By Omeiza Ajayi, ABUJA
The race for the top job in Ekiti state has begun in earnest especially within the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
Among the top contenders in the APC are the senator representing Ekiti Central, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, former Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly and serving member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Olufemi Bamishile and a former Secretary to the State Government SSG, Mr Biodun Oyebanji.
There are speculations that Gov. Fayemi may have settled for his former SSG, Mr Oyebanji as his successor, but the aspirant has denied this.
Speaking with Saturday Vanguard, he said; “The Governor of Ekiti State is the leader of the party in Ekiti State. All aspirants and members of APC, the governor has no preferred candidate he prefers everyone.
“A candidate will emerge at primary. I am not his anointed, everyone that is running belongs to APC and he’s our leader and I am sure that everyone enjoys his support”.
Before now however, there was a reported pact between Dr Fayemi and Sen. Bamidele for the former to support the latter in his quest to govern the state.
While this was not in the public domain, Sen. Bamidele has however warned against name dropping just to gain political leverage.
He dismissed speculations that the governor may have anointed an aspirant to succeed him, saying anyone can drop the name of the governor just to hoodwink the people.
According to him, Dr Fayemi is a democrat who, even if he has sympathy for any aspirant including himself (Bamidele), would not betray his emotions or coerce people to do his bidding.
Bamidele was the man who on June 1, 2018, took the bullets for Fayemi, then the Governorship candidate of the APC.
Saturday Vanguard recalls that Bamidele was shot at the APC secretariat in Ajilosun, Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, during a reception organized by Dr Fayemi as candidate of the party.
An armed mobile police officer whose base was Lagos but who was said to have been on illegal duty in Ekiti state was responsible for the shooting.
The then APC Chairman in the state, Jide Awe had said “Fayemi was the target” of the shooting.
“We had a gunshot in our rally by a uniformed man. He was overpowered by the crowd and they took away the gun from him. It was a sporadic shooting, and I think the man has been apprehended.
“Some of us were upstairs at the party secretariat after the visit of the candidate of our party, Dr Fayemi.
“He was actually going out of the party office complex when we had the gunshots. He was at the veranda outside, going out to enter his waiting car. A lot of people were hit by bullets,” he had stated.
Saturday Vanguard was later to understand that Bamidele was first shot on his thigh and then on the stomach, with his intestines ruptured.
While he was stabilised in the country, he was immediately flown to London where he spent 96 days and throughout his stay in the hospital for the next three months he had to be fed liquid food and through pipes.
Bamidele said this much when he came back to the country, describing his survival as a miracle. “Even the London Doctors told me clearly that I got my healing through miracle.
“I want to say that it wasn’t money that saved me, but I received the grace of God. Many of the Doctors that treated me in London who were not Godly became born again because of me, while those who believed in God became more dedicated.
“I was shot in the stomach and thigh, in spite of these, I escaped and I didn’t die. This was because of the prayers of my people here in Ekiti and all over Nigeria.
“It was a miracle that I survived; it was God that did it. I thought I would spend more than a year in the London hospital, but I only spent less than 50 days after which I got miraculous healing”.
Despite speculations that Dr Fayemi may have promised to support Sen. Bamidele’s bid before now, the senator’s Governorship aspiration got a boost few days ago when 21 Senators of the party stormed the APC national secretariat in a show of solidarity with their colleague.
Sen. Bamidele was at the secretariat to pick his nomination and expression of interest forms.
Some of the senators who accompanied him were Sabi Abdullahi, Smart Adeyemi, Tolu Odebiyi, Uba Sani, Tokunbo Abiru and Bima Enagi Mohammed. Others were Oseni Yakubu, Buhari Abdulfatai, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Jika Dauda Halliru, Frank Ibezim and 10 others.
Speaking on his aspiration, the senator said though the incumbent governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has done well, there is need to ensure that the state is handed over to one with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Bamidele also explained that his experiences across the various arms of government puts him in a vantage position to effectively deliver on the mandate of his office if voted into power.
He said; “I am in this race because I am truly convinced that no man owns himself to himself alone.
“By my philosophy, I believe that every man owns himself partly to himself, his family and the society and at the end of the day, whatever talent we are endowed with by God, we shall have to account for them.
“I have had exposure in the three arms of government as an Attorney and Counsellor at Law in the State of New York and as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court in Nigeria. I am a member of the body of benchers.
“I was in the cabinet of Lagos state for 11 and half years under two governors and that was an opportunity to understand the workings of the executive arm of government.
“I got elected in 2011 to the House of Representatives and today I am in the Senate. Having traversed the three arms of Government to the glory of God, I have what it takes to govern Ekiti state”.
Ahead of the Saturday, January 22, 2022 primary election in the state, political watchers are waiting to see who the Governor will take the bullets for, albeit figuratively.