Igbo PDP Govs Will Defect To APC – Ben Apugo | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Igbo PDP Govs Will Defect To APC – Ben Apugo

Posted: Dec 13, 2015 at 6:28 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

*On anti-corruption efforts: Buhari may be slow, but he is steady

*To separatist agitators: You cannot be more Biafran than Ojukwu who abandoned struggle

Chief Ben Apugo was a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the former ruling party at the centre.

In this interview, Apugo speaks on why he, alongside Senate President Bukola Saraki, former Governor Nyako of Adamawa State, and Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, quit the PDP. He also speaks on the fate of the APC in the South-East and the pro-Biafra quest by some Igbo elements, among other issues.

What is your assessment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance six months after he assumed office?

I am happy because the change is already here and that was the idea behind the emergence of the APC. Yes, Buhari has performed creditably; don’t forget there are three major things he promised Nigerians. He promised to fight insurgency, corruption and implement programmes that will improve the lot of Nigerians. In my honest assessment, I can say he has performed excellently. On the anti corruption war, Buhari may be slow , but he is steady. The most important aspect is his commitment to the fight against corruption. Buhari is irrevocably committed to eradicating corruption in Nigeria.

People accuse Buhari of being selective in the fight against corruption. What is your take?

Buhari has just assumed office. He has commenced the execution of his promise  to fight corruption. If he does not come because we are Abia, Abia people will go to him. Change is here; at least the speed with which people loot public funds has reduced drastically. Anyone found to have looted public funds in this state must pay for it. I have not seen the prosecution down here. What I am saying is that anybody found wanting, whether he is in APC or PDP or any other party, should be prosecuted. If the funds looted can be brought back, the problem of unemployment will be reduced. The looters are still using the looted money to fund crisis.

Ahead of the general elections, some members of your party lamented that Buhari was not allowed to campaign freely in Abia.Do you think this will hinder the state from getting anything from the President?

It will not.   I’m a member of APC and many others voted for Buhari in Abia, but, unfortunately, the former governor and his cohorts rigged the poll, making it to look like we did not vote for Buhari. Every Nigerian is interested in  change because there was widespread looting during Jonathan’s administration. Let me tell you something, when I was in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), during the party primary, I voted for the northern candidate because I knew Jonathan was not going to perform. Though I was still a member of PDP, I had no interest in the party’s activities. Again, coming down to Abia, the then governor was not doing well and this worsened the situation.


Is that the reason you left PDP?

Yes, I left PDP with Saraki, Nyako and Kwankwaso when we could no longer stomach the  impunity in  the party. We stayed that long believing that PDP will change its bad ways, instead things grew worse.

The APC has been boasting that it will take over the South-East zone in 2019. How does the party intend to achieve this?

We are ready to talk to anybody who will like to listen and I believe strongly that any right thinking human being will join because the President has come to correct a lot of wrongs that will gladden the hearts of many generations to come. I am prepared to go to our governors to talk to them about APC.  Already, we have started making in-road into this project. For instance, the mother of a  former governor of the state, Orji Uzor Kalu, Chief (Mrs) Eunice Uzor Kalu, and two of his children have joined APC and we are eagerly waiting for Kalu himself to come on board. These are the type of people we need in APC to capture the South-East. Kalu has the charisma,    respect, integrity and people love him for that. Kalu has no business being where he is today, all his friends are in APC and he will be most welcomed any day he decides to join. I will personally welcome him. Having said this, there is one man we will not welcome in APC, he knows himself and Abians know him too. If the man joins APC, Abia people will not vote for us in 2019, he is a political liability who can not win election even in his own  ward.

There is only one APC governor in the South-East. Does that not bother you?

Yes, but in the 2019 election, people will come out to    massively vote for the APC. We will surely win provided we field good candidates  for the governorship position in the five states of the zone. For now, we are working towards bringing some of the good PDP governors in the South-East to only six  APC before it’s too late for them. Our governors should join the APC now that the door is open than when they will come begging and cringing. Besides, what can anybody hold against Buhari today? The bad roads have been there for 16 years and he has been there for only six months. By 2019, all the five states of the South-East would be  APC.

Some members of the APC in Abia alleged that you supported another party’s governorship candidate during the election. How true is the claim?

During the governorship election in Abia, we did not support any party; it was only in the presidential election that everyone knew I supported Buhari because he is incorruptible. I don’t know Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu and people refused to vote for him not because of him as a person but because of the person who brought him out.

As a stakeholder in the APC, are you happy with Buhari’s choice of Minister representing Abia at the Federal Executive Council?

Yes, I am happy, the Minster representing Abia, Okechukwu Enelamah, is from my home town. If you look at his pedigree you will find that he is a man  we can trust. The problem that has been with Abia  is that when they choose somebody who does not have a home as Minister, we all become bad as a result of the bad influence. Although the man appointed has never been a politician, today, he has joined the wagon of politicians. He is a man of honour from every thing I know about his family.

Recently, a prominent traditional ruler from the state called on Buhari to declare Aba a disaster area. Do you agree with him? In what areas do you think the President should help Abia?

We should not limit it to Aba, it should be the entire state. People should not look at Umuahia as a  place former Governor Orji    came from because he hated Umuahia more than any other place. President Buhari should come to our aid. Abia needs an airport, a stadium; we don’t have roads, light, water, schools. No hospitals apart from the Federal Medical Centre. We don’t have anything to show that we are a state in Nigeria.

Pro-Biafra agitators have been protesting across the South-East and some parts of the South-South.  Are you in support of their agitation?

Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State (2nd from right) flanked on his right by Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu and Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, left, during a meeting of the Governors and Stakeholders from the South East zone, held at the Government House, Enugu …yesterday

FILE: Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State (2nd from right) flanked on his right by Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu and Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, left, during a meeting of the Governors and Stakeholders from the South East zone, held at the Government House, Enugu …

The civil war ended a  long ago  time and we are all Nigerians. No reasonable human being should  come out today to talk about Biafra. Our people have to speak up and make our children understand the situation of things. Those things they should be protesting for are employment, roads, water, airports and other amenities that are lacking in the zone. If they are agitating for these things, they should not block roads; they should talk to the government of the states in the South-East, not the Federal Government.


These people you are talking about are small boys whose mothers were not even born during the civil war. So, what I am saying is that the governors of the South-East    should enlighten the youths and make them know that there is nothing like Biafra today. People should not be using Biafra as a tool for causing confusion and defrauding uninformed people.

The Federal Government should not be looking at the South-East, especially Umuahia, since they said their leader,Nnamdi Kanu, is from here, as not supporting Buhari. Buhari did not create any problem in the South-East. All the while, (former President Goodluck) Jonathan was there, they should have gone to demonstrate about  Biafra. Buhari will tackle all the problems we are facing now, our former governors did not perform, and they did not create avenues for employment, no empowerment. My advice to our children is that they should forget about hoping against hope.

We have cancelled Biafra. Let them look for the betterment of this country and themselves. They should avoid this protest because it will not yield any fruit. Their leaders will not fight more than Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and Joe Effiong, who despite their efforts,    Biafra failed at the end.