Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, representing Ekiti Central at the Senate, in this interview, says the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is the kind of solution that Nigeria needs at this time.
You witnessed the inauguration of the Grassroots Independent Campaign Council, GICC, in Ekiti State. What is the significance of this event to the aspiration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu?
Ekiti is keying into what the rest of the 35 states of Nigeria and the FCT are doing to inaugurate a platform to run a door-to-door campaign for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. We have two major organs for the campaigns, the Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, at national and state level, which is in-charge of organizing the rallies and coordinating the campaign and the other organ is what is called the Tinubu/Shettima Grassroots Independent Campaign Council, GICC, which is saddled with the responsibility of door-to-door campaign, that is what we have inaugurated in Ekiti. My hope and prayer are that everybody will take advantage of this platform to take the message of Asiwaju presidency to every nook and cranny of the state.
The election is a few weeks from now, what gives you the impression that Asiwaju has the edge over other candidates?
When something is very clear and the facts are very clear, the fact speaks for themselves. Going by what is happening in Nigeria, going by the nature and the popular and scientific campaigns, the Asiwaju campaign outfit is running, and going by the antecedents of all the frontline candidates and then situating Asiwaju within all of these, it is obvious to me that Asiwaju in this campaign and in the February 25 election, is the presidential candidate to beat. I’m also convinced that Asiwaju is the kind of solution that Nigeria needs at this time, among all of those who are contesting. He is not promising to do anything he has not done before; he was governor of Lagos State for eight years and by the grace of God, I was an integral part of that administration. I served in his cabinet as Special Adviser, I served as Hon. Commissioner and after that I also served in the cabinet that took over from him under Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN. So, for eleven and a half years in a row, I was a member of the cabinet for Lagos State.
I was there to see what Asiwaju was capable of doing and under his watch, we created a new Lagos. Anyone who goes to Lagos today would know that it is not the Lagos that you knew before Asiwaju came in. There was a Lagos of refuse, there was a Lagos of insecurity, there was a Lagos of transportation and traffic chaos, all of those have become a thing of the past and they are taking it beyond the current level to also deploy train infrastructure technology across the state. Red line, blue line, yellow line have all taken off in Lagos, so essentially, a new Lagos is created and all we are trusting God for is that Nigerians will give Asiwaju the presidency of this country so that he will replicate what he did in Lagos across Nigeria.
Why was he able to do this? It was not by any magic, Asiwaju has a thorough and scientific understanding of people, of what is wrong and what is to be done and also because he has an unusual capacity to identify talents and deploy such talents on the society for creativity and for development. I have no doubt that from every nook and cranny of this country, Asiwaju would be able to identify and deploy such talents. With him, our story cannot be the same as a nation.
There seems to be internal struggles by different support groups for dominance at this time. Are you sure this is about loyalty to Asiwaju or about scrambles for campaign funds?
I would tell you, Asiwaju is not a poor man but at the same time, Asiwaju does not have enough money to run the campaign to be president of Nigeria. So, for a lot of people who are involved, it is not just about money. A lot of people are spending their own money and talking about support groups, people started forming support groups in the last two years even before Asiwaju won the primary of the party and Asiwaju didn’t give anybody money to form or run support groups. As a matter of fact, of the more that 80 percent of the support groups that we have across the country, Asiwaju has not even met with the leadership. Even here in Ekiti State, we have to encourage them to start to register with the party, so that people know where to find them. So, nobody gave money to anyone to start a support group; people are doing this as an answer to a popular aspiration that they feel Asiwaju represents, and which everybody is trying to identify with. So, essentially, resources are been put together by people; they didn’t collect any money from Asiwaju to do what is going on. This campaign secretariat was donated, Asiwaju didn’t rent an office in Ekiti to run a campaign and this is a replica to what we have in different parts of the country where people are donating their resources to run a campaign for him because they believe that with him, our story cannot be the same.
Yes, in the course of the campaign, funds would be deployed because moving from one state to another, local government to another, or door-to-door campaign, requires logistics support, and such logistic support would be provided, but it is not a business-as-usual affair and not an atmosphere or platform for anybody to amass wealth. What is ahead of us is more important than how much money anybody can get at this moment.
Why should the people of Ekiti Central trust you again with their votes on February 25?
I believe by the grace of God, the people of Ekiti Central know that I have adequately and credibly represented them in the Senate in the last three and half years. So, I believe it is a consensus. I believe I had a good tenure as a first term senator and that explained why the leadership and members of the party resolved on their own to give me an unopposed ticket, an automatic ticket to go back for a second term. I also believe that the people from Ekiti Central, beyond the party I represent, believe that I had done well representing them by the grace of God. And so, if it is the consensus that it’s been a good term, I think it is only good to say, one good term deserves another and I think that is where we are.