Open Letter To Opeyemi Bamidele

July 7, 2013

Frustrated that a chance encounter with you was irritatingly turning into a protracted waiting game, I have decided to breach communication protocols and confidential niceties by communicating with you through this unorthodox channel. I can assure you my intentions were noble, honest and sincere. I never wanted any third party intervention but if it happens that this exchange degenerates to that level, the burden of public involvement should be borne by you having decided to be a public personality through your representation of the people of Ekiti Central at the House of Representatives.

Different stories of strange happenings that I have read and heard about NIPOST would not let me move near that courier agency with a long pole. I therefore had no mischief for anointing the public with a disclosure that was meant to be strictly confidential. Kindly accept my explanation for this minor infraction. However, I expect people to show some decorum by not meddling into the affairs of two friends simply because one has employed this unorthodox medium to communicate with the other.

I am discussing the state of Ekiti and its war of attritions. By this time next year, the governorship election in Ekiti would be in process. From what is on ground as at today you are determined to contest for the gubernatorial office with Kayode Fayemi, the incumbent. This is the crux of the matter. My intervention, which is personal, is to see how we can manage aspirations and ambitions without destroying fraternities. One of the reasons for employing this ‘column factor’ channel was that most of the members of the fraternities-Great Ife and the Tinubu Boys-that had discussed the Bamidele-Fayemi rift with me told me that all propitiatory overtures made to you were rebuffed. While I am not counting on any special relationship with you to guarantee a breakthrough, I believe that my intervention may be useful in the pool of various constructive preachments you would have received since the whole saga started.

The genesis of the crisis is unfortunate. Three of you, Dele Alake, Femi Ojudu and you, all from the same Tinubu fraternity, wanted to be senator for Ekiti Central. The governor, also from the same group, found himself in a dilemma. Expectedly, there were intrigues, button-pressing, politicking, intensive lobbying, primordial sentiments and other things that politicians do. Finally, one intrigue outplayed the others. One interest was more important than the others. And Femi Ojudu, who eventually became the senator, was favoured. Dele Alake was furious. He withdrew from the contest. You were bitter but you never withdrew. You fought till it was obvious there was nothing to fight for again. Disturbed and worried by the implications of your exclusion and abandonment, the elders pacified you with the House of Representatives slot that was meant for another person. You collected it with unctuous pretension and concealed animosity against the elders and the governor.

Let me make it clear to you that I was bitter too. Not because it did not go to you but because, of the three of you, only Dele Alake was not compensated or pacified with any political office. And I expressed this in a piece I did on the issue. For a long time, Dele felt betrayed and abandoned. But trust Asiwaju, he found a way to pacify him and explain things to him. Now, he is back into the fold.

My dear friend, I ask: why is it so difficult for you to embrace reconciliation? I am asking because at this stage when all hands should be on deck for Fayemi’s re-election, efforts and energies are still being wasted in getting you to suspend your aspiration and extend your support to the governor in this battle against a common foe.

From the body language of the governor, I know he is unfazed and unruffled about your stance and posturing but I am. Regardless of his confidence, Fayemi’s campaign machinery for re-election cannot operate with the same focus and effectiveness for as long as there are distractions from a “competitor within”. Why should you be the one to distract the governor of your party whose performance had been commended by all and sundry, indigenes and non-indigenes, scholars and illiterates men and women, children and adults and non-partisan assessors. Your present stance is sending wrong signals to the opponents and what do you gain if posterity records you as one of those who sabotaged the progress and goodwill of the party in Ekiti State?

My dear friend, forget politics and tell me the truth if Ekiti, your state, was like this three years ago. In Unife in those days, when you were campaigning for Student Union election, one statement you made that won you a deafening ovation was this exuberant phrase: “I am a revolutionary who wants to revolutionise a revolutionary revolution”. Even though this did not make any sense and still does not make any grammatical sense, the rhythm alone and the word “revolutionary” was enough to send some hysteric students of little contents into frenetic jubilation.

If you want me to tell you the truth, your letter to Fayemi after the landmark judgment of May 31, by the Supreme Court, should have been an opportunity for you to end all the suspense game about your ‘ambition’ or ‘aspiration’ and extend a hand of friendship to the government of Ekiti State. But instead, you were appealing for amnesty for looters of the State treasury. When did revolutionaries start indulging in absolution for rogues and looters. When did revolutionaries and reactionaries become dizygortic twin? A revolutionary advocating amnesty for looters of public treasury is not only putting his integrity in jeopardy, his own activities should also be subject to scrutiny to determine the credibility and sincerity of his revolutionary ministration.

Even if you wanted to play ‘statesman’, was that an appropriate moment to do it? People were rejoicing and jubilating that God had at last vindicated the just and the righteous, you were preaching reconciliation with enemies of the government. If you were after genuine reconciliation of friends and foes, why did you not start it by reconciling with the governor openly and truthfully. You preached reconciliation but you failed to act it.

Have you sat down to calculate the political cost of your uncooperative attitude to the Ekiti governor? If against all your expectations and calculations, the governor goes ahead to win the re-election without your support, what damage will that do to your political rating and overestimated ego? I have not carried out any study on you and your group to be able to determine your popularity empirically, but I am warning that you do not underestimate the capacity of others to diminish your political machine. You almost caused confusion with your “amnesty for rogues” appeal. At a stage, a spokesman for the government said the government had handed all treasury looters to GOD to deal with them. There must have been a spontaneous outrage by the people because in less than 24 hours, the government denied it saying that there was no truth in the story. It stated in a statement: “the administration would not drop the plan to probe the Segun Oni administration because doing so would give others corrupt persons the leeway to embezzle government fund”

Though as a Christian I believe in forgiveness, this should not be extended to looters of state funds whose serial frauds and misappropriations have brought misery and hardship into many homes. Many have also died because of their criminal engagements. So, if a revolutionary like you is now canvassing for amnesty for rogues, what then becomes of the revolution?

Another critical look at the statement you made in Ife during your campaign tends to suggest that “you will undo the revolution that a revolutionary has done. Please read it again to see the import. I hope you are not acting it. People have tagged what Fayemi is doing in Ekiti a revolution. So, that makes him a revolutionary. If you now want to “revolutionise a revolutionary revolution”, does that not suggest that you want to undo what he has done? That statement was made some 28 years ago, but your present attitude is giving it some prophetic relevance.

You may be wondering how you can fulfill your aspiration if you do not go for it now. You need some patience, my brother. The goodwill you have now and the will of God for you are all the ingredients you need to realise your dream of serving your people as a governor. That is why you should not fritter away your present goodwill in your haste to serve the people. This is a period when you should be consolidating and building on your political leverage within and outside Ekiti. If you fail to suspend your ambition for the re-election of the incumbent who is a member of your party and it affects the fortunes of the party in anyway, there is no way it will not affect your political career in the future. In our haste to fulfill our ambitions, we must be guided by the stories of men in history who raced and rose to power through intrigues and traitorous conspiracies but ended up becoming villains of history because of their downward trajectories.

Godhas been very good to you. Since you returned from “exile” in America in 1999, you have been occupying one political office or the other. You moved from Special Assistant to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to become one of his commissioners. And for almost 10 years you were a commissioner in Lagos state which is not even your state of origin. You occupied a position of a commissioner for that long not because the state did not have qualified people to occupy that office but because both the political leadership and the indigenes of the state created a conducive atmosphere and environment for you to function unhindered. It is worrisome and strange that in your own state you found it difficult to work with the government in power despite the fact that you are from the same party. Strong societies are built with the collective spirit and character of their citizens. But here in Nigeria, building a national spirit and character is a major problem because of some peculiar ironies. Overwhelmed by our collective iniquities, the foundation of the nation is further weakened by the irrationalities and eccentricities of parvenus who have suddenly developed a jumped-up mentality that makes it possible for social reprobates to place the nation under a virtual siege.

If indeed it was the Senatorial issue that caused the rift between you and the governor, I am enjoining you to forgive and forget and cooperate with the government in order to consolidate the revolution that Fayemi had started in Ekiti. When a “revolutionary” distances himself from the revolution of another revolutionary, it shows that there is misjudgment or misperception about the identity of the revolution we are talking about. In that case, we need to make some conceptual clarification. Is the revolution the type that brings total change to a system or the type that accommodates those who are the targets of the revolution thus polluting the system further through some strange political alignment and corruptible integration. The former seems to enjoy universal acceptability while the latter appears more of a political contraption developed from unconscionable prebendalism and philanthropic opportunism.

I accidentally came across a copy of “The Mirror”, a campus journal you edited in Ife along with people like Bunmi Oyewole, Ajayi Owoseni, Sola Bolomope, Tayo Alabi, Sumbo Agbaje, Olumide Adeyinka, Debo Olagunju, Kehinde Bamigbetan, Raji Ahmed and Biodun Owonikoko. It was a product of an amateur bunch because it carried no date and volume number. I found it very interesting, not the contents, but the collection of people on the Editorial Board who are now influential and powerful members of the Nigerian State. Then, the editorial caught my attention. It was an appeal to the students body that seemed to be in disarray at that time to come together to fight a common enemy-the federal government which was contemplating the introduction of school fees.

Let me copy and paste the conclusion of the editorial titled: “Onward Match: As The Storm Settles” to see if it is a food for thought in this Fayemi’s scenario: “Having viewed the past and the present, “The Mirror” now appeals to those still in war mood to ‘kulu temper”. The survival of our union is paramount over and above other interests. Now that it is confirmed that the FMG intends to introduce fees next session, it will only be in the best interest of the enemies of Nigerian students to meet our house in disorder and disunity. In the words of Balarabe Musa ‘we are living in times of great changes, the old order is fast crumbling, giving way to new opportunities, it is our responsibilities to understand these new opportunities and utilise them for human progress”. Let’s bury the hatchet and move forward was the final admonition of the editorial which you signed as the editor-in-chief. I rest my case.


By Dapo Thomas

This article was first published in The Nation

Last modified: July 7, 2013

One Response to " Open Letter To Opeyemi Bamidele "

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