By Dapo Akinrefon
MR Michael Opeyemi Bamidele is the Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos State and also an indigene of Ekiti State. In this interview, he expressed satisfaction in the recently delivered judgement given by the Court of Appeal sitting in Ilorin which rested the three and half years legal tussle between Dr Kayode Fayemi of the Action Congress of Nigeria and Engineer Segun Oni of the Peoples Democratic Party.
He stated that the judgement in Ekiti state, should be used as a case study in Nigeria among other issues. Excerpts:
The victory of Dr Kayode Fayemi as the governor of Ekiti State was least expected by many, what do you make of the court verdict?
I want to say that the legal victory that we recorded marked the end of the first phase for the struggle for the democratization of Ekiti State and the swearing of governor Fayemi, commences the second phase of the struggle.
Struggle for moral rebirth as well as the political, social and economic transformation of Ekiti State which is what we need so badly and so desperately to prevent Ekiti State from becoming a failed state.
We are inheriting a near failed state but I have no doubt whatsoever that given the enthusiasm of the people, we have a citizenry that will be willing to cooperate with the leadership of the state government to any extent in order to bring back the glory of Ekiti State from sabbatical.
A state that was widely acknowledged as the fountain of knowledge and again the custodian of a large percentage of integrity and modesty of the Nigerian nation.
But down the line, especially in the last seven to eight years, we have witnessed all sorts of brigandage all in the name of leadership and today, I am just happy that the process of bringing back our lost glory has began. The truth was lost in Ekiti, but it was found by the Court of Appeal. Dr Fayemi has a blue print based on the manifesto of the party, a blue print based on the struggle of the people of Ekiti State.
It took a long time before your party got victory, but along the line, did you at any time, lost hope?
We never at any time, lost hope; but we were faced with the challenge of having to reorientate and reassure our people.
And of course, that is what leadership is all about. We were not acting based on anything, but on our commitment and conviction, we understand power, both in theory and in practice and that’s why I’m particularly happy because, like I said, we know what to do with power.
But it’s not about the bravado, it’s not about make belief or desire, it’s all about, what in practical terms, what you are able to do to bring meaning to leadership, to bring meaning to democracy.
During the legal tussle in the three and the half years you were in court, did the morale of the people and members your party not dwindle?
As it were, it was not just being in court for three and the half years, but in between, we had to hold a rerun election and we had to go back to court. So, it was quite a struggle other than what happened in other parts of country where similar things have occurred .
I want to say really that Ekiti should be a case study, both in terms of efforts to defend the mandate of the people and a case study on how not to get discouraged and a case study in how to tap the resources both at the national and state level of everyone that matter in the party.
There is this submission that Dr Fayemi can’t manage Ekiti State based on experience. Also how does your party tend to manage the intra party crisis that may come up during political appointment?
As regards intra party crisis based on political appointments, let me put it this way, the issues on ground are very clear and is fundamental, I don’t see how political appointment will fuel any kind of intra party crisis. It would have been a different thing if Dr Fayemi had been sworn in as governor on May 2007, he probably would not have known as much as he does now.
So, to begin with, the struggle in the last three and half years has helped both Dr Fayemi and the leadership of the party to really know who is who in terms of consistency, it has also helped to have an assessment of the people and their ability; to be able to entrust people with information.