My first interaction with Congressman Bimbo Daramola was in early 2012 in the National Assembly. It was not pre-planned. A certain lady had approached me to help facilitate an appointment with the Senator representing her with the aim of getting an introduction letter to the then Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority in Abuja. The Senator declined to help and since the Congressman was from her zone, I suggested we approached him even though I had never before then met or even entered his office.
I took the gamble because the lady in question was stranded and was growing restless about the prospect of a gloomy day. As we crossed over from the Senate wing into the House of Representatives wing, she expressed her fears and worries and I assured her that meeting a Parliamentarian for help or lobbying for a job was a growing tradition in Nigeria and the worst is that he would decline to help and that wouldn’t amount to a dead sentence. I however told that in principle, I would only lead her there and it would be her task to conclude the purpose of the meeting. Since we were half-way to his office, she agreed as I didn’t budge to jointly meet her with me.
Upon arrival in the office, I noted courtesy of the staff, another attraction was the ambience and serenity, the office wall decorated with the pictures of many global and national icons. I was arrested. As I begged to take a look round and with permission granted, it didn’t take long for me to conclude that the Congressman ran an open door policy. There was an obvious stream of visitors.
In the ensuing minutes, the lady was ushered into bowels of the office, while I feasted my eyes on the pictures. While completely loss, I didn’t realise that immediately she regaled him with her desire for a letter, rather he offered to take her personally to the (NTA) to meet with the Director-General. I returned to my office and afterwards she came to my office to proclaim the congressman a ‘saint’. He told me of how, he washed his hands off the bowel of food in he was eating and took her there. As if that was not enough, he arranged for her return trip to Ekiti. It bears emphasizing that he had never set his eyes on her before then.
I took note but inwardly dismissed his action as a political stunt made to sway the undiscerning but events proved me wrong. Afterwards our paths didn’t meet until the end of the 7th Assembly but I kept hearing impressive details of both his contributions on the floor of the House of Representatives and his commitment in ensuring that sons and daughters of Ekiti extraction were adequately catered in terms of job placements and opportunities. Beyond that, his record as a sterling Parliamentarian who enjoyed the confidence and respect of the leadership and colleagues is etched in gold.
However, because I have extremely good friends who enjoy his company, it was not unlikely that we began to relate, albeit loosely from the tail end of 2015. I had cause to either drop off friends with him or to pick them up and there were few instances where I was present in his political engagement with youth groups. I recall his post-mortem intellectual discourse on the outcome of the governorship election in Ekiti in 2014 and the last general election in 2015.
It was during those heady days, that I caught a rare but unique glimpse of his frame of mind and his passion for good governance. He maintains a rock-bottom features-indeed, principle of democracy as universally proclaimed. There may be more to democracy-social welfare, for example-but there cannot ever be less. The irreducible condition of democracy is the people’s right to select or reject their rulers regularly within a time frame as stipulated by the constitution and political liberties, which means, without fear of police or security forces or political thugs. That was his explanations of the charade that characterised the elections in Ekiti. His assertion can hardly be faulted given that he was marked by security forces for arrest like other of his party stalwart.
Even at that, I couldn’t situate him properly whether he was a Marxist, Progressive, Conservative or technocrat. He was all rolled into one and much more-a humanist. He has a heavy inclination and burden for humanity. That is on the behavioural level, a way of feeling about humanity and society. It is a way of acting towards a fellow citizen. Congressman Daramola often maintains that democracy without humanity dignity is fraud.
His commitment to advancing the cause of humanity dignity is a religion to him and his commitment to good governance, democracy and the welfare of all, (wo)men regardless of religious or political creed is self-evident in all his dealings. He is passionate and compassionate to a fault and as well quite emotional. Perhaps, it is right to say he is a man of immense empathy toward fellow creatures.
Congressman Bimbo Daramola is an example in excellent inter-personal skills and has not allowed the achievements he has made thus in both the private and public sectors so far to becloud his humanity. In and out of politics, he oils the wheels of collaboration constantly. He is ever ready to give a listening ear and ready to help a distressed person find comfort which accounts for the steady stream of visitors to his office.
In reading his recent interviews, I have come to better understand his essence. For him, it is not about self but the people, it has always been his cardinal principle since he joined partisan politics. He views politics as a means to a higher end, the pursuit of happiness for mankind (economic), liberty (especially religious freedom), education (of the mind) and security. He is a populist and particularly many youths avouched that Bimbo Daramola as their inspiration.
Rotimi Opeyeoluwa wrote from Abuja.
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