By Eric Elezuo
When the drumbeats of war sound louder, it is only the very brave that steps outside, and most times, it is only the most strategic, most calculative and proactive that stays indoors. Whichever way one looks at it, there is always a reason to either be in the front burner or behind it. Both are allowed so long as the reasons are noble and people oriented.
The much talked about Ekiti All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary has come and come much as the echoes are still very much around – winner has emerged while ‘gallant’ losers also emerged.
However, the Boss can reveal why out of the 33 aspirants that expressed their desire to pick the governorship ticket, only Senator Babafemi Ojudu, the Presidential Adviser on Political Matters, withdrew his intentions to continue after what seem like a failed primary on the first day of voting.
Sources close to the former lawmaker confided that he was actually mandated to step down his ambition though for no one in particular, but for the simple reason that the other camp was ‘at it again’ and was having an upper hand in the politics of intrigues.
The trained journalist, who once represented Ekiti Central constituency in the senate, we reliably gathered, was the trump card for the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu faction of the APC as far as the Ekiti election was concerned.
Three days after the May 5 botched primary election, the leaders of the party from the South West geo-political region had sort to bring about ‘peace’ among the contestants. The meeting was held in Abuja under the supervision of Tinubu and former interim Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande. The meeting was deadlocked with Dr. Kayode Fayemi technically walking out of the group in what insider source meant refusal to step down as was being canvassed.
In a last ditch to save face and not repeat the disgraceful outing of Mr. Segun Abraham, another Tinubu front in Ondo State in 2016, when the camp of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun carried the day, the caucus prevailed on Ojudu to withdrew and blame it on the need to bring about peace. He did, albeit reluctantly as his withdrawal speech suggests, 48 whole hours after the Abuja unproductive meeting.
“It was actually the need to save face amid imminent election loss that prompted the godfathers to prevail on Ojudu to step down. It was a tough for him as he so much believe he is the only person that can beat the incumbent governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, having beaten him once in 2011 when both came head to head in contest for the Ekiti Central Senatorial seat.
Born on March 27, 1961 in Ado Ekiti, Ojudu, like the other aspirants believes he has what it takes to rule the fountain of knowledge state as his story is a typical example of from grass to grace considering that his education was a result of a jointly sponsored scholarship by the late activist and lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi, and juju music crooner, King Sunny Ade, he won in 1976.
In 1980, he was admitted to the University of Ife to study English. While at the university, he developed interest in journalism, and joined the Association of Campus Journalists and reported for COBRA, a campus journal. In the course of time, he and two friends founded a journal called The Parrot, which he edited until he graduated in 1984.
After his compulsory one year youth service, he worked as a reporter with The Guardian. This was even as he was attending the University of Lagos (1985–86), for his master’s degree in Political Science.
He also worked with African Concord magazine in 1987 where he rose to the rank of Assistant Editor, and travelled extensively. In 1992, he left the job because he was pressured to to apologise to Ibrahim Babangida over an article critical of the military regime. A year later, in company of other colleagues, he The News magazine, and became its first Managing Editor. The first version of The News did not last long before it was banned by Babangida in 1993.
He was one of the journalists that suffered humiliation as result of their reportage as he was arrested, tortured and detained several times during Sani Abacha’s regime between 1993 and 1998. His article in The News about Oil Minister Dan Etete giving government contracts on behalf of the Nigerian State Oil Company to his family and friends landed him in the notorious Shangisha Prisons in 1996.
In June 1997, he was appointed Group Managing Editor of Independent Communications Network Ltd, publishers of The News, P.M. News and Tempo.
Ojudu has also been a member or chairman of several organizations and committees involved in media and human rights, spending a total of 26 years in media practice before venturing into politics in 2010.
Ojudu has to wait another day when he can muster the courage to take up the challenge without third party interference. However, he would be 61 when the next Ekiti governorship election comes around again. Time is fast running out on his ambition.