Akintunde Oyebode: A weekend at Ikogosi (Y! FrontPage)

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As Maya Angelou said, “a bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”  The words of Rosalynn Carter echoed in my head as I walked around Ikogosi Spring Resort a few weeks ago during The Future Awards symposium for young and emerging leaders. The session itself was interesting, even if predictable. There was the usual blunt emptiness from Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, and most of the delegates, including me, were content with repeating conversations from previous sessions. I left the session convinced that our current actions as young people were in tune with the wishes of a ruling class unwilling to cede power.

The bright spot of the weekend was the first hand view of the work going on in Ekiti. I have not always agreed with the state government’s policies, and was critical of the decision to focus on tourism amidst several social needs. In my opinion, a state with the 2nd lowest revenue allocation needed to focus on improving education, healthcare and physical infrastructure in the state. I also felt Ekiti was not ripe for a social welfare program, and could spend a lot of its meager resources on agriculture, and defer the payment of allowances to senior citizens till the revenue pool increased. Today, I’m one of the Ekiti State Government’s biggest fans, rooting for the administration from the sidelines.

The weekend at Ikogosi was not picture perfect; if you didn’t own a line from MTN, you were disconnected from the world. Using the internet was like playing the lottery, you spent four hours trying to connect for twenty minutes of data; and ironically, water supply was broken in most rooms around the spring! But those were all teething problems experienced by early stage businesses, and I was happy to be one of the guinea pigs for this one. The management of the spring took all the feedback positively, and I am sure service will improve greatly once the Mantis Group, South Africa’s famed hospitality company, takes over later this year. That weekend made me realize Ekiti could be Nigeria’s Marrakesh with its beautiful scenery and waterfalls. There is a huge opportunity to develop the corridor from Ipole-Iloro’s Arinta Waterfalls, Ikogosi’s Warm Spring and the hills of Okemesi. I am eagerly awaiting the next step of this development; the golf course, helipad, canopy walk and cable car rides. In ten years, this corridor will be Ekiti State’s cash cow, and this government should take the credit for laying the foundation.

The other thing that inspired me was the sense of belonging showed by the Ekiti youths that attended the event. They sang the state anthem with pride and gusto; and the words that signified unity and progress came to life each time the anthem was sung. It was inspiring to see the rebranding of Ekiti State resonate strongly with its people. For this, we must thank Mrs. Funmi Olayinka, our departed Deputy Governor. Her ownership of the state’s rebranding exercise showed the benefit of having competent people in leadership positions, and showed the possibilities of reinvigorating people regardless of economic and social limitations.

I chose to write about my Ekiti today because the people mourn. But we must not mourn those who transform our lives and depart the earth earlier than expected. For being a major part of Ekiti State’s success story, Funmi Olayinka should be celebrated; to do so while battling cancer makes her even more remarkable. She remains an example of what can happen when stellar private sector experience is transferred to public service, and departs with an unblemished record of service. The achievements of this government will ensure her legacy remains with us, and many will draw from the example she set as we seek to improve the lot of our people. For this, we celebrate Funmi Olayinka for taking the less travelled road.

As Maya Angelou said, “a bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” You sang your song our Moremi, and we salute you for doing so.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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