To win the July 14th governorship election in Ekiti State, the All Progressives Congress must conduct a transparent primary, a former member of the House of Representatives who is also seeking to be governor of the state, Bimbo Daramola, has said. He spoke with journalists in Lagos. Shola Oyeyipo presents the excerpts:
How prepared are you for the All Progressives Congress’ primary election?
I am 95 per cent prepared. I am confident by the grace of God that I am going to win the election. Expect the act of God. And act of God could mean a lot of things. But I have checklist and I daily run by my checklist. Have I met Mr. Lagbaja? Have I met and spoken to that group? Have I consulted widely? I have embarked on wide consultations to the extent that I can say I have not left anybody behind.
What distinguishes you from other aspirants in the race, especially others aspiring on the platform of your party?
I am running on reputation and that must be clear. If there is no prize for gallantry, then there is no prize to get for villain. I have paid the price and I am saying that on the basis of abundant facts available in a party I have served for 14 years. I have been the agent of the party. I have been the state collation agent of the party. I have been the Director-General of governorship election campaign. I have been a Director-General of a senatorial campaign. I have been a member of the House of Representatives. So, I believe I have enough experience. If you are talking about commitment and fidelity to the party, nobody can fault me. If you are talking about records of public service, again by the grace of God, I commit my humble records to Ekiti people to know. If you are talking about personal relationship; both within and outside the delegates they also know me. I am a paid cheque, I am not a promissory note and everybody can say good things.
I am not saying they should give me the ticket of the party on a platter of gold. The job of a governor is a job that will require a man who totally understands what it entails to put the destiny, faith and fortune of 2.3million people into his hand in reference to my state; a state where government is at the centre of every human activity. Every business in my state is directly linked to what they pay out to civil servants. So at that point in time, we must have a broad overview on what our state requires.
What kind of governor do you think the Ekiti people really want this time around?
The truth of the matter is that I can confidently say that about 75 to 80 per cent of the Ekiti people are desirous of a government and a governor who will shepherd this state in a different direction, where everyday Ekiti citizen will be known for great things and not for ridicule. The propensity is higher in the direction of people who will want a different Ekiti than the Ekiti we have today. No doubt about it that we have people who want the status quo to remain, and we would respect their wishes. But the truth of the matter is that a whole lot of people feel that in the past three and half years, we have been subject to ridicule and they want our state steered in different direction and I am one of those who believe in that. So, that is the bigger pictures. That is the ultimate destination. How do we get there would now be determined beyond local realities and it will also be determined by how well our party is totally committed to transparency of the process.
If our primary election is very transparent just like the one we saw in Anambra State, I dare say that APC is reputably known for conducting very transparent elections. So, if this primary is transparent and nobody toys with the delegates list or arm-twists anybody; bring your money; people will chop it. I can say that. I have met almost 2, 000 delegates. I have gone around to 14 local governments; meeting everybody from every local government to all the wards down. Just recently, I met eight non-principal executives in every ward; that is eight times 177, in the same room beyond the fact that I have moved round the local governments and gone to the party secretariat. And more than anything yet, anything that Bimbo Daramola utters out of his mouth, they believe my word.
When I said to them that I am going to the House of Representatives, I told them that my constituency will be a reference point in the country. It turned out to be so and nobody can match it. We have a 32-bed hospitals to show for it; cutting down infant mortality and maternal mortality. Bring access to medical care to the people. Are they going to deny that? Even on the floor, having moved over 30 motions; sponsored personally four bills and co-sponsored 14 others. I also have good constituency relations and nobody can fault me on that.
You are so passionate about your ambition, what is your motivation
God knows that I am not desperate to become governor but I am desperate to ensure that never again will civil servants be owed again for eight months in Ekiti State. That never again will pensioners go to bed hungry. Never again will pensioners approach their graves in hunger. I know that no matter how irresponsible any government might be; my father will never have to go and beg for pension again. Never again, I am my father’s pension. And I want to ensure that many more like me raised in that state, also can be their parent’s pension. Government, most likely will behave irresponsibly, expect we have right people in government but most times right people don’t get to government and that is why most government behave irresponsibly.
I believe very strongly where we are today there are three categories that all the aspirants can be divided into. The once who are known; who have done it before and who have been governors before. The once who have never been governors before but have held positions and the third category are those who are completely new. But in all of these, I don’t think we have indulgence of time because we are very close now and our message that will resonate with the people, we don’t have too much time to disseminate that information anymore. We do not want to put any candidate on that rostrum and present to Ekiti people and be apologising to start with; appealing to Ekiti people not to be annoyed about what the person did in the past when he was governor; telling people that they should forgive him with promise that he will do better this time around. We don’t need that kind of person.
The attention span of the people is closing fast and whoever will match a man with political dexterity like Ayo Fayose, we will not bring a candidate that you will be apologising for his past when you are in conflict with Ayo Fayose, who refers to himself as ‘ore mekunnu’ (friends of the downtrodden) despite the fact that he has not paid salaries for eight months, yet people still hold him dearly to their hearts. We cannot afford that because how many places will you take such a person to and be apologising to the people to forget the past, promising that he will do better this time around. We can’t do it because you don’t have that indulgence; time will close on you before they accept you because you would have spent greater parts of your campaign apologising and begging people to forget the past errors of such candidate.
You also don’t need a candidate who first and foremost when you put him on the podium; you will have to introduce him to the Ekiti people by telling people about the candidate. The people attention span cannot also accommodate that. We don’t need that kind of governor right now. It is not me saying so; it is reality that is saying so. And then you move to the third category. You need a candidate of the party that you will on the podium and everybody will say, Yes, we know him. I humbly say to you; I am that candidate.
Do you think those who are in authority and the delegates are on same page with you as regards the need for the party to present somebody who is generally acceptable?
Primary election anywhere all over the world is a stakeholders’ election. If you muscle a candidate in the primary, I am not too sure you will be able to muscle that candidate if he is not popular. And popularity this time around, means acceptability in term of reception and capacity for people to keep that candidate in a warm embrace. That is what will win the election for us against Ayo Fayose. There is nobody who celebrates winning primaries; the ultimate victory is to win the governorship election for Ekiti to join the league of progressive states where it rightly belongs. Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin wrote Ekiti people a letter through Ewi of Ado Ekiti and said whatever needs to be done; this new state must be kept within the progressive fold. Unfortunately, we strayed and we are outside of that fold. Whoever is going to bring us to that fold must be somebody who totally understands who we are; who know where we are coming from, who know where we are at this point and who knows where our forefathers want us to be.
This party is going to be facing a man like Peter Ayodele Fayose. He is not dump and we are still dancing around, the guy has already enlisted his support behind his deputy governor and he is mobilising. I know some of the things that they have done with regards to voters register. I know some of the things they have done preparatory to the governorship election. So, head or tail; what he won’t get by federal might; he will get by people’s might if we are not careful.
I am not going to be the worst casualty if Ekiti loses that election again. And I say that very humbly. But I bleed in my heart because a lot more people will have their future permanently suspended and they will never be able to come to realisation of their destiny.
Why did you say that?
The worst thing that we can do, particularly the political class, is to realise our political ambition and damn the bull shift of the people who make it happened for us. And it was the consciousness of that that drives my aspiration. We have held the ladder down and allow 1,050 young people to climb on that ladder to becoming the next Afe Babalola, Wole Olanipekun, Femi Falana, Prof. Bodunrin and co. We need to know the reputation of this state and the reality of today.
Government, most likely will behave irresponsibly, expect we have right people in government but most times right people don’t get to government and that is why most government behave irresponsibly.