By Jide Aluko
To my reader who lives in an SMS age – very short message devoid of any historical details – I’m starting this piece with apologies. Apologies hereby tendered because I will first go down the history lane to paint. Here I go!
Prior to 2003, all my interest in Ekiti’s political firmament was just to know who was at the helm of affairs for mere academic reasons. What I knew about the state was a few stretches away from what I knew about any of the other 35 states. Throw up the name of any state; like an average student of Social Studies, I’d throw up the name of its capital and governor. #Thatsall!
Anyways, who needed my ‘outsider’ opinions when an average Ekiti man is politically conscious and interested in how he is governed. It is not out of cerebral flippancy that Ekiti has been labelled “the state with the highest number of professors in Nigeria” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekiti_State). We are exceptionally swift at taking up pens (not arms) and write petitions after petitions when the socio-political atmosphere becomes stifling and inclement (from our point of view). I was once privy to a conversation between late Peter Ajayi and my dad, when the former held sway as Managing Editor, and later Managing Director of now defunct Sketch Newspaper. I heard late Ajayi say that Sketch received its highest number of reader’s reactions, views and complaints from Ekiti indigenes. The incumbent governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi alluded to the political sophistication of an average Ekiti man in a recent interview. So, what weight would I have pulled if I had poked my nose in ‘erudite adult political affairs?’ Confessedly, I was more interested in the politics of my immediate environment (Lagos) and Nigeria in general. Moreover, Lagos politics has always had enough intrigues woven around it to engage the attention of most Lagosians like me. We all own Lagos jare, irrespective of what Femi Fani-Kayode and Uzor Kalu might have traded in words.
I started taking more than passive interests in the politics of my state (Ekiti) when former Governor Ayo Fayose came out from the blues to wrestle power from Adeniyi Adebayo, the first civilian governor of the state, in 2003 against all political punditry. Like all other states in the South West (with Lagos as an exception), which former President Obasanjo oversaw their “capture” even before he inserted the “do or die” eruption into Nigeria’s political lexicon, Ekiti was scooped away from the grip of Alliance for Democracy (AD). It never crossed anyone’s crystal ball Fayose would garner as ‘much’ as he did to upturn the incumbent governor with massive state fund under his control, and a political platform which only needed to proclaim ‘Awoism’ as a trump card for electoral triumph. Fayose thrust the hitherto sleepy Ekiti into a national conversation with many of his controversies. To some people, he was enfant terrible of the Nigerian politics; to others, he was the “Architect of Modern Ekiti” (apologies to Chief Fola Alade). Fayose might be found wanting in some ways, he scored ‘A’ in drawing national attention to Ekiti State with his brash approach to governance. And so, this ‘born-again’ active citizen started giving Ekiti politics the attention it deserved. Digression enough!
In my quest to add ocular evidence to what I have read and heard about Honourable Bimbo Daramola, the House of Representatives’ member representing my constituency, Oye-Ikole Ekiti North Federal Constituency 1, I took a trip to Irepodun-Ifelodun Pry. School in Ikole Ekiti on Saturday, August 18, 2013, the venue of his stewardship-rendering event tagged “ABOMIRE 2.” I had read about the second edition of the then upcoming event on Bimbo Daramola’s Facebook page, and so I told myself, “I will be there.”
I left Lagos wearing the toga of a neutral observer but I armed myself with my midget recorder and camera, with a mindset to scoop any newsworthy item when Daramola starts detailing his constituents with the number of passed bills drafted by him, number of motions moved by him and ratified by HoRs, his contributions to debates in the House of Representatives and other legislative responsibilities well carried out. Should one-on-one opportunity present itself, I had stuffed a page of my writing pad with scribbled questions bordering on his legislative activism and advocacy for probity and accountability as depicted in some of his motions like:
- The Urgent Need to Investigate the Use of Public Funds by the Bank of Industry Under the Power and Airlines Intervention Fund
- Investigation of Final Settlement of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited and Forte Oil Plc. outstanding debts of N140, 999, 620, 395.80 owed Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria AMCON
- Emerging Threats to Nigeria’s Internal Security and the Need for the Establishment of Department of Homeland Security
- Counting the cost of the ban on use of vehicles with tinted glass
Having just been inaugurated three weeks ago as Chairman, Ad hoc Committee to Probe the Allocation of Plots of Land to Companies and Individuals in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Possible Cases of Fraud in the Process from 2010 till date, I had resolved to remind him on the possibility of slipping on the famed banana peel associated with chairmen of HoRs’ probe panels. I had told myself I would tell him to come out clean because doing otherwise would have more destructive consequences for him than it had for the likes of Farouk Lawan and Herma Hembe. I would not be shy to tell him that he comes from the very politically active Ekiti North and that there were many Femi Otedolas and Aruma Otehs willingly ready to bait, trace, tame and tape him for Youtube uploads, and consequent public opprobrium. I would remind him that he contributed to Senator Ayo Arise’s biting the dust in 2011 and ouster from the political scene; and as such, Senator Arise, and his loyalists would go for the jugular if he (Daramola) got exposed. So I left Lagos with my expectations.
I had expected an interactive town hall-like event but I saw a sea of heads stretching from one end of what looks like a football field to the other. At the centre of the field were displayed the following:
- 2 Luxurious buses
- 15 Cars
- 40 Plasma TV
- 24 Ceiling Fans
- 12 Grinding Machine
- 20 Generator Sets
- 6 Vulcanizing Machines
- 10 Sewing Machine
- 6 Dryers
- 10 Hair Clippers
- 24 Farm Sprayer
- 10 Deep Freezer
- 10 Motorcycle
I would have thought I ‘missed road’ but for the NITORI OJO OLA WA inscriptions on all these stuffs. Then I went back to the gate to see if I had to buy a ticket to qualify to win any of these; I was wrong. They were meant to be distributed to Bimbo Daramola’s constituents as a way of empowering them. Minutes after regaling the crowd with many of his legislative activities in the House of Representatives for this past one year, scores of his constituents with verifiable means of identification were called out to receive these gifts on display. Former Governor of Ondo State, Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua, Hon. Oyetunde Ojo, traditional rulers and other prominent Ekiti indigenes were on hand to deliver the gifts to the constituents. Honourable Daramola also donated N25, 000 each to 48 men and women, old and young, to empower them for small scale businesses. An insider told me right there that Daramola earmarked N50 million for all I was seeing. I had intended to take up Sola Salako on the cost of the souvenirs as I saw her supervise their distribution; she was so exhausted I had to allow her to be driven away to catch serious rest. She was visibly worn-out.
Done with giving his stewardship and implementing the empowerment programme, it was time for the Press to inundate him with questions after questions. I had seen Bimbo taken up by the trio of Sunrise Daily anchors on Channels Television when hostilities of Boko Haram were defiant of all solutions proffered by the Federal Government. I knew (and still know) that Daramola is an interviewer’s delight any day; so I had thought the press crew would pose serious questions. To my chagrin, just two lame questions were asked by two journalists. So soft were these questions that Daramola had to ask “was that all” after answering them. I quickly interjected with my “Banana Peel” question. He called out his name, integrity, faith and grace as the foundation upon which he would hinge his handling of the probe of FCT Land Allocation since 2010. I called him later to notify him of my intention to engage him one-on-one journalistically when the time permits. He told me he would be available for my interview this week in Lagos. I will take him up on real issues about his legislative responsibilities, bogus allowances for National Assembly members, Ekiti 2014 Gubernatorial Elections, Millennium Development Goals, Security, Civil Society and Donor Agencies, Diaspora, Banking, all of which Daramola is either a Vice-Chairman or member. You will read from me and hear from him in days.
My Ekiti trip would not have been complete without a visit to my ancestral home, Ire-Ekiti, where Daramola was reported by Thisday to have started building a 38-bed hospital. I saw the massive building at its almost finishing stage. My next post will be accompanied by pictorial evidence of all I saw.
Jide Aluko is a Digital Content Strategist, Researcher, Freelance Writer, Wikipedia Editor
Twitter Handle: @JideAluko
Source: Citizens Platform
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