Opeyemi Bamidele, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Budgets and Research, is a governorship aspirant in Ekiti State on the plank of the Labour Party (LP). In this interview, he bears his mind on issues relating to his gubernatorial ambition and legislative activities among others
BY GBENGA ARIYIBI
HOW true is it that you are in the race purposely to scuttle the chances of the All Progressives Congress, APC?
My answer to that is no. The issues involved are much more fundamental than such mundane and poor reasoning. To the glory of God, I see and hold myself as a change agent. The record will show that in the last 11 months that I’ve been actively involved in the governorship race in Ekiti State, a lot has changed in the style of governance.
Go round and see party elders, they will tell you that the same governor who did not know they were in existence for two years and would not contact them on any issue concerning governance in this state, is today going round their homes and offices; sometimes quietly driving himself to visit party leaders and stakeholders to apologise. And in an unusual manner, offering different kinds of largesse.
The same governor, following my criticism, is also going to Labour unions and Student unions and their leaders. That was the same governor who proscribed students unionism in virtually all the campuses in Ekiti. The only institution in Ekiti that didn’t have its students union proscribed was the Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti, which is a Federal government owned institution.
Criticisms of the state
Today, because Opeyemi Bamidele is in this race and because of my criticisms of the state of the state, the governor has been going round trying to do all sorts of damage control. As a change agent, I even see this as an achievement on my part. And beyond this is also the fact that this race is not about any individual, pecuniary interest or personal interest of any kind. It is about Ekiti people. Yes, we may have a personal relationship. We may have our political or ideological differences but it is about Ekiti first.
Governor Fayemi recently said that God used him to facilitate your election into the House…
That is the difference between the governor and I. Some reporters asked him a few months ago that they knew two of us as friends and that they knew the roles that God used me to play in encouraging Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to support him to contest the governorship election in 2007. Rather than say yes or no the governor simply said he believed I needed psychiatric help.
Who took him to Asiwaju? If today Governor Fayemi is saying that God used him to put me where I am today, it means it is for a purpose because he did everything in his capacity to frustrate the purpose of God for my life. I was running for election to go to the Senate. I won the primary election but Fayemi took my mandate and gave it to Babafemi Ojudu to go to the Senate.
And Governor Fayemi went round to get other party leaders to appeal to me to go to the House of Representatives. I ended up in the House of Representatives because I did not want to rock the boat of the party. So if Governor Fayemi said God used him to put me where I’m today in the House of Representatives, he will still need to explain to God why I ended up in the House of Representatives instead of the Senate.
The House of Representatives became a charitable environment for me and a very viable platform for me to create more time for my politics and devote more time to issues in Ekiti.
How do you intend to go about your agenda for the state?
I never did anything as a politician because my party was popular. When the Alliance for Democracy, AD, which I belonged to, was in control of only one state and one governorship position in this country, I was not discouraged from being an active member of the party. That did not take away my faith or hope for a better future for this party and for this country. We rose again from being in control of one state to taking control of five additional states.
Characters in the party
And the party was in control of six states, because of our tenacity, our belief and what we stood for. It was not about how many people who were in the party. It was more about the kind of characters in the party.
The events of the last three months have shown that the Labour Party is the party to beat. We went into the Labour Party as a coalition. Coalition of well meaning Ekiti people, at home and in The Diaspora. Coalition of members of the political class drawn from different political parties.
They include; the ACN, CPC, ANPP and the PDP. And let it be known to everyone that we are on ground and a party to beat. On talks about two formidable parties being already in place and our party being the third one, you must realise that it is not about party but the people. All the members of the three parties put together are not up to 10 per cent of the people of Ekiti State. This is a state of about 2.5milllion people.
So if the voting public are saying this is the direction they want to go, all you need as a popular candidate is just to have a credible political platform. And if you have a party that within three months has not less than 500 members in any ward in Ekiti State and there are 177 wards, that is very interesting. That is definitely a party to beat.
Your opponents in the APC said you did not perform to their expectations as a federal lawmaker?
I’ am glad you said my opponents. What else would my opponents say? But remember that this same opponents some months ago would tell reporters that I was a blessing to the party and Ekiti State, and that I was a blessing to the nation and one of the best representatives Ekiti had ever sent to the National Assembly. The governor also said on tape and published in the newspaper at some point that Ekiti had never sent a team like this to the National Assembly, and personally commended me as the Ekiti Caucus Leader.
Then I was not his opponent because I had not said I was running for governorship. Today that I am his opponent he would not say the same thing. It shows the level of our insincerity.
In other words, it means you can say wonderful guy today as long as your interest is not at stake. That means if a person is doing certain things consistently today and you are commending him, the moment that thing he is doing consistently conflicts with your interest the hero will suddenly become a villain.
I was their hero yesterday but Fayemi is trying to make me a villain today just because I insisted on internal democracy. Just because I insisted the party should conduct a primary election for me and Dr Kayode Fayemi and he was afraid that I would defeat him at the primary he started using divide and rule method to instigate some of the party leaders against me. Because I insisted on internal democracy, Fayemi decided to turn me to a villain.
He calls himself a democrat but doesn’t want internal democracy within his party. How can you continue to deny people access to genuine democracy at the local government level for over three years and continue to parade yourself as a democrat? How can I allow the governor to continue to instigate the party members against me because I want internal democracy and he doesn’t want it. The sky is broad enough for birds to fly freely without having any collusion. How can anyone who is not being mischievous say I did not perform well?