Afegbua’s membership of PDP suspect –Ologbondiyan

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The National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party, Kola Ologbondiyan, dismisses allegations of the mismanagement of N10bn party funds by the Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee, in this interview with JOHN ALECHENU.

A member of your party, Mr Kazeem Afegbua, recently petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as well as the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission. He alleged that N10bn party funds could not be accounted for. What is the party’s position on this?

For us in the People’s Democratic Party, the membership of the individual called Kazeem Afegbua is suspect; it cannot be verified. This was an individual who fought against our party interests during the governorship election in Edo State.

He cast his vote for the the opposition All Progressives Congress candidate in the election and lost. Our attention was recently drawn to a spurious and irresponsible allegation he made against the party and its leadership on various media platforms recently. First, he made flippant claims in his petition to the EFCC and the ICPC, asking that the leadership cannot account for an imaginary N10bn belonging to the party.

He also claimed that the money accrued from the sale of party nomination “forms in 2019.” Although our party leaders at all levels are fully aware that this allegation is baseless, we wish to state for the benefit of unsuspecting members of the public and our teeming supporters that no amount of money is unaccounted for in the party. We are the most organised political party in Nigeria and all of our financial transactions are transparent and our books are open for scrutiny.

To address your question specifically, the PDP did not raise Afegbua’s fictitious sum of N10bn as alleged by him. For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP generated the sum of N4.6bn and raised a budget for its expenditure, in line with all known financial regulations of our great party.

This budget passed through the organs of our party and received the approvals from the National Working Committee, the Governors’ Forum, the Board of Trustees, as well as other organs of the party.

It is obvious that this information was not in the public domain before Afegbua’s petition to anti-graft agencies. Why was this so?

As a law-abiding political party that respects the doctrine of rule of law and transparency, the budget was presented to the National Executive Committee where it also received final approval. This is our procedure.

It is imperative to also state that all the sums received and budgeted for passed through due process of approval by the necessary organs of the party. In addition, our party has since submitted the audited account of its financial expenditures to INEC for 2019, in line with statutory requirements of the law.

He also alleged that the party has a shadow account with the name Morufu Nigeria Limited. How true is this?

The PDP has no account under the name or guise of Afegbua’s ghostly Morufu Nigeria Limited. We as a political party, under whose administration the EFCC and the ICPC were formulated and established, strictly adhere to best practices of transparency, accountability and probity in all issues including our financial administration. It has been our practice right from inception till date and this tradition will continue.

But these allegations are grievous and don’t you think it is capable of causing an upheaval within the party if found to be true?

As I said earlier, there is no truth in them. Besides, it is trite law that he who alleges must prove. The PDP under the leadership of Prince Uche Secondus has nothing to hide. The PDP will not in any way be distracted by an inconsequential blackmailer hired to mud-sling our party and its leadership, in order to divert attention from the salient issues of insecurity and drooping economy trailing the failures of the All Progressives Congress-led regime to provide good governance. For the benefit of unsuspecting members of the public, the activities of this individual called Afegbua have always been suspect and we urge Nigerians to be wary of such characters and their backers.

He also accused the party leadership of being rudderless and corrupt?

It is laughable that this same leadership which he has spoken so ill of went to his home state in Edo, picked a candidate, he stood on the other side, threw all the support he claimed to have behind the candidate of the opposition APC where his loyalty has always been and he was crushed politically. In the PDP, we have a structured way of doing things.

When we have our next national convention in December, any eligible party member who is interested in any of our party offices is free to pick a form to contest or in the alternative canvass for votes for candidates of his or her choice. We have such a transparent process that ensures that incumbents can either be retained or replaced via the ballot box.

In the PDP, we don’t impose candidates, we elect them. We are aware that the ruling party is uncomfortable with the stability and cohesion which our party currently enjoys and they are seriously threatened by our growing popularity. As such, they will stop at nothing to try to destabilise us. We know better than to allow their attempt to distract Nigerians from probing into their serial failures to make us falter.

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