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Outstanding Personalities Of 2018

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Kayode Fayemi – The Comeback Kid

When Dr John Kayode Fayemi, unexpectedly, lost the Ekiti Governorship election after a first term in office to the rowdy Ayodele Fayose, he did what every well-brought up politician should do – He conceded. Fayemi popularised this standard long before President Goodluck Jonathan took it to the next level in 2015 Presidential elections.

Going by ‘standard’ practice in the nation’s political arrangement, many thought that the defeat he suffered as an incumbent was a measure of his unacceptability among his people. Many also thought, erroneously, as it has turned out, that it will bring to an end a blooming career he took time to nurture. That defeat came at a time the newly formed APC was striving to carve out a niche for itself in the politically- sophisticated South West zone of Nigeria. That also explained why it riled and pained the new party thoroughly.

But not Fayemi who, with stoic equanimity, took it as a temporary setback. He decided to apply his formidable intellectual acumen in other areas of party affairs at the national level. He easily got over the shock and focussed his attention on the larger picture which is building a party that can take over the reins of power from the tottering Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The Ekiti-born political strategist played a critical role in the APC’s Presidential Campaign Council that mapped out the winning plan which eventually resulted in victory at the polls for the party over a sitting government.

With his disarming intellectual background, especially in strategic and conflict studies as well as his exposure to the nuances of international relations, many, including himself, thought that the Foreign Affairs Ministry was his to reject. It was speculated that the newly elected President Buhari would appoint him as his diplomatic arrowhead. But the President had other ideas and calculated that his (Fayemi’s) ebullience was what the new administration needed to actualise the policy of economic diversification planned to be realised through agriculture and solid minerals. The new President appointed him Minister of Solid Minerals Development.

Immediately after his appointment, he approached his new assignment with an uncommon zeal that exposed the immense potentials of the solid minerals component of the non-oil sector of the economy without losing touch with his political base in his home state. He worked assiduously even if quietly on his comeback bid. With his eyes still on the governorship seat of Ekiti, he kept close to his constituency.

Four years came very quickly. When it was time for the primaries of the APC to choose an electable candidate to square up with the candidate of the incumbent PDP, Fayemi won the nomination easily. Thereafter, and too urbane to mix up with the Fayose crowd that continued to grandstand and, sometimes, entertain interested Nigerians with their melodramatic inclinations, Fayemi continued with his political outreach that earned him a deserved victory as governor again. His return to the saddles of political power and influence in Ekiti State became an inspiration that is serving as a beacon of light to politicians across the divide.

 

Oshiomhole – A Stormy Petrel And His Methods

For good or for ill, depending on which side whoever is doing the assessing stands, the former President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), former two-term Governor of Edo State and the current National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), remains one of the most outstanding personalities of 2018.

Before he was selected the APC national chairman, it was obvious that the party needed a shakeup. Party faithful were of the opinion that the APC would benefit from a new kind of leadership. However, in our opinion, that is not to remove anything from the leadership style of his predecessor, John Odigie-Oyegun, a consummate bureaucrat and suave gentleman who was too peaceful for the cloak and dagger office of a political party chairman in Post- Obasanjo Nigeria. In wishing for that change in leadership and, especially, in selecting Adams Oshiomhole, no one knew what to expect. The feeling of trepidation was palpable and it did not take long before the party and Nigerians found out what Oshiomhole had up his sleeves.

Driven by the perceptible stubbornness of a career trade unionist, and the can-do bravado of a bouncer, he turned the party, bugged down by post-election victory lethargy, into a beehive of activity. In the ensuing tremor, both good and obviously bad decisions were made. The party headquarters were soon engulfed in fireworks and some of those who had thought and actually hoped that he was a toothless bulldog were surprised at what came their way.

The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, for example, who had thought that the only hurdle on his way to turning the state into his personal fiefdom was the opposition parties in the state, soon found out how wrong he was.

There is no denying the fact that Oshiomhole has made a lot of very powerful and implacable enemies within the rank and file of the ruling party, APC. Also, he himself will, in his sober moments, accept that many of the decisions he took in the euphoria of the scenario he created were wrong, perhaps, unintendedly.

For instance, the fact that the APC is still struggling to field candidates, against court orders, in Zamfara and Rivers State, must say something about his leadership style. But warts and all, Adams Oshiomhole, it needs to be emphasised, brought life and zest to the politics of both the APC and the nation.

Having said that, as national chairman, a more accurate assessment of him will be contained in his report card after the forthcoming general elections. The outcome of those very crucial elections will put him effectively at the bar of public opinion and the focus of the assessment will be whether or not the APC ends up with more elected officials this 2019 elections than in the 2015 polls. Invariably, though Oshiomhole is not, strictly speaking, a candidate in the elections, he is no less a participant and for him history beckons.

 

– The Billionaire With A Higher Purpose

The Benedict Peters’ story is one to behold. By dint of hard work and an audacious belief in self, he has propelled himself to heights he could hitherto imagine. The commitment that drives him and his determination to succeed have seen him climb speedily up the ladder of prosperity and has become a self-made billionaire.

After completing his academic pursuit, Benedict Peters launched his career. He held various senior roles in banking, commodity trading and the Nigerian oil and gas industry. Due to his connection to his country and people, and based on his belief in social and environmental accountability, Peters is involved with several philanthropic initiatives. Through Aiteo Group, the business empire he founded, the billionaire provides grants, donations and seed capital to individuals and groups. In 2014, he decided to increase his investment in local society and founded the Joseph Agro Foundation. The goal of the foundation is to provide relief to rural farmers and to drastically improve their standard of living. The foundation works to develop educational options, reduce unemployment and promote responsible water usage.

Even he himself will accept that his rise to fame and fortune is not exactly the big story about Benedict Peters. There are many billionaires around who can march him in every way. What is spectacular about him is that in spite of all the travails of his businesses and even political controversy, some of them contrived, he has been able to use his enormous resources to uplift humanity.

Most remarkably, his conglomerate, the Aiteo Group, has signed a five-year partnership agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) worth an estimated N2.9 billion. In the capacity of Official Optimum Partner of the NFF, Aiteo’s support funded the salaries of Super Eagles boss, Gernot Rohr and coaches of all NFF’s national team. For the sports body, NFF, it was a welcome relief that has played its role in the growth and development of Nigerian football.

 

Leah Sharibu – Conscience Of A Nation

 

Leah Sharibu was one of the 110 female students of Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, abducted in February 19, 2018 by Boko Haram terrorists and is still in captivity because she has refused to renounce her Christian faith. Today, she has, unarguably, transformed to the status of the conscience of the nation and has become everyone’s posterchild, a formidable symbol of resistance against the forces and agents of evil.

We are persuaded by her plight to pose this hypothetical question: How many adults, regardless of their religious affiliation (Islam or Christianity) would, in Leah’s shoes, faced with certain death, stand their grounds in the hands of bloody and gun totting terrorists and all they are asking for is a renunciation of their faith?

Not many, in our view. The only one we have seen so far, so publicly, is a little girl who goes by the name Leah Sharibu. And that underscores the admirable example she has become to all especially her parents who, in their anguish, still are proud that they raised such a stout-hearted child buoyed by the courage of her conviction and the dictates of her faith.

Almost a year after she and her mates were snatched from their school, Leah is yet to regain her freedom. Some of her mates have been released by their abductors. She has remained in captivity because of her steadfastness and determined resolve not to repudiate her belief, her faith and her God. She clearly told her captors more by her action than by her unspoken words that she trusts her God to save her, and even if He does not, she would not deny Him. In other words, she was and still is ready to pay the supreme price for what she believes. Leah is, clearly, a class act

Paradoxically, Leah’s situation and her insistence that her faith is worth dying for, have inspired an uncommon unity among Muslims and Christians in Nigeria and even internationally in seeking her release. Islamic clerics have always stressed that Islam does not condone the use of coercion in the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam. Impressively, a cleric,

Abdullahi Abubakar, an Imam based in Barkin Ladi Local Government of Plateau State, does not just preach the true tenets of Islam but also demonstrates by his actions that force is undesirable in the things of God. In doing this, he might have instinctively taken a step further Leah’s good example to humanity. This cleric saved about 300 Christians from certain death in the hands of rampaging blood hounds and religious bigots. In appreciation, LEADERSHIP named the 83 year old man, our Person of the year 2018.

It is obvious that Nigeria needs more Leah Sharibus and more Imam Abubakars to stem the tide of bigotry and unnecessary zealotry that is threatening to ensnare the polity in undeserved crisis. For Leah, it is our prayer and belief that that God she has so suicidally stuck to will deliver her eventually to her long suffering family.

 


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