ADO-EKITI, the Ekiti State capital, was agog on Sunday for the 55th birthday of Governor John Kayode Fayemi.
Governors, top politicians, monarchs, clerics, friends, students, farmers, the young and the elderly, gaily dressed market men and women, as well as other well-wishers, accompanied the governor to St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Agere in the capital town.
The congregation was congenial; it comprised all faith, mostly colleagues and friends of the governor from different parts of the country.
The Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Most Revd Emmanuel Badejo, who delivered the sermon, said: “We must roll up our sleeves to support leaders and those who want to create a better society. The light of honesty is disappearing; the light is not going round enough. God is calling on leaders to put people above party, to put people above personal interests because the people come first and they are God’s greatest legacy. Those who fail to do so will become liabilities and thrown into the dustbin of history,” he said.
Fayemi, who is the Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), reiterated his promise to dedicate the rest of his life to the service of God and humanity.
“All of the challenges will not go away overnight but you should believe that God is the one that can always use those of us that have been given grace to lead, to be of service to all His children. We have no choice than to continue to commit ourselves to the service of God,” he said.
Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal described Fayemi as “a governor, who is not partisan and has proven himself to be pan-Nigeria and has a relationship with everyone, regardless of political affiliation”.
Dignitaries at the celebration included Governors Okeize Ikpeazu (Abia), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Jide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Godwin Obaseki (Edo) and Dr Hadiza Balarabe, Kaduna State Deputy Governor.
Others included Ekiti State Deputy Governor Bisi Egbeyemi, former Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko, former Osun State Deputy Governor Iyiola Omisore, former Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Bawa Bwari and Vice-President of Kings College, London, Prof Funmi Olonisakin, who chaired the panel of discussion at the event’s colloquium.
Yoruba leaders at the event included erudite historian Prof Banji Akintoye and Afenifere leader Pa Ayo Fasanmi as well as former deputy governors Prof Modupe Adelabu and Abiodun Aluko.
Others are: the Archbishop of Ondo Anglican Diocese, Bishop Christopher Omotunde; Bishop of Ekiti Catholic Diocese, Bishop Felix Ajakaiye and traditional leaders in the state, led by their chairman, Oba Ajibade Alabi.
The All Progressives Congress (APC), in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa Onilu, the party said: “…In his current assignment as the Chairman of the cross-partisan NGF, Dr. Fayemi has, unarguably, positioned the forum to work constructively with the President Muhammadu Buhari government to rebuild our dear country.”
The Northern Governor’s Forum (NGF), led by its Chairman and Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong said: “Fayemi has given his best to the nation and Ekiti State by deploying his vast academic and social activism endowments in addressing critical challengesl.”
Akeredolu said: “Ekiti State, you have somebody you should be proud of. You have JKF: he is a pride to Ekiti and all of us are proud of him. Great friends are few and far between. Kayode, you are a great friend and you will remain a friend forever and a brother always.”
Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello wrote: “No doubt, this day is yet another significant milestone in the journey of your life and I join other colleague governors across the states of the federation to heartily rejoice with the calm, calculated and soft-spoken Chairman of our forum.”
Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola said: “Our Chairman, on behalf of my family, the government and people of the State of Osun, I congratulate you on your birthday, and I pray that the Almighty God will never cease to bless you immensely.”