Former governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has accused the chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Mr. Makanjuola Ogundipe, of demanding a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) – 2013 Range Rover – from him to enable him emerge the party’s flag-bearer for the 2014 Ekiti governorship elections.
The former governor, who was suspended by Mr. Ogundipe for allegedly invading the state party’s secretariat with hoodlums penultimate weekend, further accused the state PDP chairman of using divide and rule tactics.
But Mr. Ogundipe has denied the allegations leveled against him by Mr. Fayose, who he called a ‘pathological liar’ and blackmailer adding that he is a man of honour and neither is he ‘hungry.’
Both politicians made this known in separate interviews granted the PUNCH. Excerpts:
It was in the news that you and some other members of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ekiti State have been suspended. What exactly is the situation and what led to it?
“Nobody can suspend you from a party without the input of your ward. It is the party at the ward level that will suspend an errant member. Later, it will be ratified at the local council and state levels. It will then move from the zone to the national level. So, that suspension is laughable. The chairman has no such capacity. What informed all that is very clear; he wants to do what they call a consensus. He just wants to pick a candidate for the governorship election, which I objected to. He set up a committee that quite clearly represents the interest of a particular aspirant. And this committee he set up does not derive its power from the constitution of the party. The chairman has neither a fiat nor a directive from the National Working Committee of the party to do so. The powers to decide on the primaries of governorship aspirant are initiated from the national leadership, according to our constitution. He asked every aspirant to pay a non-refundable deposit of N2m and issued them receipts. He gave me a form EKPDP/Gov/2014 Serial number 002, which means I was the second person to pay. You cannot tell somebody to pay a non-refundable deposit and still be the person to choose who becomes the candidate. If you were asked to bid for a job and you obtain a form and pay a non-refundable amount of money, is it the people that put forth the form that will equally determine who wins the tender? No. It must be done through a transparent process in accordance with the guidelines stated before the fees were paid. There must be due process as allowed by the constitution. My suspension is laughable and meaningless. It is like somebody taking his own heart out of his body or stopping his heart from pumping. I’m the engine room of PDP in Ekiti State. Time will tell. Our priority is that the party should win elections.”
Are you accusing the PDP chairman of trying to impose a candidate for the election?
“There was an interview granted by the PDP chairman in SUNDAY PUNCH of July 14, 2013, where he accused the Action Congress of Nigeria of endorsing (Governor Kayode) Fayemi and the title was ‘ACN endorsement of Fayemi despotic – PDP chairman.’ The heading of the Crossfire read: Ekiti State Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Makanjuola Ogundipe, in this interview, says it is undemocratic and unconstitutional for the Action Congress of Nigeria to adopt Kayode Fayemi for another term without testing his popularity at the primary.’ He said again, ‘The action is not only despotic; it is also criminal, crude, uncivilised and unconstitutional. Of course, you can’t expect anything better than that from ACN. They are not used to conducting primary elections; there is no internal democracy in their party, they run it like a cult.’ Can’t we now conclude that the chairman is doing exactly what he accused ACN of doing?
“The same chairman emerged in the PDP congress of March 2012, through a democratic process. My position is that you can’t probate and reprobate at the same time. He promised the people in the South Senatorial District that he would zone it (governorship slot) to them. He promised another set of people that he was setting up the committee because of them. He is using divide and rule. I made it clear that I would not appear before such a panel because it does not take its emergence from the constitution of the party. Seven or eight members of the working committee in the state wrote and rejected the composition of the consensus committee. They signed to reject it. They said the committee was not supposed to be because it did not comply with the constitution of the party. And at different times, the party members in all the 16 local government areas in the state have resisted what the chairman is doing. Within themselves, they had issues; some accused him of collecting money from an aspirant. He had said if I could buy him 2013 Range Rover, then I could rest assured that I would get the ticket. I’m the one that brought all of them into the executive. So, I don’t understand why he should start giving conditions and asking for such money. I told him point blank that I can’t grant his request.”
But in his response, Mr. Ogundipe said, “The genesis of the crisis is far from what they are saying. With time, you will know the genesis of the crisis. No, I did not collect N5m. There is no N5m on the table and there is no basis for me to collect N5m from anybody. It is so cheap for me to collect N5m as the chairman of the greatest party in Africa. Some people tell lies as their stock-in-trade. I am an honourable person and I have told all of them ‘don’t come to my house, don’t go to the deputy chairman’s house because he is also an aspirant.’ So, I’ve not made myself available to the aspirants because what we are doing is a serious business and by the time I collect money from aspirants, who will I support?” he asked rhetorically.
On the allegation that he demanded a brand new 2013 Range Rover from one of the aspirants in exchange for the governorship ticket of the PDP, the state chairman countered, “I never demanded any vehicle from Fayose or anybody. I have neither demanded money nor anything to favour any of the aspirants. I’m a man of honour and I’m not hungry. I have vehicles and I cannot drive two vehicles at the same time. He was suspended and he never believed he could be suspended by the party. But what we are saying is that this is a new PDP, there must be discipline. We are not here to oppress or suppress anybody but I was elected to lead the party aright and that is exactly what I am doing. He lied. I never demanded anything from him or anybody.”
When asked that his denial of the allegation could only mean that the former governor lied against him, Mr. Ogundipe concurred stressing, “This man is a pathological liar and it is unfortunate that he can go to this extent to blackmail me. It is really sad that he has resorted to using blackmail. Everybody knows his character.”