Michael Opeyemi Bamidele became a household name in Nigeria as the National President of the National Association of Nigeria (NANS).
Having placed his hand on the political plough, he has not looked back. He has served as Senior Special Assistant to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, National Publicity Secretary of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Commissioner for Youths and Sports, and later, Information and Strategy in Lagos State, and member of the House of Representatives representing Ekiti Central Constituency 1, comprising Ado-Ekiti and Irepodun Ifelodun Local Government Areas.
In 2014, his governorship bid hit the rock on the platform of the Labour Party (LP). He retraced his steps to the All Progressives Congress (APC. At the weeeked, he unfolded his ambition to succeed Governor Ayodele Fayose at a declaration ceremony in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.
Before the event, he had visited his ward in Iyin-Ekiti, Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area and other parts of the state to inform party leaders of his intent. His posters in which he appeared in a white dress with a white “Awo” cap to match were visible in every part of the state with a caption: “Iranlowo nbo lona (Help is on the way). Help is on the Way”. This is Bamidele’s message of hope for the people.
His supporters from the 16 local government areas appeared in customized T-shirts, fez caps, and mufflers. and other commemorative dresses. Motorists and commuters along Okeyinmi, Old Garage, Ijigbo, Ajilosun were held up in traffic as a result of the crowd. There was no dull moment as ‘Ekiti Kete House of Arts’ band and other entertainers thrilled the crowd. Bamidele rode to the venue in his open roof of his Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), waving the broom, the symbol of the party.
‘Help is on the way,” he told the people, assuring thatof he state will be restored, if he becomes governor.
The aspirant unveiled his manifestos, promising to transform sectors, including agriculture, security, tourism, housing, mining,human capital development, and infrastructure development. He said Ekiti will savour good governance. good governance, among others.
Bamidele spoke on his relationship with other aspirants, particularly the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, former Governor Segun Oni and Presidential Adviser on Politics Senator Femi Ojudu. He described them as patriots who mean well for Ekiti.
Bamidele said the pact between him and Fayemi was not for personal aggrandizement, but for the corporate benefit to the party. He was referring to a recent visit Fayemi paid to him at his law chambers in Abuja.
“The Minister visited my office in Abuja and the Special Adviser on Political Matters to the President, Senator Babafemi Ojudu also wrote a goodwill message to me as I declare my intention today. To me, this is a sign of good development. All the party leaders must work together. What these signaled was that the APC is no longer in war. It shows that the party is becoming more united and stronger. It showed that we are giving each other mutual respect.
“ I have settled rift with Fayemi. The two of us are frontline party men and we have to work together to rescue our party. We are doing same with Engr. Segun Oni, all in the interest of our party”, he said.
On the agitation for zoning to Ekiti South, Bamidele, who is from Ekiti Central, said it will not preclude him and others from exercising their rights to contest.
“The constitution of our party does not respect zoning. So, we are free to contest, irrespective of the legitimacy of the agitations”.
Bamidele said he never defected from APC to another party, saying the party had not been formed when he defected to LP in 2013.
“I was a member of the legal team that returned the Certificate of Registration of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria to INEC for APC to be consummated.
“But because of the misunderstanding among the leaders of our party, I then quit even before the registration of the new party.
“This is not even a basis for argument. Senator Ayo Arise left the Action Congress to the PDP in 2007 when he thought the primary that produced Fayemi was not fair enough and today, he is back, ditto Engr Oni.
Winning the next election must be our ultimate target”, he advised. The Deputy Chairman of the party, Mrs Kemisola Olaleye, said the party held Bamidele in high esteem, adding that his declaration would be an impetus to the party to reclaim the state back from the PDP.
Olaleye assured that the party will conduct free and credible primary.
As Bamidele continues to reach out to delegates, ahead of the primary in May, it remains to be seen how far he would go in the race for the APC ticket.