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Ekiti 2014: Egalitarian Bamidele and Symbol of Equal Opportunities

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Written by Julius Toba Jegede
Aristotle once wrote:
“The most perfect political community must be amongst those who are in the middle rank, and those states are best instituted wherein these are a larger and more respectable part, if possible, than both the other; or, if that cannot be, at least than either of them separate.”

Aside from being the motto of the Labour Party (which reads: Equal Opportunities and Social Justice)  where he is seeking to govern Ekiti State, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (MOB) himself is equal opportunities personified. A trait which has earned him public respect and endeared many admirers to him over the years and still counting.

Be it among his fellow politicians, students, journalists, market women and workers' unions, he has remained a subject of positive testimonies. A great listener, keen observer and accessible grassroots politician notwithstanding his suave and exposed outlook.

In actions and words, Bamidele has proven beyond reasonable doubts that he is the right man for this job being hotly contested ahead of June 21st, 2014. To this, there is no gain saying also that his humility, modesty, clean records and philatrophic gestures will work in his favour. As such are needed in anyone who will occupy the number one seat come October 16, 2014, since Ekitis are not ready to make the same mistake again.

Bamidele's egalitarian lifestyle and gentleman's clout both within and outside his political borders are pointers to the same fact that: Ekiti is in dire need of this gentleman. A man in a social stature of who can rescue its forlorn people from effects of years of celebration of mediocre government. And be replaced with a new beginning and a fresh start. A beginning that will end current endless borrowing even in the midst of surplus natural resources.

Needless to say this, at no time has Ekiti been this indebted in its seventeen years of statehood. And the attributable factor for this record-breaking indebtedness is because those in charge today seem to have not been adequately prepared for governance or knowing little or nothing about what social democracy entails. Hence, this experience under APC's try and error policies. A situation which has failed to take the people out of their spinning barber's chair is becoming glaring.

Having listened carefully to some of his campaign issues in the past weeks, Bamidele stands out as the most prepared for this job more than two of his other major contenders. This is a fact already known to the discerning people of Ekiti and they are not pretending about it. These discerning souls have resisted the noise-makers and their ranting. Because they know where their tomorrow is most guaranteed. They have at various times acknowledged the plausibility of his campaign promises and settling for the best choice.

For instance, that Bamidele promised to spend just a single term in office is not by accident of event. The decision, I believe was an outcome of deep thinking and liberal politics. Today, he is that governorship candidate to enter into such an MOU with Ekiti, even I don't know if any had existed in the entire South/West region before now. Not just an empty promise that Ekiti people are used to, it was documented and well circulated among Ekiti people and the stakeholders. On several occasions, he had risen in defence of this decision claiming that he prefers a single term in order to avoid political pressure that often trails re-election permutations, while business of governance suffers.

Again, considering the fact that Ekiti is predominantly a civil service state, his decision to contest on the platform of Labour Party has been described as a good decision too. First, many believe strongly that LP's norm which puts welfare of workers on first line charge of budgetary spending will not be lacking in Ekiti. Incessant industrial actions especially the one that recently embarrassed Fayemi administration in the hands of the Ekiti State Chapter of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) wouldn't have happened in the first place. Current furore over non-payment of 18 months arrears of pensions of retired workers too would have been averted. Also, non-clearance of 3 years backlog of miscellaneous allowances to members of Ekiti NUT would have been nipped in the bud. These and many more would not occur only if the principal thinks of equal opportunities for everyone.

Spirit of equal opportunities will prevail on a government headed by Bamidele and LP someday not allow a situation where all Ekiti indigenes in various tertiary institutions across the country will stage an open protest over non-payment of their bursaries. This occurred on Thursday May 29th, 2014 at the popular Fajuyi Park in Ado Ekiti where the students in their hundreds trooped out to demand three years unpaid stipends. Further investigations confirmed unfortunately that same money had been budgeted and approved by Governor Fayemi in 2011,2012 and 2013 budgets. I doubt if this could happen under a LP government which puts “Father, Mother and Child” as it symbol. The welfare of an undergraduate child in a LP-controlled government will be pivotal and central to Bamidele if elected a governor. First as a former student leader and a recipient of life-activist award, the interest of these youngsters can't be waved away as seen in this bursary case under Fayemi. A situation of equal opportunities is not when undergraduates at the Ekiti State University are paying as much as N150,000 per session while their counterpart in Ondo State is paying N25,000 for same.

The list is endless. A governor in Bamidele will not close down all cottage industries in the state, after a fanfare opening ceremony. From Ikun Dairy Farm, to Oodua Textile Industry, to Ire Bricks Industry the story is the same. These are spots where billions of taxpayers' monies have been plundered in the last three and half years, but with nothing to show for it. Today, after taking all the cows in ikun Dairy Farm located in Moba Local Council to Ado Ekiti Government House for 'Asun'; (roasted meat) the multi-million naira project is moribund and now covered in bushes. The Ire Bricks Industry has not produced a single block after its commissioning by Governor Fayemi three years later. Same for Oodua Textile Industry located in the state capital. All these are indications of social injustice recklessness of power by the government of the day, a practice that is alien to Labour Party.

The egalitarianism in the next governor Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (MOB) after October 16th will prioritise issues relating to workers' welfare. He will put the round peg in a round hole by making appropriate appointments. He will not recycle old horses who have grounded the young state thereby making it looking older than its age. He will not make a lawyer the commissioner for education, neither will he make a nurse commissioner for agriculture. All sectors of the state economy will be properly manned by those with prerequisite experiences.

To this end, I want to appeal to the reasoning of all Ekiti sons and daughters to see that Bamidele is the man who the cap fits. The other two contenders have been tasted and there is hardly anything to write home about in their years in government. Only poverty, violence, deprivation, loss, indebtedness, corruption and industrial actions. These are their “regular trademark” according to Fela Kuti of blessed memory.

Julius Toba Jegede
A Public Affairs Commentator
Writes from Abuja