Prince Apugo: ‘There’s no government in Abia state in the past twenty-four years’.
Prince Benjamin Benedict (BB) Apugo, is widely known as the Ochiagha (War Commander) of Ibeku clan, in Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State. A chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC); member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Prince Apugo spoke with our Correspondent on some burning national issues, including being not aware that Ahmed Bola Tinubu, is the presidential candidate of the APC, as well as what Peter Obi’s presidential ambition has done for the Igbo race. He is also rankled over the glaring failure of the PDP administration in Abia state to expand the frontiers of socio-economic and industrial development of the state in the past twenty-four years. He urges the electorate to vote for the right candidates in the upcoming 2023 general elections.
Seven months to the end of the administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state, do you still hold the belief that this government has not performed?
What are you talking about? Don’t you see that the whole place is bushy and rotten? This is my home town – I’m an Ibeku prince – the owners of Umuahia Ibeku land. If you ask me whether this government is performing or not, l will tell you that there is no government in Abia state, and there has never been any government here for some years past.
What about the Federal Government coming to the rescue?
I’m an APC man; but it is shameful for me to say it because APC has not done anything for me as a person, and has also not done anything for my local government area, and Abia state where I come from. As a BoT member and member national caucus of APC, I have nothing to show, even in appointments; nobody from my home has been given any federal appointment. I registered Ikechi Emenike in APC, and others like Uche Ogah. I received them at the stadium on behalf of APC, but nobody from Ibeku has been given anything. You know me that I wouldn’t like to compromise, and that’s why it is so, and I’m not happy about that.
Are you happy that the APC structure in Abia has been given to Ikechi Emenike?
How? I am not going to talk about Ikechi Emenike, because I don’t know him again. I have forgotten about him. I brought him into APC. I registered him in APC, but he knows how he plays game with them. He is the type of person they want. For me, I always follow the laws and culture of the land.
Will you support Ikechi Emenike as the party’s gubernatorial candidate in Abia for the 2023 general elections?
I don’t even know if Ikechi Emenike is contesting election. I don’t even know who will contest on the platform of APC because I learnt they are in court.
Are you in support of the APC Presidential candidate Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu?
I don’t know him as a presidential candidate of APC. I am on the same level with him in APC. Tinubu has not talked to me, so how do I support someone whom I don’t know his political ambition. And nobody has come to say Tinubu sent him to see me.
What do you have to say about the APC Muslim-Muslim ticket?
I told you earlier that I don’t know Tinubu. He hasn’t come to me, so, anything that he does, doesn’t in anyway affect my decision about him or about me not knowing him.
A lot of people have been talking about an Igbo man becoming president of this country and Peter Obi, has come out to fill that gap. Is he going to receive your support?
No, no, no, let us not be sentimental about Peter Obi being an Igbo man – that’s sentimental. We are going to vote the right person. I will vote the right person, I won’t be sentimental about Peter Obi. Whether he is an Hausa man and I decide to vote for him, I will vote for him. Let’s stop talking about Peter Obi being an Igbo. From what you have been seeing, is it only the Igbo people that are supporting Peter Obi? We are not supporting Peter Obi, because he is an Igbo man; we are talking about the right people. And, let me tell you what this Peter Obi thing has done for the Igbo man. It has wiped out Biafra. Nobody is going to call you Biafra again. Everybody now knows that as an Igbo man, you are a Nigerian; we are even more Nigeria than other Nigerians.
You talked about Peter Obi’s presidential candidacy wiping out Biafra from the Igbo race, how do you mean?
Look, we have been saying forget about this Biafra, Biafra you call an Igbo man. Hoever, you still see some stupid people saying your people are Biafrans, and they ask: ‘Do you want us to give you presidential ticket, so that tomorrow you declare Biafra’? And I ask them: ‘How can we declare Biafra that was dead years ago?’ We are all Nigerians. So, what I am saying is that for the mere fact that that man (Peter Obi), is contesting presidency in Nigeria, and he is an Igbo man, at least we have gotten that question of Biafra off. Peter Obi is not contesting in Biafra now, he is contesting in Nigeria, so, you can’t see an Igbo man and call him Biafra anymore. I as a person is happy with that one.
What do you think are the chances of Peter Obi, winning the presidential election in 2023?
I am not in Labour Party (LP) which is his party. But, I can tell you that I will vote for the best candidate, and the best candidate will win the election.
Is it true that you endorsed Chief O. B Aguocha of Labour Party (LP) as the man for Ikwuano-Umuahia seat at the House of Representatives?
The person you are taking about has not even come to me to tell me he is contesting election. If he comes and I look at him, and thinks he is better than the candidate from my party, I will support him. I’m not doing party thing now.
As a statesman and opinion molder, what are you telling the people of Abia with regard to the 2023 governorship election?
Well, like as I said earlier, I’m not supporting a political party; I’m supporting individuals because of what those individuals will do for Abians. When they come out, of course they will come to me and I will advise each and every one of them that we have suffered, that they should better take their money, their billions and go and sit down, let’s support this person, for the development of Abia State. What I’m telling you is my secret, but I will announce it later.
Are you saying you will reserve your comment on what should be in Abia in 2023?
Yes, its not yet late, I will make a statement, you will hear it.
Some people are saying you have sympathy for Labour Party and her candidates. How true is that?
I have said again-and-again that I am not particularly going to vote for a party. I will vote for an individual whom I know will bring us out of these problems we have being in in the past 24 years. There is no way you will want me to vote for someone who has kept me in darkness for 24 years. I will vote for an individual. I don’t care about party, including my own party. I am not a contractor. Since the beginning of the present democratic dispensation, I have not gotten one contract from the government both state and federal as to make me not to say my mind.
You said you are after individuals, not party, are you advising your supporters to toe the same line?
Of course, they have their own conscience, but I think that anybody who has a clean, clear conscience in Abia State should forget about party.
Could it be said that generally APC has failed because it didn’t offer you opportunity to help people you wanted to help?
The party failed in my home, here. They may have done well elsewhere but here in my home Umuahia Ibeku, there is no one person APC has given a job.
What do you think was responsible?
Well, I am looking at it as a revenge. You know there are two things that Umuahia North Local Government Area have that other local government areas in Nigeria do not have. And these are that the former military Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria late Major-General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi, and late Dr. Michael Iheonukara Okpara, former Premier of defunct Eastern Nigeria both came from Umuahia-Ibeku here. Maybe, they felt that people from here must have benefited a lot by virtue of producing a head of state, and Premier of former Eastern region.
How do you react to the feud between the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and governor of Rivers State Nyesom Wike?
I’m not a member of PDP, but I know that you don’t carry politics too far to the extent of damaging one another, that is not politics. I was one of the founders of PDP, a BoT member for that matter. In fact, I was one of the party leaders who decided to leave PDP when former President Goodluck Jonathan, wanted to do third term. Are you aware that I produced the PDP logo (the umbrella), and brought it to MUSON Centre in Lagos. Atiku Abubakar, is aware of what I am saying. What you know as the PDP logo (umbrella), was the logo of Bende Consultative Assembly. When the party was looking for a logo, considering whether it will be hen, cow and all that, I presented the umbrella as PDP logo, and they all embraced it.
Late Dr. Alex Ekwueme was the chairman then. You see, some of these people parading themselves as PDP leaders today weren’t there at that time. In PDP, you have many good people, but you also have many bad people. Bad people in terms of those who never developed their states; who looted their states, and we have some who developed their states.. So, I think Atiku and Wike should settle their differences, because they are engaged in party politics. You don’t do something that will put you in enmity with somebody or cause you to hate the person for life.