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There is this whining coming from some uncoordinated quarters that Governor Biodun Oyebanji, of Ekiti State, codenamed BAO, might have been sidelining the party (APC) echelons in his selection for appointments in the state. This whiners also alleged that the opposition parties were getting an unreasonable chunk at the expense of party faithful.

Those holding this view are perhaps not up to speed with the modern-day democracy. They fail to understand that today’s politics abhors a winner-takes-all pattern of victory known to past elections. A winner today cannot afford to take all, else he or she will know no political peace.

Perhaps those clamouring for BAO to embrace the winner-takes-all strategy were also absent during his campaign, prelude to the 2022 governorship election. The sing-song of the APC candidate then was that he would make Ekiti an inclusive State if voted in. That he would bring all Ekitians together without any discrimination. That Ekiti will not be a “we” versus “them” in his time, but a state convenient for all to live and earn their living.

Also, after the election, BAO stretched his arm of fellowship to all other contestants, their political parties and their leaders, regarding them all as part of his government. He also regarded all past governors of the state as his mentors and leaders, and has since been relating with them as such.

As an advocate of inclusion, BAO believes that “we” includes every citizen regardless of sex, ethnicity, religion, skin colour, or sexual orientation.

Michael Ignatieff, the Canadian human rights scholar, defines the ideal inclusive state as, “a community of equal rights-bearing citizens united in patriotic attachment to a shared set of political practises and values.”

The inclusion of all human beings in the political system is the logical corollary of believing that every individual has moral value. The first victory for politics of inclusion, as against politics of resentment is the formal right of citizens, that is, the incorporation, influence and representation of individuals from all social, ethnic, regional and socio-economic group within democratic institutions.

BAO today practises politics of equity, politics of diversity, politics of inclusion and politics of belonging (EDIB). And this has to do with his evolvement as an unusual politician.

Contrary to the known evolution of a politician. BAO was first a statesman before becoming a Governor. A statesman is defined as a skilled, experienced and respected political leader. And how do you refer to someone who was actively involved in the creation of a state? At the formation of Ekiti State, young Oyebanji was the secretary of the committee agitating for the carving out of Ekiti from the old Ondo State, which eventually became a reality. History will be kind to refer to BAO as the youngest founding father of Ekiti State.

Contrary to some criticism that BAO was not a politician and an unwilling governor, he is actually the most prepared Governor Ekiti State has had to date. BAO was not at any point a political rookie. He was qualified and competent to mount the saddle at the time he did. He studied Political Science up to the Masters level, he taught Politics as a course at the university level, and he served under all the progressive governors the state ever had. Yet, he laid claim to no glory when the state took off. He simply withdrew to continue building his career in the corporate world only to be called upon to serve in the government of the first democratic Governor of the state, Otunba Niyi Adebayo and had ever since remained in the corridor of power to learn beyond limits. If such person was not prepared for governance, who then was?

As regards how BAO has been going about his appointments, he has not reneged in his promise of returning political power to the political party. He gives party leaders in each of the 16 Local Governments and 18 LCDAs the power to nominate those they consider fit to represent them in government. They in turn do so through the leaders in each of the 177 wards across the state and they recommend between 2-5 names as occasion warrants and those names go through screening and shortlisting for the various positions at the state or local government levels. Not all, BAO has continually consulted all those who governed the state before him, not minding their party affiliations, he defers to them on matters of governance. His choice of giving them slots in his appointments is also a means of giving them a sense of belonging. In terms of projects, which is a topic for another writing entirely, BAO consults the people on their preferences and prioritises projects that directly impact the lives of the people. His empathy for the needs of the people knows no boundary.

If this is misgovernance, then, the governor’s critics should tell the world what their understanding of governance is. If it is lack of political understanding, then BAO is not willing to learn otherwise. He is today’s Governor, not that of yester years.

Segun Dipe is the Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ekiti State.

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