From Okey Sampson, Aba
Prince Benjamin Benedict Apugo is a Board of Trustees (BoT) member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He spoke on the senate’s rejection of the re-nomination of the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu by
President Muhammadu Buhari, the fight against corruption and other issues.
Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari sent the name of the acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu to the senate for the second time for confirmation, but was rejected again. Are you worried about this?
I am not happy about it. The APC senators are behaving as if we are no longer in majority in the senate. It’s never done, APC has up to three quarter members in the senate and one would expect that if Mr. President brings something to the senate which is for the interest of the nation, there is no way the party that is in the majority will throw it away. It appears as if the minority is controlling the senate and this can be traceable to the skeleton some of them have in their cardboards. Otherwise, I don’t see the reason anybody should be afraid of Magu. If you have nothing to hide, why should you be afraid of somebody who has come out to work for the nation? That’s my view about it.
The major reason the senate gave for its action was a petition said to have been written by the DSS against Magu. What is your take on that?
The contradiction there is that even the president of the senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki the other day said it was not only the petition from the DSS that made them to reject Magu’s nomination. If you have any other reason or report, why don’t you present it before the nation than to base your action from the report of the DSS? DSS is a serious department which Nigerians have trust in and should not be involved in something very trivial. My opinion is that Senator Ali Ndume has spoken, the highly respected professor of law Sagay (SAN) has spoken also and I support their views. I’m calling on APC members in the senate to have a rethink and not to allow the opposition, most of whom looted this country to control the senate when they are in the minority.
What danger does the senate’s action portend for the APC and democracy in general?
Well, democracy should not be about witch-hunting of a perceived enemy. Magu’s case is not about democracy, it is witch-hunting; it has some political undertone. I know we have good people in the minority, but if I don’t know of anybody that looted this country, it is not the one that say he is my senator, the former governor of my own state, and he is part of those who are insisting that Magu should not be confirmed thinking by so doing, EFCC will not one day call upon him to give account of what he did with Abia money when he was governor of the state.
With what happened in the senate, what’s your advice to the presidency and the APC as a party?
My advice is that the presidency should send back Magu’s name to the senate for the third time if the constitution allows that and that our senators, the ones I know who are very clean people should take a retrospective look at the president’s and party’s stand and confirm Magu.
Going by the decision of the senate in Magu’s case, it’s like the APC is not speaking with one voice, do you see the party winning the 2019 elections?
As far as Buhari is there, I am quite certain that APC will win the election. Even if Buhari decides not to contest and presents anybody by himself to the nation, the person will definitely win in the name of APC.
Some PDP leaders have accused the APC of being responsible for the crisis bedeviling their party. Would one say they are right?
I wouldn’t know the APC that has a hand in the crisis in PDP. But I know the PDP had this crisis even before the general elections in 2015 when all of us left; it was a big crisis for the party. We left because of what everybody is seeing today, some of them there never saw it at that time. But when a new government took over and unveiled the situation in the country that brought in this recession, people have seen it. All those period of PDP were deceit, the PDP government was deceiving the people when the country was almost bankrupt.
Are you happy with the way the corruption war is going on?
I will say partially yes. But my joy will be full if the president will do something urgently and send those who looted our treasury to jail. He has to put them to jail particularly in the case of my own state, the evidence is there; what the immediate past administration did in this state, has been published in the national dailies. If you go to some of our places, the people are reclaiming back their lands forcefully taken by officials of the past administration. If anybody is in doubt, he should go to Umuana-Ndume, Umuahia, the people have gone and taken back their lands and others will follow the people of Umuana. We, the people of Abia state are still watching and waiting for EFCC to look the way of Abia because what the officials of the immediate government in Abia did in terms of looting of treasury of the state was unthinkable. If you could recall the last statement I made to the press, I said if EFCC hides anything in Abia state, I will take them to court because we have our petitions which we delivered to EFFC and they acknowledged it. What will anybody do? The investigation is open, everything is clear in those petitions and there is nothing you can hide from how this state was looted by officials of the immediate past administration. Again, I would advice Mr. President, if he wouldn’t achieve any other thing for this country, let him try and kill this corruption. If he kills corruption that is when we will be sure that the future of this country will be bright.
There is this rumour that some leaders of APC, particularly those who joined from PDP are planning a return to their former party; wouldn’t that be rather too dangerous for your party?
Well, I don’t know about that and I can’t say what I don’t know. All I know is that we are APC today. One thing people should understand is that if not for us from the PDP called the New PDP that merged with APC, we did not join, if not for us, anything called APC then couldn’t have succeeded in any of the elections. Having said that, it will not be a good thing to talk about going back to the PDP for whatever reason, because nobody goes back to his vomit, it’s not a good thing, which is not a good politics. It is even better for one to join a new party than go back to PDP.
Former military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida said PDP will regain power in 2019 and rule for 60 years as originally envisaged. Do you think this could be possible?
You see, how can anybody talk about another 60 years when nobody knows about tomorrow? Let me be very frank with you, we cannot talk of 60 years if it is the same PDP, the one that I know, I don’t think they can even win election again in this country. When you talk about the PDP, like the one in Abia? No, I don’t think they will win election again. The problem with members of the PDP is that they don’t know the truth; for them, truth is lie. That is the trade mark of PDP in Abia state.
President Buhari came back against rumours making the round that he was dead. How did you feel?
I felt very happy, it’s not only me that is happy, my family, the entire Abia people where I come from, were also happy. To be sincere, the entire country is happy that the man came back alive. Any Nigerian that is looking forward to changing the system in this country for good must be happy that the man came back. I believe that Buhari has a mission and he will accomplish that mission.