Oyebanji, Sahara Reporters And The Needless Debate

Oyebanji, Sahara Reporters And The Needless Debate

By Aina Johnson Adedayo


Must we always heat up the polity? Must we create controversy where there is none? Is Citizen Journalism about rummor and fake news? These and many questions have been troubling me and other members of Ekiti Rebirth Group (ERG) in the last 72 hours since Sahara Reporters, an oniline portal, has started making unnecessary issues out of the recent trip made to the United States by our state Governor, Abiodun Abayomi Oyebanji.

Ours is an apolitical non-governmental group but concerned about Ekiti development. Over the years, we have played advisory roles to individuals and organisations willing to impact our people. At our meeting yesterday, for the first time, our people were consentient in decision -everybody agreed and condemned the campaign of calumny against Governor Oyebanji by Sahara Reporters and their sponsors. Of course, we subscribe to the school of thought that sees criticism as an essential ingredient for effective governance. But there must be a basis for criticism before it can achieve its objective. Any criticism that is based on sentiment, fake news and ulterior motive is nothing but propaganda.

On this note, the recent hammering on the governor by the news portal is considered by our group as nothing but a deliberate move to drag the name of the respected man in the mud. For Christ’s sake, the news about his trip to the US was given a global treatment. Before he embarked on the trip, Oyebanji’s media aide, Olayinka Oyebode, issued a statement, announcing that the Governor would be travelling to the US to attend the 2024 US-Africa Business Summit in Dallas. On arrival in the US and all through the summit, Nigerians were being fed on both traditional and various digital news platforms with the governor’s activities. After participating in a global event, where he successfully projected our country Nigeria, and Ekiti in particular, he began another round of networking exercises to engage potential partners on Ekiti development. This was also well amplified by his media department.

Sadly, Sahara Reporters suddenly turned itself into a tool in the hands of a few disgruntled individuals who wanted the governor and by extension the Ekiti project to fail and release a news story that the Governor’s whereabouts was unknown. Even after the state government issued a statement to debunk the misleading story and went further to give further details on the governor’s itinerary in the US, the purveyors of the fake news fired another ridiculous shot that the US trip cost Ekiti State $500,000. This is nothing but blackmail and fallacy.

To us in our group, we decided to come out and identify with Oyebanji now because we have followed his track record and activities in office in the last one and have years and have concluded that he’s not a frivolous leader.

For instance, after almost two years of being in the saddle of governance in Ekiti State, this is perhaps the governor’s first major trip abroad. It would be recalled that after the 2022 gubernatorial election in Ekiti when everybody was expecting BAO, as he’s popularly called, to travel but he didn’t go anywhere.

The recent trip to the United States of America, where he participated in the 2024 US- Africa Business Summit, among other engagements, is, among other benefits to consolidate on the partnership between Ekiti State and CAVISTA Holdings, a strong stakeholder in the summit that has consistently invested in Ekiti in the last two years.

Therefore, the trip to America was not to chase shadow but to consolidate on the existing relationship between the global company and Ekiti State. Of course, the summit, which was organised by the Corporate Council on Africa, provided an ample opportunity for Governor Oyebanji to further push the narrative about Ekiti development to the global audience. In attendance were global business leaders, heads of national and sub- national governments, policy makers, investors and institutions.

To the management of Sahara Reporters and their promoters, Ekiti people are too sophisticated to be bamboozled by this concocted story. We have, over the years, clamoured for a leader of our own -a governor that understands where the shoes are pitching us and we see him in BAO. On this note, we will resist any plan to de-market him and our state.


Adedayo is the Director of Publicity of ERG

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