Oyedepo as PDP chair lacks capacity to confront APC forces in Kwara - Kunle Sulyman
Barrister Kunle Sulyman is one of the political ace in Kwara state who pioneered the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1999. Since that era till now, he had held series of political offices both in the state and at the national level. In this interview with KAYODE ADEOTI, he speaks on his involvement in the N450m campaign fund allegedly siphoned by the Dele Belgore (SAN) and ex minister, Professor Abubakar Sulyman. He also reacted to the embattled chairman's call (Iyiola Oyedepo) for him to leave the party. Excerpts:
Some members of your party have said you have knowledge of how the money was shard as the DG for the 2015 elections in Kwara.
I think Oyedepo is a little bit crazy and disturbed. He cooked up this assertion because he knew a person like me and other leaders of the party are not supporting his ambition to perpetrate himself in power and he is angry about that. First, when you are distributing such money, the four cardinal figures that were supposed to be there who are Dele Belgore (SAN), the cabinet Minister serving then, the gubernatorial candidate, and the party chairman. I was just the DG, which means the aide to the gubernatorial candidate. When they are taking decision on money, these are the people that needed to be there. Akogun that was saying I know so much about the issue of money, you should have asked him if I was the state chairman. Now, Belgore and ex minister are on trial with EFCC, if they probe further down, they will pick the chairman of the party which was Akogun. If he claimed he gave me money let him say it to the public.
Are you now saying the trial of the two chieftains of the party is unjust?
It is very unjust. What are they standing trial for? If the President of Nigeria gives you money to run election, will you challenge the source he gets the money from? When the former president Goodluck Jonathan was running for his second bid, he did launching, they realised about N22b and the whole Nigeria is aware of that. Out of this money, they gave N450m to Kwara; those of us here felt it was too small compared to what some other states got. The purpose of their trial is still very unjustified.
But the money could not secure any seat for the party in the state despite all the razzmatazz?
To be candid, the money worked on its part, whoever says the money did not work is not telling the truth. I was part of the committee that analysed the aftermath result of the election; it was a long time ago I would have given you the analysis. In total votes, PDP had slightly over one third of the total vote cast in Kwara. APC won in Kwara, the axis represented by APC has always been marginal. In 1999 when I was the chairman of the party, PDP had 39 percent, AD had 13, this axis had 48 per cent, if PDP had worked together here, we would have won. It has always been like that, PDP had one-third of the vote cast. The impact of the money was felt. But, it is quite unfortunate, nobody delved into what APC spent during election, they spent more than what we did in Kwara. We are in a society where power is everything, suffice to say fallacy of power as the basis for justice that is what we are seeing under the APC government. Nobody is turning any search light into the election expenses of APC. When PDP was in power, we never harassed nor jailed anybody. During our time, opposition was very free, they could talk. Lai Muhammed was busy talking jazz, fabricating all sorts of lies against PDP, But today, Olisa Metu talked they arrested him, Fani Kayode spoke too they arrested him, maybe I will be arrested for what I’m saying today as well. We are not in the police state, some of us will talk, and anybody not satisfied with it can go to blazes. We are waiting for 2019, they will know the reactions of Nigerians
Sir, you claimed the impact of the money was felt yet no seat was won by your party in the state. In what way has the money performed then?
I will tell you how it worked in two ways. First, in Nigeria, it is the highest bidder that wins elections. During the last general elections, In the PDP analysis, Kwara state was regarded as a state where they cannot win. Those who planned for Jonathan election did not count Kwara as one of the states they are going to win, what they were expecting from Kwara was to have 25 percent. They believed they will get the majority votes elsewhere but we gave them 33 per cent. The money given to us was small compared with what other states got. APC knew what was given to us and they decided to outspend us. Also, Oyedepo has proved that he was not competent. He had resources at his disposal. He never had a powerful planning. I was once a chairman, I worked with Baba Saraki and the likes. We had no money, no big men then but we had people who planned and were ready to put down their lives. I went round to talk to the youths, I was everywhere. I was ready to put down my life, likewise my people. I told them I'm not a money bag and we didn't have any strong financial back up. In 1999, I was given N5000 per ward. My people were committed. I knew it will be too shallow for me to say I want to win Ilorin West where I come from and Baba Saraki. I only won one ward there, that is planning. I looked at Kaiama, the population is small, I worked there and won, this is because we did analysis. We won Isin, Irepodun. We need a thinking chairman who can plan and who would not just be collecting money from aspirants. A lot of people in Kwara are not happy because they've not been seeing people coming out to give them money but giving them hope. The capacity of Oyedepo was defective to confront the forces of APC in Kwara. Instead of bringing people together, he was busy fighting me and others.