“APC is the shortest route for the Igbo man to be the president of Nigeria. PDP is starting afresh with a new person.”
Okey Sampson, Aba
Prince Benjamin Apugo is a Board of Trustees (BoT) and national caucus member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He speaks about the chances of President Muhammadu Buhari returning to power in 2019 and equally the chances of an Igbo man becoming the president of Nigeria in 2023 after the Buhari.
With the way things are going, are you sure that APC’s presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari will return to power in 2019?
Definitely, as far as I am concerned, he has no rival.
Even when Atiku Abubakar is there?
No, he has no rival; Atiku is an individual while PDP is a political party. People have rejected PDP and everybody in PDP seems rejected. I’m not talking about Atiku; I’m talking about PDP as a political party.
In a bid to capture Igbo land, Atiku picked Peter Obi as his running mate. Are you not worried that that could make PDP overrun the South East in 2019?
Well, you see Obi is a person; he alone did not make up Igbo land. Igbo is made up of groups and millions of people, if not that they always rate us low; I think we may be the second largest ethnic group in Nigeria. If you pick Obi as running mate, it does not mean you’ve picked the entire Igbo race. So, picking him as running mate is no threat.
Is the endorsement of Atiku by Ohanaeze not going to affect the chances of APC in Igbo land?
How many people are members of Ohanaeze? I’m not a member of Ohanaeze and so do many people. In fact 95 percent of the Igbo are not members of Ohanaeze, they don’t even know whether such a thing exists, they are only called Ohanaeze. What is the strength of the Igbo; can anybody in Ohanaeze tell you that? Do they even know the existence of Igbo man? So, let’s forget about Ohanaeze.
You’ve always advocated for a president of Igbo extraction in 2023, now that Atiku has picked Obi as running mate, is the South East going to go the way of PDP or remain with APC to achieve that dream?
Look, we don’t need to think twice about that. APC is the shortest route for the Igbo man to be the president of Nigeria. PDP is starting afresh with a new person. We are already there, waiting for only four years. Do we need to be told? So, APC is where we have the chance, every man and woman should support Buhari and vote APC back to power.
It was reported recently that EFCC quizzed the former governor of the state, Chief T.A. Orji. But this was denied in some quarters. As a concerned Abian, what do you think happened?
Anybody can deny this, but the EFCC spokesman confirmed it. He said yes he was in their office, ‘there was petition against him, we have looked at it and it’s real. That is the first petition. ‘ Even people are calling now for the wife and son to be picked, so, what are we talking about? Can you cover what T.A Orji did in this state? Not when he is boasting that EFCC is in his pocket, we will find out where that his pocket is since he owns EFCC. If he owns the EFCC of today, he will not own the EFCC of tomorrow.
What does quizzing of T.A Orji by EFCC portend to the state?
It is not supposed to be a thing that one should remind any government that is fighting corruption. Any government that is fighting corruption should be able to call the past leaders to come and account for their stewardship, not to talk of this one that is visible, that you gave money to someone and you don’t see a stadium or a single road where he put the money.
A group wrote a petition to EFCC alleging that T. A Orji allegedly embezzled about N747b but the EFCC was said to have quizzed him for N27b, is this amount not a far cry from the amount he was alleged to have siphoned?
The N27b should be the beginning; all that the people said he embezzled is just that. I learnt he said the story about his quizzing by EFCC was a fake story, but what do you expect him to say? Since he finished making his statement, he was allowed to go on bail until he is arraigned; it is normal and for the fact that he was released on bail does not make the story fake.
Why did his quizzing take this long to come despite the fact that the petitions against him were filed since 2015?
Let me tell you, T.A Orji loves to go to people and tell lies, his lies have endured for some time and the people he is telling lies to, have no ears again to hear the lies. It is not somebody that told them to forget about the lies and see the truth the way they are. There are more cases against him including the ones that are in the court before he became governor, it is there in a Federal High Court in Lagos and I will tell you one thing, nothing is over until it is over.
There is this rumour that Buhari would be handing over power to Senator Bola Tinubu and not to any Igbo man. What’s your reaction?
You see, we don’t have to be saying things that are not supposed to be heard by anybody. This social media sometimes say things that do not exist. Buhari cannot hand over to anybody, he doesn’t have that power. It is the people that will hand over to anybody. Why is Buhari not handing over to himself now that he is president? So, Buhari won’t do that and there is nothing like that in our agenda. APC will go for the primary and no matter where the person comes from, if our primary favours you, you become our candidate.
Do you think there is so much awareness in the South East concerning what Mr. President has been doing in the zone in terms of empowerment and all that?
That is quite correct; it is a very pathetic story. The empowerment the president has done are being hijacked by the governors particularly that of Abia who just sat down in his office, write lists and collect the funds including the school feeding programme and he is not feeding anybody.
What’s your reaction on the crisis between some APC governors and the national chairman of the party?
Well, that is an internal issue; I am not going to tell you how we are going to resolve it. In 2015, change got to many states but it didn’t get to Abia, are we sure that in 2019, that change will come to the state?
I hope so; the change has already taken effect particularly on that of Buhari. I can assure you 100 percent on that of Buhari because he performed creditably without corrupting himself. So, we don’t have to look back and say we need somebody else. But in the case of Abia State, from what I have heard, they love APC and I know APC will win. Abia needs a change in 2019 because we want to get out of this bondage, horrible bondage that we have entered. For 20 years, no social amenities, no empowerment, those things that make life meaningful are lacking in the state.
A Yoruba man who did not know where I come from, was saying in passing at the airport when some people said they were going to Abia State, whether there is any place called Abia State. That he only sees it on the map. This is laughable but the truth remains that nothing is happening here. How many times have you seen players coming to play in our stadium? Or have you seen any European in Abia since Okezie Ikpeazu became governor. Europeans have never visited Abia from the administration of T.A Orji, what are they coming here to do? UNICEF is not here, nothing is here; where will they land, is it in Owerri and go under the watchful eyes of kidnappers to Abia State? This government is in coma; I mean the government in Abia is in coma.
What are APC leaders in the state doing to withdraw the case in court and resolve the crisis in the party?
The court cases are being financed by PDP; Ikechi Emenike is being financed by PDP. I registered Emenike, I brought him into PDP and the man, Ndukwe who he claims is the state chairman, I made him secretary of the party. This is not the first time Emenike will be going to court, he went to court in ANPP, he went to court in PDP; he is a chronic court member and he should know that the party is supreme.
Emenike did not contest the primary, even if he had contested, where will he win? When he contested governorship in ANPP, how many votes did he get? So, the issue there is this, to be frank with you, the state leadership of the party did not act well, they didn’t perform when Emenike started giving this problem, he should have long been suspended. If not so, Emenike have no place in the party to continue to create this problem because PDP gave him money to destabilise the party. It’s not in our party alone that PDP did it, they did it in APGA. They brought one man from APGA to destabilise the party, but fortunately APGA succeeded but in our own case, up till tomorrow, Emenike is still talking about court, is that what is supposed to be? If you ask the man to withdraw and he refuses, you suspend him and when that happens, he will come for negotiation, he will find out that he has no basis to go to court.
Some NASS members from Abia State seeking for a second tenure, do you think they deserve it, going by their level of performance?
This question is laughable in the sense that we don’t even know if we have representative in the national assembly. I am telling you that nobody is representing Abia at the national assembly. If anybody is representing Abia, let him come and tell us what he has achieved all these years, none of them have sunk a single borehole in his area. The other day I learnt that T.A Orji was boasting of what he has attracted to his constituency, but the question is, If he was governor for 16 years because he was Orji Uzor Kalu’s Chief of Staff for eight years and then governor for another eight years and he did not do anything, is it now that he is at the national assembly to sleep with his sleeping sickness that he will do anything? All he is saying are pure lies.