The former Lagos governor demands reversal of the decision to suspend Opeyemi Bamidele.
The national leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Bola Tunubu, has expressed surprise over the suspension of Opeyemi Bamidele from the party’s caucus in the House of Representatives; and called for the reversal of the action.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Tinubu said though he has not received an official briefing on the purported suspension of the lawmaker over his plan to contest the 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State, the action of the caucus could truncate ongoing efforts at reconciliation over the ambition.
Mr. Opeyemi had, last week, reportedly declared his intention to go ahead with his plan to contest the governorship election even though Mr. Tinubu and other leaders of the party resolved to allow the incumbent, Kayode Fayemi, to run for another four-year term.
However, his insistence to enter the race angered his five colleagues in the Ekiti State House of Representatives Caucus, who suspended him from their fold.
Those who took the action are Robison Ajiboye, Bamidele Faparusi, Bimbo Daramola, Ifeoluwa Arowosoge, and Oyetunde Ojo.
Mr. Tinubu said, “It has been reported that members of the Ekiti State Caucus in the House of Representatives suspended Hon. Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, as their leader because of his alleged declaration to contest the governorship election next year.
“I have not seen an official word through the party machinery about this action. However, I feel compelled to speak to dispel rumor and false report from assuming the aspect of fact.
“The news of the purported removal of Opeyemi Bamidele came as a surprise. The decision of the members of the Ekiti House Caucus in this regard truncates ongoing efforts at reconciliation, notwithstanding the fact that the party leadership is working hard to reconcile all sides.
“What took some members of the leadership of the party to Ekiti State recently was a continuation of the process of appeal and reconciliation.
“The objective here is to first understand and iron out the issues that have resorted in a gulf between Opeyemi Bamidele and Governor Kayode Fayemi on one hand and the party towards building a formidable political house in Ekiti.”
The former Lagos State Governor, under whom Mr. Opeyemi served as a commissioner, said he does not believe that the caucus members could take such step, adding “I trust their democratic pedigree to highly believe that they would not be used to take this false step which would violate established party rules, processes and traditions.”
He stressed that if the National Chairman of the Party, Bisi Akande, was not informed about the plan to suspend Mr. Opeyemi, those who did it should retrace their steps to forestall unnecessary difficulty for themselves and the Ekiti State chapter of the party.
“For instance, decisions of this critical nature must be done with the consultation of the national leadership of the party. From what I can gather, our National Chairman and the party’s leadership were never consulted or notified about the pendency of such a stark action,” he said.
“For that reason alone, if such an action has been taken, those who did so should retrace their steps to avoid creating an unnecessary difficulty for themselves and the Ekiti chapter of the party.
“Beyond the issue of procedure and rules, there is the tiny matter of internal party democracy to consider. I have said before, any party member has a right to contest the governorship of Ekiti or any other state. Any other person, including Opeyemi Bamidele, has the right to.
“This right is so fundamental to internal democracy that I do not believe he should be sanctioned at this point where the most he has done is to make unofficial statements about contesting. Our party cannot join the club of other parties that punish members for expressing interests in an office.
Mr. Tinubu argued that while Mr. Opeyemi may not be popular among his lawmaker colleagues, he has a right to his beliefs.
“We must protect and smother unpopular and minority positions. If we don’t like it, we vote against it at the appropriate time but we do not punish people simply for thinking differently, this is how we must grow our democracy.”
“Thus, Opeyemi Bamidele was expressing his democratic rights. To unilaterally suspend him as leader of the House Caucus is a questionable one they should reconsider.
“It would appear to contravene the letter and best spirit of party democracy. While we have no problem in him pursuing his democratic ambition without intimidation and persecution, we will continue our efforts at persuading him not to rock the boat and play into the hands of our opponent particularly the PDP shenanigans.
“Political conflict, challenges and resolutions are the hallmarks of political association and leadership. Orderly means of all efforts at democratically resolving those conflicts are not endless in any way,” he said.
The ACN National Leader urged the members of the caucus to reverse themselves and embrace the process of amicable resolution already put in place by the party.
“To do otherwise is to give comfort to those who would seek to divide the Ekiti State chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria,” Mr. Tinubu said.
“We appeal to those promoting these divisions to sheathe their swords in the interest of the party and its ardent followers. We cannot forget so soon the struggle and what it cost us to get to where we are today. We owe it to the Ekiti people and all democrats in the country to sustain and protect this hard won democracy.
“All true progressives must rise up in defence of individual freedom and promotion of democratic values. We shall overcome for the good of all,” he added.
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