After the arduous exercise of campaigning and electioneering for both the primary and general elections in Ekiti State last year, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi (All Progressives Congress – APC Candidate) was declared the elected Governor of Ekiti State.
According to accredited independent observers of the Ekiti State governorship election, the Election Monitoring Agencies supported by the French Embassy, “the 2018 Ekiti State Governorship Election was very well conducted and administered in terms of the Pre-Election period and Election Day activities with a significant improvement over recent governorship elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission,” (The Leadership News, July 25, 2018).
Seven months later, February 23, 2018, the Presidential and National Assembly elections were held in Ekiti State and once again, the ruling party All Progressives Congress (APC) won thoroughly fair and square. While it was a great electoral success for the All Progressives Congress (APC) and People of Ekiti State, the role of “One Woman” can never be underestimated; and that woman is Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi.
It is noteworthy that Ekiti was the First State in the Federation to collate and deliver the Presidential and National Assembly election results as acknowledged by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
Even more remarkable was that Ekiti recorded the least number of voided votes among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory where elections were held. She personally educated citizens on how to thumb print using their “Ika Ilabe” (Index finger). “Ika Ilabe” later became a meme at every campaign field. The “Ika Ilabe was no doubt a game changer responsible for the least number of voided votes in Ekiti State.
It is widely believed by campaign strategists and political pundits that the Ekiti 2018/2019 All Progressives Congress (APC) electoral successes spearheaded by the Wife of the Governor, Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi were achieved on the strength of the advocacy and voter education across the hamlets, villages and towns ahead of the election.
While I was privileged to be part of the Elect JKF 2018 Campaign Organization (aka: Le’gbegbe) and the Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi-led 2019 Re- elect Buhari Campaign Team, it was an experience I would never forget, It provided me an opportunity to understudy and work with an exceptional woman I have always respected and admired.
During our campaign meetings, activities and road shows which mostly spans from dawn till dusk most times, I managed to keep a private electoral journal, which are what I call “Lessons Learned.” From this journal I will like to share some takeaways on some of the characteristics of an enigma, an exceptional woman whose doggedness, take-no-prisoners attitude and winning personality made the 2018/2019 Ekiti APC Elections a great success; Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi.
1. Leadership – Perfect example of a servant leader, a role model in every sense of the word. A great listener and an excellent motivator. She welcomes feedbacks and takes to constructive criticisms. She is very responsive to messages and phone calls regardless of status.
2. Innovation – I consider her one of the greatest master-strategist of our time. Sitting with her at campaign meetings during strategy sessions often seems like been in a war theater where all the strategies and critical decisions for victory are championed. The road show which was one of her brain-child enabled the campaign train to reach out to large number of people within a short period of time. Erelu’s road shows later became a benchmark for other candidates.
3. Goal Oriented – There is this sense of focused enthusiasm and excitement towards commitments, both big and small. She will always keep us focused on tasks and assignments at hand, making sure we don’t get distracted from achieving set goals.
4. Insightfulness – A visionary, she can see well and plan well ahead of others. She always presents a multi-faceted approach to solving problems. She is very thorough and with love for details, outside-the-box thinking, and her knack for asking targeted questions is something I have always admired.
5. Energetic – I am often awe-struck by the sheer energy she displays during our campaign meetings and road shows. I truly appreciate the positive energy that often makes me to challenge myself; that if “Erelu BamBam” can survive a 16 to 18-hour campaign days, I should do even more. Whenever we go out for market campaigns, Erelu would have arrived at Ado Ekiti by 7:30 am from Isan and set to go. During our road shows ahead of the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections, inside the open truck where we stood to campaign. Whenever, Erelu discover that anyone appeared quiet or fatigued, she would call us out one after the other to ‘pay transport fare’ by dancing to get us re-energized. There sure was no dull moment.
6. Gender Main Streaming –Through her efforts of women advocacy and engagement, Ekiti State can boast of increased number of women in political offices and civil service statewide, judicial rewrite for abuses against women, and women welfare programs. She has been at the forefront of the enlightenment of the womenfolk for more participation in the electoral process which resulted in the massive turnout of women at the polls in Ekiti State.
To know her is to love her. Erelu Bisi Fayemi is a genuine leader, mentor for aspiring young women, a great motivational speaker and a lover of the people.
To mark the International Women’s Day, we proudly celebrate an accomplished Feminist Activist, Politician, Policy Advocate, Author and Social Entrepreneur; Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi who played significant roles in the 2018/2019 elections conducted in Ekiti State.
Written by , Mrs. Bolaji Egbeyemi-Olagbaju is the Executive Director of Mothers and Beyond International (MBI)