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Ekiti 2018: If APC is United, We will defeat Fayose – Bimbo Daramola

Bimbo Daramola, a former member of the House of Representatives, was the Director-General of Dr Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation. In this encounter with Daniel Adeleye, he speaks on his ambition to contest as the governor of Ekiti State, his past achievements, what he would do differently as a governor and how his party, APC will defeat the incumbent governor, Ayo Fayose. Excerpts

You are aiming for the job of your former boss, former Governor Kayode Fayemi; what makes you think that you are suitable for the job?

Dr Kayode Fayemi remains my boss; he remains somebody that I have aim for tremendous respect and regards for. And then appropriately so, I was formerly, the Director-General of his campaign organisation, so he would remain my boss, there is no problem about that. I met him since 1979; he was two years my senior at Christ School, Ado Ekiti. So I have tremendous respect and regards for him. I’m not taking his job so to speak. My understanding is that I believe that Ekiti people invested in him their fate, fortune and future and he discharged that responsibility very well. Unfortunately, he came half way into the journey. But the job is not finished yet; it has to continue and that will need somebody who will reflect where Fayemi would have taken Ekiti to if he had the additional four years we tried to get when I was the DG of his campaign organisation. I don’t think it will do justice to the good work that Dr Fayemi has done if we abandoned that job at that point, particularly when I have not heard from him that he’s running. So, somebody has to take that vision to where it should be. And of course, we are also committed to that vision that he had that made us to work so assiduously to ensure that we got the second term but it didn’t happen.

So what makes me qualified for that job? I will expect everybody coming to aspire to lead Ekiti in 2018 should answer this kind of question and parade credentials challenging their aspirations. The job of a governor is not a job that one will just wake up one day and say he wants to go and lead a State, and that is why sometimes we got it right and sometimes we got it wrong. Everybody knows where we are right now. I strongly believe that what everybody that aspires to contest in Ekiti must do is to benchmark who he is. Like a biblical verse, ‘Jesus I know and Paul I know, who are you?’ I expect Ekiti people to re-direct this question to anybody that aspires to be their governor in 2018. So, I humbly would say that I have the privilege of serving as a member of House of Representatives, representing one of the six constituencies from that State; I was part of the transition committee; I was the DG of Dr Fayemi re-election campaign team; I was the party agent at two different serious elections against Chief Segun Oni at different times and all that. So, I’m coming humbly with some level of reputation as a party man and as a practitioner.

The job of a governor is a tough task. Just how prepared are you and what are you bringing to the table?

I’m extremely prepared for this job. And that is why I said earlier that anybody that is coming out to aspire to lead our State should be asked to come with strong reasons for vying for that position and to also show their competence to lead the State. I’m extremely prepared, politically by reason of the fact that I’ve been in active politics as a party man and as a practitioner. I can simply say that, yes I’m not somebody who is just being taught the rudiments of politics. I’ve been a deputy chairman of transition team; I was a DG of campaign organisation, I’ve been a member of House of Representatives; I was in campaign train of Olusegun Obasanjo/Atiku Abubakar and currently I’m a Deputy Chief of Staff to the Deputy Speaker. Educationally, I have Masters Degree.

On actual preparation and knowing what to do, this is first thing that comes to my mind; what have we done right about education, infrastructure and empowerment? I believe very strongly that Ekiti is a knowledge driven State and we must run the State in that regard. We’ll never find oil in Ekiti, but the quality of lives in Ekiti must be improved and match the quality of lives expected of people who have oil in their backyards.

As the 2018 Ekiti governorship race is gathering momentum, do you think zoning should be a deciding factor? The people of Ekiti South Senatorial District may want to insist on having their turn?

I appreciate that sentiment based on the sense of equity. Don’t forget, I say sentiment. I appreciate that sentiment on the basis of equity, fairness if that is what the true intention is. But the truth of the matter is that I also have a question for them. When those two zones got elected, or qualified to run, did southerners not contest? Every election since 1999, the southerners also contested. The incumbent governor, Ayo Fayose, Dayo Adeyeye contested against him in primary and lost. Since 1999, there is no election that south senatorial district did not field candidates. So, I don’t understand this logic that people who will lead our state should be based on geo-political inclination. How does that lend to capacity? What value does that add to reputation? How does geo-political representation place food on the table of those young people that we keep sending money to at home every week? How does it provide job for them?

So, it’s a shame that anybody would fly the card of where somebody comes from to say that is the only credential he’s parading to qualify for the office of the governor of Ekiti State.

The poor man from Omuo-Ekiti is not different from Ilawe-Ekiti. The son of a poor man from Iropora-Ekiti is not different from the son of a poor man from Igbara-Odo Ekiti. I don’t want to be the governor of the law, but I want to be the governor of Ekiti State and by the grace of God, it is going to happen.

The APC clinched victory in the recent Ondo gubernatorial election almost effortlessly. Do you see the Ekiti election following the same pattern?

It’s not going to be the same pattern, because we have two different circumstances. We have Governor Olusegun Mimiko, a rigid, solid, rugged and sturdy politician, but who got cut off in the hale of the storm of his party. While he was trying to get himself together, Jimoh Ibrahim was pulling him down, and so Eyitayo Jegede didn’t even have time to focus on the campaign that is result oriented, they were in and out of courts.

Ayo Fayose is another rugged politician, but the point is that he’s not invincible. This same Fayose lost election in 2011 when he aspired to be senator of Ekiti Central. In fact, he maintained third position in that election. So that makes it clear that he’s not invincible. All we need to do is to get the dynamics right, to ensure that we do not go into that election as fractured or fragmented party but extremely united, otherwise it could turn out in shambles.

Fayose seems to enjoy strong popularity in the State; doesn’t that bother you?

When light comes, darkness disappears. It’s darkest in the midnight hour; Ekiti is in the midnight hour now. There is humiliation in the land, and I believe very strongly in retrospect; Ekiti people now have a chance to sit back and ask themselves a very crucial question, have we been better for it? This is not the best we can get out of this. I believe Ayo Fayose is a popular politician who has his own approach of winning people but Ekiti 2018 election would prove beyond popularity of stomach infrastructure; because if you keep giving a man fish, you have limited him. By the grace of God, I’m going to campaign on one basic factor; that I’m going to teach you how to catch your own fish and so you can go to the river and catch as many fish as you want at your own time. I have due respect for the politics he’s playing, but the truth of the matter is Dr Ayodele Fayose in not invincible. If the dynamics are right, he can also lose an election, the way he lost election before.

But the governor has vowed to retain Ekiti for PDP regardless of strength of your party, APC; do you see this as a threat?

I once heard him on radio saying that his father told him that he’s the one that Ekiti would be serving forever. That is servitude and repugnant that should provoke people in any nation.

By the grace of God, 2018 would be a year to break the yoke of servitude and it will happen if we get it right. By 2018, there would be a demand for accountability of his stewardship. If we present a candidate that is widely accepted and reasonably has a good reputation, track records of performance and blending with grassroots and the party is united, we’ll surely take him down. But if we go to that context as a fractured party, it could be very dangerous for our party.

I was born, bred and I grew up in that State; that is not the Ekiti we used to know. And now is the time for somebody that can connect the past with our future to come and lead the State. I know where we came from; I know where we are now and I can reconcile where we are now to where we should be. I have no doubt in my mind that I’m going into this context with ambition to relive the visions of our fore fathers in the likes of Pa Osuntokun, Chief Afe Babalola, Pa Jinadu, Late Omolayo, Pa Anisulowo, etc, and that is why my campaign slogan is ‘Restoring our identity’.

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