Ekiti State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant Hon. Bimbo Daramola, in this interview with Group Political Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU and MUSSA ODOSHIMOKHE, explains the issues that will shape the primaries and the election.
What is your assessment of the political situation in Ekiti State?
I reckon that people are beginning to react and respond to the political situation as it unfolds. Again, as we get closer to the primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State and given that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had already taken a position in respect of the anointed candidate of Governor Fayose. As we move closer, people in the two leading parties in the state will begin to get agitated on the process of the coming election. There will be anxious moments. A number of activities have been taking place in the parties because election is getting nearer. You will discover that the likes of Hon. Adeyeye, Mrs Olujimi, Barrister Owolabi will be raising issues about the appointment of a successor for Governor Fayose. On our own side, many people are still asking questions about how many people are really running in the APC. There are candidates all over the place. People are beginning to come to term with the fact that elections are coming.
Don’t you think the PDP may be ahead of your party as the election draws nearer?
Being ahead will just be the fact that they are the ruling party and they have the nominee of the governor. To that extent, there seem to be a direction they want to go as regards who the governor wants to field for that position. I am also sure things will begin to narrow down to the extent that we will get to know the aspirants who are really serious about the election.
If Ekiti, especially the elite, have said they did want Fayose and now he is giving them a professor in a state where we have highly educated people, don’t you think that the PDP may have an edge?
That in itself will be a contradiction, a contradiction in the sense that this is a government that rode on the credo of stomach infrastructure. Now, all of a sudden it is putting forward a man who has a Ph.D. That means the man is contracting himself. It must have been a later day reality for this government to appreciate the importance of fielding a candidate because of his academic credentials. It does not appear as if he has gone through a process of self re-examination. This was the man who told the people that he was the friend of the masses and had identified with them. I don’t think he would pick Prof. Olusola on the basis of academic standing. He had talked about continuity over and over. So, if he is going to sell the Deputy Governor if he is going to sell the candidate on the basis of his academic standing, there will be a serious challenge. A man who said he is the friend of the masses and had risen on the crest and credo of stomach infrastructure, so what would he preach to the people that will not make the people confused. So, if Olusola campaign veered off the continuity slogan, the campaign will die right from day one. The moment Olusola picks another educated person who begins to preach mental infrastructure against stomach infrastructure, there will be contradiction. The people will be confused and for them, I think they are smart to have said that a Ph.D does not count. He had just gone through the school of stomach infrastructure and appeared to have graduated from the stomach infrastructure. So, it is better to keep it as it is. I don’t think that in the course of the campaign anybody will refer to the PhD credential of Olusola.
If the PDP candidate finally comes from Ikere Ikiti, and his running mate comes from Ado-Ekiti, do you see the APC beating the PDP at the election?
It is very simply. Tell me one election that Ekiti had actually voted along geographical sentiments. It has never happened. I do not expect that people should begin to instigate voting along ethnic lines. There is no election that had been won on the basis of that sentiment. Otunba Niyi Adebayo did not become the governor on the basis of coming from the Central neither was Ayo Fayose. If they had talked of zoning at that time, it may have been an issue and Fayose would not have come in back to back with somebody who just came from the same central axis. And then, from Fayose it went to Segun Oni. Oni did not win election on the basis of coming from the North, Ekiti did not vote for him on the basis of the fact that he came from the north. How can that appeal to anybody now? When I hear these things about the sentiments of zoning and geographical expression, I begin to wonder. Whoever is elected would need more credentials than his place of extraction. Place of extraction would be the least credentials that you will parade to assume the government that will take us out of the mess that we are in today. You must connect with the reality of the fact that for the past months, people have not been paid. How does your place of extraction pay salaries? How your place of extraction does resolve the badly damaged infrastructure? How does it address the quality of education, healthcare, make pensioners happy? How does it make civil servants happy? I was born and live in that place, so I understand what it takes to address these issues. I know we must take a contextual analysis of where we want to be in that place. If we make the mistake of not having a proper re-orientation and a proper contextual analysis of the place, who we are and where we are, we would have failed. And our forebears will never forgive us for that.
How united is your party in Ekitiland?
I believe that the party is strong, united and the leaders is doing so much to keep us united. But, don’t forget that election will always appeal to sentiments and aspiration is also a sentimental thing. There will be a little bit of contention here and there. I believe that as soon as our candidate emerges, we are going to put ourselves together and work for the success of the party. And more than anything else, we are going to work for Ekiti State.
If you put yourself on the popularity weighing scale, how will you rate yourself?
It will not been fair for me to rate myself but, if you allow me to say just for the purpose of responding to this question, I would say if the encouragement had not been overwhelming, at this level, I would have opted out by now. If I am not extremely encouraged by the kind of responses we are getting from the field, from the elders. Our message recovery and restoration is sinking so well with the people. And don’t forget that at this election, I am running on the basis of reputation. It is not an ego thing for me, I am running on reputation. People are going to begin to ask critical questions like who is this, what have you done before. What are you going to do when given the opportunity? I am sure this is not a lousy boast. Are you going to deny the fact that we built the best hospital of American standard in the state? We have cut down infant and maternal mortality in that area because of that intervention. Are you going to deny the fact that we have given a future to 2000 Ekiti young men and women through our education intervention programme? Out of the graduates Ekiti would produce in no distant time, Bimbo Daramola would have etched in their minds a direction. We are going to liberate more of these people and whatever they become there after, Ekiti gains from it. That means we cut down number of people who would be social deviants. The grand-father of today was a child of yesterday I must emphasised.
What are your expectations about the primary in theAPC?
My expectation would be that the election would be free and fair. I would expect that election would be conducted and we already have standards of conducting primaries in this party. The grand norm of conducting our primaries in the party is the standard used during the President Buhari primary. We have seen the one conducted in Ondo, Anambra and have no misgiving that Ekiti will fall lower than that. The standard for which the party had set for itself would be maintained in the case of Ekiti. We expect 100 per cent transparency. We expect that the list of delegates would be out and would be known. Every aspirant would have access to the list in good time at the same time. And then, we validate because that is where the problem usually is. The list should also be transparent enough because we will meet the delegates. There is standard that we already have in the party which we will keep. That is what made our election highly commendable. One of the things that the APC celebrates today is the fact that we have transparent primaries. How come Andy Ubah did not challenge Tony Nwoye? The one in Akure got a little bit contentious but, riding on the back of the mistake of Akure, Anambra came out very clear. So, we expect that Ekiti primary will be a lot cleaner than all the others.
How many aspirants have appealed to you to support them?
There are people who cannot open their mouth to say such a thing. What are you going to lobby me for? It is either you join with us. Again, one or two people have said let us work together. This aspiration is beyond personal ambition and for 14 years I have a trajectory for this party. It will be difficult for anyone to come forward to want to inherit our patrimony.
You were the Director-General of the Dr. Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation in 2014. The former governor has kicked off consultations in Ekiti on his ambition. Has he approached you?
I would rather say that he is my elder brother, my leader. He has not approached me yet and I know the discussion I had with him and so I am still within the purview of that discussion.
What factor will tilt the pendulum of victory to the APC during the election?
That is a most brilliant question. What will shift the pendulum of victory to the APC, is if we get it right before going into the election. We should thank God that He allowed the PDP to come into governance in Ekiti. I must say by now Ekiti people can now use their tongue to count their teeth. The civil servant can now double check, if Fayose pays salary. Everybody can now assess whether there is social security or not. People can now talk about welfare or not. That is a serious challenge and opens a bumpy ride for the PDP in the coming election. For us, a whole lot of people will still want to give us the chance, in view of what President Buhari is doing in the areas of the fight against corruption. I will expect that the integrity level of this party will appeal to the people of Ekiti. If I become a candidate of the party, for instance, we are going to create jobs for our youths. There will be rural development and whole lot of transformation. So, the candidate of our party will be a crucial factor and should be reassuring that the person can take us out of the challenges facing Ekiti people. It is a complex situation therefore we must endeavour to get our primary right. If we get all the dynamics right I believe that it will be a good run for our party. (TheNation)