LOUD WHISPERS: I Lift Up Mine Eyes Unto The Hills

The Ekiti State Government House was built on a hill known as Oke Ayoba (Ayoba Hill). Construction started on the building in 2012 and it was completed in 2014, during the first administration of Governor Kayode Fayemi (2010-2014) a period known in Ekiti as JKF1. Since JKF lost re-eleciton in June 2014, it meant that we only lived in Oke Ayoba for three weeks. When we were leaving, one of my friends bemoaned the fact that we were leaving a house that we painstakingly put together. I told her that the house does not belong to us. It belongs to the people of Ekiti State. I also said that just as the people would remember the occupants of the house, they would never forget who built it in the first place. In 2018, JKF became Governor of Ekiti and started his second term. This meant that we got to live on the house on the hill after all.

The view of Ado-Ekiti and beyond from Oke Ayoba is a breathtaking one. Every morning when I pull open the sliding doors on the terrace to look out, it never ceases to take my breath away. You can see the rolling hills of Ekiti in the distance, solid, silent and everlasting. During the harmattan season, the heavy mist over Ayoba Hill is an amazing sight to behold. Whenever I feel the need for peace and calm, all I have to do is step on to one of the many balconies of Oke Ayoba. One day, as I was staring at the hills in the distance, it dawned on me that in time, all the people I see running around now would no longer be there, they would eventually be replaced by other human beings. We will all leave eventually. Yet, the hills will still be there. The hills have been witness to so many things, told and untold. The hills have seen the glory of Ekiti State in ages past, the bravery of our ancestors, the fight for the liberation of Ekiti from feudal overlords. The hills have sat through political crisis, intrigue, high drama and turbulence. The hills must certainly have heaved a sigh of relief when peace seemed to descend over the land. Leaders have come and gone. They will continue to come and go. The steadfast hills will still be there.

On Sunday October 16th 2022, I will wave goodbye to the rolling hills from one of my favourite spots on Oke Ayoba. I will of course still be able to see the hills from anywhere, but the view from Oke Ayoba is particularly spectacular. Every time I see the hills, I am reminded of why my husband and I have been given the privilege of this wondrous view. It is because the people of Ekiti asked my husband to serve them. And with thanks to God Almighty, my husband has served the good people of Ekiti State as diligently and as faithfully as possible. A man of carefully spoken words but deeply significant actions, he has brought a new meaning to leadership and governance in Ekiti State and beyond. When he was re-contesting for a second term in 2018, the campaign was Reclaiming our Land, Restoring our Values. Today, there is a consensus that he accomplished his mission. My father was a civil servant for most of his life and he used to joke that ‘Government work never ends’. JKF’s term as Governor of Ekit has ended, but the work of building a more prosperous, peaceful and developed Ekiti continues. The Governor-Elect, Mr Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji will do a great job of taking Ekiti State to greater heights. He has had many years of preparation, under the watchful eyes of the rolling hills.

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to support my husband’s work in various ways. I worked hard during my husband’s first term, but I was also careful. I did not want to be accused of being too visible or too ‘pushy’. It made no difference at the end of the day because I was accused of those things anyway. During his second term, I decided that I was not going to be distracted by detractors. I chose to focus on the reason why my husband had been given another opportunity to serve – the people. Through policy advocacy, community empowerment, social welfare programs, leadership development for women and coalition building, I was able to make an impact on the status of women in Ekiti State. The hills will bear witness to the fact that today, Ekiti women have a voice, and hopefully, no one will attempt to take it away from them. The past two weeks have been a blur of activities, some quite emotional. It is such a wonderful feeling to be able to run a race to the very end, instead of stumbling and being shuffled off the field unceremoniously. With a heart full of joy and happiness, I say Thank You to all those who have travelled with us since we started our journey. I wish I could say more, but this is enough for now. I am tired and I have tears of joy in my eyes and I am finding it hard to focus. Governor-Elect Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, all will be well with you and your administration. After all those years of telling me, ‘Oga should find time to rest’, now, I hope you will take your own advice!

Dr Yemi Oyebanji, as you take over from me as the First Lady of Ekiti State, may God Almighty be with you. You will get text messages and phone calls asking for school fees, payment of hospital bills, contributions to funeral expenses and so many others. Just smile and take it in your stride. I assure you your expenses will always exceed your allowances, and your feet might hurt at the end of each day but hang in there.

JKF my darling, congratulations. I am so proud of you. May you continue to shine and soar and may you enjoy  God’s mercy and grace in all things. 

If you are reading this and wondering, so what is next for Erelu? You will find out. Just as there is a time for everything under the sun, this is a time for sleeping, reading, writing and Netflix for a while.

Wherever I am, whatever I do, I will always remember the beauty and pleasures of the early morning mist over the rolling hills. Thank you for the opportunity Ekiti-Kete!

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

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One Response to LOUD WHISPERS: I Lift Up Mine Eyes Unto The Hills

  1. Fisolami October 18, 2022 at 1:33 pm

    Thank you too ma’am for the Job well done


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