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Fayemi’s Other Side, by Opeyemi Bamidele

  • Why I’m the rallying point for the oppressed
  • No one man can determine my destiny


MIchael Opeyemi Bamidele, erstwhile Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos State, Special Adviser to Governor Ahmed Tinubu and once a darling of the Asiwaju crowd is today on the other side, flying the kite of Labour Party in next month’s gubernatorial election.

In words never before expressed, Bamidele gives his account of his struggles in the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN in Ekiti State, his efforts to redress perceived wrongs in the party and his mission. Excerpts:

Fayemi’s Other Side, by Opeyemi Bamidele
Labour party gubernatorial candidate, Opeyemi Bamidele, Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko,
Labour Party Chairman, Dan Nwanyanwu & Mr Yinka Odumakin during the flag-off campaign in Ado-Ekiti.


What are you telling Ekiti people during your campaigns?

My aspiration in Ekiti at this time is informed by a burning desire for positive change.
At some point we must be ready to stand up for something, and I am at that point in my life. To the glory of God, I have always stood up for something. But it was much easier to join other democratic elements against military dictatorship.

It was also much easier in joining other progressive forces in trying to organise towards a furtherance of our democracy. But today, it is not just the issue of combating just what I called lack of internal democracy within our parties, but also a situation where one is trying to fight for what can strengthen our democratic culture in Ekiti, it has led to a situation where a good number of my traditional allies take a position that definitely defer from mine.

If you notice, I have refused to join issues with people, especially in the media. Because the truth is that many of the people who are speaking against what I am doing today, writing articles in the papers against my moves in Ekiti today ordinarily, are some of the people that if things would have been different would support my course. I try to draw a line of demarcation between personal relationship and my ideological commitment.

As far as I am concerned I recognised the need to combat pseudo-democrats and the different kinds of deceptive elements we see in a democracy. This is not just anybody, but a governor who parades civil rights or pro-democracy activist credentials. And what did we get as a member of the ruling party nothing but booby traps.

The expectation of everybody is the democratization of the process. Everybody was looking forward for the conduct of the local government elections as one of the earliest things in the life of the administration.

And the booby trap came with the disagreement with members and the leadership of the party, where the governor agrees to go ahead and conduct the council election and he went and picked one of the prominent women leaders, who had played prominent role in his electoral campaign as the State Independent Electoral Commission, SIEC, boss.

Credible retired public servants

Of course, a lot of unsuspecting ACN members, felt the governor was on the right way. All Ekiti people were looking forward towards the conduct of the local government poll, but he picked a card carrying member as the chairman of the electoral body.

This is a state that parades a legion of credible retired public servants like permanent secretaries, judges and retired school principals that he could have picked as the umpire to supervise the election. And knowing the implication of what he did and what did we get?

The PDP went to court and stopped the inauguration of the electoral body, which prevented the conduct of the election. Also, the PDP played into his hands, since in the first instance he didn’t want to conduct any council election anyway.

One year after, when the party leadership went to meet the governor and advised him to jettison the electoral body he set up and constitute another one, he did not yield. People were expecting him to set up the state electoral commission that will organise the local government poll, everybody was looking forward towards a well organised local government poll.

One year after the party members and its leadership went to meet this governor and said, Mr. Governor dissolve this commission and put credible team there- he refused.
This became an excuse for three and half years, but rather he appointed caretaker committees to run the affairs of the councils, and change them every six month.

Traditional rulers

Rather than being responsible to the people, the caretakers are now responsible to him. So every month they are in the government house to receive ‘the joint allocations’. From there they sign for money they did not collect. When you see this administration buying vehicles for traditional rulers, you will be amazed, because this is not his responsibility, its supposed to be the responsibility of the councils.

The money meant for the cars for the traditional rulers were deducted from the money for the council from source, while the governor invited the traditional rulers and brought camera men and started sharing cars to them, because he needs all these for his media hype.

Today, nothing is happening at the local government level. And our constitution is clear about that. It states that the local government shall be administered by elected officials. When the issue of second term came up at the first year of this administration, I called some party members and told them this is improper at this time.

I said people will continue to support our party only through the administration’s action and performance. And that was the beginning of my issues with the government. I was classified as an enemy of the administration, but I wonder, because I do not think that there is anything out of place that I have done.

I felt that as a stakeholder my opinion was supposed to count. It now became an issue that many people more than they themselves felt, took offence on the situation. By the 2nd year anniversary of this administration, there was a call for the governor’s second term by His Excellency, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, who all of us regarded as a party leader.

I felt this was too rather early and that we should also allow internal democracy to prevail in this instance. What I felt was that, yes, if the governor needs a second term, he should keep on working and that his performance will justify all these. Essentially, I insisted that if such a thing will happen there must be state primaries.

The administration took so much offence on this and so many things were said about me and so many things were done against me as well.

What was the position of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu on the matter?

After the complaint, what the governor did was to remove the elected executives at the wards and the local government and replace them with his own people after he called for the dissolution of the excos.

Is that the position of the constitution of the party?

No! what they did was after their purported dissolution they replaced the elected executives with their own. They have their lists. So they removed all the officials including my own ward, where my father was the chairman.

The fear was that since I was insisting on internal democracy through the parties executives, they were not comfortable with this. This is because allowing the elected executives to be in office means that the wards excos will vote, the council executive will vote as well as the state executive members.

So they removed your father?

Yes, of course, but the grouse was not about my father but the institution of democracy. So, after all these there was a meeting presided over by Chief Bisi Akande, the national chairman of the party and we agreed on these issues.

I actually documented what was happening within the party and presented same, and the leadership actually took their position. The position was that, this is not the issue of who become the flag bearer of the party but the lack of internal democracy in our party-and as far as they were concerned they also made it clear that the position of Otunba Niyi Adebayo to give Dr Kayode Fayemi an automatic ticket should not be taken as the position of the party.

They argued that anybody is free to express his opinion on any issue but that cannot be the position of the party. But they said at the meantime, everybody should maintain the status quo and that Dr Fayemi should reinstate the excos removed.

On each of the occasions, he listened to them but refused to carry out the instructions. By December 2012, Otunba Niyi Adebayo invited party chieftains to his house in Iyin Ekiti in what he described as an end of the year get together.

Meanwhile, I traveled out of the country and on December 30, they pasted my posters everywhere with the Labour Party logo, purporting that I was running for governorship on the platform of the Labour Party.

The excos who attended the meeting sat overnight at Otunba Adebayo’s house while the Governor came with correspondents who were invited to ask questions. The Chief press secretary then had arranged who will ask the first question.

The person happened to be from the state owned government media outfit, who asked the question that in view of the sterling performance of Governor Kayode Fayemi, did he not deserve a second term ticket? And the Otunba said “yes of course.”

Meanwhile, all the leaders there had been showering encomiums on him and started chorusing what Otunba said. That was December 2012, for an election just coming June this year.
Of course, when I read all these in the US, I was surprised.

When I heard that Dr Fayemi was announced as the party’s candidate, I called Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande. They immediately retorted that no, this cannot be, asking how can Otunba Niyi Adebayo be speaking for the national leadership of the party, saying that what Otunba said was his personal expression.

Since then, I have been facing one persecution or the other. What they did first was to destroy the bill boards I had in different places within the state, wishing the party members the best of the seasons. In fact some of the boards had the picture of the governor on them.

Internally generated revenue

From that moment till today, I cannot tell you how many of my bill boards they have destroyed, even as this campaign is going on. All I have been doing is to remain focused. I will not run the council with caretakers and more importantly I will not stay more than four years.

In the last 18 months the local governments have been doing nothing, while the government borrowed money here and there. At the end of the day, you ask, what is the capacity of this government to pay this money, what is being done to enhance the internally generated revenue of the state?

By flying the flag of Labour Party some say you have committed political suicide?

When I hear things like that I get amused because we all feel as if God is not having hands in all what we are doing.

Many of the people who are alleging today that I have committed political suicide actually left PDP some years back and some of them left AD to PDP and AC N and went back to PDP and back in ACN etc.

I have never for once left my party. And I did not abandon the ACN. I was never a member of APC.
All I did was not to register with APC, it was like I was party-less for three months as a member of the parliament. I was elected on the platform of AC N and those who owned the party said they were discontinuing with the party.

Certificate of registration

So they returned the certificate of registration to INEC, I have no control over that. So, I was a member of parliament for three months without a political party since APC did not finish their registration until February this year. Meanwhile, I don’t know why people said I committed a political suicide.

Is it because APC is a national party that controls eleven governors? As a member of ACN there was a time our governor was the only one in this country, I did not abandon the party, and I did not think my fortune will dwindle, I remained committed. It was a psychological thing. We kept organising and under four years we had five governors.

For me, it is about what you believe in. And today, what are we talking about, APC is campaigning in Ekiti, PDP is campaigning in Ekiti, but we are doing two things together in Labour Party, we are building the party as well as campaigning in all the local governments in the state. So, we are strengthening the party as well as campaigning.

All the people that were disenchanted in AC N went with me to Labour Party. He (governor) divided the party himself. We went to PDP, Accord Party, CPC, and others to get people to build this party. The entire executive and members of CPC did not join the affiliation with the national level, they all came to Labour Party.

For your information, we did not directly join the labour party, but we formed what we called Ekiti Bibire Coalition, EBC, what Ekiti people will call Omoluabi. This is because we believe that everybody has his own God-given talents.

Majority leader

The question is: “who was in the opposition before? That is why today, we have in Labour Party, the state chairman who was the majority leader in the state House of Assembly. Also, we have the secretary of LP, who was also a leader of the AC N in the state in Labour Party now and a host of them.

To me we are building a party in Ekiti, unlike the APC, who relied on media hype, and who has access to the state treasury. I will say those who said I committed political suicide are not God, and they cannot determine my destiny.

On translating his large follower-ship to vote in June?

Go to town and feel the pulse of the people. Governor Fayemi has been isolated by the people, except the media hype, nothing more. All things being equal, I have no doubt that I am going to come out victorious in this election. The mood of the people reflect this and when it comes to defending the vote, it is Ekiti people that will defend their votes and the mandate given to whoever.

My own is that I will continue to make this election and the campaign an issue oriented one through out. So, if it is serving the people, it does not worth shedding peoples blood. I have been a victim once, where one of my supporters was killed in Emure. And as we speak today, his remains are still in the mortuary awaiting the conclusion of police investigation.

For me it is also a struggle, which I am offering my self as a rallying point. I am spearheading the struggle against tyranny of incumbency. It is also a struggle to ensure that there is an internal democracy.

What was your relationship with Asiwaju?

When I met our leaders when we formed ACN, including Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, I met them in the course of struggle fighting for internal democracy. When I first met Asiwaju, it was because some of us organise ourselves with Chief Dapo Sarumi to fight for internal democracy within Social Democratic Party, SDP.








Source: Vanguard

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