I hope the ruling All Progressives Congress in Ekiti State will be objective and show ingenious political thinking by selecting the most popular, widely accepted, marketable and most experienced governorship candidate at it January 27 primaries. In fact, if APC is serious about retaining the seat of government in the state, then it must avoid letting primordial considerations rob it of the chance to elect the right successor to Governor Kayode Fayemi, come June 22.
This admonition is quite important for the party, due more to the current political dynamics. What is apparent as the Fayemi administration nears its end is the growing public consciousness for an effective leader to take over in 2022. In view of this, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, (MOB), stands in good stead, among other governorship aspirants. It is true that MOB’s love for the party made him accept to lead Governor Fayemi’s campaign for a second term of office in 2018. This would turn a great risk to his life, as he was shot and only survived the ordeal through sheer grace. The event itself should impose on the incumbent and the APC a moral burden, if loyalty means anything to them.
Currently representing Ekiti Central in Senate, MOB has, for over three decades, demonstrated capacity and effectiveness in his public endeavours.As the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Bamidele has contributed immensely to improving the lot of Nigerian judiciary. This, in part, explains why he was invested into the highly respected Body of Benchers that has the Chief Justice of Nigeria as its chairman.
Moreover, as the Chairman of the Southern Senators’ Forum, Bamidele is a rallying point in the Red Chamber. His interventions, no doubt, are part of why there is political congruity between the executive and the senate. And, this Senator Bamidele does without comprising the wishes of Nigerians whose vote got him into the legislative house.
Before joining the Senate, MOB was a two-time member of the House of Representatives. There, also, he displayed the qualities that have endeared him to many: consistency, loyalty, service. MOB’s consistency of character is a badge of honour he carries to the admiration of friends and foes, and to public acclaim too. Even in his political past, where he was a Special Assistant; Senior Special Assistant, and later, a commissioner under different administrations in Lagos State, MOB was his selfless and effective self. An incontestable testament to Bamidele’s political trajectories is his progressive leaning and his contributions to the 1990s Nigeria pro-democracy struggles.
The history of protests and popular resistance to military rule is not complete without a mention of MOB’s participations both as an activist and a politician. As a partaker of that momentous, but convoluted, political history, MOB acquitted himself as a battlefield general, and not an armchair critic. He led from the front. He contested the House of Representatives ticket on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party, (SDP), in 1992. This could only happen, due to his imbibing a civic culture that favours participation as a veritable means of effecting political change in the polity and in the lives of the people.
His experience, serving in both executive and legislative arms of government at different times, is sufficient assurance of his capability to run a stable and result-oriented government in Ekiti State.
Instructively, MOB’s present political involvements are not fortuitous. As one of the prominent and incorruptible student leaders of the 1990s, MOB and others within the Nigeria’s radical intelligentsia and in the Bar fought for the promotion of students’ welfare and workers’ rights. He became a Prisoner of Conscience, incarcerated and held incommunicado on several occasions by successive military junta. On the advice of his comrades, and not out of timidity for the oppressive regime, Bamidele would go into political exile in the United States of America, as are others including Professor Wole Soyinka, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and General Alani Akinrinade. The product of their collective struggle, to say the least, is our current democracy. MOB has still not changed, but remains a visioner of a better Nigerian society.
As a lawyer, Bamidele has over 30 years post-call. He is regarded as a lawyer without border; a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, American Bar Association, New York Bar Association, and the International Bar Association. He is a Fellow of several professional bodies including the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the Chartered Institute of Public Administration and Local Government as well as the Chartered Institute of Management Consultants. Bamidele is thorough- bred progressive politician and grassroots mobiliser.
He has matured outstandingly in the legal practice as he has in politics. So much so that he is known within the political and legal circles as a dependable bridge- builder between the town and the gown.
An astute visioner and well-traveled technocrat, Bamidele is remarkable and has what it takes to sustain the progressive trend. He can be trusted to consolidate on the good works of the Governor Fayemi administration. MOB is credible, competent, internationally exposed, and has wide political networks. This, I believe, will readily open favourable doors that will engender greater development of Ekiti State. Therefore, Ekiti needs Bamidele as much as he needs it to concretise his visions.
‘Ekiti Charter of Prosperity’ – Bamidele’s manifestoes – has been interrogated and found to carry the blueprints that will achieve the transformation of Ekiti from a largely agrarian, civil service state to an industrial one. To achieve this is to attract both local and Direct Foreign Investments. Who else can achieve this without much ado, if not one with impressive networks like Senator Bamidele.
His plan for the youth, women, and children is hinged on his desire to inspire hope and herald the silver linings tucked behind the cloudy skies. With that and more, Senator Bamidele seems ready to torchlight Ekiti through the arduous paths to a terminus of sustained progress.
Putting it succinctly, Bamidele seeks to do in Ekiti a reinventing of political governance in a way that ensures Ekiti people are not bystanders but partakers in shaping their personal and collective destinies. This he hopes to do by ensuring equal opportunities, irrespective of gender or physical ability; protecting freedom, security, job creation, poverty eradication, provision of infrastructure, and sustainable growth for small-and-medium businesses etc.
Indeed, MOB is the right man for the job.
By Olawale Saint Omotade, a civil society activist