Hon. Bimbo Daramola, a former member of House of Representatives, is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and governorship aspirant in the forthcoming election in Ekiti State. Daramola, in this interview with TUNDE OGUNTOLA speaks on how he intends to restore the lost identity of the state, if elected governor in July.
You were a member of House of Reps between 2011 and 2015. Why were you not re-elected?
We tried our best to go back but we were shocked that we lost that election. It was just because Governor Fayose had won and had defeated Fayemi. The most imperative thing is that once a governor is from another party most likely every other member, the National Assembly and all of that will follow that trend of thought. We did everything fair to win that election but the power of incumbency denied us that opportunity because if it’s performance both inside and outside the floor we did our best that would have been enough to earn us a second term.
How did you impact on your constituents during your brief stay in the House of Reps?
Modestly speaking, I lived my life as a parliamentarian. It’s just an extension of the fact that I had a bigger opportunity to do everything that I ordinarily have been doing before. I am convinced that during my tenure in the House of Representatives I touched lives. I had medical outreaches where over 1,800 people were treated of various ailments. I built and equipped an American standard 32- bed hospital for the people. I tried to redeem people’s self esteem. I shipped about 60 cars from the US to give to people who cannot afford to buy a pair of shoes worth N25,000. I needed to prove a point that they deserve a better life. These are people that ordinarily cannot afford to buy bicycles. As a member of House of Reps, I got jobs for 46 people and also gave out 200 JAMB forms free of charge with ICT training. I gave over 100 laptops to people and also over 100 Keke NAPEP to people. There is no town or constituent out of the 22 towns and villages that you won’t find my statement. If you don’t find it in education by classrooms, you will find it in potable water supply or in telecommunications. There were some places where they couldn’t make calls that I ensured that I brought MTN and Etisalat to move their masts there. Today, I am humbled with the services we have provided to the people.
You are going into a very tough contest owing to the fact that you are from the opposition party in Ekiti and you have PDP presently ruling the state to contend with. What is your selling point?
My selling point is my reputation. My campaign is riding on my reputation as a die hard party man. I was a the state collation agent of the party when it looked like we would never come out of the opposition. There was a time in this country that nobody thought we would be able to send the PDP packing. I was the state collation agent of a fiery election (the Ido-Osi) election between Kayode Fayemi and Segun Oni. I was the DG of the immediate past governor’s re-election campaign and in all of these things we have done I have related with Ekiti people beyond the confines of my two local governments. My unique selling point is that they believe me. If Bimbo says he is going to do something he will do it. I am a paid cheque not a cheque that is being promised. I believe that this election is going to be a referendum on the reputation of everybody who is going to run for the Ekiti governorship election.
What special plans do you have for Ekiti people if you win the governorship election?
The very first thing I am convinced that we need to do is to get the Ekiti people back to who they were. The past two to three years have sufficiently eroded the equity and identity of the Ekiti person. The Ekiti person’s name has totally been eroded. Nobody remembers that the first professor of mathematics in West Africa is from Ekiti; nobody remembers the fact that one of Nigeria’s best Neuro surgeons, Prof Osuntokun is from Ekiti state; nobody remembers the fact that Ekiti used to be called a state that breeds professors – one house, one professor. All those identities have been eroded and that is why the mantra of my campaign is to restore the lost identity of the Ekiti person and Ekiti state as a state of pride. The acronym of our campaign is: E.K.I.T.I- Empowerment for the total man, Knowledge driven economy, Infrastructural development, Tourism development and Industrialisation. Ekiti needs somebody who can connect our future with our past because there is a gulf between who we are, our identity of the past and the vision of our fore fathers.
Immediate past governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who is also the Minister of Mines and Steel whom you were his campaign DG,has indicated interest in the governorship race. What do you think of his decision?
I have known Dr Fayemi for about 40 years. Ninety five percent of the people who know Dr. Fayemi and relate with him today cannot say they have a reputation situated in the context of 40 years. I was his political ally, associate and brother. When the whole thing started as to whether he would run or not, I didn’t believe it because I had met him four times over a period of 18 months and also his wife too, to ask him if he was running. People have also asked me if I would run for governor and I said for as long as Dr. Fayemi is interested I won’t run. Some assembly members numbering about eight led by the former speaker and acting governor, Rt.Hon Patrick Ajibolamu and five others also visited me in my office to state that we must not let the state go into ruins.They admonished me that I must not pull back from the race.
I served Dr. Fayemiwith every fibre of my being. I was almost shot in 2014 elections because I stood my ground that we must not be rigged out of the elections. I heard he is going to run and I welcome him into the race. I have gone too far now to think of pulling back for anybody. We are going to go all the way to the end and I dare say that in the rainbow of Dr. Fayemi I used to be one of his most brilliant colours. I was shocked about his decision to run, especially against me who was his campaig person. A man who practically served him all his life. It is imperative to know however that we joined politics the same year, so he is not my benefactor and I believe he knows that. He ran for governor in 2007 while I ran for House of Reps. He didn’t lead me into politics and I didn’t meet him in the party.
The evolution of our party today has him and me and we were all in the boat at the same time. I had a relationship of a man who dutifully served his senior in Christ school. Forhim to say he wants to run I wish him well and we are going to go all the way to the elections. We are talking to Ekiti people and I tell you this election is not going to be about position but more of referendum of what you have done with the mandate of the people. He has been governor and minister and he is going to be assessed based on that, vis-a-viz Ekiti. I have been a member of House of Reps and the people will ask questions about how I have impacted people’s lives. The same goes for the deputy party Chairman, Segun Oni, who is also in the race. He joined the APC about three and a half years ago. I have been in the party for 15 years and I have never defected to any party. I have been one of the pillars holding the party in Ekiti state.
Would you say the party (APC) has done enough in connecting with the people of Ekiti?
That is a question our leaders should be able to answer. The truth of the matter is the fact that we have aspirants up to about 35 also speaks a lot. Out of these aspirants, we have two former governors and we are facing Ayodele Fayose in another two months.
How many rallies have we had since we lost elections in 2014? None. We lost elections on June 21, 2014 and we have not had one stakeholders meeting and we have the deputy national chairman of the party in my state, a former governor who is a minister and all of that.
I think the effervescence you see in the party today the credit must go to everybody who has stepped into the fray to contest this election. Even at that, the energy level of the people is at its lowest ebb. A security service reported that the first meeting where 2,500 people gathered since we lost elections was when I gave out free JAMB forms. By the way, I have given out 2,050 JAMB forms to people who may never have been able to come close to a University in the past one year. How many of them have done it? Like I said, this election is going to be about what you have done in your personal and official capacities. We cannot look away from that. I challenge anybody to come and confront me about whether we have had any stakeholders meeting in the last three and a half years. That our party is at its lowest ebb today somebody must be responsible for that.
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