By: Niyi Falade
On march 7, 2018, former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele will officially plunge into the July 14 governorship race on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
His entry into the race may not be so spectacular to those that are politically naive, considering the fact that the party now has about 33 aspirants, who had formally declared interest for the plum seat. But those who are savvy in the game of politics could discern that winning elections go beyond mere declaration of intents and that is what is obtainable under this scenario.
With the array of aspirants that have declared intents, people could clearly decipher the contenders from pretenders. They knew those who could not even win councillorship seats, but no matter what your impression is, they are aspirants with inalienable rights to vote and be voted for as guaranteed by the 1999 constitution.
It takes three parameters to win election. One, your personality, two, your political party and three, your resources. The third one may be an unfortunate incident in our political system, but that is the reality as far as the Nigeria’s politics is concerned, it is heavily monetized.
Dissecting the three, Bamidele is best fit to fly the party’s flag. He has a charismatic posture that commands enormous respect. He is a known crowd puller, who towers higher any other politician in the progressive fold. Even, Governor Ayodele Fayose buttressed this at various forum that he remains a politician that can easily wrestle power from him in 2018 and that statement was instructive to attest to his acceptability and enigmatic stature.
Again, Bamidele is contesting on a robust and progressive platform, APC. Not minding how some skeptics feel about President Muhammadu Buhari, the APC under the present political dispensation, is a party that can be trusted with power owing to Buhari’s incorruptible nature. The party also ran a beneficial government in four years it superintends over the affairs of the state. All these factors conferred acceptability on the platform that will lubricate the rusty wheel for Bamidele to ride to resounding victory.
Though, this former federal lawmaker might not be stupendously rich in terms of naira and kobo, but he is rich in terms of goodwill across the length and breadth of Nigeria to be able to outspend the PDP-led government in the impending poll.
He was a commissioner in Lagos State for eleven and half years. He was also at the House of Representatives for four years. In all these positions, he served creditably well. He acted like a true progressive by making people, rather than money. This outstanding trait makes has built for him a strong network across the north and up to the south to be able to draw resources, both human and materials to make APC overcome this uphill task.
In 2008 when the Action Congress of Nigeria was in the trenches to reclaim its stolen mandate, Bamidele demonstrated that he had the capacity to turn things around. His friends in Lagos and across Nigeria donated seven buses to the party in one day. This corroborated the fact that he had the knack to deploy his position to attract benefits to the masses. He was never a layback and he won’t be one as a governor.
A couple of weeks ago when he declared for the coveted position in his ward in Iyin Ekiti, the array of personalities at the programme confirmed his full reintegration into the party. All those with political leanings to any of the known caucuses within APC made representations. With this, it was evidently clear that Bamidele has no enemy to fight in this race.
In 2014 when fate compelled him to contest on the platform of the Labour Party, he posed effectively well as a third force in the election. Since 1999, the state has been going into elections predominantly with two popular political parties. It wasn’t that people had not been contesting on some platforms outside the PDP and APC but their personalities didn’t command attentions the way Bamidele did in 2014.
Those who understood the dynamics of Ekiti elections believed that the APC as an opposition can only supplant the PDP by fielding a candidate, who can be perceived as a bridge between the elites and the locals.
Undoubtedly, Ekiti is the most educated state in Nigeria, but it has over 70 percent of rural people and this makes it imperative for the party to field an hybrid, who has strong cord of relationship with the two strata. The electorate must operate within the context that the state requires an elite governor to attract investors and deploy the gains to develop the locals. This is an incontestable reality.
Bamidele, who is from Iyin Ekiti from the Central Senatorial district, had built a strong network that will be of colossal benefit to our dear state. He has joined and operated with the elite groups and also enjoys enormous trust among the locals. This makes him look outstanding and best fit to fly the party’s flag.
The agitations by aspirants from the south for zoning was becoming deafening by the day. But the party has come up with a stern position that zoning is dead on arrival.
However, the concerned aspirants and stakeholders took respite in the fact that they could compete favourably with aspirants outside that zone at the primary. The thinking now has been that Bamidele’s aspiration would be a spanner in the wheel that may dim their chances.
Today, if you feel the pulse of Ekiti electorate, the enthusiasm was rife about when he would declare. They knew he remains a game changer and his plunging into the race will automatically buoy the APC’s chances in the impending titanic political battle.
Niyi Falade writes from Akure.