Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
One of the frontline governorship aspirants in the recent primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State, Alhaji Jamiu Afolabi Ekungba has denied reports in the social media that he referred to the people of the state as “bastards and ingrates.”
The reports claimed that Ekungba was bitter about his loss and therefore expressed regret that he wasted over N300 million on delegates who despite the huge inducements, refused to vote for him.
Ekungba was a former Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the defunct Trade Bank, Ilorin, Kwara State.
A statement issued and personally signed by Alhaji Ekungba, and made available to journalists in Ilorin yesterday said “I never gave any money what-so-ever to any of the 2,834 delegates. If I did not part with money why will I complain?
“I do not have N300 million to share; even if I had, both in all my interviews and at campaigns to the delegates, I made it very clear that I will not induce anybody with money to vote for me. Why will I bribe people to give me a job that will require so much energy to bring back to life, an economy that is almost dead totally.
“I hope you are aware that Ondo State, an oil-producing state despite collecting about N628 billion federal allocation in 7 years of this administration, is owing the civil servants 8 months salaries. I am an accomplished accountant, an experienced banker and administrator and a financial expert.
“I know the state of Ondo economy and what it will take to fix it. I will therefore, because of the challenges that will accompany the fixing, not bribe my way to offer my people this type of very difficult service. The mischievous write up claimed I stormed out of the venue. The video clips of the primary will show that I was the first to congratulate the winner and was the last with him in the arena.
“I was with him throughout the final announcement, shaking hands with the officials, during his acceptance speech and during his brief press interview. So doing all these, how can my coming out be storming out?”
Ekungba however said he has “consulted appropriate personnel and quarter to assist in getting this mischief maker to come to terms with the reality of his misdeeds.”
Meanwhile, he has also appealed to leaders of the party at all levels to convey a roundtable conference in order to resolve the rumples emanating as a result of the outcome of the primary election.
He said, “There must be a roundtable conference by the leaders to look at the ways the issues in Ondo State can be resolved. I will call the attention of every party member to the fact that democracy in Ondo State began to have a slippery ground since 1983 and later fell finally. So, I do not want the APC to fall into the same trap because all the rumples that are following the Primary election need to be resolved internally. They are internal affairs which must be resolved internally.”
Ekungba specifically commended Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu for his strong commitment to the creation and the growth of APC to the extent of becoming a national party and winning election at the centre.
“For my leader, the Jagaban of Bogu, I want to call his attention to one particular issue which I want to beg him to look at passionately. I thank him for asking us to close ranks, but I want him to lead the most critical aspect of the struggle of rescuing Ondo State – winning the November 26 election,” he said.
He added that, “My appeal to everybody is that within the shortest possible days, we must close ranks, come together and make sure that this issue is handled within the party, the externalisation of this issue is dangerous for the party in view of the big challenge ahead. The earlier we do that and we come together as a team and rescue Ondo State, because if APC, by error, get divided in Ondo State, I do not see how we can win the election”.
According to him, “Ondo State can’t afford to be in an opposition any longer. Also, the economy of the state needs a rescue, and we can’t afford to leave it in the hand of those who have destroyed it. Moreover, we Ondo State people are democrats, we need a democratic resolution of this matter. So, we can’t approach the forthcoming election as a divided house, we must therefore, close ranks and forge a united front.”