Opeyemi Bamidele’s Selective Amnesia

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By Dimeji Daniels

In a democratic dispensation, anyone has a right to aspire to any political office so far he is constitutionally qualified for that post. I have watched for a while now the political developments in Ekiti State, especially within the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) where a member of the House of Representatives, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, seems to be lurked in a battle for the governorship seat with the incumbent governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

Without being unnecessarily critical of Opeyemi’s ambition, the constitution allows him to realize his ambition and this is despite entreaties from his party leadership to forgo it so that the party can consolidate on the achievements of Kayode Fayemi which many daily applaud. The party leadership has also acted within its rights by endorsing the incumbent for a second term for two reasons, I guess:

(1) it is always dangerous and politically unethical to rock the boat from within, as it could ruin the party. So by stepping in, the party leadership is only trying to keep its house in order and not lose what it presently has; (2) allowing an incumbent to go into primaries could greatly polarize a party and leave aftertaste of unnamable differences. This is why in the United States of America, an incumbent has a right to a second term in office unless he wishes otherwise.

As much as I do not begrudge Opeyemi Bamidele the right to contest as Ekiti Governor, I am not however comfortable with most of the statistics he has been bandying about in his bid to sway public opinion in his favour. Were it in developed democracies where statistics are sacred, he would have long buried himself politically. But even in our clime, I am afraid if he does not take a step backward on how he has being lying with statistics, he would be  buried politically

before he realizes it, as Ekitis are hardly swayed by lies. Their native intelligence is enough to puncture such lies.

In National Mirror of March 21, 2013, Opeyemi, in an interview, stated the following:

“The Ekiti State that I see is an Ekiti of 494, 000 buildings and out of this we still have a situation where only 64, 000 houses have water closets. And over 219, 000 houses still rely on the use of pit latrines and over 34, 000 still rely on nearby bushes to defecate. That is the Ekiti that I see. Again it is not about Dr. Kayode Fayemi but we must face the kind of situation that we know. The Ekiti that I see is that one that out of the 494,000 houses only 90,000 houses have pipe borne water; over 214,000 houses still rely on well and fetching water from nearby streams and rivers. The Ekiti that I see is where only 23,000 houses use gas and electric cookers and 207,000 houses still rely on the use of firewood to cook their meals. The Ekiti that I see is one where only 18,000 houses can boast of electricity while over 289,000 houses lit their lanterns with kerosene. That is the Ekiti that I see. People should then understand if I am not on the street celebrating like some other people are doing. But I feel that the least I can do is to continue to

encourage those who are there to put in their best rather than us trying to mislead them.

The Ekiti that I see is one that still grapples with the problem of over 25,000 people who are blind, over 7,000 people with hearing defect and over 9,000 people, according to the population census, with speaking defects. The Ekiti that I see is one with over 6,000 disabled people in the area of mobility and one with 1,700 mentally ill persons in the various rehabilitation homes and on streets in the state. That is the Ekiti that I see.”

Listening to Opeyemi reel out these statistics, the unintelligent may applaud him for being brilliant with numbers, but the truth is that these statistics are based on 2006 census and Opeyemi must be saying there has been no development in Ekiti since 2006 to still be going about with the outdated figures. Worse, the outdated statistics-garnished statement of Opeyemi is now being selectively posted on several sites on the internet and one cannot but wonder what correlation these 2006 statistics have with the present realities in Ekiti and why Opeyemi Bamidele is trying to be clever by half with such statistics. For instance, in 2006,

539, 825 were never married. Will this statistic still be relevant in 2013? Are

there not people who got married in Ekiti since then?

The reality is that over 400, 000 people have so far benefitted from the free health mission of the Fayemi administration while over N125 million has been doled out to financially handicapped persons to take care of surgical and chronic ailments within and outside the country between October 2010 and April 2013. When Fayemi took over in 2010, the maternal mortality rate was 420 per 100, 000 live births as against the current figure of 135 per 100, 000 live births. The value of drugs dispensed in the State has increased from N11, 038, 007.77k to N25, 926, 398.93k due to increase in demand and utilization. In 2010, only 45% percent of women in Ekiti had more than 4 ante-natal care visits from pregnancy to delivery, but as at July 2012 10, 787 women had registered for ante-natal care under the Fayemi administration free

Health programme. This is just a fraction of the 112, 395 people who had registered for the

programmes by July 2012. Of this figure, the aged account for 51.15%. Besides all these improvements in the health sector, the state’s Unified Drug Revolving Fund has been adjudged the best in the country, as attested to by NAFDAC boss Paul Orhi when he paid a visit to the state.

Looking at the above statistics, which represent present-day reaalities in Ekiti, and knowing full well that so many people with eye and hearing defects were treated during the free health mission of the administration and now have effective use of their eyes and ears, one cannot but ask Opeyemi Bamidele how he came up with the 25,000 blind people, 7,000 people with hearing defects and over 9,000 people with speaking defects figures. Those whose cases cannot be helped medically are either in schools for the physically challenged (in the case of children) or have been provided with mobility and hearing aids. I remember the governor

celebrated his last birthday in one of such schools with the kids.

Everyone who is conversant with the present-day realities in Ekiti is aware of the increasing number of households and that houses in the state must have surpassed the 2006 census figure of 494,000 houses. Opeyemi Bamidele’s house in Iyin-Ekiti was at least built after 2006. One also knows that the minimum wage in 2006 was N7,500 as against N19,300 (an increment of 1,500%) currently enjoyed in the state. With this, the living conditions of many have improved, so is the number of houses with water closets, thus bringing about a reduction in the number of people who defecate in the bush. Those bushes are even fast disappearing, especially in major towns, with the increasing number of houses. How then did our governorship-fixated

Representative come about the 219, 000 who still rely on pit latrine and 34,00 who defecate in the bush? The answer is simple: 2006 census. Six years down the line, Opeyemi still sees

the Ekiti of 2006. The link to the census figure is provided below so that the unsuspecting public may see the mischievousness of Opeyemi: Tables Volume 0I-update.pdf

With the environmental sanitation drive and the urban renewal initiative of the present administration, most houses now have water closets and slums are disappearing. A good example is the Atikankan area in Ado-Ekiti which road has been dualised and the hoodlums who had hitherto turned the way area into a thief’s den have been sent packing as their hideout in the area has been demolished and a relaxation park will soon be built in its place. All this is despite the fact that the present administration did not create the situation. The Fayose

Administration, which pauperised Ekiti by its many drain-pipes such as the failed poultry project, held the rein of Ekiti when the census which statistics are being bandied by MOB was conducted and it took an army of well-meaning Ekiti indigenes to wrestle the state from his grip. But another PDP member, Segun Oni, forced himself on Ekiti people with the connivance of the electoral umpire and the powers that be. Despite the huge federal allocation and MDGs funds at the disposal of the Segun Oni administration, it failed to make any difference, but only plunged Ekiti further into the abyss of failed schemes like the 700 South African cows he imported into Ekiti, none of which produced a single drop of milk. His Irewolede water scheme funded with MDGs money also left Ekiti with dry water taps. Had the funds being  conscientiously spent on what they were earmarked for, the 214, 000 people Opeyemi referred to in the 2006 census would have had access to pipe-borne water now. This is why the present

administration in Ekiti had to go back to the foundation to put all the dams and booster stations in Ekiti in order and is laying over 400km of pipeline across the state to make everyone have access to good water. These efforts have yielded results in towns like Orin, Ora, Aaye and some parts of the state capital, Ado-Ekiti. So, if all these mentioned towns now have access to pipe-borne water, how true then is MOB’s outdated 2006 census statistics?

The number of people using firewood in Ekiti has drastically reduced with the many programmes of the present administration and the Office of the First Lady. Most of the people who prefer to use firewood are elderly persons, some because they cannot afford the money and some because they have grown traditionally used to it and would prefer it to any other forms of cooking. As a result of the N5, 000 monthly stipend to the elderly persons instituted by the Fayemi administration, a programme backed by the Ekiti State Senior Citizens Welfare Law, most of these elderly persons now have enough money to buy their kerosene and food items. This is besides the Food Bank programme of the Office of the First Lady which doles out free food on a monthly basis to indigenes who cannot afford it to ensure that no one goes to bed

hungry in the state.

The Kero-Direct programme of the Fayemi administration, from which over 1million Ekiti indigenes have benefitted, also goes from town to town, doling out free kerosine to Ekiti indigenes. Many have applauded the initiative and always look forward to when it would berth in their town or village. This initiative in itself, which reaches as far as the farthest villages in Ekiti, daily reduces the number of people still cooking with firewood. With all these initiatives and programmes, how can the 207, 000 who, according to MOB, still use firewood in 2006 still

be the same figure in 2013? It is just pure mischief and what I call selective amnesia on his

part. As regards the use of gas, Ekiti is not as metropolitan as Lagos where Opeyemi was a commissioner for close to ten years. There are many who would never be convinced as to the safety of cooking gas, not because they cannot afford it, but because they believe the use of kerosine is safer.

Programmes (amongst many) such as the N10, 000 monthly stipend for unemployed youth in the state, the N5, 000 stipend for those above 65 years of age, the free health for the aged, pregnant women and children under the age of 5, the N19, 000 minimum wage approved and consistently being paid by the present administration have stemmed the tide of poverty in Ekiti State and given dignity to our people, allowing them access to their basic needs.

Anyone who is familiar with happenings in the Land of Honour will in good conscience know that  more aged people who had hitherto been going to bed hungry are now living well because they are given N5, 000 monthly stipend by the State Government. The number of needless deaths, especially maternal mortality and infant mortality, has also reduced owing to the free health policy of government for the aged, pregnant women and children under the age of 5. Crime rate is also reducing because the youth are gainfully employed in schemes such as the Ekiti Volunteer Corps, Ekiti State Traffic Management Agency, the Fire Services and many more. Many of these youth who could have been drawn into crime are gainfully engaged by the State

Government. Presently, more of these youths are being absorbed into the teaching service.

Roads are being constructed and rehabilitated. New structures are springing up. Ikogosi Warm Spring and Ire Burnt Bricks Industry, which have been abandoned for years have been revived, renovated and remodelled, thus providing employment for more people and drawing tourists into the State.

These are what we see. These are what other states see and are emulating. The Ekiti State social welfare scheme for the aged, first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, has been implemented in states like Osun and Bayelsa.

These are the current statistics in Ekiti State, not the 2006 census statistics Opeyemi Bamidele is maliciously spreading. I invite all Nigerians, especially members of the fourth estate of the realm, to come to Ekiti to see the genuine physical, emotional and infrastructural ransformation that has taken place.

These are what we see. These are what the people of Ekiti see. Anyone can see differently because they are blinded by ambition. If Opeyemi Bamidele who wants to be governor in 2014 still sees the Ekiti State of 2006, then he is not living in real time and would definitely draw Ekiti back to 2006 (the era of Ayo Fayose) if given the chance to rule the state, as this is the only time he knows.

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom” – Thomas Jefferson.

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