By Yinka Oyebode
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice…. (Proverbs 29 v 2)
“Eniyan lo n muni mo’niyan”, that Yoruba song commonly sung during engagement ceremonies is apt in my relationship with HRM Oba Dr Sunday Aikuirawo Aniyi, who I met in person for the very first time during the build up to the June 22, 2018 Governorship election in Ekiti State. My principal, His Excellency, Dr John Kayode Fayemi, then, the Honourable Minister of Mines and Steel Development, had given me names of two individuals he wanted me to liaise with, and explore the possibility of working with ahead of the governorship contest. I met the two gentlemen- Dr Sunday Aniyi and Mr Gboyega Ajayi at different locations in Ado-Ekiti and struck a working relationship with them.
Prior to that meeting however, I have had a prior contact with Dr Aniyi sometimes in 2017 after he bagged his doctorate degree from the University of Ibadan. Dr Fayemi, renowned for his ability to discover and nurture talents, had sent me to deliver his congratulatory message to him, which I conveyed via the telephone. While attempting to describe Dr Aniyi to me, Dr Fayemi had alluded to his (Dr Aniyi’s) writings, especially his social media posts, which he said were usually issue-based and done in very dignified language.
When we eventually met at the agreed location in Ado- Ekiti, weeks before the Governorship primaries sometimes around April 2018, one thing that immediately struck me about Kabiyesi was his simplicity, forthrightness and the richness of his thoughts. Aside agreeing to work with the media team, he equally advised that I reach out to a few younger chaps, who then were apparently opposed to Dr Fayemi’s aspiration and were waging war against him on the social media. He gave his reason: “Some of these chaps do not really hate your oga, they just want to be recognised and I am sure you can win them to your side, if you do as much as talk to them”, he had advised.
Considering the sincerity of his counsel, even though, reaching out to those guys was not part of my brief, I decided to give it a shot and as predicted by Dr Aniyi, I got favourable response from them. A Few weeks after that first encounter, Kabiyesi, Gboyega and I together with a few others were holed up in my make shift ‘media centre’ for a whole day, in what turned out my first working relationship with him. Like a gold fish, his calmness, proficiency, meticulousness and professionalism can hardly be hidden, same for the pristine values he wears like a badge of honour. It is quite evident, he draws, howbeit, unassumingly from the well of wisdom each time he shares his views on any topic. Kabiyesi is ever so philosophical, analytical and forthright in his discussions. He possess a rare ability to present his case with a touch of brilliance, logic, candour and wit.
These attributes were served in large dosage when he was appointed Senior Special Assistant (Special Projects) and later Principal Private Secretary (PPS) to the Governor by Dr Kayode Fayemi shortly after assuming office in his second term. As PPS, Dr Aniyi also had a role carved for him as a member of the Governor’s media and communication team.
It was through working together with other colleagues in the media and communication team that I had a full understanding and appreciation of Kabiyesi Aniyi’s work ethics as well as the driving force behind his amiable personality. Within a short space of time, he distinguished himself as a thoroughbred professional, a diligent worker, highly cerebral and creative mind, a team player and strategic thinker. His contributions to the weekly strategic sessions were top notch, just as his public conduct were pristine. Like one of his favourite novelists, Chinua Achebe, wrote: “proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten”, Dr Aniyi’s language is rich in figurative expressions, allegories and historical allusions. He ‘eats’ words intelligently, cautiously and persuasively, yet, he does not suffer fool gladly.
Kabiyesi’s positive disposition to life and the seriousness he attaches to his role as PPS made it easy for me to relate with him as a friend, brother and colleague. Aside his outstanding contributions to the activities of the Media and Communications team as a writer, editor, content creator and innovator, Dr Aniyi was also drafted by the Governor to develop a system of institutionalising Ekiti Values which was a principal focus of the JKF2 administration. Oba Aniyi therefore had the privilege of coordinating the development of Ekiti Values Education into a subject of study. He and his team produced the curriculum and midwifed the production of textbooks as well as the commencement of the subject in Ekiti schools.
While Dr Aniyi’s many virtues are strikingly visible, I must confess that his royal background was quite unknown to me and many of our colleagues. His name does not even suggest it, at best it indicates his Christian background. So, I was pleasantly surprised when the issue of obaship came up, apparently in oblivion of the age-long saying “ a njorin a o mori olowo”. I must have assumed that Dr Aniyi’s impeccable character and the excellent touch he brings to every assignment were a reflection of his well- groomed childhood which has resulted in excellent adulthood. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, it won’t be out of place to say that Dr Aniyi’s demonstrated excellent spirit and native intelligence were gifted him by Olodumare to make his royalty remarkable.
So, what the media and communications team of Governor Kayode Fayemi and indeed the field of communications as well as the academia lost, has become the gains of the good people of Erinmope Ekiti, who in their collective wisdom opted to put the crown on the fitting head of HRM Oba (Dr) Sunday Aikuirawo Aniyi, Amoyinmade Atayese 1, the Obaleo of Erinmope Ekiti.
For Kabiyesi Aniyi, his past has adequately prepared him for the present and the future. He started his elementary education at St. John’s Anglican School, Erinmope-Ekiti between 1982-88. He thereafter proceeded to Erinmope High School, Erinmope-Ekiti between 1989-95. He studied English at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko and graduated with a second class upper division in 2004. He bagged his Masters of Art degree in Communication and Language Arts from the University of Ibadan in 2009 and a doctorate in Communication Studies, (specializing in Media & International Communication) from the University of Ibadan in 2017. He has worked meritoriously as a journalist, teacher, consultant, lecturer and a public servant before ascending the throne of his fore bearers.
As the entire sons and daughters of Erinmope-Ekiti converge on the ancient town to celebrate the coronation activities of this God-fearing and imaginative leader, “ the philosopher king” today, I can only pray and wish my brother, friend, colleague and, now, my king a most peaceful and prosperous reign. May the people have good reasons to rejoice exceedingly during your reign, kabiyesi. E je ju ara iwaju lo!
- Oyebode is Chief Press secretary to the Governor of Ekiti State