Gbenga Sodeinde writes about the recent endorsement of Governor Biodun Oyebanji of Ekiti state for a second term in office by politicians across party divides including three former governors of the state.
In what appeared like mysterious handshakes across party lines, Governor Biodun Oyebanji of Ekiti state secured unusual endorsements for 2026 governorship poll on Sunday, October 22, during an occasion marking his first year in office.
Pundits and ardent watchers of Ekiti political trends branded this as stunning, unusual, unimaginable, and unprecedented in the history of the state. Though series of endorsements had been made for former occupants of the plum seat in the past but it was rare and enigmatic for Ekiti past governors to have spoken beyond party lines and unanimously declare support for the second term bid of an incumbent governor who has only spent one year in office.
The thanksgiving service of the Oyebanji’s first anniversary was held at Emmanuel Cathedral Church in Ado Ekiti. For Governor Oyebanji, it was just a Church Service to thank God for his first year as Governor of Ekiti State and for what he has done since he assumed office. Though the presence of the trio of former Governors Adeniyi Adebayo, Ayodele Fayose and Kayode Fayemi made the Governor got more than he probably bargained for, and that was endorsement by his predecessors.
In another breath, the Senate Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, who had earlier given his remarks before the former governors, said political leaders and people of Ekiti are proud of the performance of Oyebanji and what God is doing in the state through the Governor adding that “Ekiti is set for the next level under Oyebanji.
Bamidele said: “Governor Oyebanji is entrenching the culture of respect and the culture of performance. He is lucky to have Governors Fayose and Fayemi as mentors and advisers. What he is doing differently is that he is giving the state a new political order, uniting various groups where youth, women, civil societies consider themselves as stakeholders.
“You are an example of being in power and humble. I am here because of your humility and because you are real. If you are not real, I will keep a distance. When you become a second term Governor, you will be the most ranking progressive Governor and the most ranking Governor in Nigeria.
“I am looking forward to being the chairman of your re-election campaign, if Jesus Christ tarries in His coming and God sparing our lives.”
Also like an endorsement from the pulpit, in his elaborate sermon at the anniversary service, Bishop of the Diocese of Ekiti, the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Rt. Revd. Olusola Ajayi, hailed Governor Oyebanji for making positive impact in the lives of the people of the state within the last one year.
Revd. Ajayi said it was astonishing that Governor Oyebanji executed and delivered 295 projects for the use and benefit of the people of the state under one year through the instrumentality of the six-pillar agenda of his administration.
Beyond his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the former governor, Mr. Fayose, a People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) chieftain, openly declared support and endorsement for his second term in office. This has actually elicited so much fuss, for Fayose looks like the heart and brain of the main opposition party and this position must have signed a death knell for his party ahead of the forthcoming poll.
At the event, Fayose gave his support in a lucid fashion. He was clear and unambiguous that the 2026 poll is for Oyebanji. A brazen and ebullient politician, Fayose said: “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.
Buttressing Fayose’s well articulated position, former governor Adebayo, succinctly and laconically 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 ruling 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 endorsements of the big three? What kick-started the second term campaign for a governor who has spent just one year in office?
Some of the people who spoke with THISDAY on what might have earned Governor Oyebanji the unprecedented second endorsement said “the Governor had done roads, paid salaries regularly and has been paying attention to the retirees entitlements promptly, but his recent “State-of-emergency” declared by the Governor in electricity sector is commendable”, Ekiti PDP Chieftain, Oladapo Akinyemi had said.
The Governor had recently reconnected electricity to two local government areas of Ekiti state, Gboyin, and Ekiti East Local governments where expression of joy from the people knew no bound.
Residents of the two Council areas went into a frenzy of celebration as the Governor switched on the light at the two local governments in the state. Ojo Adekunle, a welding technician in Omuo Ekiti said he is hopeful his business that has gone down would bounce back with the restoration of electricity in the area.
Another beneficiary of Governor Oyebanji’s electricity projects from Gboyin Local government, an electrical Engineer, Dada Adekola, described the Governor’s gesture at restoring electricity to Omuo Ekiti, headquarters of Ekiti East Local Government Council, the 33KV electricity network extended to communities in Ayekire and Gbonyin Local Government Areas in a about eight communities, that had been in total black out for over a decade as commendable.
The Engineer who said the Governor’s gesture will not only assist the economy of the state to grow but will also improve the social activities in the state, and particularly in the area which had been disconnected to National grid for about 15 years.
While recently inaugurating the electricity projects in the state, Oyebanji said: “I have signed a new bill into law that will make it impossible for anybody to cheat electricity users. Let me also say openly here that the reconnection project was fully funded by the state government, the BEDC didn’t play any role in it.
“It is very bad that you were made to be in darkness for over a decade. We know the importance of light , we are not unaware that being cut off from the national grid can hinder economic growth of our communities.
“We did this because if we are able to solve the problem of electricity, our dams are functional and it will be easy for us to pump water into our reservoirs. There is a connect between the two”.
The Governor said the restoration of electricity in some of the communities would aid the provision of portable water by the government. According to him, government had rehabilitated three major dams but could not put them to proper use because of the absence of electricity. “So, aside boosting economic activities, electricity will also boost water supply to our communities” the Governor said.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Yinka Oyebode said, “aside, this electricity restoration showed that Governor Oyebanji places high priority on promoting industrial development and commitment to attracting investments to Ekiti to boost the economic prosperity that would improve the standards of living of the citizens, and most especially the water project the Governor had embarked upon will be easily distributed effectively without hindrance”.
Also passing a verdict of good performance on the Governor, a member of the House of Representatives, representing Ekiti South Federal Constituency 2, Hon. Femi Bamisile, said Oyebanji was able to restore electricity to some sections of Ekiti due to hardwork and dedication to duty.
Tactically endorsing the governor for a second term, Bamisile added :”You have just spent one-year, it remains seven years for you. The governor has done good, all of us as Ekiti are going to repay him with support and votes”.
Also speaking, APC State Chairman, Paul Omotoso, who is from that axis of Ekiti, revealed that Oyebanji has been able to demonstrate the essence of existence of government and leadership, saying the entire Gbonyin, Ekiti East and Ayekire council areas encountered harrowing experiences while in darkness for about 13 years.
“Some people said politics is about lies, but Governor Oyebanji has been able to show that governance is about prioritising the welfare of the people and that is exactly what our governor is doing. So, let us continue to support him. He has not disappointed us. The governor has not requested for a second term, but his second term is sure” .
Applauding the Governor particularly on the electricity projects, and for his recent accomplishments in that area, the Olomuo of Omuo Ekiti, Oba Noah Omonigbehin, revealed that all the traditional rulers in Ekiti would continue to support the Governor, not for partisanship, but for what he has done to liberate the people from sufferings and anguish.
Reiterating the commitment of the Oyebanji administration to the general well-being of people in the State, the Commissioner for Information, Hon. Taiwo Olatunbosun, disclosed that Ekiti State Independent Power Project (IPP) which has commenced operation with test running as part of efforts at addressing the shortage of electricity supply to the State, was one in the series of interventions to address inherent challenges in electricity supply to the State.
Olatunbosun stressed that the IPP is currently guaranteeing uninterrupted power supply to the Governor’s Office, Government House, State Secretariat Complex, House of Assembly Complex, Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, (EKSUTH) and streetlights along major roads in the metropolis, among others.
According to him, the development is geared to boost industrialization and socio-economic development as well as enhance good governance, noting that doing away with the hitherto ubiquitous generators with attendant huge cost of diesels and environmental pollution used to power public facilities like streetlights and government offices would block a lot of wastages.
Olatunbosun noted that the completion
of the Power plant came in the heels of several other similar interventions including the restoration of electricity at Ekiti East and Gbonyin (Ayekire) Local Government Areas within his one year in office after 15 years of blackout.
The Commissioner disclosed further that the tourism hub in Ikogosi, Erijinyan and Ipole-Iloro axis has also been connected back to the National grid through a dedicated feeder line from the 132/33KVA power substation at Omisanjana in Ado Ekiti after almost two decades of power outage.
Stressing the determination to boost the local economy and propel industrial development via robust growth of Small, and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the State, Olatunbosun said government places a high premium on provision of stable supply of electricity across the state to serve as an impetus and a major boost to the growth of SMEs.
Defending the endorsement, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Political matters, Chief Jide Awe said, “apart from his impressive performance within the one year, Governor Oyebanji’s Omoluabi’s approach to governance stands him out. His style of not taking anyone as his enemy and looking out for everyone, especially Ekiti leaders irrespective of political difference and holding all of them in high esteem were responsible. His humility, his sincerely of purpose and commitments to governance without any pretention, he deserved to be commended, he deserved to be encouraged.
“The reward of hard work is to do more, I take his endorsement as a motivational statement for him to do more, Governor Oyebanji is not going to hands up just because he has been praised or endorsed, rather he is just going to start to do more in his push for the development of Ekiti state”.
Awe, who said Oyebanji’s endorsement by opposition party chieftains shouldn’t be a surprise, added “the Governor runs an all inclusive government with a clear distinction. I can clearly tell you that not only that, we have other Ekiti stakeholders such as Aare Afe Babalola, Femi Falana and even Chief Deji Fasuan who are elder statesmen that don’t need to come to the open and declare their endorsement like others did but are fully in support of Governor Oyebanji for his impressive performance”
Apart from the fact that the governor has been able to face governance so differently, having learned from all of them.
However, the action of the three former governors in endorsing the incumbent governor has become a subject matter for discussion among groups and political gatherings in the state as it is unprecedented in history of Ekiti and this has made political pundits to start raising what this portends for the people of the South Senatorial district in Ekiti who have been chanting, “It is our turn” for the past 16 years, in view of that fact that the Governor is from the Central part of Ekiti state.
But the political Adviser to the Governor, Awe, concluded that, “I know Ekiti for one thing, when they see good things, they stick to it. Nobody will go against what is good when it is being done with clarity of purpose. The southern part of Ekiti, we are both in it, when the rain falls on the center, it falls on everybody, whether South, North, or Central. So when we gets to the time of election, we shall know how to cross that bridge”.