By Rotimi Ojomoyela
The frenzy that he generates whenever he stirs the political currents was manifest penultimate Wednesday. The stormy petrel of Ekiti politics caught the attention of all when he stepped out to formally declare his governorship aspiration to the people on that day.
Expectedly, Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital practically stood still for several hours as the long entourage of people, dressed in white T-shirt, bearing the picture of Opeyemi Bamidele in bold print, took over the major streets of the ancient city. The man of the moment, himself dressed in agbada and white Awolowo style cap, stood inside a black Toyota Land Cruiser, from where he waved through the open roof.
Lawyer, politician and former activist, Bamidele had served as a commissioner for information in Lagos State before stirring the political currents in his native Ekiti State with his 2011 aspiration to the Senate. He opted out despite his momentum after Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN elders prevailed on him to go to the House of Representatives in favour of the older Femi Ojudu. Now, Ojudu, Bamidele and several of the other progressively minded heads are in battle for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC which is the leading opposition party in the state.
Undoubtedly his decision to contest the 2013 governorship election on the ticket of the Labour Party was a major advantage that the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Ayodele Fayose rode on to win the election.
Four years on, Bamidele is back in the camp of his former allies in the All Progressives Congress, APC and is desirous of the ticket of the party.
As early as 8am on Wednesday, the signs were evident of a big political event in Ado Ekiti. Eighteen-seater buses regularly emptied passengers from outside the capital city on the road where the APC secretariat is located.
At the time Bamidele’s convoy hit the major road linking the APC secretariat located in the Ajilosun area of the state capital, the dual carriage highway was overflowing with broom-wielding party enthusiasts who inevitably had paralysed vehicular movement and commercial activities along the popular highway.
The party officials even had a more difficult task controlling the crowd who took over the party secretariat in expectation of Bamidele’s formal declaration of his intention to the party using the channel of the state executive.
Following the formal declaration and submission of intent forms to the party executive, Bamidele opened up in a session with newsmen his purposes and plans. Explaining the recent increase in conviviality between himself, Senator Babafemi Ojudu and former Governor Kayode Fayemi, Bamidele said, “It is interesting, and I think these are signs of good development, these are also things that should send signal to Ekiti people that it is not going to be the same old story, the party is coming back together and stronger and there is no doubting the fact that it is no longer a war time for us in APC, this is an election that will be conducted and done during a peace time, everybody is speaking with everybody”
He also dismissed insinuations that he planned to step down for Senator Ojudu or former Governor Kayode Fayemi. On whether he has an option B, if the election did not go his way, just like what he did when he left APC for Labour Party in 2014, Bamidele was unflinching in his assertion that he did not dump the APC, but that he did not register for the party after the dissolution of the ACN.
On Zoning, Bamidele described the agitation for zoning by the people from Ekiti North Senatorial District, as a legitimate right. According to him,“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 didn’t respect zoning and even the constitution, so we are free to contest irrespective of the legitimacy of the agitations.”