The Akeredolus are not ones to be far away from the limelight. A first family in every sense of the word, the Aketi family comprises of His Excellency- Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu the esteemed Governor of Ondo State- a Senior Advocate of Nigeria; the First Lady, Her Excellency, Betty Anyanwu Akeredolu, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, with a track record spanning decades; and their children, renowned for excellence in areas such as Tourism, Media and Technology, amongst others…
The Aketis are a versatile family, always in the spot-light. Sometimes, they are deservedly applauded for their dynamism and their achievements, but other times, they are vilified, and outrightly slandered, with antagonists, usually sacrificing decency on the altar of politics.
In this day and age where anyone can say anything, buoyed by the semi-anonymous veil that social media provides, without being saddled with the burden of proof, the First family have become targets of attacks by online trolls, and unfortunately, one has to admit, that in this day and age, even barefaced lies can stick unchallenged and unaddressed.
I personally find it disturbing, that in several areas, the amazing work that the dynamic duo of Arakunrin and Arabinrin are doing, across sectors, are being underreported, and sometimes, undermined by weak trolls behind the veil, who often get away with the fact that the first couple are often too busy making a positive impact on society to care to defend themselves.
I particularly note, first, the deftness with which Arakunrin has improved the security of our dear state, with the deployment of, and support for the
Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun. I know that people find it easy to forget how much fear was in the land, with the activities of kidnappers and cattle grazers who made life a living hell for Ondo State’s travellers and farmers. People were kidnapped on the roads and on their farms on a weekly basis with high profile murders and kidnaps being reported on a weekly basis.
Arakunrin took on this challenge, headlong, and led the charge for Amotekun to be legally recognized across the South-West. He spoke for his people, with some of us admiring his boldness, with fear that there might be repercussions, or he could fall out of favour with the powers that be, whilst speaking unequivocally for his people.
People forget, and often times, it makes bold leaders wonder, if they are worth fighting for.
Despite the politics and the intimidations, you cannot fault results. Despite the intentions and plans of anarchists who would rather Rome burns, Aketi has achieved tremendous results as our farms, roads, cities and villages are safer compared to other states in the South-West, and across Nigeria.
Aketi’s giant strides traverse sectors, but I will cite security as a sector where even the blind and deaf have seen and heard of his impact, but alas, his political enemies would like to muddle the waters and steal his thunder. Amotekun is not perfect, but it is an outstanding success by all ramifications, and their impact has made us safer. We must be kind enough to applaud and not tear down what has in all honesty, fulfilled the purpose for which it was established.
Outside Amotekun, I would also move to what I consider is Arabinrin, the First Lady’s most vital contribution to society- her BEMORE initiative.
BEMORE, I believe, came to the limelight in the year 2017, to aid the empowerment of the 21st-century Nigerian girl child and womenfolk in general, with the right knowledge and skill-set to impact society positively.
Nigerians have known initiatives with equally catchy objectives, but what has distinguished BEMORE is the massive scale of its impact. For over 4 years now, close to 2000 young girls have been trained in teamwork, problem-solving, social and leadership skills, information and communication technology, renewable energy, morals, social skills and etiquettes, physical fitness, and other remarkable areas.
In terms of practical learning, they have been taught the making of hygienic liquid products, art and design, tying of headgears, cake-baking, beautycare, self-defence, aerobics, music and dance, amongst other skills.
Hundreds of computers have been given away, alongside hundreds of solar panels, and thousands of hours of training and mindshare by outstanding facilitators.
Arabinrin, a survivor of breast cancer, with remarkable energy and an approach to life that belies what she has been through, has really touched the world with BEMORE. When you impact a man, he can decide to keep it to himself, but when you impact a woman, her family and the society at large, is sure to feel the impact.
BEMORE is a game-changing model which recognizes that empowering women may be a better, more beneficial approach to changing society. BEMORE inspires collective action. BEMORE promotes positive change, as in their own words, BEMORE creates a new breed of future women without greed, and exposes them to skills that can change their lives, their families and their nation.
When I withess the quantum of positive impact of Amotekun and BEMORE, and I read the outright falsehoods, the half-truths, and the attempts at watering down their impact with mere words, I am compelled to speak out, because lies, if unchallenged can be believed in this day and age, and I choose to be a custodian of truth.
I can only appeal, that we do not sacrifice decency and truth on the altar of politics. For the sake of our girls who have felt the impact of BEMORE; for the sake of our farmers whose livelihoods are no longer trampled upon and eaten by the reckless; for the sake of our road-users who now commute with a relative sense of security; for the sake of our people who can now open their shops into the night without fear of being robbed by armed robbers masquerading as okada riders; for the sake of posterity and the future, I choose not to be silent, and I choose to appeal, that good programmes and policies need to be applauded and not sacrificed on the altar of politics.
Chief(Dr) Alexander Oluremi Ajipe
Convener Ibi Giga Ambassadors.