Less than four months to the July 14 governorship election in Ekiti State, the atmosphere is getting charged. Among the 29 politicians jostling for the ticket is the former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, who submitted his letter of intent to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State. in this report, BLESSING BATURE writes that Opeyemi’s entrance has changed the political equation.
Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele was a member of the seventh House of Representatives representing Ekiti State. Recently, at the party secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Ekiti where he met with the party’s leadership and submitted a letter to declare his plans to contest for the governorship of the state come July 14.
Bamidele, popularly known as MOB, who was accompanied by some chieftains of the APC, including Chief Akin Olayisade, Hon. Ropo Ige, Femi Akinyemi, among others, waa received by members of the party’s executive, led by the State deputy chairman, Chief (Mrs.) Kemi Olaleye.
Hundreds of his supporters, who had earlier gathered at Okeyinmi, the event’s take-off point, in a carnival like manner, moved through Old Garage and Ijigbo, towards Ajilosun, where the party secretariat was quartered. The party faithful sang all the way, assuring Ekiti people that if Bamidele emerges as APC’s governorship candidate, he would dislodge the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State.
The atmosphere was boisterous and scores of security personnel kept guard at strategic points along the road and at the party’s secretariat to forestall a breakdown of law and order. This was the situation, when Bamidele joined the expectant crowd at the secretariat, gesturing intermittently in acknowledgement of endless greetings of both familiar and unfamiliar faces.
All smiles, the former lawmaker spoke of the possibilities of progress and development, and implementation of peoples oriented programmes if APC picks a candidate loved and valued by the people. He urged party’s leadership to ensure a level playing ground during the primaries as according to him, democracy must not just be preached, it must be seen in the way affairs of parties are conducted. He said any act that will create conditions for the loss of the election should be avoided.
He disclosed is interactions with former Governor Kayode Fayemi on how APC can win the July 14 election, Bamidele said he decided to settle his rift with former governor as they need to work to ensure success for the party.
“The pact between me and Fayemi is not for personal gain, but for the benefit to the party and overall progress of the state,” he said. He added: “Yes, the minister visited my office in Abuja and the Special Adviser on Political Matters to the President, Mr. Babafemi Ojudu, also wrote a goodwill message to me as I declare my intention today.
To me, this is a sign of good development. “All these shouldn’t give room for speculation that someone was trying to persuade the other to shelve ambition for the other. All the party leaders must work together. So, our working together and their visits to my office was not for selfish interest or about our ambitions alone.
“What this signaled was that it is no longer the old story. It showed that the APC is no longer in war. It shows the party is becoming more united and stronger. It showed also that we are giving each other mutual respect. “I have made it clear at every political gathering I attended that I have settled the rift with Fayemi.
The two of us are frontline party men and we have to work together to rescue our party. We are doing same with Engr. Segun Oni, all in the interest of our party.” The governorship hopeful described as legitimate, agitations by aspirants from Ekiti South senatorial district for power shift to the zone, noting however, that such must not preclude contestants from other districts from exercising their rights to as well contest in line with the provisions of the constitution.
“I want to say that zoning is a legitimate issue. It is also legitimate for every district of the state to aspire in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The constitution of our party doesn’t respect zoning and even the constitution. So, we are free to contest irrespective of the legitimacy of the agitations,” he said. On his vision for the state, Bamidele assured of his readiness to effect change in the political and economic system in the state, when he comes on board as governor.
The former Lagos commissioner said he is contesting for the governor ship of Ekiti State because of his passion for the people and the fact that he has the requisite political experience for the position. His words: ”Some people are worried about the number of aspirants that are jostling for the governorship position. It is a welcome development; even more aspirants will still come out.
But, I have the scientific understanding of governance. I have the experience. Any governor that wants to bring about positive changes must hit the ground running. ”As a member of the House of Representatives, I donated all my salaries and allowances, they were transferred into escrow account, managed by certain individuals, who initiated 88 constituency projects, which include classrooms, street light, motorized bore holes and others.” He noted that governance requires sincerity, focus, candour and genuine love for the people, as according to him, only through these qualities can any leader avail well enough.
He further explained he had always been a progressive and did not defect from APC to another party, as APC had not even been formed when he joined Labour Party (LP) in 2013. Bamidele contested the 2014 governorship election on the platform of LP.
His words: “I was part of the legal team that returned the Certificate of Registration of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for APC to be consummated. I stood with the ACN till when the certificate was returned.
The progressives then were not unaware of the need for us to merge with other parties to be able to win at the centre and that led to the death of ACN. “But, because of the misunderstanding among the leaders of our party, I then quit even before the registration of the new party. This is not even a basis for argument. Senator Ayo Arise left the Action Congress for the PDP in 2007, when he thought the primary that produced Fayemi was not fair enough and today, he is back, ditto Engr Oni. “We must realise that politicians must have bus stops before getting to the destination.
So, whatever happens to us on the way should be taken as issues now, getting to the destination, I mean winning the next election, must be our ultimate target.” The Ekiti APC deputy chairman, Olaleye, in her remarks said the party holds Bamidele in high regard. She added that the former lawmaker’s declaration for the forthcoming governorship election in the state will spur increased action in the party. She assured that the party will conduct a free, fair and credible primary election to pick its candidate for the poll, so that it will go into the election as a united front.