Dr. Sam Ode is the former Minister of State, Niger Delta and also a governorship aspirant under the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP in Benue State. In an interview with journalists in his Makurdi residence, he frowned at the recent alleged plot to scheme out some aspirants from the Benue South district through an illegal manner, maintaining that he has lost confidence in the entire process and as such will not submit himself to any process to trim down aspirants from the zone. Our correspondent Uche Nnorom was there. Excerpts:
It is being claimed that after the meeting at KK Resort where the PDP caucus zone C unanimously endorsed the Senate President for a fifth term at the upper chamber of the National Assembly, governorship aspirants from the zone also held a meeting and trimmed down the number of aspirants. How true is this claim?
I like to state the facts as they are and I stand to be corrected. On 27 September, 2014, stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were invited to a meeting and I was one of those invited to the meeting. We went to the meeting and it was a meeting to endorse our son, the president of the Senate, Senator David Mark. It was unanimously agreed that he should be encouraged to return to the upper chambers of the National Assembly a record fifth time. At that meeting, he was represented by the minister for Interior, Comrade Abba Moro who accepted the endorsement of the stakeholders that he should run for another four terms at the National Assembly. Before them, the chairman of PDP caucus in zone C, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Ejiga, rtd had extended invitation to five aspirants from the zone to meet with him at 6pm. So, I want to say these were two (2) different meetings. At the 6pm meeting, we engaged in strategies to enable us clinch the governorship seat of the state and this was devoid of rancor. The meeting was presided over by the caucus chairman with the zonal chairman in attendance. Other prominent members of the caucus, like Dr Jerry Agada was in attendance, it was agreed that we, the aspirants should meet and fashion out a strategy to achieve that objective. I was the first of the aspirants to respond and I thanked the caucus chairman for giving the aspirant the opportunity to agree amongst themselves and the meeting came to a close. As soon as we stepped out of the meeting, the deputy governor Chief Steven Lawani suggested that we should meet on Tuesday 30tb September, 2014. We were to meet on that said day, but the deputy governor called me to say that the meeting cannot hold because one of us, Paul Harris Ogbole was supposed to have a court sitting at Abuja. So, we picked another date of Thursday 3 October, 2014. Again, the meeting could hold because Paul Harris Ogbole lost his dad, late Justice Ogbole and for us, it was a moment of depression.
What do you think is the fear of the people spreading this false information?
Their fear is obvious. I was the target of that false information because the stories read clearly that former minister of state, Niger Delta had been dropped. So, I was the subject and object of the story to create fear and a crisis of confidence in my supporters and the minds of Benue people about my aspiration and the question I have asked, who is afraid of Sam Ode in the race for governorship of the state?
Since this false story came out, have you been in touch with the other aspirants especially the Deputy Governor to feel their reaction?
At the time the false story came out, we were like accused persons and so, I felt that it was not necessary to ask any of the other aspirants but I must state here that Dr. Oyigeya called me and I commend him for that. I have reported the matter to the state chairman of the PDP, Mr. Emmanuel Agbo. In any case the issue of endorsement of any aspirant has been put to rest by the National working committee of the party who have banned the endorsement of aspirants by the state chapter or even caucus.
How was your acceptance in view of the agitation by the MINDA that the governorship seat been zoned to them?
I can tell you with every level of confidence that I received high commendations and have been accepted across the length and breadth of Benue. But you know in politics, there must be audience to tell you what you want to hear. I have worked hard and consulted with Benue people in the Diaspora, America, Europe, UK, Lagos, Port Harcourt name it. I came back home and traversed the nook and crannies of the state. I am ready for the primaries.