National Publicity Secretary of the Reformed All Progressives Congress (rAPC), Prince Kassim Afegbua, in this interview with TOPE SUNDAY, bares his mind on the gale of defections hitting the All Progressives Congress (APC), his faction’s unsettled scores with APC and other national issues.
Recently, at least 51 members of the National Assembly who were elected on the platform of the APC defected to the PDP and ADC.
What is your reaction to this development? It is a positive development towards our collective responsibility to unseat this present leadership of the country through the ballot in February, 2019.
It is a responsibility that every Nigerian must key into because in 2019, it would be APC versus Nigeria.
Nigerians are suffering and there is abject poverty.
We have assumed number position in extreme poverty cases in the entire world.
Unemployment is increasing and joblessness is everywhere and security has taken a nosedive.
So, every sane Nigeria who feels the impact of all of these developmental ills, should naturally key into our collective agenda to tell Mr.
President to leave in February, 2019 and move back to Daura (Kastina state).
Can you confirm that all the defectors are members of the rAPC? Of course, they (the defectors) are our members.
Remember that we had said it before that we can give directive to the National Assembly to impeach somebody and it will be so done.
Did we not say it before? Our National Chairman, Alhaji Buba Galadima said it.
That means, we have more members in the National Assembly even more than the APC.
And it is not done yet; we are going to have more defectors, both in the Senate and House of Representatives.
For clarification, how many of your members are among the defectors? Well, I don’t know but any defector (from APC) is a member of rAPC because what we are clamouring for is the fact that we needed a platform where our wishes and aspirations will be attended to.
This is because there are some levels of arrogance of power by the maximum rulers of the APC.
They feel they don’t need anybody, they feel they have all the security apparatus to proud beat everybody into submission.
But they have forgotten that consciences of everybody differ.
And for those who possess consciences and who feel that it’s about time for us to think differently, those persons share in our sentiment and aspiration.
So, anybody who has defected from the National Assembly is a member of rAPC.
People say rAPC was carved out to rock the boat.
But with the gale of defections hitting the APC, are you now done with the party? No, we are not.
People are missing the point; we are challenging the present leadership of APC in court because they didn’t follow the constitutional provisions contained in Article 20 of the APC constitution.
Nigerians should realise that if you claim you are Mr.
White, you should be able to display it.
We are tired of a party that promises A and delivers B.
That is the hallmark of APC and we are saying that we cannot continue on the same axis and you what to see a different result, no.
This present leadership of APC is still under disputation in the law court.
In the said election, 18 positions were unopposed and what about people who bought forms to contest those positions? They did not allow those positions for contestation.
Also, during the election, they produced ‘Unity list.’ ‘Unity list’ in APC, a party that parades itself as progressive and when you see its chieftains on television, they will be speaking good English without knowing that they are not democrats.
But don’t you see the defectors’ action as illegal going by the Supreme Court verdict on Ifedayo Abegunde, a federal lawmaker who also dumped his party; and that they should be recalled? Who is recalling them? We have gone beyond Abegunde, and APC as it stands today is fictionalised.
We have our National Chairman, Alhaji Buba Galadima, who is a signatory to the merger that formed APC; and you can’t say that he is “a nobody.” And we also have a disputed National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
We are in court challenging his election and in that scenario; members are at a loss, as to which faction to belong to.
Also, parallel congresses were conducted in 24 states, and those issues have not been resolved.
Those people belong to us.
APC as a party has brought itself to a disgrace, public ridicule and has failed to put its house in order.
The question we should be asking is, has APC done well? Are they even carrying out what is in their manifestos upon, which Nigerians gave us the mandate to pilot the affairs of Nigeria for four years? Did we not promise restructuring? Are they getting it? There are many failed promises, which endeared Nigerians to us and for which we were elected.
After the election, the president shut his doors and the party became rudderless at some point.
Insecurity has taken the centre stage, on a daily basis, people are being killed.
Even, where you open pages of newspapers now, you will discover that some people were killed yesterday.
Nigeria has become a country of mourners and instead of the President to address all this, 30,000 policemen were sent to Ekiti to lock the state and rig the election.
Since the election was won and lost, did you hear the president talk about vote-buying? He has maintained a conspiratorial silence.
There are a lot of contradictions in this government, and you cannot expect people to stay put.
People believe you should be the last person to take this position against the party that is chaired by your former boss, Comrade Oshiomhole.
Is this a way of setting scores with him? Yes, I served in Comrade Oshiomhole’s government in Edo state for four years.
But this is not a personal excursion, so to speak, to enrich myself, no.
If I want to behave like others, it would have been convenient for me to remain with Comrade Adams Oshiomhole now that he is the National Chairman of APC and that way, I can flex my muscle and, perhaps, to become his Chief of Staff. And with that I will begin to network things to make more money.
But for me, I do not believe in the leadership failure, I do not believe in the low capacity and under performance of this current government.
I told Comrade Adams Oshiomhole pointedly that I will not support President Buhari for second time. Whether you like it or not, it is high time Nigerians began to look inward and enthrone a capacity driven government.
If you had made (Professor Yemi) Osinbajo the president I would have carried placards and be celebrating.
Why; is he not serving in the same government with President Buhari? Oh, you are surprised! I said that because he gets capacity.
He is very cerebral and eloquent. He interacts with Nigerians and understands the language of the people. If he were the president and Buhari were his vice-president, nobody would complain.
But now, reverse is the case, and this not what we envisaged. We had thought Buhari would have transformed Nigeria to some Eldorado when we were campaigning for him.
But as soon as he became the president, he shut his door.
Now that he wants second term, he opens his doors. 21st Nigeria needs a 21st thinker, utilitydriven and proactive leadership.
Also, people say despite your criticism of the APC, you and Alhaji Buba Galadima can’t deliver your states.
How would you react to this? But, first and foremost, let me say this, people’s engagement is not about being able to deliver state.
It is for you to provide voice for the voiceless.
There are a lot of people who share in my viewpoints and my perspectives so far.
And each time I go on public outings, I receive a lot of commendation calls, saying ‘thank you that we never knew that there are still some Nigerians who are forthright, who can speak the truth to power and interrogate processes that are not healthy enough for our political emancipation.’ So, to that extent, I get a sense of fulfilment.
Do you think former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Senate President Bukola Saraki and other big names nursing the presidential ambitions can stop President Buhari in 2019? It is not about them.
This is what you should understand.
As a journalist, you should be an interrogator.
Nigerians should have the opportunity of voting out this government and not that their votes are being bought with pittance like N1, 000, N2, 000.
Now, it has increased under APC led government in Ekiti state to between N5, 000 and N10, 000 because they wanted to capture the state by all cost; which is the language of the military. So, this it is not about Kwankwaso, it is not about Atiku, it is not about Saraki; and it is not about Tambuwal.
It is about Nigerians having a consensus that life has become very difficult under the Buhariled regime.
Life has become extremely difficult, and if it is not biting you, go to villages! Farmers could no longer farm because they have been chased away from their subsistence land by herdsmen. They can’t go to farm because they are afraid, their women are being raped; and there is also desert encroachment in the North.
What is the government doing about it? Lake Chad Basin is drying up, what is the government doing about it? These are serious governmental issues that this government cannot deliver. You cannot give what you do not have.
Okpella, my community, has been under the dark for seven months. The Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEBC) said we are consuming more than what we are paying.
In the community, which is purely agrarian, they are giving us bogus bills.
So, if there is not affordable electricity and kerosene which we campaigned with in Edo state, what am I going tell them if I were to be supporting President Buhari’s re-election bid? So, this government has shown a ve serious knack for inefficiency, insecurity and misplaced priority.
Do you see PDP as the better alternative to APC if the power shifts? Or who as an individual do you think can bring the desired changes you have mentioned? It is not about the issue of power shift. President Buhari will be defeated in 2019 by Nigerians. We should place emphasis on voters.
We should insist that our votes must count. We cannot be fanning the ember of killings and bloodletting in this country because of the irresponsibility on the part of government.
We must face the fact, Nigerians must be told the truth that this present government has not represented their interest to the best of our expectations.
So, it is not about whether PDP is coming back or another party is coming back.
It is about Nigerians identifying somebody and in this process of defections and the coalition that is coming, an individual will emerge through a democratic process that will confront the APC candidate. And once the vote counts, that is all. Nigerians will naturally vote out this government.
There is unanimity of purpose and consensus of opinion that this government has lived below the expectations.
Nigerians voted APC believing they will get purpose-driven leadership, but three years down the line, they have not gotten it and things are getting worse.
And yet, you want us to celebrate APC; no, I will be not a part of that.
That is why some people, like us, have taken the bull by the horns to do what is right.