Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele
House of Representatives Committee Chairman on Legislative Budget and Research, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, in this interview with Olawale Olaleye, spoke on some of the issues in Ekiti politics
Senator Babafemi Ojudu, recently, granted an interview where he not only dismissed the senate leadership but also your activities as regards Ekiti politics. Are you comfortable with that?
Part of the reasons I chose to hold this interaction with you is truly because I read the said interview on some national tabloids, social media and also through some others who expressed concerns and forwarded transcript of the interviews to my email and expected that they needed to hear from me. Much as I would want to avoid taking issues with anyone, I feel that from time to time when it becomes compelling and extremely cogent to address issues, we should not shy away from them.
Among other things, I chose to react to these two conclusions. The first has to do with the state of the nation and the allusion that it would take God himself to come down and solve the problem, I want to say that I found that hypocritical and disservice to the people of Ekiti Central who elected him into office. For the record I want to say again, that I ran for the senatorial race in Ekiti and for the record I want to say again that by the grace of God and the support of the people, I won the primary of the party. Again for the record, I want to say that in the overriding interest of ACN and the appeal made by the national leadership of the party and again as a Christian who believes that it is God who makes kings and princesses and he has his own timing for every one of us, I chose to be the good boy of the party.
So, you are no longer a good boy?
Unfortunately, a lot of people were assuming that I would always choose to be the good boy. But in 2011, I chose to be the good boy of the party and conceded it not to Babafemi Ojudu but to the national leadership of the party because I won that mandate and I gave it back to the leadership of the party to hand it over to Mr. Babafemi Ojudu. But this will be the third major statement he has issued on the development. Sometime in July last year, Mr. Ojudu through the PM News issued a statement alluding to the fact that he wanted to set the record straight regarding the Central senatorial election in 2011 and said a lot of things.
People called me; those who voted for me felt aggrieved and everybody expected me to react. But till today, I refused to react and I am sure that must have been the things that gave him the courage to also say what he had to say about me two weeks ago. But today, my own position is that if he had served as a journalist for almost three decades and had served as managing editor of one of the respected news magazines in this country before he was elected as senator, I am personally amused by the style Senator Ojudu has adopted. All these issues he raised in his interview, I believe were issues that he could use at the floor of the senate to address. And if you are elected as senator and in 21 month all you have is one motion to your credit on NSCDC which is to be debated by the senate; if in 21 months you are not able to state any categorical position and there is no policy statement that can be credited to you and you are using pages of newspapers to condemn everything being done in the senate; condemn the leadership of the senate, condemn the presidency and conclude that only God himself would have to come down to solve the problem of Nigeria, I feel that disservice is being done to the nation and to the people who elected him.
What about the accusation that you are nursing a governorship ambition?
What I will say to that is, at some time, it will be a yes or no question, and I don’t think it is anything that anybody would need to hide in that regard. But let me say this, I am one man who believes in timing, I am one man who believes in strategy, whatever I want to do there must be a strategy of doing it there also must be timing for it when I feel it is time for me to make an open declaration. I still believe what I am going to be doing next, sincerely gentlemen, I will. As of today, yes, I have a passion for Ekiti. Politics is about love. I love this state passionately and I say without fear of any contradiction that Ekiti people love me genuinely and they are things you can feel on the streets of Ekiti.
The only question I have to answer myself is when am I going to be running? Am I running in 2014 or 2018? Whether or not I would run for governorship in Ekiti, I think I’ve gone past that. Definitely I will, the only thing left to announce is the timing and that is why I say timing strategy are things that I take very seriously and it is not going to be too long. But I am watching events, I am consulting and very soon, I will let the whole world know where I stand on this issue.
What reservations have you on Fayemi’s emdorsement?
As far as I am concerned, the issue is not whether or not the two senators and five other House of Representatives members from Ekiti have endorsed Dr. Fayemi for second term. I consider it extremely unfortunate in the last one year. People have tried to make the possibility or otherwise of Governor Fayemi spending a second term in office an issue. I feel they have been unfair to the nation and Ekiti State and I also don’t think they are doing Dr. Fayemi any good. We had his one year anniversary in office on the 16th of October 2011 and some characters at that ceremony had begun to distribute leaflets and souvenirs, announcing the second term bid of the governor.
I thought it was immoral. I have no apology if my objecting to this style has attracted the wrath of some people. For me, there has to be a clear line of demarcation between governance and politics. Politics has to do with our own narrow, sometimes selfish political or ideological or platform interest while governance has to do with the overriding public interest regardless of what is political, ideological, religious or ethnic affiliations.
And I feel that there should be a time for politics. You cannot convince me that one year into office, you can spend the next two or three years making rigorous issues and campaign about second term. If you do that, you will mislead the governor and create a bad image for the administration. That is my own position on Ekiti and I have no doubt and I want to say it for the records that I have no objection to anybody endorsing Governor Fayemi for a second term but I am convinced that one million endorsement from Senator Ojudu cannot translate to an additional vote for any aspirant. I am talking of a senator who was elected on a senatorial district that comprises five local governments- the general election results are there- I scored 47,000 votes to go to the House from two local governments and Senator Ojudu scored 57,000 to go to the senate out of five LGs.
What’s the party leadership doing in all of this?
Well, the party has not had any reason to call Senator Ojudu and I because I don’t think the party leaders feel it has reached a point where they feel they need to call us and again let me say that it is not that we are quarrelling, there is nothing personal about all these thing, everyone is expressing his own opinion. He has expressed his own opinion and I am not going against him. The least I can do is to express my own opinion. And the people are there watching us and God, the Almighty is seated there on throne watching us. He knows who is telling the truth and he knows who is not. But I have no doubt that if at any point, the leadership of the party feels the need to call us, am sure the party will.
There are speculations that you are pursuing your ambition on another platform?
I am glad you use the word speculation and I think the speculation has become open. I just said in the course of this interview that some people paid for posters announcing that I was running for governorship on the platform of Labour Party and that is even taking it beyond the doors. They are trying to make it open but again, I emphasise that whatever I am running for, is going to be on the platform of the ACN, ACN of today. If tomorrow, we get registered as APC, it will be on the platform of APC. I am saying that the leaders of our party are committed to internal democracy and they also want the best global practices.
But would you support Fayemi for a second term?
I will put it this way, if this is actually an attempt to put me on the spot, I’d say it is a good one. The question you are asking is as good as asking Dr. Fayemi a similar question like you did sometimes. I would say that Governor Fayemi is my person and all the other five governors elected on the platform of ACN are my persons. When you asked Governor Fayemi a specific question about me, he told you that Opeyemi is my person and I am also confirming to you that Governor Fayemi and all the other governors elected on the platform of the ACN are my persons. That is what I would say to that.
As far as I am concerned, the issue of second term is much more fundamental than what people are talking about. I will not talk about second term for someone, just one year into office or two years in office. I will not celebrate achievements at a time that I am supposed to join other leaders of the party and other elected representatives of the people to encourage the administration to do more work. As far as I am concerned, let everybody continue to do the best that they can.