Okey Sampson, Aba
Prince Benjamin Apugo is a member of the national caucus of All Progressives Congress (APC). He is equally a Board of Trustees (BoT) member and also member, finance committee of the presidential election council. He speaks about the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, performance of APC in the South East and the zone’s expectation when the 9th National Assembly will be inaugurated in June.
President Muhammadu Buhari has just been re-elected for another term in office. How do you feel about it?
I am very, very happy, even though I expected it, I expected him to win because it was already written that it is him that will help to sanitise this country.
Are you surprised at the margin with which Buhari won, particularly the votes from the North?
No, no, no, I am not surprise because APC has a lot of followers in the North and I would have been surprise if they did not vote the way they did.
Some persons are not happy with the way the election was handled in terms of timely delivery of materials to polling units. Did that happen where you voted?
Yes, I went to the polling unit three times, nobody was there and it was the fourth time I went that I saw them (INEC officials), they came five hours late and it was part of the rigging method adopted by the PDP.
Comparing the figure your party got this year with that of 2015 presidential election, would you say it was an improvement?
Well, I can say it was an improvement, but not a good improvement. I say so because, I would have wished that we had won throughout the state.
Before the announcement of the result of the presidential election, PDP said they were rejecting it and finally when the result was released, they vowed to challenge it accusing APC of manipulation. What is your take?
The PDP always say all sorts of things. You have seen the result yourself; even international observers have congratulated Mr. President for conducting a peaceful and wonderful election. Can you imagine anybody talking about manipulation when some APC bigwigs lost election in their states? Why should they face the North, why are they not talking about what happened in the South East and South South?
The South East has produced some APC senators going by the result of the last election; will this give it the chance of producing the president of the senate when the 9th NASS is inaugurated in June?
I don’t think that is negotiable, it is supposed to be for the South East since we now have APC senators, the chance is brighter.
What lesson has your party learnt with respect to what happened in Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal constituency in particular and Abia Central in general where your candidates lost?
Well, what happened was a big lesson. It is not that we have lost completely because we will challenge it in court, so, we’ve not lost anything; we are going to gain it back because the facts are there. Everybody knows that Martin, who is the APC candidate for Ikwuano/Umuahia won the three local government areas that make up the Federal constituency but he was rigged out.
Many people as I talk to you are yet to vote, no voting took place in more than 30 units in Umuahia, the same as Ikwuano. INEC told them they were coming the next day to conduct the election, but never went there, yet they wrote results. We have documents to that.
Former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu secured his position in Abia North and APC won two House of Representatives seats out of three in the area. Do you think your party stands a better chance on March 9?
In the first place I had already congratulated Kalu and the others, they did well. For the chances of my party in the governorship election, when we get to that stage, I will make statement on that.
What’s your advice to the president?
He has to carry everybody along irrespective of party affiliation, religion or tribe. He may not be the oldest man in the country, but he is the father of all and should treat all Nigerians as his children. I think now, he must have learnt his lessons, he must start fighting corruption.
He has been doing that, is it not so?
No, no, no, he has not done that to my satisfaction, to many people’s satisfaction because those people who are corrupt and are supposed to be in jail are the people that brought the looted funds and paid their way back to the Senate. Like in my own state, who voted T.A Orji to go to the Senate? Nobody, I’m telling you the truth. If he were serving his jail sentence, will he come out to contest election? When you allow people like that to be going around, they will come out to contest election.