Ekiti-11, popularly known as E-11, is a group of accomplished Ekiti sons, who are in various professions and with varying economic and political interests. Chief Kola Akosile, the chairman of the group, speaks with SAM NWAOKO on the recent activities of the group and its plan ahead of the governorship election, which will be held in the state in July. Excerpts:
YOUR group prides itself as one that’s out to promote Ekiti economically, socially and politically. What would you say was the cause of the recent crisis that occurred in the organisation?
There was no pre-crisis or crisis or post-crisis in E-11. We just had a transition period. Even when a car is in top speed, when you want to make a turn, you slow down. After that, you now accelerate again. So, for us in E-11, it was actually just a transition. There was no crisis particularly as people would want to believe. After the transition, you’ll notice that there has not been any issue. E-11 is a focused organisation that is completely non-partisan in the sense that it is not a platform for people to use for their political ambitions. But we try to also encourage our members to be political because you cannot also separate economy and politics.
It was the belief of those outside that there was a crisis, because reports were that one of your top members was suspended. What was the issue then, if there was no crisis and we’d like to know if people like Senator Babafemi Ojudu are back in E-11?
Issues in E-11 are dependent on the challenges and activities of each individual. They get active at times and sometimes they get passive. It could be due to challenges of work, challenges of office, it could be political challenges. So, Ojudu is still very much a member of E-11. Nobody was suspended. We are one and the same family but the issue is that at times, I could be very active because I have the time. For instance, if I get a political appointment, I could be inactive for the period of my appointment because of busy schedule. That’s what is really going on. Also there has been a consistent trend of membership that had held the organisation…
And you needed to change it?
Yes, we needed to change, because we have a constitution and we looked at the constitution and saw the natural need for us to have a new leadership, which we did.
So with the new leadership, what’s the new focus of E-11?
The new focus of E-11 is to play by what we said we want to be from the beginning. We said we want to be non-partisan. We want to be very active politically in the sense of assisting our members who have political ambitions. We are also looking at the empowerment. Our main focus is empowerment, and empowerment of our people politically through the economic side. If you empower people economically, they will not be used as political thugs. We are saying in E-11 that no ambition of anybody is worth the blood of any Ekiti citizen. So we are preaching to the citizenry to participate actively. They should collect their PVCs and ensure that they exercise their civic rights.
On the cultural and economic sides, we are looking at how we can empower our members, empower the citizens and empower the institutions that we all belong and thereby create a better economy for Ekiti so that we want to begin to shift from the traditional, government-dependent civil-service economy to a private-public relationship. We know it’s a long transition period but we are gradually moving towards that.
It is the belief in the state that the current political dispensation would shape a lot of things in Ekiti State. What role is E-11 planning to play in the coming political dispensation in the state, considering the fact that your members are found in all the major political parties?
We want to preach fairness, openness and also create an atmosphere in which the contestants would communicate with the citizens in terms of what they want to contribute to the state when they get to office. We also want to be able to hold whoever is elected to their words. After they’ve finished their primaries, we intend to possibly organise a governorship debate that would be non-partisan. The issue is, we are looking at the Ekiti people in general, and whoever emerges from each of the political parties is our candidate. We will say come and talk to the people of Ekiti here and in the diaspora: this is what I want to achieve and when that kind of thing is done and it is recorded, nobody would come to say ‘I was misquoted.’ We can buy airtime on a quarterly or monthly or half-yearly basis to ask questions like, ‘These are the things that were said at the debate, governor, are you sure you’re on the right path?’ This will help us to hold people to effective governance. We are also looking at reforms in the governance structure, where there is openness and where people can access information.
Okay, you’re confirming that your membership cuts across political parties?
And you’re also confirming that some of your members are angling to become governors, senators and so on?
Yes. Some of them are angling to become governor. In fact, we are also encouraging our members to go as councillors, House of Assembly members and so on, because when you’re talking about economy and you don’t have some political influence, then you’ll just be proposing theories and so on. But when you combine that, then you can truly influence things. In the United States and some other developed climes, for instance, you can see lobby groups, although it’s not totally aligned, but it helps to shape the economy of the future because if you have a knowledgeable, experienced and exposed person as a councillor, and also have exposed people as local government officials and House of Assembly members, even senators and house of representatives members, communication would be easy. There’ll be smoother operation. But when you have people who have no second address but are just politicians as leaders, that’s the concept we are trying to change in Ekiti.
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