By Ahmed Salami
Without any further change in date, come January 27, members of the All Progressives Congress in Ekitii state will file out to elect their candidate for the June 18 governorship poll. This is one action that is expected to be decisive, dispassionate and accurate to avert repeat of the past mistakes.
An ardent and inquisitive follower of the trajectory of political participation of the progressive party through many of its metamorphosis in Ekiti, would decipher that the APC is now confronted with the confounding issue of either allowing a repeat of the sordid past or break the continuity jinx that had been found unattainable since 1999.
Going by history, this is the third time the party is faced with taking critical decision regarding succession in politcs. It is expected that members should get it right by not being impetuous, emotional and arbitrary in taking actions.
The first time this situation happened was under Otunba Niyi Adebayo in 2003. The party failed in the succession battle and the scar was so deep that it trailed the party for seven years for it to get healed.
The second time was in 2014, when Governor Kayode Fayemi was seeking reelection. The party again failed in the succession bid before staging a dramatic return in 2018.
The 2022 therefore affords the opportunity to again test the party’s might and dexterity to be able to respond to situation and make a success of it. That makes any decision taken on January 27 so pivotal either to the success of the party or its undoing .
The party members are now burdened by the crisis of how to make an option among the array of contestants that have shown interest for the plum seat and the best that can serve the interest of the party and boost the realisation of the succession is the Senator representing Ekiti Central, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (MOB)
In the coming election, APC shouldn’t take Ekiti people for a ride or underrate their ability to act strange again as they did in 2003 and 2007.
Ekiti is a closely knitted enclave and they take political decision almost in unison. Once the decision is taken in Ado Ekiti, it reverberates to all the other towns and that makes it expedient for APC members to listen to the opinion in town and feel the mood of the people.
Without trying to Lord my opinion on the party, let there be conduct of an independent opinion poll today for APC members, one would realise that Ekiti people are largely for Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele.
Governorship is not won in Ekiti without a rich history of political participation. In 1999, Otunba Niyi Adebayo was able to weather the storm by riding on his father’s crest to stardom. We could all attest to how the late Major General Adeyinka Adebayo opened up Ekiti as the Governor of the old Western Region . This actually buoyed his son’s popularity and acceptability in the 1999 election.
Even in PDP, former Governor Ayodele Fayose was busy traversing every nook and cranny of Ekiti for three and half years offering many services to Ekiti people before he became a household name and won the 2003 election.
The incumbent governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, became so loved and popular among Ekiti people because of his industry, dexterity and steadfastness in the way he prosecuted the judicial war against the PDP for three and half years before he was accepted by the electorate. By history and action, Ekiti people loved those who made cognate sacrifices for a course or people before gaining relevance.
Except we are deceiving ourselves, MOB remains the only aspirant in APC, who has contributed so hard and had made the right sacrifices for his name to be resonating across Ekiti.
Since 2003, he has been one of few financing the party and making the right connections with traditional rulers, religious leaders, youth groups, party leaders and ordinary Ekiti to galvanise support for APC.
Except the party no longer values members’ contributions, they shouldn’t have forgotten by now how MOB saved them from disgrace and opprobrium after losing in 2003. It became a slogan at a point for Fayose while deriding the APC that the party would soon go into oblivion, because no strong financial backing. But Senator Bamidele came and removed the derision completely.
In one swell swoop, Senator Bamidele in 2010 donated seven buses to the then Action Congress in one day when the ruling PDP could not boast of any. This substantiated how committed and loyal he has been to the progressive party.
The most memorable of his contributions was how he was shot in 2018 while fighting with Governor Kayode Fayemi to relaunch APC back to reckoning in Ekiti. He had a close shave with death and was saved through divine intervention. Against all odds, the party went ahead and defeated the PDP, which was the ruling party then.
While in Lagos as a Commissioner, his office was like a rendezvous for Ekiti indigenes, especially members of his political party. He used the opportunity to facilitate contracts for them among other helps to improve their wellbeings and ensured their stay in the progressive fold.
As a member of House of Representatives between 2011 and 2015, Senator Bamidele facilitated over 90 projects to his Ado/Irepodun/Ifelodun federal constituency, while also helping over 100 graduate to secure jobs among over 3,000 constituents he empowered through skills acquisition.
This time now, he has promised that he would uplift the party and bring a paradigm shift to the economic facet of Ekiti, through job creation, encouragement of commercial farming, fighting corruption and allow the party members take absolute ownership of the party for the benefit of all if given the ticket.
To corroborate the fact that he has the knack to actualise the foregoing, the Senator had in two years at the Senate sponsored bills to attract two higher institutions to Ekiti as a representative of the people.
Since he began his campaign, he has not abused anyone. He even made it clear that his friendship with Governor Fayemi remains inseparable. This signposted that he was not desperate to get the ticket through crook or do or die means.
On the impending party primary, Bamidele said: “APC members must open their eyes very well. We must not allow ourselves to be enslaved to moneybags. We shouldn’t allow anyone to enslave us or buy our conscience, so that they can perpetually hold us hostage.
“Let us vote for a candidate that can win election easily. One that is acceptable to Ekiti in terms of character, integrity, competence and trust. A governor that can uplift Ekiti and bring positive change. Someone who can earn Ekiti the expected respect and one who won’t act as an opportunist”.
Senator Bamidele is a global citizen, who has carved a niche for himself as one politician with focus on selfless service delivery and attraction of democracy dividends to the poor citizens to upgrade their standards of living.
He has provided scholarship for thousands of Ekiti undergraduates and post graduate students, generate employments for many graduates, empowers widows, women, and unemployed youth for self-independence.
Without being exaggerative, as of today, Senator Bamidele has provided trainings in blockmaking, fishery, confectionaries,
poultry, soap making, sewing and others to over 4,000 constitutents in Ekiti Central. The records are there and those feeling skeptical can check all these facts.”
Without sounding immodest, Senator Bamidele deserves the ticket, because he is the most experienced among the APC aspirants and the highest financier of the party during the time of lull.
This is the time to repay good with goodness. Time to show that APC places high premium on reward mechanism to serve as morale booster to members. They should reward this man with the governorship ticket this time to show that good deeds and loyalty to a party have a huge gain.
Ahmed Salami, A.
Media Consultant and Political Analyst writes from Abuja
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