A former member of the House of Representatives, who represented Ekiti North Federal Constituency, Abimbola Daramola has accused his state governor, Ayodele Fayose of leaving the people of Ekiti State hungry after promising to provide them with stomach infrastructure. He spoke with Shola Oyeyipo who presents the excerpts:
While the Ekiti State governor Ayodele Fayose is busy criticising President Muhammadu Buhari, people at home are equally complaining about his administration.
It’s obvious that we have not cut a very good deal. If I say this most people will interpret that to mean, one, this is a sour grape. That he is saying this because his candidate did not win at that election. Don’t forget that I was the Director-General of the Kayode Fayemi re-election, so, if I begin to put up my assessment, whatever I put up is going to be tainted to imply that it is because we lost election, what do you expect? But the truth of the matter is that I am also a stakeholder in that place. I am an Ekiti State indigene. I lived the first 25 years of my life in the state and I have my concerns. So, in terms of tangible impact and all of that I am not too sure that the past four years have vindicated those who voted for Peter Ayodele Fayose.
The people voted for stomach infrastructure because if you look at it critically that was the main reason that tilted the vote Inn Fayose’s favour. Do you think your people have benefited from the concept of stomach infrastructure?
Let me make this clear to you, we would let history makers decide whether Ekiti people actually voted for stomach infrastructure because today, they are hungry. You need to reconcile the paradox of winning election on the basis or riding on the popularity, so to speak, of stomach infrastructure or a political philosophy that amplified tokenism as against enduring political philosophy like the one Dr. Kayode Fayemi did. So, today, if eight months salary have not been paid you will now connect the dot to know that stomach infrastructure as a philosophy has failed.
So, I am not too sure that Ekiti people voted for stomach infrastructure and I am convinced that today, nobody needs to be told; civil servants who have not been paid for eight months, pensioners who are languishing in debts and wallowing in poverty and all of that need to now undertake an introspection to determine whether the choice of Peter Ayodele Fayose was right in the first place.
I think there were a number of things that worked against us at that election and I dare say one of them will be the fact that we had people even who were beneficiaries, people who were officials of government who decided to take a pound of flesh against the administration at the time. And of course, you cannot oversight the fact that the federal government at that time reined heavily against us. They wanted to win at all cost. As I sit with you I have a compact disc to show to that effect. My 87 year old man was beaten black and blue. So many people were sacked from their polling units and all of that. Election is a process, when you eventually see them count the ballot paper and all of that there are conditions precedent to that and you should be generous enough to know that if the process leading to the end of the story is wrong, it is not likely that the result would have been right.
Away from such issues, now you state is heading for another election, what do you think should be the defining issues in who becomes the next governor?
Track record! If you allow me to speak to that I will tell you. You know the only thing that validates your promises is your reputation. If you say I am going to do this for you tomorrow, the only thing that makes you believe is the fact that he said it yesterday and he did it. So, Ekiti people should be looking out for a man who has proven beyond reasonable doubt, against all circumstances to say first and foremost what is your reputation? Come with your strong reasons.
Why would you say you are the best candidate?
I am not going to say I am the best candidate. I like to shy away from words like the best, superlative descriptions like that but I know that I am going to be a very good governor. One, I have a reputation that goes ahead of me. I was in the House of Representatives for four years and by the grace of God I challenge you to go to my constituency and see what I have done and compare it, humbly speaking, and compare it with 16 years of representation before me. Today, we have a 32 bed-hospital built by me, we have intervened in the lives of many people; medically, educationally, all kinds of manners and ways. There is no town or village in my constituency that does not have the impact of Bimbo Daramola. I never cut deal with anybody. I am in touch with them. The young people believe in me, the elderly trust me, so, what else are you looking for? As a parliamentarian I was opening rural road network from my pocket.
Why do you want to be the governor of Ekiti State?
When we lost Dr. Fayemi re-election, I keep saying we because I appropriate that lost too. The lost of Dr. Fayemi in that election was my lost, because I was massively involved in the enterprise. May be the governor, his wife and a few others will say we did much more. Now, what got me interested in this race, riding on the back of our lost at Dr. Fayemi’s election and it was logical we were going to lose anyway because there will be bandwagon effect, so I pulled away, I said I was done with politics but when people began to show interest in this race and there were twenty four people at that time, eight assembly members came to me and said we are not saying you should run or you should not run but look at these twenty four people, tell us one of them by your own estimation, who thoroughly represents the ideals and the ideas of this party?
I can humbly say to you that I have been an active member of this party for twelve years. I am a die-in-the-wool progressive, I have never shifted my ground one day, I have remained with the people. And more than anything else, I have the will to do. That is one of my strongest edge.
If you win the mandate, what are those things you will be doing differently?
The first challenge that I am going to deal with is the perception that is very rife in town that Ekiti is a dead zone – a far flung place, a rejected place, a desert – a place that should be forgotten. That is the very first thing I needed to break and that is why the mantra of my campaign is ‘Restoring our Pristine Identity.’ The same state that had the appellation of the state that breeds professors already is now the scumbag among states. I need to fix that. And there is something I call the softer side of government, if you don’t get the idea of softer side of government; any idiot can build schools, do roads and things like that but it will take a man who is completely deep to know that one of the challenges that we have in Ekiti State today is the fact that we have been stereotyped and our minds are beginning to accept that stereotype to accept that nothing good can come out of Ekiti State.
So, the first thing I am going to do is, one, bring out the value that is inherent in that state and once I have the value restored and everybody accepts there is value, value added to any product, people will pay for it.
How do you intend to cross the hurdle of the primary?
Let me make this clear abundantly, I am not a desperate man. If it is the will of God it is going to happen. Number two, I am a man of faith. Number three, I am in with a strong resolve. Number four, in terms of nitty-gritty, out of the2400 delegates that will be showing up at that primary elections I am too sure 1500 of them have met with me one-on-one. As the Director-General of a gubernatorial election, I was the quasi-candidate, so, I was just wearing the face of Dr. Fayemi.
Every village that I visited, every youth leader, every woman leader, every chairman that I spoke to will have a recourse to the day that I took the battle of Dr. Fayemi on my head as if it was my battle and indeed it was my battle. It is about time to tell them that the same person who did that is the person who is right here now before you.
Out of the 46 or 50 people who are jumping around wanting to be the candidate, many of them will need introduction, I don’t need any introduction. So, in the minds of these delegates, everyone of them has the picture of who Bimbo Daramola is.
Do you think the incumbent governor will play strong roles in determining who becomes the governor?
I am not too sure. He has already gone ahead to pick his candidate of the PDP. You know, you can’t take that away from him. Ayodele Peter Fayose has political mastery but he doesn’t have political mystery. There is nothing mysterious about Fayose but the man understands the psychology of the people. For instance, when he gives you food he is in your face and let your face take him to your heart. That is a simple philosophy. Even if you feed some livestocks for too long, they become loyal to you. So, that is the simple analogy. Let me tell you another thing Ekiti people want a governor who is in touch, who robs shoulders with them, who they feel is their own, who they can take ownership of, and I am that kind of person. They call me lover of the elders and friend of the youths.
Primary is an attempt to bring the best out of a family – to bring your best foot forward, there is no family that will be desirous of running a relay race or 400m race and go and bring a great grandfather to run the race, you will rather pick a young man.
Do you see other party leaders who are also eyeing the ticket conceding it to you?
I have a very good relationship with virtually all of them, I believe so, except the new entrants that we don’t know. You can imagine a man like me who may not know some of these aspirants. If you leave Redeemed today as a pastor who has your own leisure and you go to Winners Chapel would they make you a pastor the same day?
My answer is that some of these people in the race, beyond the fact that they claim that they have fat wallets or deep pockets; do you think Ekiti people will be ready to gamble for another four years by voting a man they don’t know? That is why I said I am a die-in-the-wool APC member. The DNA of APC is inside of me. I told you about primary elections as elections within a family, if there is paternity dispute in a family what kind of test do you conduct? You conduct a DNA. So, let them go and conduct DNA test on some of these people.