I have taken my time to read through your new year message of January 1st, 2014 in which you, among other things, expressed your concern for security of lives and properties in the State while calling on “all stakeholders, the people, the political elite, traditional rulers, e.t.c.to put all efforts to ensure Ekiti State records a free and fair 2014 election that would be a model to other States and a reflection of the honourable people that we are”.
Your Excellency, I feel compelled at this point to write to express my concern, like many well-meaning stakeholders in Ekiti State, over your seeming capacity to say one thing and do the exact opposite.
To begin with, putting yourself in my shoes, how would I and my constituents believe your professed commitment to protection of properties if I made statutory payments to the Signage Agency under your office to mount 16 billboards as an elected Representative to wish people who elected you and I into office a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on the 22nd of December 2013 and, in less than 48hrs thereafter, your political appointees had destroyed all of the billboards while you conveniently looked away? Or how can I and the two young widows and 3 children as well as relatives and kinsmen of late Folusho Ogundare, my supporter who was killed in a most gruesome manner on the street of Emure-Ekiti on November 3rd, 2013 and in respect of which 9 members of your Excellency’s 2nd term campaign team are still in police custody, believe your self-acclaimed commitment to protection of lives and other rhetorical claims in your new year message?
If you really ask me, your excellency, I fear that you, probably without knowing it, constitute the greatest threat to the realization of a free and fair election in Ekiti State in 2014 owing to your seeming allergy to any form of opposition as well as the intransigence of many of the political gladiators you surround yourself with in Ekiti and who seem to have finally boxed you into a corner.
Your Excellency, how, for instance, will you explain the fact that you and your cronies are the only elected and appointed public servants or statesmen who can air their views and programmes on the Television (EKTV) and Radio components of the Broadcasting Service of Ekiti State (BSES)? Their refusal to air paid advertorials and programmes due to what has been termed “order from above” is clearly in violation of known guidelines of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), thereby denying the populace of the needed information aside from Government propaganda.
It is a fact known to many today that the reason you have deliberately chosen to deny access to critical stakeholders and manipulate information dissemination through the State owned electronic media is so that you can actually rule without being criticised. You want the world to hear that you are the best Governor Ekiti State has produced and may ever produce. Yet, you don’t want Ekiti stakeholders to have access to the media through which they can review your performance and, where necessary, critique your policy and programme implementation procedure. You are the only one who can talk in addition to the few ones you still manage to trust among your appointees and collaborators who merely re-echo the things you say.
For instance, the State today has come under a huge weight of debt due to your indiscriminate and excessive borrowings within the last two years with a lot of misplacement of priorities in the application of borrowed funds. To me, the issue is not about whether or not the Government could borrow money to finance investments and developmental projects. Not at all. Rather, it is about the extent, rapidity, sincerity of purpose and due process compliance standard in the disbursement, which could have prevented the high level of wastages, owing to inexperience and deafening corruption, as well as unprecedented level of capital flight currently going on in Ekiti where career civil servants have almost all been rendered redundant because all manners of self-acclaimed Consultants are made to take over their ministerial responsibilities. No accountable Government would short the doors of its media, funded by Tax Payers money, to critical stakeholders and to public opinion.
As I always say to you, Mr. Governor, you have tried your very best, given the extent of your experience and political exposure since the best that any man can be expected to give is his best. God Almighty knows, my family members sincerely believe, my associates carry the faith and all those who are familiar with my antecedents are convinced that the only reason I would choose to run for governorship at this time is because I, most definitely, can do much better than your best. Not because I am a magician, but because I am better equipped and with a deeper and much more scientific understanding of what is to be done to bring about a new and united Ekiti where more can be delivered for less and without the future of the State and her people being mortgaged to local and international finance capita.
I know what it means and, by God’s Grace, I have what it takes to, beyond rhetoric, govern not from an Olympian height but from an all-inclusive perspective where the workers (at State and Local Government levels), those who taught us and are still teaching our children, the traditional institutions, the academia, the youth, the women, the civil society, including organised labour, religious and community leaders as well as private (formal and informal) sector participants will be made relevant to the decision making process and implementation of Government policies and programmes.
In sending you a copy of this open letter, Your Excellency, it will be, primarily, for the purpose of encouraging you to do one interesting thing that I find most amusing about your style.
You always make it sound as if those who criticise your style of administration don’t know what they are doing or whatever they are saying makes no meaning to the world of Dr. Olukayode John Fayemi. But right after your rhetorical responses, you always go back to the drawing board to work on how to implement their suggestions without making it seem that is what you are doing.
Your Excellency, when I insisted (between October 2010 and October 2011) that it was immoral for you, as a self-acclaimed product of the civil society, not to do anything that would show commitment to the plight of the elderly through an identifiable social security programme you did not think I was saying anything serious to you. But when I invited you to witness a practical demonstration of my good faith commitment to the plight of the elderly at my Widows’ Empowerment programme in February 2012 (in Ado Ekiti) where I gave a cheque of N20,000.00 (Twenty Thousand Naira) to each of the two hundred indigent widows constituting the first batch of beneficiaries (Eight Hundred and Ten have so far benefited) and everyone present at the occasion (including Her Excellency, the First Lady who represented you) saw and celebrated its positive impact, you had to go back to the drawing board to work out an arrangement of paying N5,000 (Five Thousand Naira) monthly to selected elders and you even recently referred to that as the most important policy of your administration, even though this is a mere fraction of a comprehensive social development policy agenda I had volunteered to you as a former Commissioner for Youth, Sports and Social Development in Lagos State.
I equally criticized you openly for undue interference in the affairs of labour and students unions (with some of them having their leadership structure dissolved) by your administration owing to what I perceived as a sense of insecurity and leadership complex on your part, reminding you that this was equally inconsistent with your self-acclaimed activist background. You sent your hit men after me to warn and harass me and my associates, even when you knew that I meant well and was merely discouraging you from doing the same thing which you and I had been known to condemn in the days of military dictatorship.
As a change agent though, my joy knew no bound when, a few weeks ago, I was informed by some of your principal aides that you had asked the students of tertiary institutions owned by the State Government to go ahead and hold their elections, even if it is merely a palliative measure to make you look good in the eye of the public as we all prepare for the gubernatorial elections this year.
Recall also, your excellency, that I insisted that your manner of Local Government administration as well as the management of the federally collectible monthly allocated funds to the sixteen Local Governments of Ekiti State was illegal, immoral and arbitrary and could never really enhance true and sustainable development at the grassroots level.
Similarly, I impressed it on your excellency that it was totally unacceptable and would not help your democratic credentials for you to spend over three years in office and not ensure to organise Local Government elections and return Local Government administration to the people through democratically elected Local Government Chairmen, Vice Chairmen and Councillors instead of administering our Local Governments as an extension of the Governor’s office through your appointed Local Government Caretaker Chairmen who have to continuously do your own biddings (in place of an allegiance to the people of their Local Governments) in order to secure your consent for appointment renewal every six months. In criticising you, I had also openly pledged that I would organize a credible Local Government election within six months of my assumption of office, come October 2014, following which I would embark on comprehensive Local Government reforms with the input of elected Chairmen and Councillors as well as career Local Government administrators and relevant traditional and civil society institutions, including the holding of popular referendum to enable our people determine whether or not they want more Local Governments created in accordance with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.
Mr. Governor, your initial response to these valid observations was for you to first grant a media interview to say I needed a psychiatrist help, a curse which I reject in the name of Jesus Christ while asking God for forgiveness for you as that cannot be my portion or what I deserve for the ways God had used me and many others to realize His purpose for you and be a blessing to you in Ekiti. But beyond your verbal abuses and attempted denigration of my person, your excellency has also, characteristically, quickly gone back to the drawing board to see what manner of damage control you could do in response to my criticism of the failure of your leadership style in this regard and how best to pre-empt my well thought out proposals.
And what did you come up with? A hurriedly prepared and disjointed package purportedly aimed at setting the agenda for the creation of additional Local Government Development Areas in the State. Your Excellency, I must confess that nothing, in recent times, had amused me more than this electoral gimmick and stunt that you believed you could pull through this. Of course, you should know that the highly enlightened community of Ekiti would see through this deceit.
After setting a booby trap for both the members of the political class (ACN and PDP alike) and the general public by consciously picking your known supporter and member of ACN (in spite of the availability of a plethora of retired Judges, retired Permanent Secretaries, retired Directors, retired School Principals and other nonpartisan former Public Office holders) as Chairman of the State Independent Electoral Commission, you succeeded in using an interim Court ruling as an excuse (just as envisaged) to foreclose the conduct of Local Government elections in the forty months that you have ruled in Ekiti State even when you could have reconstituted the commission to save the time of the Court and do the right thing as a democrat and patriot.
Now, you expect the well-meaning people of Ekiti, at home and in the diaspora, to trust the last minute move of a Governor who could not guarantee (through LG election) them the democratic leadership of their existing sixteen Local Governments in almost three and a half years of his administration if, less than six months to another gubernatorial election, he is now inaugurating a committee on Local Government creation? Your Excellency, surely, both you, my humble self as well as our mutual friends and associates in the pro-democracy and human rights community at home and around the world know that this can only be a highway to nowhere and I think you should just stop deceiving our people in Ekiti.
Given the credibility of the members of the Committee on Local Government Creation, I am sure they themselves would be mindful of how they go about this assignment to ensure that their hard earned reputation is not compromised and to preserve the integrity of the committee to be able to work with the new Governor that will be elected by Ekiti people come June 2014.
I have also noticed the on-going attempts at character assassination in continuation of Your Excellency’s desperate attempt to ambush my gubernatorial aspiration and confuse the people, forgetting that Ekiti people are enlightened enough to always see through your tissues of lies and deceit.
As part of the many attempts by you and your cronies to give me a bad name, you consciously encouraged your Special Assistant on Internal Security, Mr Deji Adesokan (a.k.aJaru) in December 2013 to cook up a story that I had sent two people (who he described as my “security aides”) to “assassinate” him in his house. Thank God the police and other security agencies in Ekiti State promptly investigated and made it clear to the public that no one was implicated in the matter based on available facts, including statements and affidavit sworn to by the two people arrested.
Mr Governor Sir, I will not be surprised if your Special Assistant (Jaru), who is known all over Ekiti as your Hit Man and a serial persecutor of your known and perceived political opponents, decides to cut off one of his arms sometimes before the gubernatorial election in an attempt to implicate me and generate cheap sympathy for you in the eyes of the critical Ekiti people, many of whom have rejected your style of administration and are only waiting for the election day to elect a new leader that would be a rallying point for the realisation of the new and united Ekiti State of their dream.
It is obvious, Mr Governor, that the main reason you would encourage your cronies to concoct such falsehood in a condescending attempt to criminalize my person was to get even with me on my principled and professional stand that those who masterminded the gruesome killing in Emure-Ekiti on November 3, 2013 must not go unpunished as no one (no matter how highly placed) is above the law.
Your Excellency, I have also noticed the renewed attempt by members of your campaign committee as well as your highly paid newspaper columnists, media consultants, social media commentators and self-acclaimed philosopher kings like Babafemi Ojudu and other propagandists to mastermind a smear campaign aimed at distorting my personality in the eye of the public. Unfortunately for you sir, this is coming too late as I have spent the last 32 years of my modest adult life serving on the side of justice and equity, right from my days as a young student activist on the campus of the then University of Ife and subsequently as a lawyer, pro-democracy activist, human rights campaigner and a seasoned public administrator in a most unusual manner before you and I got to our present positions in life. This means, Your Excellency, that my character was already formed, my perspectives already espoused and strong impression already formed about me by the Nigerian Public, including Ekiti people, as an unassuming African boy with a strength of character before the commencement of your on-going politically motivated smear campaign, which is bound to fail by the Grace of God. And this explains why, as you would have observed, I have chosen not to allow myself to be distracted from concentrating on the real issues by making the mistake of responding to all manners of falsehood and provocative assertions sponsored by you.
Only recently, Your Excellency, the “wise men” who surround you have commenced a spirited effort to cause crisis in the Labour Party, the platform which I led a large number of well-meaning Ekiti people to join after we chose not to stay within and rock the same boat with you as you would have preferred. You have continued to massively fund (at the expense of Ekiti Tax Payers) few people through whom you hope to destabilize the Labour Party in Ekiti State through puerile and dead on arrival approaches that can only eventually further expose you and your allies for the pseudo-democrats that I have always insisted that you are with due respect.
I say to you again, Mr Governor, God Almighty has a hand in this and there is no stopping an idea whose time has come.
At this point, let me wish you and your family a happy new year as well as divine wisdom and courage to stand for the truth and all that is noble so as to be able to provide true leadership beyond rhetoric. This is in order that you can end well and I, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, will be in a position to truly celebrate you as a former Governor upon my assumption of office come October 16, 2014 as I sincerely would love to do. But remember that it needs to be earned in deed, not just in words. May God help you and I and all those who believe in us for what we stand for. More importantly, may God bless our dear State and her people.
Hon. Michael Opeyemi Bamidele
Member, House of Representatives
Federal Republic of Nigeria.
19th January, 2014.