Bimbo Daramola is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State. Between 2011 and 2015, he represented Ekiti North Federal Constituency 1 in the House of Representatives, and right now, he is the chief of staff to the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In this interview, he explains why Ekiti State deserves a better deal from its political leaders.
Why has Ekiti State remained undeveloped over the years?
If we have governance that is truncated every four years, there is no opportunity for sustainability. There is no opportunity for continuity. A state of about 21 years and then you’ve had as many as eight governors in that period. How do you want to remain on the consistent path of growth and development? It would be very difficult. Also, I want to believe that, as a people, we are very reactive. I will give you an example. An Ekiti man gets on a motorbike from Ajilosun to Opopo Gbooro, and the man riding the okada is an Ekiti man. He takes you all the way from Ajilosun to Opopo Gbooro, which is quite some distance. When he gets to Opopo Gbooro, he gets into an argument with the passenger over, maybe, N50. And most likely, the direct reaction of that man would be, ‘keep your money, get back on the bike, I will take you back to Ajilosun.’ And then he takes the passenger back to Ajilosun. Now, who has lost? That’s being reactive. But that is what the average Ekiti man will do. We must be very realistic and very practical to understand that the sentiments that we carry on will always have consequential effects.
When former Governor Fayemi was there, they were saying, this governor is too detached, he’s not in touch and so on. And of course, he also had a few challenges. So, Ekiti decided to throw him out. They threw away the baby with the bath water. I’m not aware that teachers now get paid rural allowances that Dr. Fayemi used to pay; I’m not aware that they have restored ‘Owo Arugbo,’ the social security fund for senior citizens. So, we get angry with a man who has provided us with these structures because he speaks a lot of English, a man that built roads and did all these things. That is just comparable to the illustration I gave about the okada man and his passenger.
Look at all the investments that Dr. Kayode Fayemi, warts and all, put in place. You would have expected our people to say okay, on a scale of one to ten, has he measured up to five or six? If we have had another four years of Dr. Fayemi, I’m sure Ekiti would have progressed a little bit more. I’m not campaigning for anybody, but I’m worried about the nature of the average Ekiti man.
Is it possible to change that nature of throwing away the baby with the bath water?
It can be worked at. It’s not going to be an overnight success. There must be constant engagement. The attribute of Governor Fayose, eating and drinking with them, what he tries to do is, he wants to put himself in their faces and in their hearts. Whether that is logical, whether that has long-term implications, is another matter. Ekiti people want a governor who is in their faces. But you can be in their faces and still buy them books. You can be in their faces and still ensure they get qualitative healthcare. The fact that you speak good English does not mean that you cannot ensure that you are in their lives, that you attend their events. That is what I was doing when I was in the House of Representatives. I would drive all the way from Abuja to attend the event of an okada rider. I gave people motorbikes. And all that has not taken away from the depth of knowledge that I have. The psyche of the Ekiti people is that, we’ll like to trust you and work with you, but you must earn it.
Governor Fayose has boasted that PDP would defeat the APC and produce the next governor. How about that?
Well, about Governor Fayose and his claim to invincibility, of course, he might say a lot of things because our party seems challenged. You have 40 people running around and running rings around themselves. We don’t have the communication; we don’t have the message that targets everything that he has not done right, things that don’t bespeak who we are. He knows we have one year to the election, and we have 40 aspirants running around the place. He’s conscious of the fact that there is no way 40 people will go into an election and you start placating them to step down six months to the election and you won’t get people frayed. I pray that the party does not destroy itself. Ekiti is ripe for the taking. 2018 is our exit from destruction. And I don’t even know which of the PDP platforms Fayose is standing on. Is it the PDP Makarfi or PDP Sheriff? Is it PDP Ogundipe or PDP Makanjuola? Fayose has his own challenges, but then, we in the APC must be sincere with ourselves. We are not even engaging and energizing the people. There is a lot of division in the party.
In 2007, one of the challenges we had at the time was that 14 gubernatorial candidates pulled out from the then AC. And that was how we chased that mandate for three and half years. And if we don’t learn from history, history will repeat itself. Every Ekiti man and woman should know that 2018 is the next exit from the perdition, the hopelessness and despair that we have witnessed in our state over these past few years. We have to get our state back.
Why are you getting involved in the Ekiti project?
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re in full realisation of the consequences of not taking action when you could have taken an action about an imminent danger, if that danger eventually happens, what do you do? You feel very bad. I am mindful of what is involved. We are talking about lives of both the present generation and generations yet unborn. I’m mindful of the fact that history is going to apportion everybody some kind of verdict for what you have done or what you have refused to do when you’re in a position to do something. I believe that Ekiti could get better than it is today. I’m worried about generations coming after us apportioning blames that, ‘you were there when things get bad.’ Do I think I have a messianic disposition? No. I’m not talking out of messianic confidence. I’m just saying that I know that a greater Ekiti is possible. I also believe that we could get a better deal even in the worst of situations. People are talking about dwindling resources and all of that, I’m saying that even at that, things could still work. Ekiti could get better. And I’m not saying it in the sense that we will have to wait. No. I’m saying that from right now, Ekiti could get better. And if we don’t do it, generations yet unborn would not forgive us, particularly having seen the glorious days of Ekiti. I was born there, raised there. I went to school there, I knew the way it was and the way it is today. Destinies are being cut short. Some will never realise their potential because of the failure of leadership.
Even in the worst of times, Ekiti can get a better deal if the leadership is right. Now, if the leadership appropriates N250 million to the Government House as security vote, who do you blame? What does a governor need N250 million as security vote for every month? Do you know what can be done with such an amount? The society mimics the hue of the leadership. The development of a society at any point in time always reflects who the leader is.