â€ŽAmong the those seeking to become Ekiti State governor is a former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos, Opeyemi Bamidele. Gboyega Akinsanmi takes a look at his credentials
The Ekiti State governorship election is already at the threshold. The contest, which has been slated for July 14, has attracted a huge number of aspirants from diverse political parties. Some are indeed in the race in good faith and with clear vision to make difference. Others, however, joined the race either to measure their level of public acceptability or deploy their aspiration as a tool to negotiate their political future.
Either ways, all the aspirants have largely redefined the stateâ€™s political climate with different activities taking place on daily basis. On the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform alone, over 40 aspirants are seeking public approval to take over from the incumbent governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose. In the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), too, about 30 aspirants are jostling for the same job.
What are the aspirants bringing to the table? That is the question to which the Ekiti people are seeking answers. Indeed, many of the aspirants have come up with different programmes of action. Some promised the Ekiti people a new dawn. Not a few have propounded Ekiti rebirth, which they argued, is imperative to restore its lost values; develop its economic potentials and reposition its social amenities.
But none of these aspirants has ever defined his mission as brazen as a former Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele did. Sector by sector, Bamidele provided comprehensive answer to the question the Ekiti people have been asking in a 121-page manifesto he unveiled in Iyin-Ekiti, Ekiti State. The manifesto was titled, Keeping Hope Alive: The Ekiti Growth and Development Blueprint.
Bamidele was indeed unequivocal about his mission this time. He was equally strategic about it, speaking the truth alone to the souls of the Ekiti youths and appealing with assurance to the conscience of the Ekiti elders. At the presentation, he said he remained resolute in seeking an opportunity â€œto provide leadership as a way of addressing our shared concerns about governance in Ekiti State.â€
After due consultation with constituents in 117 wards in Ekiti State, last week, Bamidele kicked off another statewide tour to 16 Local Government Areas (LGAs), presenting the Ekiti people this article of faith and asking them to hold him accountable for all his actions and decisions if he is eventually elected the governor.
What is indeed driving Bamidele despite threat to his life in the run-up to the 2014 election? For him, it is not just passion for partisan politics; neither is it quest to grab power for personal use. As indicated in the charter of prosperity he just presented to the Ekiti people, Bamidele wrote: â€œDevelopment in the modern world is driven by ideas.â€
That indeed is missing in Ekiti State. A Fiscal Responsibility Index, which BudgIT Nigeria, a budget transparency advocacy group published in 2017, ranked the state at the bottom alongside its next neighbour, Osun state. Practically, as the report showed, the state might not be able to sustain itself unless its leaders rev up the internally generated revenue (IGR), substantially cut expenditures and reduce its debt stocks.
Aside its fiscal sustainability status, as indicated in a paper Sen. Olubunmi Adetunmbi presented at a conference he addressed in 2016, Ekiti State has three fundamental problems. First, it is one of the states with the lowest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the federation. Second, the state does not have enough businesses to create more jobs and generate ample revenue. Third, the state has always been a victim of poor governance since its creation in 1996.
Likewise, the stateâ€™s unemployment rate is frightening. Although there are conflicting unemployment rates about the state, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put it at a conservative level of 14.1 percent. This rate was indeed compounded by the stateâ€™s poor profile of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) operating in the state. Even though the United Nations rated it 12.9 percent in its 2017 multi-dimensional poverty rates, the socio-economic realities in the state still largely depict the case of extreme poverty, especially in its agrarian communities.
At the instances of socio-economic realities in Ekiti State at large, Bamidele believed that the government â€œis failing in its responsibilitiesâ€¦â€ He lamented grievous practices in the public space, citing a case whereby on-going public works â€œare abandoned and contracts are re-awarded under questionable circumstances and household income is grossly encroached upon for lack of capacity optimisation.â€
He, also, cited an instance when the public taps â€œare no longer running; good healthcare delivery and other social services declining; public servants neglected; hope of ordinary citizens dashed and their psyches traumatised.â€ From these grievous realities with grave implications, Bamidele said no one should expect people â€œto pledge support to a government that fails in its responsibilities to deliver on its promises.â€
At the presentation of his manifesto, last week, Bamidele noted that he was on a mission to rescue Ekiti and its people. With a population of over 2.38 million and strategic resources, according to him, Ekiti deserves more than it has ever got from the incumbent and previous governments. He said nothing was more required to redefine the future of Ekiti than purposeful leadership â€œto ventilate ideas to bring development to bear on the human resources and environment in Ekiti Stateâ€¦â€
Bamidele, thus, offered to put these ideas in the public domain with the Blueprint on Ekiti Growth and Development Agenda, which he described as a manifest of change or a charter of prosperity. Armed with this document, Bamidele said Ekiti would be catapulted to the next level rather than being left behind, if offered opportunity to serve.
Sector by sector, Bamidele reeled out his programmes of action with conviction to deliver on his promises. He, however, started with a pledge â€œto develop new strategies towards effective governance in Ekiti State in line with selfless service which is to lead by example as reflected in private lives and corporate dispositions.â€
His manifesto was built on nine pillars namely; economic development, human capital development, social development, infrastructure development, housing, rural & new town development, urban & regional transformation, environment, sanitation & sustainability, law, security & order as well as public service & local government administration.
Bamideleâ€™s economic blueprint holds great promise for the state perhaps with the least GDP and the lowest number of SMEs in the federation. Under the economic development initiative, he promised â€œto adopt and implement pro-poor policies,â€ which he said, would encourage his commitment to periodic interactions with the Ekiti people at all levels.
Beyond sustaining robust engagement with the people, Bamidele pledged â€œto empower the populace and sustain their active interest and participation in the business of governance in Ekiti State and stem the tide of pervasive apathy among our people towards government policies,â€ which according to him, often arose from endemic policy somersaults and fascist posturing of previous administrations.
He equally, pledged to take advantage of mechanised agriculture â€œto achieve my food security objectives; supply adequate raw materials for the countryâ€™s growing industrial sector; generate employment opportunities for different strata of the Ekiti population; increase the stateâ€™s internally generated revenue and provide markets for the products of the industrial sector.â€
He, also, proposed the Ekiti Business Growth Scheme (EBGS) to aggressively stimulate the SMEs through appropriate vocational training and adequate provision of private sector-led micro-credit facilities at reasonable interest rates for artisans and entrepreneurs all over the state. Aside this initiative, Bamidele came up with the Ekiti State Industrial Policy, which he said, was conceived in line with the National Industrial Policy of Nigeria.
The essence of the industrial policy, according to him, is to resuscitate the existing industrial ventures on the one hand. The ventures in this category are Ire Burnt Brick Factory and Ikun Diary Farm. On the other hand, Bamidele promised to encourage new industrial ventures to provide greater employment opportunities for the youths and increase export of manufactured goods from Ekiti State.
Among others, Bamidele said he would pursue strategic interventions in the mining sector. He planned to develop a long-term blueprint to government address institutional and policy challenges, which he believed, would determine the extent the state could benefit from such solid minerals as clay, cassiterite (tin-ore), columbite, bauxite (aluminum ore), granite, talc, tantalum and feldspar.
Call for Support
Despite the challenges, Bamidele said Ekiti â€œis, no doubt, is the land of a unique people.â€ He admitted that the growth of Ekiti â€œhas been stunted and her development arrested by some certain leaders in whom so much hope and expectations were invested and that Ekiti had, for too long, been ravaged by poverty and declining standard of living.
Amid the statistical evidence on the stateâ€™s socio-economic realities, Bamidele lamented that the story of Ekiti, unlike other states in Nigeria, portrayed a picture of a state at the brink of precipice, precariously tending towards anarchy at the slightest nudge. He acknowledged that Ekiti â€œhas become a state whose leaders prefer to enjoy the trappings of office, without willingness to make sacrifices towards selfless service.â€
Rather than complaining about the setback the state had suffered, Bamidele said the time for action had come. He, thus, noted that he â€œhas already answers to Ekitiâ€™s development questions. We are persuaded that the attainment of the laudable goals lies in the enactment of an atmosphere of new understanding, new vision, new determination and a new spirit that requires genuine integration and enduring input of all stakeholders in the collective birth of Ekiti.â€
He therefore, called on the Ekiti people, both young and adult, to repose their faith in the solemn assurance he had documented in its manifesto. With this article of faith, Bamidele envisaged a new, united, peaceful and prosperous Ekiti. Also, he sought peopleâ€™s support â€œto reinvent governance; engender freedom and democratic ethos; create more jobs; eradicate poverty; build infrastructure; sustain businesses; secure lives and properties and re-enact the essence and value of peaceful co-existence among the people of Ekiti Stateâ€¦â€
On the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform alone, over 40 aspirants are seeking approval to take over from the incumbent governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose