A former House of Representatives member and governorship hopeful in the All Progressives Congress from Ekiti State, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele is 54 today. Shola Oyeyipo pays tribute to a man, whose idea of change comes on a moral high ground
He’s had quite a very humble start, both in education and public service. Although he’s not called it quit yet, his coming this far has not been by sheer happenstance. An activist, educationist, lawyer and politician, Hon. Opeyemi has had all of these different parts play crucial roles in his trajectory. With his excellent delivery on assignments, especially as an ‘errand of progress’, his name comes with morality even though he operates in a filthy political environment. For the record, “Errand of Progress” was the title of the book launched to commemorate his 40th birthday 14 years ago.
Bamidele’s penchant for public service was believed to have forced him to seek an elective office in 1992, to the House of Representatives from Oshodi/Isolo Federal Constituency in Lagos, which he gallantly lost by a single vote. Undeterred by this development, he remained active and loyal to the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He was soon appointed in October 1992 as Special Assistant on Legal Matters to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Appropriation, Banking and Currency in the 3rd National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In March 1993, Bamidele served as National Accreditation Officer at the SDP National Convention in Jos, Plateau State, where Bashorun MKO Abiola was elected the party’s Presidential candidate. In July 2000, he was appointed as the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Lagos State on Political and Intergovernmental Relations. He also doubled in this capacity as the National Director of Publicity of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) between November 2000 and June 2003.
He successfully combined these positions with his flourishing law practice as President of Amicus Law Associates and Principal Partner of Opeyemi Bamidele and Associates, a firm of Solicitors, Advocates and Arbitrators established since July 1992 and currently with offices in Lagos and Abuja.
In February of 2003, the ebullient Bamidele was appointed into the Lagos State Executive Council as the Special Adviser on Political Matters to the Governor and seconded to manage the political office of the then Deputy Governor, Lagos State, Mr. Olufemi Pedro. In recognition of his commitment to service and humanity, the former the state, Bola Ahmed Tinubu appointed him the Commissioner for Youth, Sports and Social Development in July, 2003, where he further proved his mettle in service delivery.
Owing to the many life changing programmes that he designed, particularly his incisive presentation on Tekunle Rehabilitation Centre, Lekki, the state government was awarded World Leadership award in December 2005 and another on the creation of youth centers across the state in 2006. These ground-breaking achievements provided a credible justification for his re-appointment as the Commissioner for Information and Strategy by the administration of Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) between June 2007 and 2011.
In his vocation as the chief image maker of the state, the characteristic fervour for diligence, brilliance and prompt delivery of remarkable statecraft for which Bamidele was known remained the hallmark of his approach to the challenges of governance. The Ministry of Information and Strategy under his supervision recorded lofty landmarks.
Following these, in 2011, he aspired to represent the people of Ekiti Central Senatorial District on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Though he won in the party primaries, however due to the persuasion of the party leadership, he contested in the April 2011 general election and was elected into the House of Representatives.
In the House, he served for four years as the Chairman, Legislative Budget and Research Committee. He also served as Chairman of the House Ad hoc Committee on Media and Public Affairs as well as a member of the House Committee on Education, Judiciary, Constitution Review, Housing & Habitat, and State &Local Government.
Owing to the disagreement with some of the leaders of the defunct ACN in Ekiti State by the end of 2013, he left for the Labour Party on which platform he ran for the governorship of Ekiti State in the June 2014 governorship election, finishing in the third position.
But following the intervention of well-meaning leaders of the newly registered All Progressives Party (APC), he, along with leaders of his group, agreed to join the Buhari/Osinbajo project in January 2015 as a part of the broad coalition, which secured 41 per cent of the Presidential votes in Ekiti State for the APC. He and his group thereafter publicly held a press conference in Ekiti to announce their movement to the party, APC.
In April 2016, he was appointed by the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU-ECOSSOC) as a Consultant and Facilitator; and in May 2016, he was invited by the United Nations to participate in the World Humanitarian Summit (which held on 23rd and 24th of Mayin Istanbul, Turkey) as an AU Facilitator.
In June 2016, he was appointed by the 8th National Assembly as a Legal Consultant to the House Committee in charge of Constitutional Amendment. Following the conclusion of the Edo State Governorship Primaries of the APC in June 2016, he was appointed by the Nigerian ruling party as the Chairman of the Edo State Governorship Primary Election Appeals Committee. He is currently the Principal Attorney and Head of Chambers at the Law Office of Opeyemi Bamidele & Associates with offices in Abuja and Lagos.
Born on July 29, 1963 to Pa Stephen and Madam Tinuola Bamidele of Iyin Ekiti in Ekiti State of Nigeria, Bamidele, is a lawyer without border, holding three professional licences to practise in Nigeria as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court; an Attorney and Counselor-at-Law of the State of New York, USA; and a Notary Public of the State of New Hampshire, United States of America.
He graduated in 1986, from the University of Ife (Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife, with a Bachelor of Arts (with Honours) degree. His passion to serve humanity with his professional calling made him to enroll again as a full time student at the prestigious University of Benin, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B, with Honours) degree in 1990.
At the completion of his one-year academic stint at the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos and having been called to the Nigerian Bar, Bamidele launched himself into a full-time legal career, specialising in Constitutional and Human rights Law as well as International jurisprudence.
While in the United States of America, Bamidele pursued a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree programme at the World-renowned Franklin Pierce Law Centre (University of New Hampshire Law School) in Concord, New Hampshire, USA and by the end of 1996, he had already become a legal expert on Intellectual Property, with bias in International Patent, Trademark and Copyright Law, including the Licensing of International Transfer of Technology.
A learned counsel of no mean stature, Bamidele is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Nigeria.
As a university student, Bamidele exhibited his sterling leadership qualities, which singled him out among his peers, both as the Public Relations Officer of the Students’ Union Government at the University of Ife and also as the Chairman of the University of Benin Students’ Union. The peak of his career as a student activist was his election as the National President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in 1989.
This vantage position that he occupied made him to be at the centre of several negotiations and collective bargaining with federal and state governments as well as higher institutions’ authorities on issues relating to students welfare, academic freedom and the resolution of the endemic crisis in which the nation’s educational sector was then engulfed.
A reliable team player, leader with unusual reservoir of energy for service, consummate politician, seasoned administrator and given his sterling leadership qualities that are coupled with his penchant for details, Bamidele is certainly one of the emerging leaders of the dream Nigeria. He epitomises integrity and his passion for progressive change is insuppressible. He is, no doubt, a symbol of an up-coming generation of intelligent, result-oriented, dynamic and visionary leaders. Above all, he is a moral agent for positive change.
A reliable team player, leader with unusual reservoir of energy for service, consummate politician, seasoned administrator and given his sterling leadership qualities that are coupled with his penchant for details, Bamidele is certainly one of the emerging leaders of the dream Nigeria…He is, no doubt, a symbol of an up-coming generation of intelligent, result-oriented, dynamic and visionary leaders. Above all, he is a moral agent for positive change