The candidate of Labour Party in the June 16, 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele, in this interview with ENIOLA AKINKUOTU, speaks about the nationís economy, among other issues
Who is Ekiti Labour Party supporting in the presidential election?
I remain a member of the Labour Party, because I am not surrendering the structure of the LP that we worked so hard to build in Ekiti to be used to work for President Jonathan. The LP at the national level has adopted President (Goodluck) Jonathan as its presidential candidate because the party does not have a presidential candidate, but the LP in Ekiti should be counted out and I know that the LP in Edo State and a few other states have also said the same thing; that they are not working for President Jonathan.
So, in the meantime, I remain a member of the Labour Party and we are unapologetically committed to the Buhari-Osinbajo project and at the end of the elections we will sit down to talk about what is next.
I must submit that every politics is local. As a leader within a community, you shouldnít take decisions that will isolate you from the generality of your people or move against the general tide of your people. The majority of the people in Ekiti State desire a change like majority of Nigerians do.
Why have you decided to support the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket?
Nigeria needs new ideas. I chair the House Committee on Legislative Budget and Research. I am very concerned about the economy of Nigeria. The more you know about this country, especially the state of our economy, the more scared you will become. There are a lot of things that Nigerians do not even know. Iíll give you a practical example. I told my committee to carry out a research and all I needed was for them to take the budget of this country in the last four years and extract how much was budgeted for the procurement of generators and diesel by the agencies of the Federal Government. Yes, a lot of Nigerians say we have too many agencies and they put their number at 427. And I was asking somebody high up there in government, where did you get the figure of 427 Federal Government agencies?
And he was saying, Ďeverybody says 427í. And I said, ĎI am telling you authoritatively that the number of ministries, departments and agencies under the Appropriation Act, to which we voted money, is 708. It has grown from less than 400 to 708 in the last four years. So, the government is becoming bigger everyday and I am concerned that today, we have on the floor of parliament, a 2015 proposal, that has 84 per cent going for recurrent expenditure, consumables and we have only 16 per cent going for capital expenditure. Which economy can grow that way? When you donít spend money on capital projects, you cannot stimulate the economy because it is through capital expenditure that an economy can create jobs, that you can build the real sector of the economy.
We calculated how much was being spent on the procurement of generators and diesel by the 708 MDAs and we came up with a very staggering figure: over N360bn has been spent on the procurement of generators and diesel over the last four years. We went beyond that to all the 36 states of the federation and then to the 774 local government areas and saw that over N1.1 trillion had been spent on the procurement of generators and diesel. So, how much do we need to fix the energy sector? So, there is no way I can be going to an election and allow myself to be bought over by the sentiments of who is my friend? Who is a Christian? Who is a Muslim? So, for me it is more of the economy. We need new ideas to grow this economy and everybody is talking about corruption.
I am a member of the House committee that is investigating oil theft and I know the kind of revelation that has been coming out and that is another issue. Part of the reason that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is stepping that down until after the elections is that we donít want anyone to think that they are trying to use it as a campaign instrument. Nigeria is bleeding at an unimaginable level and I cannot know all of these and have the moral conscience to wish this order to be sustained.
Why did you not defect with Governor Olusegun Mimiko to the Peoples Democratic Party?
For Governor Mimiko as the leader of Labour Party, it was really a pleasure to work with him. I mean he also stood up for the party in Ekiti and for all of us. But when he decided he was going to join the PDP, and again, you must give it to him, he came from PDP and I donít think anyone would begrudge him for going back to his political family. But I made it clear that there was no way I was going to proceed to join the PDP and unfortunately, a lot of people thought that because I had a political disagreement with Governor Kayode Fayemi, they believed that I was actually out on a fight to finish with my own political family and the leadership including the likes of Asiwaju (Bola) Tinubu. No, that was not the situation.
I was meant to be fighting on principles, if I had crossed the Rubicon, for me that would have meant something else, it would no longer be a principled fight. Again, I must say that at no point did the leadership of the All Progressives Congress give me a breathing space, at no point did they leave me alone or did they write me off. Three days to the election, Asiwaju spoke to me. Four days to the election, I was invited by the President of the country in company with Governor Mimiko. And immediately after the election, the leadership of APC kept on talking to me, saying ďelection is over now, whatever disagreement at the level of Ekiti is over, can we now begin to talk about the future?Ē
So, to the extent of the fact that the leadership of the APC never really felt that I was such an outsider to the party, if I would have to go anywhere, it would be much more reasonable for me to go back to my own political family.
In saying this, I want to stress that the project at hand today is the Buhari-Osinbajo election and I feel so passionate about it. That we will need to deal with first and after that, we can sit down and take the next step.
Are you of the opinion that the APC would not have lost the election if you did not defect from the party?
I want to say that Ekiti was a sad commentary. It was a situation that was so thoroughly unfortunate and tragic to the extent that everybody looked as if there was nothing that could be done. But today, I want to say that largely, it has become part of our history and it is one thing I donít like dwelling on because I believe we need to move on and I believe what should be our central preoccupation right now is how to right the wrongs and rescue the state from the present situation. But I want to say that it is something that could have been avoided.
There is no doubting the fact that if Dr. Kayode Fayemi and I had worked together, I am convinced that we couldnít have lost the state to the PDP. The truth about it is that a lot of things were wrong and I would rather dwell more on the lessons that ought to be learnt than going into details of what went wrong.