in the saddle is her hubby, the current governor of the state who is already wrapping up his second and final term as the governor.

Erelu Bisi Fayemi fondly lifts people up, she builds trust, she strengthens relationships between team members, she improves the quality of work being done, and she drives accountability, collaboration and cooperation. All along, this is the same person they all run to for help. So, what exactly is the problem now? If indeed those qualities itemised were ever possessed by Alhaja Kudirat Abiola in her lifetime, then we are glad that the two ladies of substance are being similarised.

We dare summarise thus that the Erelu Bisi Fayemi we know lives a balanced life. Her life, like everyone else’s, revolves around four major categories: family and friends, health, empowerment and spirit. Balancing them allows her to think clearly with imagination and optimism. That is the Ekiti First Lady that we know and care to talk or read about.

Mary Oso-Omotosho is S.A. Media to the Governor of Ekiti State

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Opinion

The Completion of Ekiti Civic Centre: What APC or PDP Should learn- By Oyebisi Abayomi

Over the years successive governments in our states have been culpable of abandoning state projects. This anti-development attitude cut across all states of the Federation. But what is happening in Ekiti State under the administration of Dr Kayode Fayemi is different and I hope it will be replicated in other parts of the country.

I have seen viral picture of Ekiti State Civic Centre, a building that is proposed to house; shopping malls, cinema, Meusuem, eateries etc, completed by Dr Fayemi’s administration.

The completion of this building wouldn’t have been a news if the administration that tookover from JKF’s first term deemed it fit to complete the project. However, this piece is not targeted at blaming who failed to do what. It is just to reiterate the need for successive administrations in the state to complete projects handed over to them by their predecessors.

This brings me to the self-effacing nature of Dr.Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti who has made huge impact by completing abandoned projects scattered across the State. His giant strides speaks volume even though he says nothing about them. Kudos to the State House of Assembly for supporting this course when they passed the Law that prohibits the abandonment of State projects by any adminstration or government. In Ekiti of today it is prohibited to abandon a project or failed to complete projects inherited from one’s predecessor. Other states can learn from this. It is the kind of law we need to foster infrastructural development in all the States of Nigeria not minding the party in power.

Ekiti and by extension Nigeria at large obviously need leaders who have the tenacity to set goals and achieve them. Not the ones who initiates programme to enrich their purae or Cronies. We need leaders who will start exactly where their predecessor stopped. Not a boss leader who is coming into power with the mind of scrapping existing productive programmes or abandon them because they weren’t initiated by his administration or party. This is doable only when successive administrations see funds expended on any abandoned project as a waste of State resources when they abandon the project for political or whatever reasons. More importantly, successive governments should look beyond bitter politics, ensure that productive state’s projects are not abandoned for whatsoever reason. This will go a long way in building a better state for all.

Now to the crux of the matter, Ekiti State Civic centre complex was conceived and birthed by the JKF1 administration but wasn’t completed, and within the four years of the reign of Fayose who succeeded Fayemi the uncompleted Civic centre was totally abandoned and reduced to a mini-forest, where rodents and reptiles live. Whereas, this project is a potential source of IGR and jobs to the State, it will also promote socio-cultural development as it proposes to have a musuem, cinema, library, shopping mall, eateries etc.

The reason for the total abandonment of a viable income generating project for me is not clear. Maybe the stomach infrastructure government wanted to hunt games their, no one can tell. However, Congratulation to Governor Kayode Fayemi, not only for completing the projects neglected by his immediate successor, but also being able to complete projects initiated by the past administration of Segun Oni and Fayose respectively. Here is a list of the projects I know of that were completed or brought back to life by his administration; Ọja Ọba, Ekiti state abadoned secretariat complex, Ekiti Asphat plant, Gossy water, Ikun diary farm. Fountain hotel and many more.

This gesture speaks volume about a leader who truly wants the State to grow, and I hope government of other states and party will learn from this gestures. Development in a state is rapid and continuous when government see the need to continue state projects initiated by their predecessor not minding which side of the political divide that initiated it.

Happy third year anniversary to The Governor of Ekiti State and happy 25th anniversary to Ekiti State.

Oyebisi Abayomi writes from Ado Ekiti

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Opinion

2023: Hope For Nigeria- By Bukar Lawan

It is difficult to debate Nigeria today without stirring up emotions. From North to South, the problems are so numerous and obvious to citizens regardless of our differences.

Major subjects of newspaper headlines are: killings, kidnappings, agitations for secession, economic hardship, unemployment and poverty.

These are not just bad news to hapless citizens. They are serious issues threatening  the existence of our dear country, while leadership appears to be overwhelmed by these challenges.

With these issues in mind, it is good to remind ourselves that all hope is not lost. Keeping hope alive is important in whatever we do. Hope they say never gives up. We might be disappointed but we should not give up on Nigeria.

Nigeria is ours and hoping that Nigeria will work again is not a bad idea. Nigeria is not doomed beyond salvation or ruined beyond repair. 2023 is fast approaching. Everyone abreast with issues and developments in the country know it is an election year. More importantly, a year we will all once again determine what becomes of Nigeria.

The last eight years have provided us more than enough to make informed decision on who becomes our next leader and no doubt that we will all agree that our next president should be:

Educated, disciplined and full of energy to physically drive and coordinate governance, have an exellent public service track record, be devoted to civil liberty and democracy, be a honest personality without attachment to region or religion.

The last eight years has shown the personalities of 36 governors across different states and political parties. We have listened, monitored and followed developments in their state and we know the one who possesses these qualities of a true leader.

For us at Hope For Nigeria, more than any other, one governor comes to mind talking about aforementioned qualities. He might not be talking like others because talk is cheap. But an average Nigeria will testify to his strong character, prudent leadership, devotion to democracy, vision for a better Nigeria and the selflessness of Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.

With proven years of experience in public service, Dr Fayemi stands tall amongst his contemporaries in different spheres. His involvement in pro-democracy struggle against military regimes position him as one leader with vast understanding of Nigeria and how to run and manage  the diversities of our dear country.

When he was rigged out in his first attempt for a second term in office, we heard how he proved indeed that power is not worth clinging unto by wishing the winner of the election good luck.  He has shown same spirit through his magnanimity when he eventually won a second term. No witch-hunting. No attack on opposition. No distractions. Eyes on the ball – good governance.

When he recently said “leaders are elected to solve problems and not to complain”, he reminded us of a leader who is prepared and armed with all it takes to manage Nigeria. No wonder he has not complained of the huge debt he inherited from his predecessor but has kept Ekiti State working regardless.

We saw all he did laying the foundation for diversification of Nigeria’s economy from a oil-based economy to exploration of solid minerals in the short time he served as minister of solid minerals. His presidency will unleash Nigeria’s solid minerals potential, opening up our economy  and creating more opportunities for young people.

His intervention and stance on national issues have been solution driven and devoid of sentiments and emotion. Be it his condemnation of police brutality, a menace that triggered historical #EndSARS protest or his stance on Fiscal federalism and how to overcome insecurity in Nigeria, Dr Fayemi has proven to be a wise and an emotionally intelligent leader with focus on solution always.

In deeds, words and his comportment in office both as Governor and a minister, Dr Fayemi has shown beyond reasonable doubt that he is not a power drunk leader but an approachable bridge builder. A leader who is not attached to region or religion, but preoccupied with getting the job done.

For us, Dr Fayemi is hope for Nigeria.

Bukar Lawan writes from Yobe State

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Opinion

Resident Doctors’ Strike: Time for Talk and Training

When two elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers. So goes the received wisdom.

Note:  grass “suffers” not “dies”. But when two Honorable Ministers of Health (both which almost by design are Doctors!) disagree (as they often do!) with some 16,000 Resident Trainee Doctors, the Nation agonizes, counting dead bodies.

According to the Honorable Health Minister, Nigeria has lost more lives to the ongoing round of strikes by the doctors than the ruthless ubiquitous deadly opportunistic Covid: 19 with its new notorious Delta variant. As strike by Resident Doctors enters second week, it’s time for immediate talk by all parties to address all issues in dispute. In doing so, some time tested principles of industrial relations must be reaffirmed for all stakeholders in the health sector. First is the realization that industrial or work relations is relations between humans (in this case, doctors and relevant health authority chieftains) to advance the welfare of striking Doctors and invariably the wellbeing of Nigerians through good health service delivery by motivated Doctors.  

Mohammed bin Rashidi Al Maktoum, the Vice President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and constitutional monarch of Dubai observed (and I agree with him) that; “Human beings are the most precious assets of all nations and the most important factors in the progress of countries.” The point cannot be overstated about the primacy of human resources for national development. Between 2015 and 2020, oil prices plunged into all time low. Followed by  two successive economic recessions. Buoyed by Covid lock downs, the pressure on the Naira fell the rate from  N196.5 in 2015 to  N411.25 in 2021.  The concerns and outcry about falling Naira value had been strident necessitating CBN’s serial creative interventions for rate stability.

Conversely. Resident doctors across the country are on strike for the fourth time since the start of the pandemic.. “We are having a strike for the third time this year” disclosed the Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire. The pains, man hour losses and above all, loss of lives are well documented. Sadly the frenzy, national outrage that trailed fall of Naira value or rise in inflation figure, eludes the avoidable serial loss of lives at the teaching hospitals. Which shows where our heart is:  with Naira value, not necessary human value. Nigeria must urgently overcome the scandalous crisis of wage compensation for the valued workforce. Return on money investment is almost calculated instantaneously. Why then should “return” (read: Salaries!) of doctors paid monthly be delayed? Delayed payment of salaries of medical personnel such as doctors and nurses and teachers amounted to wage theft, manifesting both corporate and public poor governance. Pay agreements must be sacrosanct on those who freely signed them.

In 2019, President Muhammedu Buhari rightly expressed  Presidential  outrage against non- payment of salaries by some states’ governors. “I wonder how these Governors are able to sleep knowing that they have refused to pay workers their wages. These workers have families to cater for, they pay rent, pay school fees, Hospital bills and food for their families.” he said. The President then thought and acted outside the Federal box,  offered serial bait outs for the states to meet their salary obligations. I support the President to demand that state Governors, ministers and MDAs must purse Decent Work Agenda (DWA).  Prompt and adequate compensation for working men and women is a critical  success factor  for labour motivation, productivity,  labour discipline, growth and national development.  I agree with the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, that the current ongoing civil service reform should be “bold and big that will make a difference” with respect to the welfare of public servants. It is also gratifying that the Head of Service Mrs  Yemi-Esan had identified staff welfare, particularly remuneration and housing, as areas that require better focus and urgent intervention in the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan 2021-2025. Pope John Paul II once sermonized: “ “Ask  not whether a man is useful in his work but whether the work is useful to him”. The same Pope John Paul II also  questioned the validity of economic orthodoxy that elevates economic fundamentals (external reserves, GDP, inflation rates etc) above human welfare.

According to him ‘A just wage for the worker is the ultimate test of whether any economic system is performing justly’. But with the best of efforts the world of work is inherently vulnerable to occasional disputes. Happily Nigeria again parades robust labour market institutions for collective bargaining, representation, mediation and adjudication to manage and curtain inevitable crises. There are National Arbitration Panels ( IAP), National Industrial Court,( NIC ),  tripartite  National Labour Advisory Council ( NLAC). There are bargaining councils in both private and public sectors. There are also hundreds of vibrant trade unions and associations  affiliated to the NLC and TUC. Of course there is the oldest supervising  Ministry: Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment established in 1939 with rich documented records of mediation and reconciliation. President Muhammadu Buhari is the first President to appoint two Ministers of labour in appreciation of vastness and importance of labour market issues of productivity, training and capacity building, social security for all stakeholders.

Both Ministers Senator Chris Igige and Mr Festus Kyamo SAN, had been commendably apprehending the crises arising from other relevant ministries in this case health sector. Both the  National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) and the health authorities should take advantage of the existing labour dispute structures and stop the current avoidable hemorrhage in man hours and lives in the sector.  There is an urgent need for reform of the industrial relations system in the country’s health sector for sustainable peace and service delivery. I agree with Samuel Gompers when he said “ Show me the country that has no strikes and I’II show you the country in which there is no liberty”. Nigeria practices robust industrial democracy. Our labour Laws allow for freedom of associations and unions as well as  rights to collective bargaining and right to strike as sanctioned by the 1999 constitution and relevant ILO conventions Nos 87 and 98. But this progressive labour regulatory framework puts enormous responsibility on the stakeholders, namely employers (private and public)  and workers alike . 

A strike is NOT  a war certainly not a nuclear mutually destructive war as we are witnessing in Nigeria. Strike is ‘a temporary stoppage of work by a group of employees in order to express a grievance or enforce a demand’. “A strike is a temporary stoppage: the workers intend that at its conclusion they should to the same jobs with the same terms”. It’s time all parties suspended  the existing unhelpful actions and returned to negotiations. All stakeholders in the health sector must play by the knowledge based rules of collective bargaining, social dialogue, mediation and conciliation to prevent incessant work stoppages in hospitals with attendant costs to lives.  

The bitter lessons of the recent days point to the attractiveness of accommodative strategy for both the doctors and health authorities. Micheal Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS) is set to bridge the existing abysmal knowledge gap about labour market issues with respect to trade  unionism, conflict resolution, strikes and strike management in critical sectors like education and health sectors. 

Comrade Issa Aremu mni

Director General, Micheal Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies ( MINILS) Ilorin.

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Opinion

Travelogue: Why all towns should have a festival like Ùsì day – By Oyebisi Abayomi

I witnessed the 40th Usi-Day 2021 festival. It was a colourful and memorable event I greatly enjoyed and would not mind adding to the list of events I will by the grace of God attend come next year.

Attending Usi-Day opened my eyes to the need for every town to have a unifying event like Ùsì-Day seeing how cultural values and heritage of our communities are gradually being eroded. As we continuously embrace modernization and all its offers, we can preserve our unique cultural heritage with festivals like this with uniting potential.

Just like many go for pilgrimage in  Jerusalem and Medina, many of our communities and towns have annual cultural festivals that can also morph into attractive tourist attractions if we invest in them. We have fascinating stories, rich cultural history, beautiful tourist site to achieve this. Also, stories and histories surrounding the creation of our towns and villages are rich and interesting to share. In fact, creative filmmakers could make blockbusting movies from them.

This brings me to my trip to Ùsì Ọrọ̀ Ekiti in Ido-Osi local government area over the weekend, when the town celebrated her 40th Ùsì-Day anniversary. The event attracted dignitaries from within and outside Ekiti State.

As a guest to the town, I enjoyed every moment of my stay at Usi. Her weather was fantastic and her people warm and receptive.

Out of curiosity and desire to know, I took out time to question young folks in the town about what informed the name Usi. To my dismay, many did not know how the name evolved.

First, I was told it is pronounced as Ùsì  not Ùṣì as erroneously pronounced by many. But I pressed further to know at least little about the town. I offer to give my phone to some young guys I met to call elderly persons they know could be of help. Alas! Help came. I got the info. The town was named after her progenitor, I was told. I was also made to know that the full name of the progenitor of the town is Ùsì Kọ́rọ̀dé. That explained how the name, Ùsì-Ọrọ̀ evolved.

According to the lore, the progenitor of Ùsì initially settled somewhere around Ìpólé Ìlórò, but the dire need for water

made Ùsì Kóròdé migrated to where Ùsì is presently located. The present day Ùsì has five rivers; Ìjemo, Omi-Òsun, Akéréyùn, Ògùdù, Àpàlógbò, Ofe etal. 

One question left unanswered for me was the one raised by Mr Ogunjobi Olarewaju, who engaged me on one of the numerous WhatsApp platforms where I shared my experience as a guest at Ùsì-day.

He said, “I’m still amazed as to the origin of the Oriki. Maybe you can find out. Ùsì-Ekiti, ọmọ amójú olóore gúngi It’s quite amazing.”

The grand-finale of the festival was greeted with beautiful cultural display, trilling music and much fun for visitors like me. On the same day, an award of excellence was presented to the Deputy Chief of Staff to Ekiti State governor, Hon. Tolu Ibitola.

The award reminds me of my previous visits to the town in time past as a member of Hon. Tolu Ibitola COVID-19  welfare and logistics team. For me, the award presented to him is well deserved. I see a lot of commitment from  the part of the Deputy Chief of Staff in making his people and community better. If every community has a Tolu, things will be lot better.

This is a little digression from the discuss but it is important I speak of the good done by self-effacing Hon. Tolu who would never make news out of his huge efforts and commitment to development of his community.

Back to the discuss.

Many young indigenes who came to St. Andrews field Ùsì Ekiti could not answer the question raised by Mr Ogunjobi Olarewaju, but I hope I get an answer whenever I visit Usi or during Ùsì-Day 2022. Then, I will have more time to socialize, learn and also raise the question.

Ùsì day 2021 was massive and I hope other communities will prioritise the celebration of their towns, showcasing their rich cultural heritage to the world.

Ùsì-Day was fun!

Oyebisi Abayomi writes from Ado Ekiti and can be reached via soamabayomi@gmail.com

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Local News

Fayemi Appoints Onisan of Isan Chairman Council of Obas and so what?- By Oyebisi Abayomi

The level of senseless outrage coming from Lere, the media aid to Fayose and Director of publicity for Bisikay campaign shows level of emptiness and pettiness from someone who is expected to know.

Lere and his bootlicking footsoldiers  came up with baseless arguments after the news of the appointment of Onisan of Isan-Ekiti as Chairman Council of Obas in the state broke.

Although, one expects Lere to have learnt over the years how to brilliantly engage in political issues, but for him everything is politics and propaganda, and Ekiti people are no longer surprised  by his unprofessional engagements.

In recent times, I have read a screenshot of him saying the only duty he has is to paint black the government of the day. Who then expects something good from such a fellow who has vowed never to see or speak good about the current administration?

I likewise read on a platform where he aurged that the appointment is morally wrong, and that it should be rotated on senatorial basis. If I may ask;  is it entrenched in Ekiti State Cheiftancy law that the Chairman of Obas must be rotated on Senatorial basis? Is Onisan Of Isan Ekiti, Oba Gabriel Ayodele Adejuwon qualified for the post? Did any Oba in the state raise alarm of being short-changed? Should Fayemi not appoint the king all because they are from the same place? Was there any report at any fora if due-process was not followed in the appointment process?…

All of these questions are begging for answers, and Lere and his folks should not tell me other kings were subdued or supressed  because our Kings are bold, and we place much premium on their roles in our State. If any of the other Kabiyesis were aggreived they would have retorted and make public their Stans. However, since egbon Lere has decided to assume the duty of SSA Chieftaincy Matters I will like to remind him that, he is still unable to properly manager the role of Admin of his party and Ekiti Town Hall WhatsApp group, and as such, must not be seen delving into a more complex issue of this nature, instead, he should think of how to be a better WhatsApp Admin, or face the sinking ship of his Party and the publicity job he is doing for his Party Chairman who doubles as an aspirant. At least, that will put food on his table for now. Crying than the bereaved in this context  makes no sense.

Never the less, if he insist to further engage in the discussion of the legality or morality of the appointment of Onisan as Chairman of Council of Obas, he should get himself a copy of the written document containing the laws of Cheiftancy in the land, read, digest and  come for further engagement.

Oyebisi Abayomi writes from Ado-Ekiti and can be reached via soamabayomi@gmail.com

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Nation

Gov. Fayemi won Vanguard Award not Paraga Governor of the Year Award-By Oyebisi Abayomi

It is no longer a rumor. Dr Kayode Fayemi bagged Vanguard newspaper’s Governor of the Year Award.

The award singled Fayemi out of other Governors, naming him Governor of the year. This is regardless of the disruption by COVID-19 and its severe economic implication on Ekiti and all states in Nigeria.

Mind you, Fayemi is not Vanguard Newspaper’s Governor of the Year because he drinks paraga on the streets like his predecessor or because he portrays himself as a fake populist, stomach infrastructure apostle.

Fayemi’s award came as a result of dedication to service. Delivering on electoral promises regardless of the dwindling federal allocation, yet not making noise and becoming a nuisance to the public.

With civility and candor, Fayemi has raised the bar and restored Ekiti’s image as Ile Iyi (Land of Honor) in the country.

Before you insult me, do your findings to know the amount of debt Fayemi inherited from the government of your hero and wicked party. When you are done with that, point to any of your hero’s achievement other than drinking paraga on the streets.

If na by money, your hero for buy same award to portray himself as a performing Governor. Only Paraga Times will honour your hero as Paraga Governor of the Year. I’m sure you will be proud of that award as I am with Fayemi’s.

Oyebisi Abayomi writes from Ado-Ekiti and can be reached via soamabayomi@gmail.com

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Nation

REPORIENTATION-FOLASAYO BABATUNDE

DEPTHS AND HEIGHTS

Oh, what depth of greed we have fallen into

The height of selfishness we cannot scale

It torments like the bath of devil’s bean

And troubles like the prick of a thorn

Oh, the depth of decadence we have slipped into

The height of inhumanity we have attained

“I am well fed, I do not care what befall others”

That is how far we have gone

Oh, what depth of lack we have pushed our nation into

The height of irresponsibility and negligence

Loans and grants are taken and swallowed up in hades

Of what benefit is the loan but to drag the name of nation in the muds even after it’s been soiled

Oh, what depth of understanding we have refused to dive into

The height of knowledge we have refused to climb

Will equity and justice not bring peace?

Will empathy not walk security down the aisle?

Oh, what depth of love we need express

The height of concern to others show

To live in this land with peace of mind

And drive banditry et lawlessness into exile

Oh, what depth of reference you can create

The height of honor you can reach

To respect a man, his religion and ethnicity

And make way for his principles and rights

…and for a better Nigeria, I will consider others.

FOLASAYO BABATUNDE

A freelance writer from Ado-Ekiti

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Nation

Giving Feminism a New Identity: The Fayemi Model

From inception, there had been a seeming misconception that feminism was about rivalry between male and female genders. But Ekiti State First Lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi thinks otherwise…

writes Victor Ogunje

Most appalling has been the fact that most of the proponents of feminism on the African continent, had painted an erroneous impression that it was a muscle-flexing game between the two opposing sexes and a desperate contrivance to bring men under control and suppress their chauvinistic posturing.

But, for Erelu Bisi Fayemi, the First Lady of Ekiti State, her brand of feminism negates this belligerent disposition and invidious perception. This connotes women’s emancipation efforts bereft of venomous hatred for the male gender purposely, because of age-long patriarchal advantage they enjoyed.

“Feminism is not the same as misandry, they should not be conflated. A Misandrist is not necessarily a Feminist and a Feminist is not a Misandrist”, the First Lady clarified.

Recently, Mrs Fayemi was engaged by some globally renowned academia and interviewers, led by Prof Toyin Falola. The interaction was far more revealing and rewrote the wrong perception that had been woven around feminism.

Also paraded in the star-studded interview session, was the Chairman, THISDAY Newspapers’ Editorial Board, Mr. Segun Adeniyi, Prof Peyi Soyinka-Airewele, Mrs Bamidele Oladele Olateju, an upcoming gender wizkid, Idaniloju Sotunsa, among other distinguished academics, who participated in the highly didactic and intellectual programme.

In the two hours and 45 minutes stormy and exciting session, the first lady espoused her views on broadbased backgrounds covering feminism, politics and governance and how they complement one another to curb societal crises.

She drew a refined conclusion after speaking elucidatively on these broad areas that the trio were intertwined and should be means to promote humanity in all facets, rather than being weaponised to ignite gender war. Her thoughts gave pointers and clear signal that a new identity needed to be devised for feminism to imbue and bolster its acceptability .

The First Lady, being an insider, gave a startling disclosure that feminists, old and young are very angry these days. She said older feminists are angry with institutional systems of oppression, which remains impervious to change, while younger feminists are angry, because of the expectation that they too should conform to the systems of oppression their mothers and grandmothers had to endure.

“If our societies are seeking development and progress, it is unbelievable that people will expect power relations to remain the same. I think the anger is a good thing. It propels action and change. Negative anger of course brings disastrous results so I am not advocating for that”, she clearly stated.

The globally reverred gender activist believed the philosophy behind feminism was targeted chiefly at dismantling the partrichal norms among Africans, where girl child’s voice was being freely subjugated and rights brazenly abridged without her blinking an eyelid due to agelong, twisted and well entrenched culture and norms.

There is no misgiving for the fact the First lady, as a co-founder of African Women Development Fund (AWDF), a body, whose exploits, had reverberated positivities in terms of women empowerment, emancipation and liberation from cultural, political and economic shackles across 42 countries in Africa, had etched her name in gold in humanitarian services. Whatever she says in this aspect could be taken as law and the view of a well grounded gender expert.

She was blunt in her averment that her own belief of the phenomenon is one that promotes girl child education, facilitates political emancipation for women, career progression for female gender and freedom from knotty cultural practices feterring women’s hands from advancing in a society, where male has gained unbridled control, dominance, and recognition.

The First Lady agreed with the fact that the reason feminism was eliciting a lot of hoopla was the fact that radicalism has crept into it. In her view, radicalism came to the fore, because the protagonists, had to be forceful while trying to dismantle the well permeated evil practices, citing female genital mutilation, to buttress her point.

She said: “I learnt early on, the importance of naming in feminist politics. I grew up with the different debates around feminist naming, and the so-called baggage it comes with. To me, feminism is a global struggle against all forms of patriarchal oppression. This means addressing the political, economic, educational, social, religious, cultural and technological institutions that patriarchy rests on and from which it draws its strength.

“I believe that by naming myself a feminist, I am taking a clear position on my understanding of Patriarchy and how this affects women’s lives throughout their life cycle and focus on the tasks every feminist has to understand what Patriarchy means, which is reform or transform. I have done this as a theorist, writer, activist, mobiliser, non-profit specialist and politician. This has, of course, made me come across as too radical for certain spaces for example in the political context.

“My current work on Gender Based Violence is an example of challenging years of oppression and impunity and what that entails. That might come across as too radical. I have, however, learnt that this is not work that can be done in isolation of those who control the levers of power at political or community level. I have had to learn how to speak that language in order to get my message across. This then comes across as being ‘Too conservative for the radicals’.

“Gendered power relations in many African communities are complex and nuanced and we need to have an understanding of that. Context and how they aid or restrict platforms has been something I have always had to consider over the years”.

The First Lady perceived education as a right and not a privilege. However, she bemoaned that the issue of geometric increase in number of school dropouts among girls came to the fore for global discussion at Beijing Conference in 1995, and that poor enough, it is still an issue staring the African citizens in the face and constituting a huge clog in the wheel of progress even in 2021.

She submitted that the challenges comfronting feminism have manifested in multifaceted forms like increased Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), disruption of the education of girls due to conflicts and insurgencies, the resistance to women’s leadership, the undervaluing of educated women, the gaslighting of young women, to the more extreme of using sex toys as replacement for women,socially and sexually.

Espousing her views on education and its link and relevance to a girl child’s future, the first lady averred: “Education is a right and not a privilege. During my husband’s first term (2010-2014), there were some researches that were done by a well-respected national NGO, which showed that Ekiti State had a high teenage pregnancy rate. This was very alarming. We had wanted to address this during a second term, but that did not come till 2018.

“When we were campaigning in 2018, I saw girls, who couldn’t have been older than 15 running around either pregnant or with babies on their backs. I go around giving out kits to maternal health centers and it breaks my heart to see so many young girls there. If you are from a poor family in a predominantly rural State like Ekiti, and you get pregnant in school, that is the end of the road for you.

“There are up to 15m out of school children in Nigeria and 60% of them are girls. Granted majority of them are in Northern Nigeria due to the insurgencies and conflict there and restrictions on girls accessing education, but every state also shares in this burden due to the high attrition rate of girls,who drop out due to poverty or sexual exploitation.

“With the Child Rights Act (2006) and VAPP Law (2019) in place, the minimum age of consent and marriage in Ekiti State is 18. Anyone, who has intercourse with someone under 18 is guilty of Statutory Rape.

“If the girls get pregnant, they can go back to school after they have had their babies or even stay on in school while they are pregnant if that is their choice. African feminists fought to get Girl-Child issues on to the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995. Now, 26 years later we no longer have to make a case for girls to go to school, but we have to make a case to keep them in school”.

The Chairperson, Nigeria’s Governors’ Wives forum, regretted that 26 years after going all the way to Beijing, that the issue of sexual abuse still form part of the societal bane the people are still grappling to eradicate the monstrous scourge pillaging our society.

She revealed that two major concepts have always been important to her in feminism, which are the ‘Voice and Space’. She said feminists use their voices to raise issue of concern, make themselves visible, refuse to be silenced and tell their own stories not minding whose ox is gored. She added that the spaces they have created, either in the academia, community or online are used for learning, solidarity, mobilisation and common action to help the fight.

“In this context, as far as I am concerned, every woman is entitled to a voice and space across all the lines that usually divide us. Second, a feminist agenda has to envisage workable solutions, at least as far as African feminists are concerned. We have done a great job of developing a body of thought and knowledge and how we experience multiple layers of oppression as African feminists.

“This knowledge we have built will not serve its purpose if it is not applied to workable solutions that will lift the burden off the backs of the vast majority of women, for example, through addressing the feminisation of poverty, lack of access to decision-making, freedom from violence and abuse and so on.

“This is why I am so invested in policy advocacy. I can also be impatient and irate, as a matter of fact,I believe my age and years of work give me permission to do so. I also know that social change is painfully slow, and we have to leverage on the agency of everyone, sometimes whether we agree with them or not.

“Third, context matters but I believe that women’s rights are inalienable and universal. Culture, tradition or religion cannot be used as an excuse to perpetuate discrimination against women”, she insisted.

Preaching the need for the African society to exhibit generosity and kindness in view of pervasive poverty and other challenges confronting women, Mrs Fayemi, said her new scholastic literary exploit, being a book she wrote and titled: “My wrapper” taught a lesson that the populace should bring out their wrappers for those who are worthy of support.

She advocated that women in leadership, who have the right values and who will not do business as usual like the men should exhibit this tendency to improve women’s recognition in the scheme of things.

“If a woman in leadership has been indicted by a competent court of law, then, she has been found to be a criminal and must face the consequences. We should, however, not indulge the media frenzy that always consumes women in leadership differently from the way it deals with men”.

She was of the opinion that ranking men and women as equals in a political race was a sinister devise to put the women in a disadvantaged position in the political arena.

“Right now, we are playing the political game as if we are all peers with men, starting a race from the same point on the field. That is an illusion. The men are always mid-field by the time a political race starts.

“We need to have a stronger voice in the key political parties; we need strong women’s wings and we need a critical mass of women voters, who can ask the right questions and make those the basis of their demands. We also need the backing of laws and policies, because we cannot continue to rely on goodwill and discretion”.

She maintained that for the fight against gender equality to come to fruition, it has to be institutionalised, that is, being backed with policies and legal condiments that are almost irreversible.

She said Governor Kayode Fayemi strategically located the Funmi Olayinka Development Centre and Moremi Clinic within the premises of the Ekiti University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH) to ensure continuity.

“There is a budget for the running of these institutions through EKSUTH and the Ministry of Health and Human Services. The Transit Home is managed by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. There is a budget for facility management, welfare of the survivors and a GBV Survivor Fund to enable the survivors rebuild their lives.

“The GBV Law of Ekiti State makes provision for an inter-ministerial GBV Management Committee responsible for the implementation of the law. This is known as the GBV State Coordinating Mechanism. It is supposed to be functional regardless of the government in power”.

Charting a way through which transactional sex in institutions of higher learning could be routed, Mrs. Fayemi advised authorities to exhibit a zero-tolerance culture for sexual harassment and GBV, initiate mandatory anti-Sexual harassment/SGBV Policies, a transparent grievance procedure that does not victmise victims, appropriate accommodation for students as well as introducing Anti-GBV clubs in every tertiary institution.

As daunting and knotty as the challenges were, the first lady, an incurable optimist, had a good prognosis that the female gender shall overcome. She suggested that Africa shall be better off, if its enormous female resources, with intellectual acumen, moral and physical endowments that can turn things around, are harnessed optimally.

She aptly concluded that it would be dangerous to still measure women with that opprobrious and barbaric scale that they are only good as mothers and remain child-bearing machinery.

The First Lady said in clear terms that those era were gone and should be allowed to remain in the past.

THISDAY LIVE

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Nation

PATCHING THE PATCHABLES- FOLASAYO BABATUNDE

On different occasions and at different times in my adventures in this world, I have lost count of the number of times many roads were patched.  It becomes laughable when one sees event that is beyond crying about. Bad roads are meant to be broken and tarred all over but, in my country, it is the joy of our bosses to patch. “Operation patch the patchable,” is what we do even when the roads are beyond that, we still go ahead and patch as if our bosses don’t go out of this fenced area.

I chuckle each time I see “Think good road; Think FERMA!” Minutes of rumination made me understand the truth in the slogan on one occasion. It is actually true that when you think good road, you think FERMA (Federal Road Maintenance Agency) but when you see the supposed good road bet it is the work of foreign construction companies. ‘All’ FERMA does is to patch; bless God she is doing her job and we all think about her when we think about good roads.

The construction companies just do anything for us and they call it what they think it is. I am sure that our roads can be really good, when the standard is given priority above the cost of production. It is not too funny that a giant difference shows its face just between the work done by those foreign companies for Nigeria and what they do for many other countries due to cost and standard requested by the bosses. Not totally the fault of the construction companies since handouts are still paramount before those contracts are awarded. – It is really well!

Should bad roads not be dug out and made a new? Must we always patch what needs be totally removed for a new?

Even many roads suffer lack of drainage systems. We construct roads with no water channel. We are doing well! Why should we not plan drainage systems while planning our roads? Funny Nigerians…we don’t all have SUVs! Who does not know that the ablution of a cat is just a tunnel to smuggling pieces of meat? It is obvious that some man always enjoy sucking milk in that manner and disturbance could cut the supply that is why preference is given to patching above reconstruction and drainage is left out of planning.

Patching is actually good, it is better than having death traps set up all over…but don’t you think reconstruction of a good standard would save us the money being wasted every year over patching? Prudence is scattered all over the air.

Think Good Road; Think on These!

FOLASAYO BABATUNDE

writes from Ado-Ekiti

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