LOUD WHISPERS: The Inauguration

I don’t know what possessed me to say ‘Sure, okay ‘. My husband and I were talking about his transition and inauguration plans. He had set up a transition committee and once that was in place, it was time to start planning for the inauguration. During his first term in office, I helped plan a lot of State events behind the scenes, partly because I was required to do so and mostly because my husband believes I am good at organising. When my husband said ‘You should head the inauguration committee,’ I said, ‘Sure, okay’, without hesitation. Over the past few weeks I have asked myself why I agreed to take on such a responsibility. It had not occurred to me that membership of the Inauguration Committee needed to be announced publicly. In political circles, especially during and after election campaigns, membership of any kind of committee is very important. It is taken as an indication of who is ‘relevant’, who is ‘in’ and who is likely to be the beneficiary of the first ‘harvest’ of political appointments. When the names were about to be announced, I thought of taking my name off the list in order not to attract attention. After talking to some people about it, we agreed that it was better to be transparent. The announcement attracted some attention, with a few nasty remarks about nepotism. I found one of the online comments particularly interesting. It went something like this, ‘The First Lady is not the one who will do all the work, it will be done by someone else. She will just sit there looking pretty at her husband’s side on the day’.  I cringed at the sheer nastiness of the comments, not to mention the deeply sexist undertones. I know when to stay hidden in the shadows and play the demure ‘Wife of…….’. And I know when I need to show up and not be a hypocrite. I keep telling other people, especially young women, to step up and do something that challenges them. And here I was, given an opportunity to do something but afraid of a few cyber-bullies.  Members of the Inauguration Planning Committee worked hard, round the clock, and there was no such thing as hiding behind some poor fellow doing all the work only for me to take the credit. We all worked together in plenary and in sub-committees, and at the end of a great week of activities, we are all taking the credit

The inauguration activities started on Monday October 14th with an inauguration lecture by the famous poet, writer and scholar, Professor Niyi Osundare. The powerful lecture was so beautifully delivered and resonated so much that it left some of us in tears. The inauguration lecture event also featured an inter-generational round table which had Professor Niyi Osundare, Dr Kayode Fayemi, and two young Ekiti professionals, Dr Sunday Aikurawo Aniyi and Ms Jumoke Oyebode. The key issues that came out of the discussion was the need for new faces and voices in leadership, grounded in the principles of hard work, respect, social justice and love for humanity that speak to the core values that Ekiti people stand for. The October 15th event also had a book presentation by Dr Kayode Fayemi, his latest book of speeches and lectures called ‘Staying the Course’ as well as the announcement of the winners of the JKF (John Kayode Fayemi) Essay Writing Competition. On the whole it was a great afternoon, which ended with the viewing of a photo exhibition of wonderful photographs taken by four young photographers who have worked with JKF over the past few years.

After the events, we hosted our guests from out of town to dinner, and that went on for a while. I went to bed at 3.30am and I was up at 6.45am on October 16th, inauguration day. As I started getting ready, my heart beat a bit faster. It had started to drizzle, and I was scared stiff that it could escalate into a heavy downpour. It has been raining with a vengeance lately in Ekiti, but mostly at night. By the time we left home at Isan-Ekiti for the forty-five-minute drive to Ado-Ekiti, the skies had cleared and I started feeling a bit better. The sleepless nights and painstaking plans for the inauguration ceremony paid off. The ceremony was beautiful. Excited Ekiti residents and visitors showed up in massive numbers, most of them gaily dressed in the Aso Ebi uniform. I had wisely stayed away from handling the Aso Ebi, (I usually end up giving most of it out for free), it was in the very capable hands of a textiles merchant. Events such as this can get very difficult because of the need to manage large crowds, VIP access, traffic and congestion, visitors, accommodation, catering, media, seating space, juggling a multiplicity of vendors, unpredictable weather, the list is endless. However, we managed to pull it off with very satisfactory results.

On Wednesday October 17th, there were Senatorial District visits for the new Governor to say thank you and reiterate his campaign promises. At the first stop in Ido-Ekiti, Ekiti North Senatorial District, the Governor announced the abolishment of the levies imposed on school children which had been introduced by the previous administration. These fees were seen as a contradiction of the free education policy which had been in place 2010-2014, and is a critical legacy of South West Nigeria political progressives. The shouts of joy could be heard across the State, the response was electrifying. The second stop that day was Ikere-Ekiti for the Ekiti South Senatorial visit, which was also very interesting, especially listening to my husband diplomatically assuring the traditional ruler of Ikere that the town would not suffer neglect for supporting their own son during the last election. The tension eased when everyone agreed that the votes from the town were split between the two contestants. On Thursday October 18th, there was a moving inter-faith service held on the government house grounds. The key message from the service was unity and religious tolerance, and the venue was packed. Friday 19th was the Jumat Service which I missed because I attended the funeral of the father of one of our political associates. I left the service after the Thanksgiving part in order to attend the third and final Senatorial district visit in Aramoko-Ekiti for Ekiti Central.

When we were planning the inauguration activities, tried to send a message that it would not just be about VIPs swooping into Ekiti for a two-hour ceremony and taking off again. We wanted to have programs that would give our people a sense of ownership. This is how we came up with the idea of the Ekiti Arts, Culture and Talent Fair. It took place on Saturday October 20th and it was a big hit. There were many exhibitors with products ranging from locally made electronic yam pounders, to cosmetics, textiles and beautiful paintings. There was also a food court with local delicacies such as pounded yam and Ekiti rice, with soups and stews many young people do not have the recipes for, never mind knowing how to cook them. There were a lot of music and dance performances, with guest artistes from the Nollywood Industry. In his speech at the event, Governor Fayemi promised to re-introduce the Ekiti State Festival of Arts and Culture (EKIFEST) that was started during his first term and had not been done since. One of the banks who sponsored the Saturday fair was so impressed that they promised to sponsor the next EKIFEST whenever Ekiti State is ready.

Sunday October 21st was Thanksgiving, which took place at the Governor’s church, St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral in Ado-Ekiti. As with all the other inauguration ceremonies, the church was packed full. The Catholic Bishop for Ekiti, Bishop Felix Ajakaiye gave a rousing sermon, during which he advised the new Governor to appoint people strictly on merit and not on the basis of religious or other sentiments. The inauguration activities were rounded up with a grand civic reception at the Governor’s home town of Isan-Ekiti. Of course, the Isan residents were only too happy to celebrate with their beloved son. The party ended three hours ago. The official inauguration activities are all over. Everyone travelled to and out of Ekiti State in peace. The events were very well attended, every single one of them over-subscribed. I have earned the right to be tired and totally exhausted. I however insisted on sending in my post for this week, because I did not send in any last week, and I do not want to give the impression that I will be too busy to write Loud Whispers. I might be a bit late every now and then, but the beat will go on every week. Thank you so much for all the love and warm messages. Please keep praying for us. Have a great week.

 

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com

 

 

 

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22 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: The Inauguration

  1. Femi Diipo October 23, 2018 at 1:18 am

    Wow!!! Congratulations ma’am, the days we’ve days we’ve been waiting for are finally here and it’s time to make Ekiti great again. Kudos to you for all the work and effort put into the greatness of the handing over, I’m certain there’s more to come for the good people of Ekiti. Congratulations once more

    Reply
  2. Dom Dom October 23, 2018 at 1:25 am

    I think those who don’t know you often make the mistake of thinking you’re just an ordinary woman, I had to educate someone recently about the kind of person you are. I think this “get it all easy Tag” for women is still sadly very predominant in this part of the world. Please continue to lead this excellent path ma’am, you’re a great example to many of us.
    Congratulations!!!

    Reply
  3. DSEED October 23, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    Thank God for the success of the inauguration. Once again congratulations ma. You won’t fail your people and also won’t disappoint God. Amen.

    Reply
  4. oyinlola Daramola October 23, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    I can imagine the magical moment. You said Yes out of excitement and we thank God it went very well. We love you and we are happy this good thing is happening. I am particularly happy that we will have this site running. Thank you and God bless you.

    Reply
  5. Yetunde Arisanwo October 23, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    God bless you your Excellency. I saw the post on facebook and I was glad. I am happy for what God has done in your family and how he will continue to help you and your husband through this position. Thank you for having us in mind. Thank you for the gift of Above Whispers and Loud Whispers. We know you won’t disappoint the people by the grace of God.

    Reply
  6. Victoria E October 23, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    We are glad and we know you got this but please, try to rest o. Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeee…. Make sure you rest even as you work hard and I would commend you for keeping this place even with this new assignment. I have been confused and thinking perhaps, you might want to shut this down but I am glad we are running this. We are praying for you.

    Reply
  7. Matilda Johnson October 23, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    Congratulations your Excellency, we are glad! Please, take time to rest, be careful with yourself and my regards to his Excellency. It is so good to know that we have people who are selfless leading us as a people.

    Reply
  8. Olumola Gift October 24, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    May God enable the both of you to deliver and strengthen you. God bless you.

    Reply
  9. Segun Olufemi October 24, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    Good to hear this ma, we thought we would be invited as your online family but we love the joy we saw online and we are happy you experienced the joy. For the stress, please rest.

    Reply
  10. Amaka Justina October 24, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    We are praying for you ma. We can’t wait to have a leadership forum with you in Ekiti under this platform. We are waiting oooooooooo. Don’t forget us.

    Reply
  11. Veronica Imaseun October 24, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    I feel jealous that we weren’t invited o. Mrs Gloria did a post about this also. Ah! I feel left out even though we watched online. Thank you for remembering us and please, remember us more.

    Reply
  12. Lucas Marshall October 25, 2018 at 9:44 am

    It’s really the day that the lord has made and we are glad. I am happy to see this new dawn and I will say, you are a supportive woman. We saw the way you were glowing when his Excellency was taking his oath of office and my colleagues at work were like, this woman is so proud of her husband right now. God will guide you both to do the right thing.

    Reply
  13. Vivian October 25, 2018 at 9:46 am

    Sincerely, I don’t know how you do it but you are a super woman. I Just finished your book speaking above a whisper and I must confess ma, You are model. Congratulations on this, God will keep you and we love you so much. Please, find time to eat well and rest well.

    Reply
  14. Latoya Philps October 25, 2018 at 9:47 am

    And that’s how we weren’t invited sha… It’s okay. But we love you still and we are praying for you.

    Reply
  15. Victor Udoh October 25, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    Well done ma, God bless and keep you and your husband. it feels sweet to refer to you as Your Excellency. I loved the post made by your team, I felt the gush of victory in it. But, you should have invited us na? we would have chattered bus down there.

    Reply
  16. Olakunle Olajide October 25, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    It is always good to see the sweat of your work turn out to be sweet.
    God bless you for your hard work ma’am and i sincerely appreciate your effort not to forget your fans on Abovewhispers. Do enjoy your tenure as much as you change the lives of your people positively.

    Reply
  17. Esther Aderanti October 26, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Wow. well done ma. It is good to have you back.

    Reply
  18. Bisi Fayemi October 26, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    Thank you all for the warm wishes. I am so sorry about the invitations! I promise to host you to an event in Ekiti next year.

    Warm regards always

    BAF

    Reply
    • Olakunle Olajide October 27, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      This is a very very pleasant news. Let me start my preparation. Thank you for listening and responding to us.

      Reply
  19. Eric Onuoha October 27, 2018 at 6:26 am

    Wow! What a busy time you had planning the inauguration. I am glad to know that it was a big success. Congratulations Ma. The people of Ekiti State are in good hands

    Reply
  20. Veronica Imaseun October 27, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    @BAF thank you for listening to us and we indeed can’t wait to see you. Well done mama

    Reply
  21. Jeannette Akua Eno October 29, 2018 at 11:03 pm

    Congratulations and Well Done Erelu on your outstanding leadership and contribution to such a successful inauguration. May God continue to bless you and Governor Fayemi. Love always.

    Reply

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