Wole Balogun, Ado Ekiti
Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, known in the local parlance as MOB appears to be that politician who aptly fits the description of “a cat with nine lives,” given his uncommon political story within a space of eight months.
It all started from the day he was hit at a very delicate bodily parts, to be specific, his thigh and stomach on May 1, 2018, by stray bullets fired by a drunken police officer during the flag off of the governorship campaign of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Ekiti , till February 23 when he was announced Senator-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having polled 94,279 votes, the highest votes so far ever polled by any Senator-elect in the history of the state.
Bamidele, as the Campaign Director -General (DG) of then APC governorship candidate, now Governor of the state, John Kayode Fayemi, was to perform his first official function as DG at the rally. But the tragedy which almost claimed his life prevented it from happening.
From all indications, the tragedy turned out to be a great leverage for him as it earned him deep sympathy and empathy from many Ekiti people, including those who are not of the APC.
Daily Sun also gathered that the fate that befell him came in handy for him when attempts were made to allegedly “snatch” his ticket from him.
Sources within the party attested to the above assertion. “Governor Fayemi used the shooting tragedy to win the hearts of the party cabals when a strong member of the party in the state wanted to rob Bamidele of the party’s ticket to run for Senate by all means,” a source confided in Daily Sun.
It was further gathered that party faithful and other people in the state, made it clear during the primaries of the party that for Ekiti central senatorial district, it was Bamidele and no other person.
In what looked like a repeat of what had surprised many in the state during the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) era, the APC too restored its domineering influence on the state politics, as the party won the presidential, three senatorial and the six House of Representatives seats in the state. Pundits see the feat as amazing because the party only took over from the PDP-led government barely four months ago.
Those who won the Senate seats were: Opeyemi Bamidele(Central), Prince Dayo Adeyeye(South) and Senator Adetumbi Olubunmi(North), while Yemi Adaramodu, Sola Fatoba, Peter Owolabi, Ibrahim Olanrewaju, Femi Bamisile and Wumi Ogunlola , won the existing House of Representatives seats.
The PDP could not secure a single seat in spite of the enormous influence former Governor Ayodele Fayose claims to have in the state. In 2015, PDP with Fayose’s influence won the presidential and National Assembly elections as well as the 26 state House of Assembly seats.
The development, Daily Sun recalls, made the ex-governor to treat Fayemi, who later became the minister of Mines and Steel Development, with scorn and contempt, as he publicly branded him a “political lightweight” who had no strong support from his home state.
By and large, the February 23 polls, political observers contend, may have settled a lot of issues between Governor Fayemi and Fayose’s camps.
For instance, they say it has helped to re-affirm the fact that Governor Fayemi actually won the 2018 governorship poll, as affirmed by the verdict of the Justice Suleiman Belgore-led Election Petition Tribunal, delivered on December 8, 2018 in Abuja.
In the said judgement, the Tribunal, in a unanimous verdict dismissed the petition filed by the PDP governorship candidate and former Deputy Governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola for lack of merit.
Commenting on the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly elections, Bamidele said he had always had the unwavering belief that politics is a game of number and it revolves around the people. He said the most potent weapon to deploy in politics is human support and not money as some erroneously thought.
The Senator-elect further said “the most important weapon for relevance in politics is the people. When you are in politics, don’t take people for granted most especially, when you had enjoyed the opportunity of being elected into political offices, use the position wisely to better the lives of your people and that has always been my belief in politics and it has been working for me”, he said .
Bamidele hinted that he achieved the same trail blazing record in 2011 when he scored a total of 44, 235 votes to represent Ado/Irepodun/Ifelodun Federal constituency in the House of Representatives
“I scored a total of 44, 235 votes which nobody that contested for House of Representatives had ever scored until that year. So, I have penchant for breaking records because I take people as my strength. When I was in the lower chambers of the National Assembly, I attracted 89 projects to my constituency. Apart from that, whatever empowerment I wanted to do, I do consider all Ekiti residents regardless of race, ethnic groups, political affiliations, so this has made me popular beyond my party, the APC.
“So, the main thing has been that my popularity and acceptability transcends APC and that had always been my strength. The votes I got are a challenge and I will not betray that confidence reposed in me by my people”, he pledged.