A member of the Lagos State House of Assembly from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Victor Akande from Ojo Constituency I, has proven to be a force to reckon with in the House. In this interview he granted some members of the Lagos State House of Assembly Correspondents Association (LAHACA) recently he spoke on the crisis rocking the state chapter of the PDP and his running battle with members of the executive committee of the party amongst other issues. Our correspondent, IBRAHIM KADIRI covered the session. Excerpts:
How will you react to an ugly incident in your party secretariat, where you were reportedly booed?
I will say this was orchestrated by either some leaders of the party in Lagos State or by some undeserved PDP people, who claimed to be our leaders. It was a kind of ambush. Everybody is aware that I went to Abuja about the money that was supposed to be given to us by the Lagos State Chairman of the PDP, Captain Tunji Shelle (retd.). We all heard about the money that was collected from the headquarters of the party, but this was never given to us. I spoke against the people concerned then, and as a consequence of this, they laid an ambush for me.
Actually, I was on the sick bed, when the Minority Leader of the House, Hon. Hakeem Bello told me that the leaders of the party wanted to resolve the crisis between the lawmakers in the state from the party and our State Chairman. After much persuasion, I asked my doctor to remove the drip on my hand and I went to the party secretariat. But to my utter dismay, some unscrupulous persons that were organized by one Elder Babatunde Agbaje, a so-called PDP member in Oto-Awori, booed me. Nobody told me to bring supporters along, if I had been told, I didn’t need to call any crowd, people would have come on their own. Unfortunately, the man and his group let loose their dastard mission. If you go back to the story, I said that I am an important figure of the PDP in the state and even on the floor of the House. You cannot take that away from me. You can go round and ask. For the mere fact that I am representing Ojo Constituency 1 does not mean I am representing only the PDP members in that area. I am representing everybody, whether you are in the PDP, APC, APGA, or Labour Party, just name it. I don’t want to be partisan in my representation. I will still do the same thing if the opportunity comes. If you look at me and say may be I belong to a caucus in the PDP, you have yourself to blame. If members of the APC come to me, I would embrace them and do whatever I have in my capacity to assist them.
I did what I could do for members of the PDP during Ileya Festival and Christmas/New Year Celebrations. I gave computers to some public schools in my constituency, I am sinking boreholes for the people in the area, I donated inter house sports vests to schools. Just recently, I took another step and empowered some widows and the aged people in my constituency and everybody applauded me. Where much is expected, much should be given. On the case of one Tiamiyu Aluko, who claimed to be the Vice Chairman of the PDP in Ojo Local Government Area, he cannot be said to be our Vice Chairman, somebody, who was given 100 bags of rice to give to the people, who re-bagged them and sold them, can you call such a party leader? He should go and save his face somewhere before the long hand of the law catches up with him. The case is in Oto-Ijanikin Police Station. This is the person that said a leader called a meeting and I did not attend.
If it is a general meeting called by the chairman of the party in my constituency or local government, I will attend. You are calling me for a caucus meeting and you said I did not attend, how can I attend a caucus meeting of a leader that went to raise a Labour Party candidate against that of the PDP in the last election? I won’t do that or shoot myself on the leg.
Perhaps you don’t belong to their caucus
(Cuts in)…I don’t belong to any caucus, I believe in live and let live. Wherever God directs me is where I go.
There is an allegation that you are fraternizing with the All Progressives Congress, APC in the House of Assembly, does it mean you want to join the party soon?
I have not crossed to the APC, I am one of the strong forces in the House and a front member of the PDP in the House of Assembly. I have not seen any reason for me to cross to the APC. The caucus that held a meeting was Chief Olabode George’s caucus. I am just a PDP man, I have never been in George’s or Musiliu Obanikoro caucus. I was in Network caucus, which was that of the late Funsho Williams, and after that, I have been aloof.
You are not the only member of the PDP, how come you are confronted with this ordeal?
I remember that this same set of people were saying that I could not win the election during the campaign, but I went ahead to win with or without their help. They want me to be begging and prostrating for them, I will only do that if I want, I will not bow to any individual.
It was alleged that money was shared to the party’s candidates during the last election.
…I want to say it clearly now that no money was given to me during the campaign for the last election. Nobody contributed money for me during the elections, but Chief Olabode George was magnanimous enough to give me one hundred and twenty five thousand naira then (N125,000). It was the only money I collected from the party.
The candidate of the party from Ojo Constituency 2 and I were given N250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand naira) to share equally then to run the election. The people that are shouting now collected money to run the election from the party. Elder Agbaje was in-charge of the money. He did not release money for the election to anybody, and you want me to be happy with that kind of person, it is not done. I was in the court after the election and the party members did not contribute a kobo for me and you want me to be happy with that kind of party or with the State executive committee. No kobo was given to me to fight the case at the Tribunal or at the Appeal Court.
Were you given any moral support by the party?
I only enjoyed the support of the PDP Chairman in my local government area and my constituency; those were the people that gave me maximum support and I would continue to be indebted to them. They are my loyalists. The state Chairman of the party only came to the Tribunal once after I challenged him about what he has done to me. That is the way they want to lead the party.
How do you think the PDP can get out of this?
In politics, you can have your differences, and you will settle later. But I want to say that the PDP has not learnt their lessons. When we fought ourselves at the congress, when we wanted to pick our chairman and state executive committee, we continued the fight till election and after the elections. But for the APC, they always come together after fighting themselves before and during their congresses. Until we come together and come up with vision to move from where we are, things would not be better. Our major problem is the way we continue our fight after the congress. Everyone goes into caucuses and one caucus would want to take all the positions and others would be embittered. Look at a situation, where someone could not even win a polling booth in front of his house and they want to still be in control of the party in the state, it is appalling and disgraceful. They should learn from those who have won elections in their polling booths, wards and constituencies. Let us hand over the mantle of leadership to those people.
Is there any hope that the PDP would return to Aso Rock in 2019?
Certainly, you should expect that, leave shit for the night soil carrier.
The new National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff is still having problems as the Board of Trustees, BoT of your party is not supporting him, do you think he would last on the seat?
Are you talking of the BoT which has few members? We are talking of someone, who has the backing of the state Governors from the party, and that of the National Assembly members of the party. Someone has majority backing and you are talking of few people. The only thing is that the PDP should get it right.
But Sheriff has been linked with the Boko Haram insurgents
Then he should be arrested and probed if he is found culpable because nobody that is linked with Boko Haram that are killing innocent people should go scot free. May be he has not been found culpable, it is a mere allegation.
What is your advice to the new National Chairman of your party?
He should try to bring everybody to a round table talk for the sake of the party. The way it is, all is not well with the party. Unfortunately, some strong PDP members went to the APC after the elections, I wonder why they decided to do that. It is like new wine in an old keg, wine is not supposed to be found in a keg, I wonder why they did that.