(OPINION): For Ondo governorship race, Eyitayo Jegede remains stoic, focused

Ondo State is at another threshold of history. The state will have one of the greatest tests of its existence come October 10, 2020, when the people are expected to vote for a new governor that would govern the state for the next four years. In the build-up to the forthcoming election, permutations, intense politicking, horse trading, speculations and deft moves have started in each of the major political parties in the state.

The office of the governor, apart from that of the president, is the second most important elective office in the country and as such, it would always elicit the interest of the populace on account of the prestige and strategic role which the occupant of that office is empowered to play in the affairs of the state. Electing the right man to the post is a task that the people of the state must take cognisance off on account of the high expectation of the people for quality governance.

Presently, the jostling for the seat has provoked a floodgate of commentaries on the suitability or otherwise of perceived front-runners. Many have continued to show interest in the coming election, including the serious minded and jesters. The coming election in state will require a broad-minded man at the helm, an experienced hand that is cosmopolitan in exposure, attitude and conduct, someone rooted deeply enough to appreciate the pains and challenges of the state, a man equipped adequately enough to proffer the solutions our people desperately need.

Considering the array of men who have indicated interest to serve the state from Ondo PDP, judging by their quality, it is only right to say a time of refreshing awaits
the people. To take over from the present administration and redirect the governance of the state to prosperity, several names are being bandied around but one that stands out on account of his level of preparedness is Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Jegede’s name has remained a recurring decimal in all of the permutations as a political giant by all standards. It is the belief of the common man on the street that he will definitely clinch the ticket of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, on account of his cerebral mind, political sagacity, clout, vast political networks which stretch to all the corners of the state, including the country.

A natural leader, he is tested and has proven cynics wrong several times, even since his first shot on the job in 2016. His support base which is growing by the day
clearly indicated that he has an understanding of what is expected of him as the governor of the state.

Among those vying for the ticket of the PDP, Jegede comes highly recommended. Even masses on the streets of the state point to his abilities which are not in short
supply, commanding presence, unusual depth which affirms that only the deep can call to the deep, his readiness to take calculated risks in the pursuit, defence and
advancement of worthy causes.

Eyitayo Jegede is charismatic, composed and highly accommodating. The Jegede phenomenon and appeal is mind-boggling and this is what has informed this analysis on the man who is set to become the next governor of Ondo State on account of his sterling qualities. He has never for once premised his ambition on mundane sentiments like many others. His is an offer to service with vision, a road map which his supporters have and continue to share with ease.

Jegede is a successful senior lawyer with over 35 years experience in practice. A workaholic whose dedication and hardwork earned the distinguished legal rank of
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, strictly on merit, over 12 years ago. He was the Attorney General and Justice Commissioner in Ondo State for seven and a half years, the longest serving Attorney General in the history of the state, a position he got purely based on merit rather than politics. Leading from the front, as Attorney General, he led staff members of his ministry to attend court sittings.

A lot of strides were recorded during his tenure as the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice. Upon his assumption as the Attorney General, he ensured
the review of the laws of Ondo State for the first time since the creation of the state in 1976. He midwifed the provision of facilities for the establishment of the Court of Appeal, National Industrial Court and the zonal office of the Federal Ministry of Justice, all in Ondo State. Realising also the need to improve on the administration of criminal justice in the state, Eyitayo Jegede worked closely with the office of the Chief Judge of the state to establish the first high court within the precincts of the Correctional Centre to fast track prosecution of criminal cases.

It was also during his tenure as the Commissioner for Justice that the new Criminal Justice Administration Law was enacted and signed into law. This he achieved with the cooperation of some NGOS and other prominent legal practitioners and judges. He was unanimously selected by the Attorneys General of the 36 states of the federation in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, during the tenure of Rotimi Amaechi as Governors Forum Chairman to serve as the Chairman of the coordinating Body of Attorneys General of the 36 states in Nigeria.

Due to his management skills and approach to service, he functioned in that capacity for six years before he voluntarily resigned as the Attorney General and Justice Commissioner for Ondo State in July 2016. For his hard work, integrity, character and deep interest in education, he was a member of a six-man implementation committee saddled with the responsibility of establishing an American styled University, the American University, Yola, Adamawa State. He was one of the only two black men on the implementation committee that established the American University, alongside four professors and an accountant. He also served as the pioneer Secretary of the Board of Trustees of American University in Yola, where he served alongside other distinguished global citizens such as the highly revered Archbishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa, Ahmed Joda, now late, Akin Kekere-Ekun and Dr. Mike Adenuga of Globacom.

Also,Jegede was the Chairman of the Governing Council of ABTI Academy, a British styled secondary school located in Yola, Adamawa State. About 20 years ago, he was appointed a Notary Public by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, an appointment that is not reserved for all lawyers but upon fulfilling certain prerequisites. He served as member of the National Executive Council of the Nigerian Bar Association some 18 years ago, with impeccable record of service, member of the Council of Legal Education in Nigeria, the body administering by statute, all the Law Schools in Nigeria. He is member of the Body of Benchers in Nigeria. Presently, he is a Life-bencher. This is the body that is responsible for admitting to the bar of all
successful law students.

Jegede is also presently one of the members of the 15-man Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee in Nigeria. Earlier in his career, he had served twice as the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association in Yola, Adamawa State. He is a philanthropist and a community leader with history of giving that predates politics.
For him, he is offering to serve because he has examined all and having examined all, he is convinced that with less distractions from within and unity of purpose, PDP
shall reclaim power and Ondo shall know greatness again.

It is now clear to the people of state that they cannot afford to make the same mistake they made in 2016 or any other alternative for that matter. The alternative has proved fatal at every opportunity given to them. Therefore, if the people’s experience is anything to go by, Eyitayo Jegede is the right man for Ondo State.

Olumide Ogunkua sent this piece from Igoba Hills, Akure, Ondo State

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