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Tinubu recruits Bamidele, plots GEJ’s fall in Ekiti

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A strong Indication emerged last night in Lagos that a former governor of Lagos State and one of the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, may have struck a deal with a former member of the party from Ekiti State, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, as part of plans to mobilise support for the presidential candidate of the party, General Muhammadu Buhari in the February 14 election.

It was revealed last night that Bamidele, who is the leader of Ekiti Bibire Coalition, has been in talks with the leadership of the APC since the Ekiti governorship election and has finally resolved to work with the APC after he was allegedly persuaded by Tinubu’s logic.

Bamidele consented not only to the idea of deploying his political network in Ekiti to mobilise for Buhari, who is expected in Ekiti State today in furtherance of his electioneering, but to ensure that such mobilisation translated to votes for the candidate during the presidential poll.

Bamidele formed the Ekiti Bibire Coalition in 2013 to realise his governorship ambition within the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), a move that pitted him against former governor Kayode Fayemi, thereby forcing him to sever ties with the party and dissolved the Coalition into the Labour Party, on whose platform he contested the June 21 governorship election.

However, in the new political realignment, Bamidele is said to have met with Tinubu and struck a deal to coalesce the two structures to ensure landslide victory for Buhari

Those at the meeting allegedly held at the Bourdillon residence of Tinubu include the three leaders from each senatorial district in the state: Chief Diran Adesua, former Commissioner for works; Mrs Yimika Olumilua, wife of former Governor old Ondo State; Bishop Gabriel Oloniyo, Hon. Ropo Ige, Director-General of Ekiti Bibiire Coalition; Chief Remi Oguntuase, Chairman Ekiti Bibiire Coalition; Hon. Odunayo Ategbero, former Commissioner of Information; Akogun Bunmi Ogunleye, former Chairman House of Assembly Service commission; Akin Olayisade, former Chairman SUBEB Ekiti State and Hon. Adebayo Morakinyo, former Member Ekiti State House of Assembly.

Before the extended meeting with the Bibire leaders, the Deputy National Chairman of the party and ex-governor of Ekiti State, Segun Oni had met with Bamidele and his supporters in Iyin Ekiti, last Saturday, where they allegedly got a green light that the deal would be successful.

It was reliably gathered that the Bamidele group had a fruitful deliberation with Tinubu and efforts to deliver Ekiti for the APC presidential standard bearer is now the main agenda.

A source at the meeting hinted that Tinubu appealed to Bamidele to continue to strive hard to ensure that the APC regained its strength in Ekiti, describing him as a reliable compatriot that had the capacity to turn the fortunes of the party around.

The source said, “Tinubu said he believes that the two sides, both Bibire Coalition and APC can work together having shared the same political ideology and common agenda.”

Quoting Tinubu, he said, “I believe that the APC did not lose Ekiti election because the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, were strong, but because Bamidele and ex-governor Kayode Fayemi allowed their ranks to be polarised.

“I still believe that if you return to the party, the PDP will run into trouble in Ekiti. My own concern now is how you can win Ekiti for Gen Buhari and that task must be achieved through all constitutional means, which is to go home and campaign vigorously.”

Tinubu was said to have told the members of the coalition that their experiences and grassroots mobilisation skills would be needed to launch the APC back to reckoning in Ekiti, an idea the members were said to have rejected, saying defecting en-block back to the APC was not on the card for now.

A leader of the coalition, who spoke about Tinubu’s generosity and sense of forgiveness and love for his protégés, was quoted as saying the party would only work for the victory of Buhari in the presidential poll, having considered him the best of all the presidential candidates that can liberate the country from the pangs of Boko Haram attack, obscene corruption, unemployment and other social ills that had eaten deep into the nation’s fabrics.

Knowing that the Bibire leaders were resolute to remain in their party and fight for the 2015 State and National Assembly elections, where they had fielded candidates, Tinubu was said to have given them the option of being allowed to go home, ruminate over the option and consult widely to know the next line of action.

Tinubu, sources said, told them another meeting will be held before the February elections to take a final decision on the future of APC together in the state.

According to Tinubu, “I want you to know that in my mind, I believe that we are all products of the same political family. We share the same background and ideology together. It was only political differences that divided us but our minds still coincide and that is to ensure that the country is put back on the path of political and economic rebirth in the interest of all of us.

“The APC should be seen as our baby and I believe that by the time we hold the next meeting, we will reason together and know exactly where we are going.”

But despite insisting on remaining in their party for now, Bamidele and other Bibire leaders allegedly consented to fully work for Buhari and that they would be on the ground today at the Ekiti Parapo Pavilion to rally support for Buhari.

Punch, January 24, 2015

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