Honourable Bimbo Daramola is a member of the seventh House of Representatives, from Ekiti State. In this interview with Deputy Editor, DAPO FALADE, he speaks on his governorship ambition in 2018 and the ongoing probes across the country. Excerpts:
SINCE you left the National Assembly in 2015 as a member of the House of Representatives, not much has been heard about you.
It is not often you find people who want to take a retrospective look at situation, scenario and all that, particularly when you just lost an election. Your first inclination, having lost an election, will be to say, ‘what happened? Did I serve the people right? Should I also have been deemed enough to return? So what I did immediately after we lost the elections was to review my time in public service and I asked myself, ‘okay Bimbo, what is the next thing?’
The truth of the matter is that one would have expected that a core politician would have started saying that, ‘oh, they have not patronised me. They have not given me this or that. We don’t have positions’. I am not on that bandwagon yet to the extent that I know that before I got into politics I have something to do; I have a job and I know that my job, by the grace of God, can feed me and my supporters.
So, how do you think you can be useful in the present dispensation?
I have decided to allow and align myself with the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to see how, from the back end, we can add value. This is one of the reasons I am doing what I am doing now, with regard to ‘The Naija Green Card’. The government being very sensitive and, of course, deemed it fit, under the office of the vice-president, to appoint a special adviser to deal with social protection plan. That is one of the reasons I am committed to ‘The Naija Green Card’ and all of that.
But why much has not been heard of me politically is because I also feel that Mr Ayo Fayose, the Ekiti State governor, should also be given the opportunity to show who he is and to really prove whether he is a friend of the masses or not. This is one of the reasons I have decided to keep quiet. But within the next couple of months, we would be back on stream.
2018 is still far away; where do you stand now in terms of seeking elective offices?
I am still very inclined to serving the people. Initially, after I lost the election, my first reaction was that I was done with politics. I stand under God, politics did not make me any richer; rather, it impoverished me. Anytime I went to Ekiti, you needed to see people who will come to me for succour; incidentally, some of these young people are there.
The reality today is that you need officials who are people-centric to be in the seat of government. The driving seat has been with people who feel and think about themselves for too long. Thank God the APC government, the government of Change, has also given us an inclination, a refreshing difference to know that people can actually get to power and serve the masses.
For me, where do I stand in 2018? Consultation is already going on. I am under tremendous pressure to run for the highest political seat in Ekiti State and it is being considered. I have been actively involved in the political hemisphere of Ekiti State for 15 years and in the period of time that I have the opportunity to represent a constituency out of the six in that state, people should also refer to it. So, whoever will aspire to lead the Ekiti people on the path of healing…indeed, for me, it is going to be an Hezekiah project. Remember when God sought out the prophet called Hezekiah and said it is time to rebuild the broken wall. There is no doubt about it; the walls of good governance, the walls of sensitive leadership and all of that are broken in Ekiti State and this is the time for people to rise up and say ‘no, an Hezekiah must come out at this time to confront the realities.’
You intend coming out on the platform of APC?
Absolutely. But let me put it like this: as we speak today and by the grace of God, APC is still a party of choice. Since the day I left PDP, I have never looked back.
Are you aware that you have some strong contending forces in your party who are speculated to be eyeing that same seat?
They included former Governors Segun Oni, Kayode Fayemi and even Senator Femi Ojudu, among several others. How do you see yourself contending with these forces?
Well, let me say it very clearly. I know all these people you have mentioned and may be more; indeed, there are more people, including Opeyemi Bamidele, Femi Bamisile and a whole lot of others. How do I contend against this people? I believe that it is not by power nor by might but by my spirit, says the Lord. I will not covet and I am not coveting that seat for myself. I don’t need any point anymore to prove to anybody. By the grace of God, I am not a rich man but He has enabled me up to a point where I can feed myself and also take care of so many others.
Whoever would lead Ekiti in 2018, God knows and I don’t, but the truth of the matter is that there must be one thing that must run through the minds of the Ekiti people and I am speaking to the Ekiti people this time. There must be a common denominator; what have you done for the people when you had the opportunity?
Given the personalities highlighted earlier, do you think you stand a chance to get the party’s nod?
Let me also allude to the fact that I respect leadership. I am a process person; I am a party man and that is why I have not jumped ship. I am not a prostitute when it comes to political affiliation; I am a very strong idealist. I believe in the principle of welfarism and all of that and I believe that our leaders will also take a little of time to really analyse what and who exactly would best serve Ekiti at this time. This is not the time to just guess and say this or that person.
Everyone who is coming on the APC platform to aspire to that office has many good sides and many bad sides; same applies to me. But we should put everybody on a scale and match it with realities of the pictures of Ekiti State today.
Talking seriously, the best thing to do is to profile who is aspiring to run. This exercise must include the aspirants, the electorate and our leaders. They should be able to realise that it is time to connect the dots. Look at me now: I have been out of government and what am I doing? I am putting the little resources I have into impacting the lives of 30 million Nigerians, via the Naija Green Card. Do you think I am stupid? I can fold my arms and care less about them. But when I get discounts for the sons and daughters of people that I never meet in my life, I am doing some public good.
Look at the value I am adding to the party through that project. I don’t have one naira of government money in it but it is about time for the government to come and support this initiative. There is nobody in this country who has 2,000 partners that can enable the sons and daughters of the poor to have a meal at the half of the price; to ensure that the sons and daughters of the people, when they leave the orientation camps, they don’t sleep on the street; to ensure that they get jobs. That is the heart I have for people and that is the same heart that I am taking to government; not the heart of keeping money in a bank or wherever.
You are talking about probity and what we have been having in this country today is probe that seems one-sided. How do you reconcile this with your stand?
We must live with the realities of the fact that probe must start from somewhere. One day, the hunter must be the hunted; have you forgotten that? Look at all the seemingly untouchables; are they not having their cases in court now? Let them that realise that things will always turn; you cannot be immune to it. So, let it continue to turn but the hunter, one day, will be the hunted. So when they become the hunted, people will also say come and account, after all, when you were there, you got some people to render their own accounts.