By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Former Lagos State Information Commissioner, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, has emerged the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress(APC) in Ekiti State for Ekiti Central Senatorial District.
The former Federal lawmaker defeated the incumbent senator, Fatimat Raji-Rasaki, to emerge victorious in the exercise.
Declaring the result early on Saturday at the party’s Secretariat in Ado Ekiti, the Chairman of the National Working Committee on Senatorial primary in Ekiti, Mr Ibrahim Sule, said Bamidele polled a total of 61,823 votes to defeat his closest rival, who garnered 3,289.
In the election in Ekiti North, Senator Olu Adetumbi clinched the senatorial ticket with a total of 2,763 while Prince Dayo Adeyeye won in the South with a total vote of 51, 443.
Former Chief of Staff to the govenor-elect, Mr Yemi Adaramodu , also won the House of Representatives ticket in Ekiti South Federal constituency 1.
Responding to his victory, Bamidele praised former Governor Niyi Adebayo and the Governor-elect, Dr Kayode Fayemi for standing by him and prevented some powerful individuals from imposing Raji-Rasaki on the party.
He said the direct primary conducted in Ekiti had afforded every member the right of participation as entrenched in democratic ideals , saying act of imposition would only brew ill-feelings among party members.
The Senatorial Candidate lauded party members for exhibiting so much love for him, urging them to replicate the gesture next year’s February 16, when the presidential and National Assembly elections will be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC).
“Let me assure Mrs Rasaki that I will continue to hold her in high esteem. We are in this party together and there was need for us to coalesce efforts and build a virile party of our choice.
“It was history that repeated itself, because I succeeded her in the House of Representatives and the same thing is about to happen; I give glory to God.
“I want her to exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship by working for me in the coming election in the interest of Ekiti and our party, APC.
“I am of the conviction that my being voted as the Senatorial candidate was borne out of the need to have popular candidates that can enhance the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in Ekiti in the 2019 presidential election.
Let me also say that I am indebted, so indebted to the people of Ekiti Central Senatorial district, because some can’t queue in the sun since morning and I will forget him when I get to the Senate, that would be a tantamount to a sin against God and humanity”, he said.
On the support displayed by the leadership of the party to avert imposing candidate in Ekiti Central, Bamidele said such move could have been disastrous for APC if realized.
He, however, hinted that strong and terrific fight put up by party leaders in Ekiti thwarted attempt to enact such an undemocratic practice in the State.
“They made spirited efforts to remove my name from the ballot, but for the fight our leaders, Otunba Adebayo and Dr. Fayemi put up, the game was aborted. I will be grateful to these leaders eternally.
“These stood leaders have been on tremendous pressure to prevent me from contesting, but they stood their ground. They were convinced just like every other APC member that there was no agreement anywhere that someone will get automatic ticket in Ekiti central.
“But we have put that behind us with this victory. I will work harder to secure victory for APC in that election, particularly engaging the PDP candidate, Barrister Obafemi Adewale in constructive and issue based campaign , since the mission of the two of us is to represent our people well and make their lives better”, Bamidele stated.