The Yoruba adage, which says, Agba kii wa loja kori omo tuntun wo (when an elder is present in a market place, the head of a new born baby should be properly placed or to put it more clearly, things should not go wrong where an elder is present). Unfortunately, this Yoruba adage is no longer applicable in Ekitiland where the elders don't mind if the system goes wrong as long as the system can make their pockets swell and their illicit wealth is well protected.
Before the youth of Ekiti condemn all the elders, including me, for keeping quiet while things are going wrong, I wish to count myself out of the current mess in which Ekiti elders, including Kabiyesis, have put our state because of greed and love for primitive and vain acquisition of property and wealth. I wish to apologise to the younger generation that, we, the elders of Ekiti have failed them because we have refused to speak the truth. I am writing this so that my conscience shall be free in case I pass on earlier than expected because the Yoruba will say, Iku o dojo, arun a dosu, a le so pe o maa pe ko ya, a de lo so pe o maa ya ko pe (death does not give any warning before it strikes, it will come when it will come).
I am close to 80 years of age and I am grateful for the little God has done for me till date. I am contented. As a result, I am not afraid to speak the truth as I see it and when I have done that, the heavy burden on my heart would have been lifted so, I can smile too my grave. I have watched events in the last one year in my dear state and as an elder, I am ashamed and sad about what is going on. I am particularly sad that the elders who are supposed to lead the vanguard of uprightness and truthfulness are themselves part and parcel of the promoters of the rot in the system, who have inflicted the most heartless pains on Ekiti people since its creation.
One of these elders is Chief Afe Babalola who gives an impression of a very good and humane person to the people of Ekiti State and the outside world but who is in actual fact a very mean, selfish, greedy and ruthless individual whose only interest is to always acquire wealth anywhere, anyhow, at anytime and at all costs, no matter the consequences on the people over whom he wants to enjoy the benefits that go with leadership. Without mincing words, Afe is the greatest problem of Ekiti State and the earlier he is told the naked truth, the better. Afe does not mind romancing anybody as long as his business interest is protected. I have watched his body language concerning his tacit support for the illegalities committed against the people of the State by his new-found love, Governor Fayose, in the last 11 months and I have been wondering what kind of elder is Afe and in fact, I am ashamed to share generation with the man seen outside Ekiti as an epitome of integrity and scholarship. There is nothing bad if one supports the governor of his state but it is bad if an elder is the backbone of an erratic and eccentric governor like Ayo Fayose. It is worse when such elder does not see anything wrong in infractions committed by Fayose on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and on his law profession where he got his fame. When Fayose chased the 19 APC lawmakers away from Ekiti state and threatened them with death while some were declared wanted for frivolous charges, Afe kept quiet; when the Speaker of the House of Assembly was impeached by only 7 PDP members in a House of 26 and the Speaker's residence and office were sealed off while his official car and security were withdrawn, Afe kept mute.
When three of Fayose's commissioners and the 2015 budget were approved by an illegal House of Assembly of 7 out of 26, Afe gave covert approval. So legally speaking, the three commissioners and the current budget run by Fayose are not known to law, yet Afe a self-acclaimed legal luminary does not see anything wrong with this anomaly. But anyone who has read a book titled, My Yester Years, written by one of the few remaining upright Ekiti elders, Chief Bamidele Falegan, will know how Afe Babalola had been practising his law. He was reported in the book to have approached Chief Falegan as the then Deputy Director of Research in the Central Bank to assist him in destroying the file of an employee who was Afe’s client and who committed fraud so that his records would not be traced in court and Afe would win the case and give Chief Falegan some millions of naira but Chief Falegan who is a thorough-bred Ekiti man, declined and ask him; "Afe, do you want me to go to jail?" That is Afe Babalola for you!
Last week, during the so-called education summit organised by Fayose to rubber stamp his premeditated decision to further inflict economic pains on the already impoverished Ekiti parents who he asked to start paying school fees for their wards in Secondary schools, Afe Babalola came out in his true colour as a Merchant of Venice, a crooked and heartless Shylock when he gave his approval that parents should start paying school fees just to justify the exorbitant school fees he is charging in his own university. He didn't do this without some drama! Afe made remarks about Fayose that jolted many people within and outside the state in an event beamed live on television to the whole world. His remarks did not surprise me; it only prompted me from my silence to speak up against the evil which this man represents in Ekiti. Afe Babalola said of Fayose his "beloved son", "Fayose's period of 2003-2006 was a success. Nobody must doubt the position of this man,he is like me, he is my role model, I love him because he is a man of action, he is fearless and energetic"
The first question I want to ask Afe Babalola is this: if Fayose's first tenure was a success, why did Chief Afe Babalola and co ensured his abrupt exit as governor! Did Fayose’s action which Afe loves so much include the attempt to assassinate him in 2006 before Obasanjo helped to remove Fayose? Can Afe Babalola claim that he did not spend millions to sponsor Fayose's impeachment? Was it not this Fayose who discharged lorry loads of gravel and sand at the entrance of Afe's Ajilosun residence to block him from entering his house? Was it not this same Fayose who printed and pasted Afe Babalola's posters portraying him as a governorship aspirant trying to contest against him (Fayose) just to blackmail Afe? What kind of man is Afe Babalola? So Fayose has now become his role model and his beloved son in whom he is well pleased? But don't be surprised that Afe was right to have said Fayose is like him and this reminds me of the Yoruba song which goes thus, "omo o le jo baba ka maa binu omo, Ayo Fayose jo Babalola o, omo o le jo baba ka maa binu omo". Fayose and Afe definitely have many things in common and share the same ideology.
First, Afe didn't have formal education but went to school by correspondence why the educational qualification of Fayose is suspect hence they suffer from low self esteem. Secondly, they are both greedy. While Fayose feels like acquiring the whole of Ekiti resources, including her citizens, Afe believes all lands in Ekiti State should be his. Thirdly, Afe and Fayose don't believe in the anti-corruption war of President Buhari and that is why Afe has quietly approved of Fayose's abuses and insults on the President. For a man who claims to be a close friend of former President Obasanjo who because Fayose was embarrassing him during his first tenure, caused his impeachment is the same man Ayo Fayose abuses daily without a word of reprimand from Afe. This shows Afe was only friendly with Obasanjo when he was President and could use his influence as he always did with every government in power, including military governments.
For those who don't know, Afe is the greatest pretender of all times. Afe is pretending to love Fayose because he wants protection for his University and the free land on which he builds it. Yes! Afe did not pay a dime on the land where his University, built only for the children of the rich, is located. The land was given to him free by former Governor Segun Oni who also used Ekiti State resources to tar the internal roads of the institution yet, Segun Oni today is not a good person in the eyes of Afe Babalola the Shylock. Former Governor Niyi Adebayo was delivering diesel free of charge at the home of Chief Babalola on a weekly basis when he was Governor between 1999 and 2003 but today, Niyi Adebayo is also a bad boy to Afe. Former Governor Fayemi donated a coaster bus to the University apart from twisting his hands to get 2 Hilux vans from the Fayemi administration on the pretext that one of his Hilux vans was damaged by an Ekiti State government vehicle. The damaged vehicle was repaired by the state government but Afe was not satisfied until a brand new Innosan Van vehicle, which is like a Hilux, was delivered to him. Yet, he rejected the Innosan van but did not return it and insisted he wanted a brand new Hilux which was also delivered making two vans including the repaired van, what a greedy man!
Fayemi who today is a bad boy in the eyes of Afe Babalola was once praised to high heavens by him saying he was the best thing to have happened to Ekiti State because Fayemi has taken Ekiti State to a state of el-dorado. It was Fayemi who saved Chief Babalola from embarrassment when he had a rift with Ewi of Ado Ekiti over land matters. The matter which led to the Edemo chieftaincy crisis as a result of land grabbing allegation against one another, was settled by Fayemi. The only offence of Fayemi that made Afe to hate him till date as I heard, is that Afe alleged that the Airport which the Federal government under Goodluck Jonathan gave him ( I wonder when individuals started getting airports from Federal Government) was not accepted by Fayemi. But Fayemi was reported to have explained to him that an Airport project at that time was not the priority of his administration considering the huge cost involved. Fayemi would rather concentrate on providing free healthcare services, the social security for the elderly, free education, infrastructure development, modernising agriculture etc as against building an airport that will be directly beneficial to Afe Babalola because of its proximity to his University, what a selfish man!
During his dramatic speech at the Fayose's 3-hour education summit last week, Afe deliberately avoided mentioning the Education Summit which took place in 2011 during Fayemi administration but instead dwelt on the 2003 education summit that took place during Fayose's aborted first tour of duty. Ironically, Afe was present at the 2011 education summit and he took an active part. In fact, he described Fayemi's 2011 education summit as the best and most comprehensive effort to chart a new course for education in Ekiti State. The 2011 summit was well attended by all stakeholders in the state, including many Professors from across the country and beyond, students, artisans, trade unions and other critical sectors. Curiously, Fayose's education summit excluded students whose future was to be discussed. It was at the education summit that Afe and co ratified that fees must be paid in secondary schools ranking Ekiti State with some countries in the world where primary and secondary education are not free. The summit also approved payment of all ridiculous taxes by landlords and artisans in the state. If Afe Babalola's conduct at the summit was an embarrassment to us as Ekiti elders who don't agree with the rubbish going on in the state, Bishop Felix Ajakaye's speech was soul-lifting and a relief that afterall, not all Ekiti elders and elite are as heartless as Afe Babalola and his ilks. Bishop Ajakaiye said, "Power without control is nothing. If as the governor said that we should not politicise the summit, then I believe that the 2011 summit is very solid and most of us here participated in it. Government is a continuum so I advise that the Fayose administration should also look at the 2011 education summit of the Fayemi administration while the far-reaching decisions of that summit are to be studied as a guide for the present summit. Yesterday is history, today is a gift and tomorrow is the celebration of today. We should not discard the recommendations of the 2011 education summit so that we don't chase shadows. According to Winston Churchill, it takes courage to stand up and speak and it takes courage to sit down and listen." That is Bishop Ajakaye in the truest form of Ekiti spirit speaking with candour. But as he spoke, Fayose became very agitated because Bishop Ajakaye spoke the truth. As an elder, I was ashamed of myself and Ekiti when Fayose announced that they will start paying taxes and they all kept quiet. He did the unbelievable by commanding all of them, including the Kabiyesi, to stand up and clap for him and like robots, they obeyed him! Our Kabiyesis, Hmnn, I greet you o. I know you now prefer Fayose who has reduced your allowances by 40 percent and owes you arrears for three, four months. You have also failed our youths by refusing to speak up against evil in our land.
I will like to recommend a book to Afe Babalola titled, ' How much land does a man need?' The book, written by Leo Tolstoy explained the futility of human existence and primitive accumulation because in the end, the land any man needs is just six feet! Afe is always fond of claiming to be responsible for the creation of Ekiti State which is his own justification to acquire the whole state as his personal property. But the truth of the matter is that Afe was not responsible for the creation of Ekiti State, he only joined the struggle when the job was almost done.
Chief Afe Babalola's free land on which he built his University is the size of about 3 small towns put together in Ekiti. Not satisfied, he has appropriated to himself another large expanse of land bordering his University which belongs to another organisation, Mutual Benefit Assurance. The company had planned to build a 5 star hotel on the land but greedy Afe, the rapacious land grabber, has taken over the land and fenced it. The attempt by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Lands, Mrs Funke Falodun, to intervene and plead with Baba to let go of the land led to immediate termination of her appointment three days to her daughter’s wedding by Afe's beloved son and Governor, Fayose! Coincidentally, Funke Falodun is the daughter of Afe Babalola's colleague and friend, the late Barrister Akanle from Ikole Ekiti but this has no meaning to him, but his economic interest. What a man without integrity! Afe has forgotten that at over 80 years, he should take things easy and ought to have stopped his primitive acquisitions and hand over to his children but where are Afe’s children? I haven’t heard about any of them taking after him or getting involved in his law practice or the running of his University which is the normal thing to do.
Afe's University has exposed him as a man who does not care for the masses. The University is so expensive that no child of an average Ekiti person can afford it. It was so bad recently when medical students of the University's College of Medicine left in droves for Bowen University and other more affordable universities across the South west. The fee for the Medical students was exorbitant and all representations made to him to reduce the fees fell on deaf ears as he told them his school was not set up for charity. Afe is a pretender who neither likes nor promotes education as he presents himself to the outside world. He is only a shrewd and mean capitalist who can romance the devil as long as his primitive acquisition is assured.
While he will like everything to be provided for him and his university at the expense of other Ekiti people, he had no say in form of advice for Fayose not to divert Ikere road dualisation contract to Afao his home town because by doing so he will offend the governor.
I wish to refer Afe to what the Holy Bible says about wealth acquired through injustice, “ Wealth gained through injustice dwindles away, but whoever gathers little by little has plenty” (Proverbs: 13: 11). I now have an answer to the question that has been bugging my mind since. Where did we get it wrong? I know it is because Ekiti elders have become agba osika (wicked elders) who have lost their values of honesty, decency and integrity, it is because Afe and co ti je dodo, won o le so ododo mon ( Afe and co have been corrupted with primitive accumulation so they cannot speak the truth again). I will end this piece by reminding Afe of Ebenezer Obey's song, Vanity upon vanity, All is vanity, vanity…..
By Adedayo Falade