Prince Benjamin B. Apugo is a Board of Trustees [BoT] of the All Progressives Congress [APC]. A seasoned politician ,Apugo is known for his radical but objective position on any issue. During the administration of Theodore Orji when docility pervaded the state , he loudly spoke out, condemning what he called misgovernance going on in the Abia. Recently, in an interactive session with Daily Sun he counseled the incumbent Governor of the state, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu not to be beguiled by Theordore .
Now that the Supreme Court has given its final ruling on the Abia governorship tussle, affirming the electoral victory of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, what’s your advice to him?
First of all, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu should not look at people’s faces in carrying out his duties. He should not rely on the former governor, Chief T.A. Orji, thinking that he (Orji) has any reserve, no; T.A has nothing. He is a finished human being. Ikpeazu should not believe that it was T.A Orji that made him governor. No, he (T.A) did not win in his polling booth during the election. He scored only three votes. So there is no basis of saying that it was the former governor that made him governor. Ikpeazu should forget about T.A Orji and move forward to develop Abia State. He should not allow T.A. Orji to deceive him. Abia people will applaud him if he helps to develop the state. Borrowing from President Muhammadu Buhari, Ikpeazu should be for everybody and for nobody.
I am from Umuahia; if he does not want to develop my place, he should endeavour to use whatever money he collects from Abuja to develop his place. Anywhere there is development provided it is in Abia, I will be happy. It is my home. I am saying this because T.A. Orji failed woefully; he only succeeded in looting Abia State. Again, my advice is that Ikpeazu must recover all the funds that T.A. Orji looted because other state governors are doing the same. He should recover them if he wants to endear himself to the hearts of Abians and use the money to develop the state. He should know the setting now was not what it used to be under T.A Orji and former President Jonathan.
Again, in the interest of the state, Ikpeazu should look for Otti and embrace him, we are all Abians and there should be no victor, no vanquished. Let nobody bring enmity between both men. They should hug each other as is done in other states. And every other supporter of Otti should come together and support Ikpeazu for the development of the state.
When you talk about development, in what specific areas would you like the governor to focus on?
To start with, we don’t have airport, I have said it several times, even when T.A was there, looting. We don’t have stadium in the state capital, wherever he wants to put it is okay . Our youths are unemployed, officials of the past administration looted the ADP, he should take it back from them and reopen them as to give employment to our teeming youths. We don’t have anything in the state, no road, no water, no light, the list is endless. I am not saying the present governor will do all of them at the same time; he should take them one after another. It is then we will know we have arrived.
When you talk about development, there is paucity of funds in Nigeria presently, how would Ikpeazu get the money for the needed development?
The problem there is that I’m not in his administration, they should arrange how to source for funds and not to share the little at their disposal to some people like the past administration did. If you bring one naira from the Federal allocation and spend it judiciously, people will see it. Not when you bring one naira you share it among those hawks that fly around you, you will attract a bad name to yourself.People will not be happy with you. From what I was told, he is a young man; therefore, he should not do anything that will destroy his name because he has a long way to go.
In the last administration, people they called Elders Council were given money and cars at will, the move many believed affected the economy of the state the . Being a product of T.A. Orji, don’t you think Ikpeazu will follow the same trend?
No, no, no. I cannot call Okezie Ikpeazu a product of T.A Orji. Why should I call him a product of T. A. Orji? Is his name T.A Orji? His name is Okezie Ikpeazu. You should know it was Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu that made T.A. Orji governor and I contributed too, but T.A. Orji did not know those that made him because if he knew and was nearer to me when he was governor, he would not have looted the state the way he did. Nobody should be proud of being a product of T.A. Orji. So, Ikpeazu should look for a way of making his own name.
Would you be glad to have Governor Ikpeazu in APC as it was rumoured?
APC is a political party and I am the highest officer of the party in the state. I was elected at Eagles Square, Abuja, as member of NEC and at the same time, member, Board of Trustees (BoT). I am the only person having two positions in the party in the whole country. So, there is nobody who is close to me in position in APC in Abia State. If anybody wants to join the party, we cannot stop him but we wouldn’t want liabilities. We want someone who will come and help promote the name of the party and make people realise that APC has come to stay.
About a month ago, we were told that EFCC operatives came to the state to investigate some officials of the past administration, but nothing appears to be coming out of that visit, what do you think is responsible for that ?
I am not working in EFCC, but I know that when they came to Abia, they went round the state and discovered that nothing was done with the money that was given the state in the past eight years; no infrastructure, no development. So, it is left for them to check the amount of money that was received by T.A. Orji’s administration from the federation account. We are not talking about IGR, then they will be able to find out where the funds went. I am seriously calling on EFCC to recover these funds and send them back to Abia for the development of the state.
Now that the Supreme Court has finally affirmed Ikpeazu as the governor of Abia, what is your advice to the people of the state?
First of all, I would like to let Abians know that Okezie Ikpeazu is not T.A. Orji and everybody should feel that Abia is his or her home instead of feeling like with Ikpeazu, it is still T.A. Orji that is there. I don’t think he will ever take our money and give to T.A. Orji or share them to people. They should rather come together and support him to develop Abia.
Before the Supreme Court judgment, Governor Ikpeazu had started the reconstruction of some roads in the state, particularly in Aba. Are you satisfied with what he has done so far?
It is now that I recognise Okezie Ikpeazu as the governor of Abia State. All the while their case was in court, I did not see him as the governor. It is now that the case is over and I fully recognise him that I am going to assess what he is doing. It is what he starts doing from now that I will recognise. So, whatever he did before was by the way, I will judge him from now on.
Do you foresee APC taking over the state in 2019?
Sure, that one is not negotiable; APC will take over the state. What is PDP, don’t you see what is happening in their national secretariat? Anywhere you see PDP existing today is by an act of God, not because of what the members did or are doing. Nigerians don’t want PDP again. Don’t you see the level of corruption their members are involved in, which are being exposed every day? Will Nigerians, including Abia people, like a party populated by such individuals to rule them again? Don’t worry; APC is coming up in the state. What we are saying is for Buhari to be given more time. He has done well by introducing the Treasury Single Account (TSA). In fighting insurgency; he has also done very well. Don’t forget that former President Goodluck Jonathan didn’t want to fight Boko Haram; he preferred a war situation so that he would remain in office.
Coming to fighting corruption, Buhari has not particularly impressed me; I’m not saying he has not done well, but he has to do more by creating special courts and look at corrupt judges and remove them. It’s still the corrupt judges that are sitting in the courts. For this anti-corruption war to be won, he has to inject new blood in the judiciary, establish anti-corruption courts in the six zones of the country and give them deadline within which to dispense cases.
By the Supreme Court rulings, it’s like the PDP is gaining ground once more. What do you have to say about this?
What you called gaining of ground was just an act of God, not that the people wanted them. If a woman has been barren for 20 years of marriage and by the 21st year she became pregnant, it is an act of God and that exactly is what has happened to PDP. Even the case of Ikpeazu was an act of God and since it is like that, there is nothing anybody can do than to support him. One thing good about this is that this act of God will make some of them to join APC and at the end, we would have lost nothing.
Are you satisfied with the level of performance of members of the National Assembly so far?
You see, members of this same PDP are in the National Assembly. By the way, what do you expect? Is somebody like T.A Orji not in the National Assembly, what do you expect? Somebody like that being a senator when he was rejected in his polling booth, what do you want me to tell you? However, it requires a little more time to sanitize that place. A lot of them there are old wine in new bottle, but with little time, that place will be okay.
Some people who have been indicted of corruption always pointed towards Jonathan; don’t you think the former President should be invited for questioning?
Well, I can’t react maybe favourably the way you are thinking because it is for the operative after their investigations to now who to invite or who not to invite. Like those that came to Abia, they are doing their investigations, after which they should be able to know who to invite or who not to invite. During the PDP administration, there was more than corruption; if the President was there and he failed to discover one or two and punish the people; if at the end of all these things all government agencies are probed, he was not indicted and his aides were, so be it. It is said that if you see somebody looting, you didn’t stop him or checkmate him, you are an accomplice.
During the last administration in the state, there were people that were called elders, but when things went wrong, none of them spoke. What’s your advice against this culture of docility in the state?
Those people you called elders, I don’t know how elderly they are because one thing that should qualify you as an elder should be morals. If you are an elder, you should have morals and morals bring integrity. It is not because you have grey hairs and you say you are an elder. I don’t know who those elders were, but you and I know that T.A Orji couldn’t have picked a good person as an elder. He will pick those he will pay money not to speak. Some say when they speak out, T.A will go after them; who is he to go after anybody? I have been speaking even when he was governor; let him come after me, he can’t even go after my dog.
What do you make of the commissioners the governor appointed to work with him?
Thank you very much for that question. The governor should as a matter of urgency revisit his appointment of commissioners. I am saying this because 80 percent of those I heard their names are not worthy to be commissioner. If it is to develop the state, they are not even worthy to be messengers in offices. Let him dissolve them and look for credible people that can tell him the truth that should be able to help him develop Abia State.