Politics

September 25, 2013

Ekiti 2014: I won’t be intimidated – Rep Bamidele

Opeyemi Bamidele, who represents Ado-Ekiti/Irepodun-Ifelodun Federal Constituency, recently inaugurated Ekiti Bibire Coalition office in Ado-Ekiti but the inauguration was disrupted by mobile policemen, who used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Bamidele, fondly called MOB, found time to answer questions from journalists, where he accused the Ekiti State government of disrupting the inauguration. Excerpts:

What is your reaction to the disruption of your rally?

I must say that what happened to my mind was a major setback for democracy in Nigeria and a major set back for Ekiti State. This is a state that is widely celebrated as Fountain of Knowledge and a land of honour. One would not have expected that there would be such an unprovoked act of terrorism against the innocent people of this state. I insist that I have a right like every other Ekiti citizen, to aspire to be governor of this state.

I insist that by the grace of God, that I am qualified to lead this state. I insist to answer to the clarion call of Ekiti people, which as you have seen cannot be a ruse. I have no doubt that the government of Dr Kayode Fayemi has further enhanced my campaign.

*Bamidele

*Bamidele

Ekiti people have seen what happened, the government instigated the blockage of roads leading to Ado Ekiti as early as 6:30 am and for several hours, vehicles could not move into Ado Ekiti from all the major roads leading to Ado Ekiti. It took the intervention of eminent citizens and elder statesmen in Ekiti including Aare Afe Babalola to prevail on the Inspector General of Police to intervene in this matter and get the State Police Command and soldiers to send thugs out of the road.

The ruse was that members of the road transport workers were the ones blocking the road. But it became obvious to everyone, at the end of the day, that it was the state government that did not want my independent campaign group, Ekiti Bibire Coalition to be launched and did not want me to have a platform to declare openly my aspiration to govern this state from October 2014. To the glory of God, the declaration has been done, the facts speak for themselves.

Ekiti people have made it clear that whatever love they have for me was real. I must say that I am overwhelmed by the show of solidarity, I am overwhelmed by the mammoth crowd that  came  to the venue of the inauguration and we chose to hold this campaign at our campaign office to avoid any kind of crisis.

We have four venues and we asked the Commissioner of Police to choose one. I am familiar with the provision of the Electoral Act and I know that until 90 days to the election, you cannot hold an open air rally and the Police Commissioner said to us ‘you can do it in your office or you can rent a hall and do it in a hall and anywhere that is fenced’.

And following his instructions, we had four options, the police approved one and at about 12 midnight the previous night, I got a call that we could not use the venue.

Even though it was very late to demobilize the people, I still called everybody and  told them to forget the approved venue and use our own office.

Nobody had a problem with that, even the Director of the DSS and the Police Commissioner said it was okay. I will not be the first person to declare his intention to run for governorship in 2014, at least five other aspirants from various political parties have done it, so that is why I am surprised that the state government will make a big issue out of my decision to declare my intention.

Who would you say actually disturbed the rally, was it the police, thugs  or the state government?

I will say very clearly that the disruption of the rally was at the stance of the state government and this was an information I gathered five days ago. I wrote a letter to the governor to say that I learned that a meeting was held in the office of your Chief of Staff, attended by several of your political appointees, who said it was an affront for anyone to run against a sitting governor, who was still interested for a second term. If anybody would have a second term I do not think it should be at gun point. I insist by my own antecedents that  my right to aspire is inalienable and as far as I am concerned, whether the governor likes it or not, he has challengers in me and in other aspirants.

Anyone who wants to do second term in office, should leave it in the hands of God and let the people decide. To intimidate people out of a race can only lead to tension in our polity and that is what you have seen. I wrote a letter to him (Fayemi) and I published the letter.

Do you have a copy?

Yes I do. I published the letter, as a matter of fact, as a paid advertorial in one of the national newspapers. Let me say again that I take this as a battle but it is not a battle that I will fight as an individual, it is a battle that God will fight, it is a battle that Ekiti people will fight. Ekiti people will get the kind of leaders they deserve.

It is the decision of the people to determine who becomes the next governor of this state come October 2014 and no amount of intimidation will make a difference. I have learned early enough in my life to develop a high sense of indignation and injustice. I take this as another battle of life to fight but I am relying on God to fight this battle, I am relying on Ekiti people to fight this battle because I know that things cannot continue to be this way.

With this rising tension, are you not worried that in the build up to the election, there could be violence?

I do not think so because as far as I am concerned, this is a demonstration and exhibition of a sense of leadership complex. This is leadership complex because I cannot understand why a sitting governor should see someone in the House of Representatives as a threat to him. They keep saying I am not relevant but as far I am concerned, Nigerians can see what is happening. There  are at least 20 other aspirants in Ekiti state today from different parties, but why this administration today, has made me such an issue is a puzzle only they can solve.

But like I said, it is a manifestation of leadership weakness, it is a manifestation of morbid fear of Ekiti people. As far as I am concerned, this can only strengthen me. I do not entertain any doubt that by the grace of God and by the popular demand of the people, I will succeed Dr Kayode Fayemi as the next governor of Ekiti State. It is not going to be by magic, it is not going to be by violence of any kind because I am not given to that, it is going to be by hard work. Through the grace and favour of God and through support of the people, I will run a scientific campaign in this state.

I will go to people at their homes, I will not run away, I will run a campaign of issues and make it very scientific. As far as I am concerned, anyone who thinks this will deter me or discourage me from running this race is mistaken.

I believe that every act of oppression can only strengthen the resolve of Ekiti people and it is only a matter of time, these issues will settle themselves.

By the time the chips are down, you may not be allowed to contest the election with the governor in the same party.

Well, I have not seen any reason why I will not be allowed to contest. This is a democracy, I have not seen anything that will disqualify me from contesting. The only way I will not be allowed to contest is if I were not eligible.

But a candidate has already been picked by the APC

I am not aware that APC has picked a candidate, I am aware that APC has been registered as a brand new political party, I am also aware that APC has no structure in Ekiti state.

Membership register

I am aware that the only mandate given by the interim national leadership committee of APC, at this point, was for people to go back to their respective states and open membership register and begin to register people.

No congress has held, either at the ward or local government level or state, so you do not have ward executive, local government executive and you do not have state executive. How can you have a candidate? And if anyone is saying APC has a candidate, then, it is obvious that they do not want Ekiti people to be part of APC and I do not think anybody would do that. In any case, where I will contest, on what platform is a decision I am going to leave in the hands of Ekiti people. I will consult widely and I will continue to consult. As far as I am concerned, the platform on which I will run for governorship of this state will be determined by the people of Ekiti.