At a recent interactive session with journalists in Lagos, a governorship hopeful in Ekiti State and former House of Representatives member, Honourable Bimbo Daramola, spoke about his ambition and his growing up days among other issues. Anayo Okolie presents the excerpts:
You play a different kind of politics, such as poverty alleviation. Why is that?
I am a sensitive person. It breaks my heart to see people suffer. It still amazes my driver, that while going on the road, I see a woman with babies, and I know that they have not eaten, I pull aside and do something. I donâ€™t expect that those people will see me again. I do that often, because that is what we live for as we wonâ€™t be here forever. It would be nice for history to be kind to me; and more than anything else, what I deal with when I walk pass a man in need is that my conscience will begin to worry me; it will not give me peace.
Iâ€™ll give you an example. In 2000, I went to Abeko gold â€“ it used to be the topmost luxury shop on Broad Street. Then, we didnâ€™t have any of these modern shops. The guy was the one, who started the sale of luxury wrist watches on Broad Street. I went there and saw a very fine Gucci wrist watch and I knew I had a Gucci slippers at home, as I brought out my cheque book to pay for the wrist watch, I heard a voice saying â€œBimbo, if you write that cheque, I will make sure that you donâ€™t write any other cheque againâ€, and it went on to say to me â€œhave you asked your gateman if he has eaten todayâ€, so I closed my cheque book and told them that I would come back.
At this time, I had relocated to Abuja. I think it was one of my fleeting trips to Lagos, so when I got back to Abuja, my gatemanâ€™s wife came and carried my bag upstairs, after dropping the bag, I asked her if they had eaten, she said they had not eaten and that was what God was trying to tell me. So, I gave her money to stock up her house and that was it.
Second, by the grace of God, I do my medical check-up twice in a year, but how come nobody knows that normal people have to do their own check-up as well? That is one of the motivations for putting the hospital there. A number of people have died recklessly for minor issues, and they will blame witches and wizards, but witches and wizards did not kill them. If you have diabetes and you did no check your sugar level in good time, but go on to take all the sugary and starchy food, before you know it, the thing piles and kills him. The same is attainable with high blood pressure and all other diseases and the people will begin to lament the sudden death of such a fellow.
They could even say that such a fellow was called to his death. Yes, we know that such things do happen, but sometimes an ordinary innocuous medical check-up could foretell that if you continue on that track. You will be in danger sometime in the future; you will get medical advice on what to cut down on, with this you will discover that you will cut down on innocent deaths. Since when my father went to hand over the key of the hospital to them up to this time, I have not stepped into that place.
For me, I know that between God and me, I have done my best, but I hope they can call others, who have gone to the House of Representatives or who have been governors, who have also carried out such projects from their pocket. It is not a matter of competition. Rather, it is just an opportunity to showcase what weâ€™ve done for the people of Ekiti, particularly as we run for the highest office in the state. If I put my own wealth to the service of the people, what will I then do with the common wealth of the people? So, I have said, since I represented one sixth of the entire constituencies in the state and by the grace of God, we were able to touch lives like that, hence, if I become governor, the minimum I can do is times six of what I did as House of Representatives member.
You have indicated interest to contest the next governorship election in Ekiti State, What was your motivation?
My biggest motivation is that one, I knew too well and I still know that this is not the best that we can get from our state, a greater Ekiti is possible. When I coined that phrase for Dr. Fayemi in those days, because I believe that he is a sober and temperate fellow, he is a moderated fellow; he is not an extremist of some sort, I know also that he is very intellectual, he is very expansive, and he has got good pedigree and all of that. I believe that we were safe in his hand, and up till now I still believe that Dr. Fayemi did well for Ekiti State.
Yes, he might have his faults like everybody else, but the truth of the matter is that we had a deep sense of direction at that point in time, as against what we have today. The fact remains that different leaders in the society will reflect the kind of leadership that we have and my motivation is that since Dr. Fayemi couldnâ€™t totally take us out of our predicament, if he had gone for another 4 years, Ekiti would have been a lot better than what it is today. Since he couldnâ€™t take us to that place, nature abhors vacuum and we canâ€™t leave Ekiti in a viscous state.
Ordinarily, I had said that I wonâ€™t contest, because I was smarting from the losses of Dr. Fayemiâ€™s election and my own election. When reason prevailed over and above sentiment, and some of my people came to me and said â€œOga, you know you are now past, at least you were a member of the House of Representatives, donâ€™t leave us behind. Like I have said in the past, I am going to be the bridge between some people and their destinies. I have made myself that and I will continue to be that.
I told some people in my village, you are fighting me, but you young people I am fighting your battle. I am the one hitting my head against the wall so that you guys will step on that wall and go on to achieve whatever you want to achieve. This huge wall before you is the one I am trying to take down, the barrier before you and your success in life; that is what I am trying to sort out for you. I am trying to take out the barrier between you and a glorious destiny and it is difficult to bring such walls down, because it is written that lift up you everlasting gate, all those everlasting gates stood before them, I needed to lift up so that they can pass.
THISDAY reported that â€œBimbo is the most popular with the young peopleâ€, that is because they represent the future. I am as well popular amongst the 90 year old people, they still love me and they know it. About 400 of them have circled me and have started praying for me at the cultural centre at Ado-Ekiti. If I was not the son in whom they are well pleased, would they do that for me? I am popular with the young people as well as the adults, because they also connect with my philosophies. My motivation is that I know that I have a very strong will and it is that will that has propelled and driven my politics; and I know that by the grace of God, if I get the opportunity to become the governor of Ekiti State, if in 2 years I donâ€™t remarkably point Ekiti in the direction of growth and development, I will voluntarily resign.
What are your ideas as governor?
Two things matter to me, I will create jobs. Employment is key, because being productively involved is a cure for indignity. A man, who does not have a job cannot say â€œoya, my wife carry your wrapper up, I want to doâ€, she would call him a useless man. He wonâ€™t even have an erection before the wife lambasts him. So, we would create jobs by the grace of God, and then we have a few blueprints that we will put out there to ensure that jobs are created for young people out there, and also ensure that our senior citizens retire into a life of comfort, hence we will ensure that their pensions will be paid as and at when due and then the guys who are living the realities of today, we also have to look for a means to ensure that salaries are not owed.
I hear that one of these our big names is parading himself that he paid salaries. It is not an achievement when workers are paid salaries. The Bible tells me expressly that a labourer is entitled to his wages, so what is the achievement in it that you paid workers? It is irresponsibility in the first place if you donâ€™t pay the people, who work for you, so as an employer of labour, every time it is getting to the 26th or 27th, my mind will be telling me â€œwhere is the money?â€ I would have to look for the money.
If I get into government, we will clean up the nominal role of the guys in the workforce, to ensure that the guys, who have modestly worked get paid and then we move to health care; you know a healthy citizenry is a healthy nation. I want people to live a healthy life, even Jesus said â€œit is my wish that you prosper in health as your soul prosperethâ€. So, I expect that we would also give attention to health care. And then the one that is very important on my plate is education. I said to some people that within 2 years, we will make schools so attractive that students wouldnâ€™t like to go home, and then we will make the job so interesting so that once again teachers will wear it with pride to say they are teachers, just like my parents were.
Over 40 people are interested in the same position. What are your chances?
I think the chances are very bright, if the people, the delegates and the leaders will be intuitive. It is not an entitlement mentality, no; it is because by the grace of God, weâ€™ve worked. Let me now say that if I become the governor by the grace of God, a lot of people will say â€œoh yes, he earned itâ€, this is because there is a lot of things to show. Is it my political contribution? Is it my representation when I had the opportunity to represent them on the floor of the National Assembly? Is it my bond with the young and the older people? Is it my relationship with the people? Is it the fact that I have been at different times the signpost of this party, both at national and state?
At a point in 2012, I didnâ€™t know that I would be running for governor in 2017. Five years ago, I single-handedly painted the national secretariat of the party. That is the philosophy that is driving me. Some of these guys do not have the history of this party, they donâ€™t know anything, they donâ€™t know the DNA of this party and I think these things should count; and not for anyone to come just like that. You canâ€™t point to 5 things you have done for the party, and I dare to say that 70% of those guys do not know where the umbilical cord of the party is. Let them go and check the DNA and then they will know that the political DNA of this party will be found in me and not found in people, who jump from one party to the other.