Barrister Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (alias MOB), former member of the House of Representatives, is the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Ekiti Central Senatorial District in the 2019 General Elections. In this interview with YAQOUB POPOOLA, he spoke on his party’s chances in the 2019 general elections, among other issues. Excerpts:
The PDP has dismissed the tribunal judgment that validated Fayemi’s election and has vowed to appeal it. How would you react to this?
The tribunal judgment is yet another victory for democracy. It is victory for the people of Ekiti State. It is victory for the progressive family. For PDP, I’m not surprised too. It would have been strange for PDP to accept the verdict. It would have also been a plus for our democracy. But, it would have been strange because if you look at the character of PDP, they don’t have antecedent. They don’t have the strength of character to be able to face the truth squarely and move on. We never thought they would fold their arms after the tribunal verdict. We will see them at the Court of Appeal.
The general elections will begin this Saturday. Do you think your party has done enough to convince the people ?
For us, we are taking campaign as science, because it is a scientific thing, not about noise. We are taking this election very seriously because we know it is crucial for this country. Nigeria is at crossroads. Opposition is fighting back very fiercely, corruption is fighting back. Our party is at the centre of this fight by corruption to defeat the anti-corruption crusade. We are not taking chances.
Some people are of the opinion that the Central Senatorial District doesn’t have much to show from past representatives in the senate?
I will like to be very careful in drawing that kind of conclusion. I know Ekiti Central Senatorial District is a privileged one in terms of the quality of men and women who had had the opportunity of representing it in the past. I will say that representing a senatorial district is not like being a president or governor in which case you can begin to point at certain achievements in terms of infrastructural development. Representing people in parliament is more of a cerebral assignment where you want to see or assess achievement in terms of the extent to which you have been able to influence legislation and constitutional amendments and legislative amendments in various capacities.
Unfortunately, that is not the level at which people assess things. I would say yes, probably they might have done better given that the circumstances are different. For instance, some of them were representing the district as members of the opposition party, in which case, they didn’t have some privileges as members of the ruling party in terms of being able to influence constituency projects. I guess they did their best, but we can build on that to ensure we are able to do it in a way that is consistent with global best practices in terms of legislative representation.
For me, three things are at stake, the quality of representation on the floor of the senate, the quality of the participation of the elected senator in oversight functions and the quality of the representation in terms of how we are able to make a difference in terms of quality of bills and motions.
What would be your focus in the Senate, if elected?
We all keep talking about good governance. We cannot have good governance without strong constitution, and strong legislature. What aspect of our laws we need to amend and how do we intend to go about these, I think these are tools that should bother the mind of a legislator that is worth his salt. These are the issues I will try to address, if given the opportunity.
You are contesting against a strong candidate from the PDP. What do you thing can give you an edge?
By the grace of God, come February 16, people of Ekiti central senatorial district will prefer me to be their senator. I have no doubt that I will win. Being strong is a very relative thing. My PDP opponent is a respectable gentleman. He is my own good egbon (brother). That is how I address him and that is what he is to me. He is at least six years older than me and he is a cultured person. That means so much to me. He is my senior and colleague at the Bar. But, the issues are clear. I have an antecedent that no one can push aside. I have a scientific understanding of what is to be done in terms of parliamentary representation of my people. I am well connected with the people of Ekiti central senatorial district. I have an edge in the fact that I have been privileged to represent the people in the National Assembly between 2011 and 2015 in the House of Representatives. Go all over the constituency, you will still see the impact of my representation, even four years. Someone has been there after me and people can compare what they have seen and what they have not seen. I brought over 80 constituency projects including PHC, one-kilometre roads, primary school buildings, motorised boreholes that litter the whole place.
The people appreciate these and know that I have paid my dues politically. What is more important is the platform.
Even if I were not a candidate, I would not have voted for him because he is aspiring on the platform that I consider not to be in the best interest of the people of Ekiti central. This is a party that has outlived its usefulness. This is a party that has set us back as a nation. If you have a good man who is contesting on a wrong platform, it becomes a contradiction. That is the contradiction in his aspiration. We were all together on the platform of the progressive party. He was one of those who left our party when we encouraged Dr Kayoed Fayemi to contest election for governorship in 2007. He left with the likes of Senator Ayo Arise, and Prince Dayo Adeyeye. Arise and Adeyeye are back. I am still looking forward to a day when My Egbon Obafemi Adewale will come back into the progressive fold and we will all be together as a strong progressive family. He served as attorney general of this state on the platform of the progressive party. He did well and since he joined the PDP, I’m not even sure of how much they appreciate his value. The best they could offer him was the position of a Special Adviser. For me, it is time for him to come back home. These are some of the issues we will be talking about after the election.
There is the feeling in some quarters that APC in Ekiti is not campaigning, but is plotting to rig the elections. How would you assess your party’s preparations?
This is coming from the opposition camp. It is part of politics. Whatever you can say or do to make the other party look horrible in the eyes of the people, you will do. That is part of the tragedy of Nigerian politics. Rather than making a campaign of issues and tell people what you want to do, you are more interested in what will run down the opposing camp. It would be a waste of time for APC to be defending itself that it is taking this election seriously or it is campaigning or it is not trying to rig. APC should remain firm and refuse to be distracted. I just spoke with the candidates for the two federal constituencies in this district. If we are making out time to go far into the farm settlements and somebody is saying we are not campaigning, that leaves so much to be desired. Campaign is a scientific thing. It is not only when we do road shows, we will come to that.