A member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Benedict Benjamin Apugo has said that the APC would win Abia, in 2019.
President Buhari last week went back to London over his health condition; do you think the president is still capable of carrying on with the affairs of the country effectively?
Mr. President has gone for a medical checkup just like any other human being could have done; I don’t see any strange thing in it. It is the people who are mischievous that are creating all these nonsense. But we here are praying that God Almighty will continue to grant the president good health to continue with the good intention he has for this country. I don’t think anybody should have cause to fear, he will return safely and continue with his good works.
The leadership of the National Assembly has come out openly to condemn the anti-corruption war by the present administration. What’s your take on this?
Well, the problem is that these people who are corrupt are fighting back but I don’t know the extent they will go. We need a strong judiciary to be able to handle these corruption cases. You see, when a corrupt person who looted his state goes to the senate, you bring a bill for anti-corruption court, what do you think the person will do?” You think he will let it sail through? That is exactly what is happening. I don’t think the strategy being employed for the anti-corruption war is bad, but the people fighting back are making it look childish because most of them in the senate there are supposed to be in jail. Like my own former governor, he is supposed to be in jail. So, that is why it looks like nothing is happening. They are not supposed to say those words they said the other day. It makes mockery of the red chamber, they should guard their utterances and not to betray the trust the people have in them.
We were told that Gov Okezie Ikpeazu visited you last week Thursday for the first time since he became governor, how do you feel about the visit?
Well, I am an Abia indigene. You see sometimes our people don’t know how to play politics, for the fact that people belong to different political parties should not make them enemies. But because of the selfish posture of certain people that have managed Abia politics, that is why it looked like heaven fell down when Gov Okezie Ikpeazu came to pay me a courtesy call. Last week Thursday was the first time he was visiting since he became the governor. So, he is our governor and I use this opportunity to congratulate him for his victory even though it was Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) internal matter, but it is victory and I congratulate him for that.
People are of the opinion that the governor’s visit was a bit late, do you see it that way?
Well, people are entitled to their opinions, they might see it that the visit came very, very late, but the fact remains he visited and I have accepted him. I accepted him because he is not TA Orji’s governor; he is governor for all Abians. Like I have always said, within this period he is governor of Abia State, he should use it to answer his name which is Ikpeazu, not TA Orji because I believe he has been answering the name of his predecessor. He (Ikpeazu) is a young man who should have his name immortalised for what he will do in Abia State.
Now that Ikpeazu is going to be the governor of the state till 2019, do you think he is going to bring the much needed infrastructural development to Abia State?
If he wants to immortalise his name, like I told him when he visited me, he should work for Abia people and forget about using Abia money to give T.A Orji as a way of paying him back for facilitating his election. I am repeating it; he should use such money to develop Abia state instead of sharing it out to people who do not mean well for the state.
What are those things you will want the governor to do while in office?
I made the governor to understand that we cannot develop Abia without an outlet and the easiest outlet Abia should have is the Airport, whether it is cargo or airstrip where somebody can fly from Abuja or Lagos and land, go round Abia and see places to enable him or her decide on the type of investment he would want to invest in, in the state. I advised the governor on job creation and also on the need to develop our tourist sites that will enable people to visit Abia state because nobody is coming here; the immediate past governor, T.A Orji killed this state. Nobody comes to Abia state and if people don’t come, how would they know that there is a place call Abia state? I advised him on these and I believe very strongly will do something about them.
Do you see the visit as a way of trying to reach out to the opposition particularly those in the APC?
People may be saying with the visit, I will now be interested in what Abia state government is doing. But the fact remains that over the years because of what has been happening, I have not been interested in Abia state government. I am interested in Abia state, not the government. I will be interested in Abia government if Gov Ikpeazu starts implementing one or two of those things I have asked him to do. I’m not talking about APC, if the governor wants to join APC he is free to join. APC is a political party that anybody can join and a lot of people are joining now. But when we say people are free to join APC, not people like T.A Orji because he is a political liability and will remain perpetually so.
What is your advice to those that contested the election with the governor and later took him to court, but lost?
My advice is that Ikpeazu should embrace them, he should even visit them and they too should take it as a game. I have said it earlier that because people are in different political parties should not make them enemies. So, Ikpeazu should embrace them, so that they can all work together for the interest of Abia people. And if they have advice, they should go and give him, Ikpeazu should open his hands and door and receive them. Ikpeazu should not be afraid of T.A Orji again because now, he has gotten some people backing him unlike before when he felt it was only T.A Orji that was backing him.
Abia state is controlled by PDP; recently you said your party APC will win the state in 2019. How possible with that be?
APC will make it in 2019. If Ikpeazu wants to join my party, like I said earlier, he is free, in fact everybody is free except the person I told you earlier is a political liability and everybody knows that. But if it is PDP, forget about that because it cannot win even council election.
APC will win in all the zones. Forget about what T.A Orji’s boast the other time, where he said he has never lost any election and he will continue to win. Where did he win the election? Did he win by getting three votes in his boot as a sitting governor? We know how he has been wining the elections and he knows that those things that have been aiding him are no longer there. He is now like a short distance runner who had always been aided by the wind to win his race and suddenly the wind ceases and the runner crashes out.
T.A Orji did not win anything; it was all those nonsense that happened during former President Goodluck Jonathan that aided him, he did not win anything. Even in our village here, when he backed some people to contest our village election, he lost all in Ibeku land and he has now resorted to using the court to remove the person that won. But we will make sure it does not happen.