Ekiti is so blessed, by Babafemi Ojudu
During a recent trip to the United States of America, I went through 17 different airports and experienced varying types of weather ranging from the extremely cold, to the mildly cold, and the warm. Everywhere I visited and every Town Hall meetings I addressed, I came across Ekiti indigenes, most of then professionals who were largely trained at home but left the shores of Nigeria to seek greener pastures in that country. There were professionals of different hues – technologists, space scientist, nuclear engineers and academics, medical professionals, IT experts, law enforcement agents, among others.
With each introduction of these fantastically brilliant men and women with great exploits, I couldn’t help wondering why we are surprised and even sometimes shocked that Ekiti State has not made progress since creation. How can we, when all these folks from such a small State as ours are so far away from our land?
My mind then went to all I had read in Walter Rodney’s “How The West Underdeveloped Africa” and Chinwezu’s “The West and The Rest Of Us”. In the time of slavery, the best of our communities were herded into slave ships and taken away to work on plantations in Europe and the Americas. Now with our certificates in hand and with nothing to engage our brains at home, we put ourselves on aircrafts and head out to seek brighter futures in those same places where we were once taken to, bound in chains. The question then is this: how are we ever going to experience development under this circumstance? This precisely is the reason I have prioritised engaging with the Ekiti diaspora to encourage them to partner with those of us back home so that we can rescue our people from poverty and lack of development.
In the course of my last trip, many people had asked me what the relevance of the diaspora is to the governorship election, which is taking place in Ekiti in a few months. The way I see it, this is not just about this election or any other election for that matter. This is beyond who has influence in Ward X or in AYZ Local Government Area. This is about engaging with those who know what a good life is because they have experienced it in those countries that have become their safe havens. They are living witnesses to what a better life means, and they have been a part of building modern societies of the present and for the future. It is very critical that this category of Ekiti people come to join forces with us to see what we could do about our decaying communities. It was heartwarming that very brilliant ideas came from the interactions in torrents and we hope to, in the years to come, leverage these for the betterment of our people.
As I traveled round America, I was encouraged by the fact that what we are doing is really not new. It is a replication of what our forebears did in the past. In the twilight of the 19th Century the Ibadan’s and the Ekitis went into war and for 17 years the war raged and the Ibadans pillaged Ekiti land, sent ‘Ajeles’ (Sole Administrators) to hold our people to ransom and subjugate them. And then came the smart ones among our forbears who reached out to the then Ekiti diaspora in Lagos. Meetings were held and resolves made. The diaspora came up with ideas and resources and brought in new weapons of war to their Ekiti brethren back home. The sound of the new guns denotes the name Kiriji for which the war is known till today. Ekiti was on the verge of routing out the Ibadans when the Europeans came to separate the two warring communities and impose their own will on them both.
The present war is not about canons. It is the war of brains, ideas, innovation and creativity. Our people out there have these in abundance and we are going to draw from this fountain of theirs to bring about development to Ekiti and banish poverty and want from our land.
Who knows, the light to brighten up Nigeria may be lit in Ekiti!