By Okunade Adekunle, Lagos
The Lagos State governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Jimi Agbaje, has denied the report that he had dumped his party, saying that nobody can chase him out of the party.
Agbaje who said this in a statement issued today his Director of Media and Publicity, Felix Oboagwina, stressed that the defection narrative was the handwork of mischievous elements whose purpose was to create rancour within the party.
He further stated ” “I have never discussed with anyone any plan to dump PDP, neither has such a prospect crossed my mind” he maintained. “There is no reason for it. It is uncalled for.”
He vowed to remain in the party, despite the campaign of calumny being waged against him in the media by a few leaders.
Agbaje who lost to the APC candidate, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, with a wide margin, stated that it would be uncharitable to say he dumped the party that accorded him honour to fly their governorship ticket twice, stating further that recent vituperations in the press and social media against his person and his role in the last election were the machinations of political featherweights and did not warrant any response.
Meanwhile, before the rumoured defection of Agbaje, two leaders of the Lagos PDP, Capt (Rt) Tunji Shelle, a former State Chairman of the party and the Director General of Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council in Lagos, Chief Layi Ogunbambi, had reportedly accused the governorship candidate of denying them campaign funds, saying that he was operating as a lone ranger during the campaign period.
Ogunbambi reported to have contributed financially and policy wise to Agbaje’s campaign, accusing the governorship candidate of not working together with the party’s team.
While responding to the accusations, Agbaje stated ” Suffice to say that Chief Layi Ogunbambi’s claim of being denied funds as Director-General of Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council in Lagos State amounted to attempting to build something on nothing. For starters, the position he lays claim gives him no locus standi as no such formal position existed in the entire campaign structure of PDP in Lagos or any of the other 35 states.”
Agbaje who contested twice under the party’s platform, revealed that Ogunbambi who paraded himself as the DG of the Atiku/Obi Presidential Campaign Council, had his wife, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Ogunbambi, contesting as gubernatorial candidate in the state against PDP on another party platform.
“I, as the gubernatorial candidate of the party in Lagos, was Chairman of the PDP Presidential Campaign in Lagos. Mr. Leke Osikoya was the State Campaign Director. The national body recognised and related with us accordingly. The title of Director General was reserved for the national campaign council. If there was an Atiku/Obi Presidential Campaign it would have, at best, been a Support Group”, said Agbaje
“I was not given one kobo by the party or the PDP Presidential Candidate for the gubernatorial elections. We ran our campaign from beginning to end on a shoe-string budget. You cannot steal or divert what is not given,” he said.
According to him, resources sent for the Presidential and National Assembly elections were disbursed as per instructions received, and the source had shown satisfaction with the exercise.
Agbaje said that he disbursed funds direct to candidates as instructed.
Responding to Shelle’s accusation of failing to run an inclusive campaign, Agbaje accused him of approaching equity with his questionable records in office.
He said: “That this former Chairman of the party in Lagos state can accuse anyone of mismanagement of funds baffles me. He so mismanaged party funds during his tenor that he ‘forgot’ to keep money aside to pay several years’ rent for the party secretariat! Funds to run rallies in the 20 LGAs during the 2015 campaigns were not forthcoming from the party under this leadership. His ignoble role can never be forgotten. His recent statement confirms that he obviously supported another party candidate for the gubernatorial elections.”
Dismissing other allegations raised against him, Agbaje pointed out that he relinquished the management of his firm, Jaykay Pharmacy Ltd. in 2005 into the post of non-executive Chairman. Notwithstanding, neither he nor the company handled any contract from any State or Federal Government. He is not a government contractor.
He also denied being a mole for APC or its National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, both of whom, he said, suffered from the butt of his campaign.
Agbaje added, “My campaigns have been very clear on where the blame of bad governance in Lagos State should lie. It baffles me how the same people I hold responsible for the bondage we find ourselves in Lagos will be funding me to sabotage my party, PDP. I have never collected a single kobo from the ruling party in Lagos State directly or indirectly nor from its leadership or representatives.”
He said, “Those party leaders who stood on the sidelines or worked against the party in the elections should not be fooled that the loss at the elections was as a result of their negative actions. They should not arrogate to themselves powers they do not have. The elections were lost due to the intimidation of people which in turn led to voter apathy such that Lagos recorded the lowest percentage turnout in the country”.