Written by Emmanuel Ogbeche

Ekiti glory has gone on sabbatical - Opeyemi

Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele was a former Ekiti state governorship candidate under the Labour Party. He was also the member representing Ado-Ekiti/Irepodun/ Ifelodun federal constituency at the National Assembly. In this interview with journalists in Abuja, the former lawmaker and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has said that the glory of the state has gone on sabbatical. He also revealed that APC lost the governorship elections because there was a crack in the party's wall that gave room for Ayodele Fayose of the PDP to win. Ismaila JIMOH was there for The Abuja Inquirer. 

The Ekiti APC stakeholders just held a meeting. Can you let us into what transpired at the meeting? 

I want to start by first thanking you for being there at all times. I also want to thank you for the way you assisted in managing what looks like a family crisis in Ekiti and I do not doubt the fact that members of the progressive family will always be bound together by the same philosophy that they carry in their heads; philosophy of change, philosophy of emancipation of our people, philosophy of social and infrastructural development.

For me, it is not about any individual. It’s about our people, it’s about our country, it is about the kind of politics that we need to play to be able to achieve the goals and the vision that we carry in our heads. 

Why did you leave the Labour Party? 

But again, there is no doubting the fact that there are moments of disagreement, it is not a conglomeration of robots. We are not bound together by conspiracy and we had issues, issues that bothered on our own perspectives on what should be the way forward, issues that bothered on our own individual goals and how we chose to relate at some points. It was obvious that these issues led to the emergence of different caucuses within the party and it was not the APC and one thing that is constant with us in Ekiti is that the progressives, I mean members of the progressives family, would always move together. That is why from the days of our fathers in the Action Group, AG, to the days of our uncles and senior brothers and some of us as youth activists within the Unity Party of Nigeria through our days in the Alliance for Democracy, the Action Congress and the Action Congress of Nigeria, I mean, it was different parties, but the same people, different structure, but the same philosophy.

I mean that was uniting everybody and that is why we always call ourselves members of the progressive family. And so, there were issues, that couldn’t be resolved and it all happened on the platform, again not of the APC, but of the Action Congress of Nigeria and at some point, some of us had reasons to seek alternatives. I begin to think that we needed to form our constituents into pressure groups within the party and one thing led to another which led to some of us having to join another platform to aspire. But all of that is history and today we all have come together on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.

Why did you decide to come back to APC and not another party? 

To us, it was a journey that started since January 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari was in Ekiti as a candidate of APC. And the leaders of APC, the leaders of the progressive family felt all of us must come back together to work. You know, towards the success of President Buhari at the polls and beyond to also allow for a meaningful reconciliation of our differences.

What was the dividing factor among the progressives? Again, I will say that our differences were not about sharing bounties, our differences were not about sharing the paraphernalia of office, our differences were not about sharing money, our differences were, I mean, purely on the way we individually digested our common political philosophy, what we thought should be the way forward.

It was a meeting that was devoid of any manner of ego manifestation that allowed for genuine and very sober reflection on how we got to where we are. It was a meeting where all of us concluded that our past was only but a story told, but our future could also be written in gold. So we were all united on that, and it was one meeting that admitted that no one needed or ought to be exonerated, but everyone was committed to what should be our future. We also agreed that it was not about an individual or group of people, but about our people, about our state, about our party and of course I just want to say that I am happy at this development. It was like a part of me was missing, which I have found all together again and by the grace of God, I believe that is also the feeling of many people. 

Are you comfortable with the decisions reached at the meeting? 

All the leaders, the stakeholders in that hall agreed with the idea of genuine reconciliation, and all we needed to tell ourselves was to emphasize the need for sincerity in moving forward. So with what happened today, I have no doubt that Ekiti is back on the path of progress, Ekiti is back on path of unity. We have no doubt that our strength is in our unity and by the grace of God, we will do everything possible to re-energize the party in Ekiti State, to strengthen ourselves, to restore the hope of our own people and as much as possible give the people the kind of future that we can all look forward to.

The APC lost in the last governorship election in Ekiti because the party was tagged an elitist party. What grassroots plans does your party have to improve its future electoral fortunes? 

Well, I would put it this way, it wasn’t about being elitist, but we didn’t go to that election as a party. We didn’t go to that election united and the only election that we were all united was the election of General Muhammadu Buhari. Beyond that everybody went his way. It was more about everybody wanted to make a statement in his own way.

But the meeting today was very frank. We are going to chart common goals; we are going to chart a common cause. I think that is the kind of mission we have ahead of us right now.

Like I said, it is no longer about any individual or group, it is about the Ekiti people, it’s about restoring the glory of Ekiti that appears to have gone on sabbatical.

How did you receive the revelation of the alleged electoral fraud that transpired during the last Ekiti State governorship election? 

Well, I would put it this way; there was nothing that has been revealed now that we didn’t know. To a lot of people, to the unsuspecting majority members of the public, they are revelations made known to some of us. If there is anything we are noting is the detail of how things were done, the venues, how much exchanged hands, which people were there in attendance, who did what, etc. These are the little details that could even make some of us even listen.

A day after the election, I granted an interview and said that was the first and the last time I am going to speak on that election and I said there is more to that election than meets the eye. As far as I am concerned, I think what was really unfortunate about that election, what was tragic was the fact that our walls of unity cracked open and we provided a place for lizards to rest. And I think the lesson had been learnt and we are moving forward.

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