Member representing Umuahia East state consituency in the Abia State House of Assembly, Hon. Chukwudi Apugo, in this explosive interview, warns that there will be tsunami in Abia if he reveals what he knows about some people critical of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, and the choice of Professor Uche Ikonne as his successor in 2023
Positing that PDP must work hard to regain the confidence of South East zone in 2023, Apugo argues that those who betrayed Igbo quest for President at the PDP national convention have no moral justification to clamour for equity at the state. Excepts….
Are you satisfied that the South East missed the presidential ticket of your party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for 2023?
I would have loved my party to give its presidential ticket to somebody from the South East. We have people from the zone who can fix Nigeria leveraging on the Igbo ingenuity but unfortunately, it didn’t go that way.
I’m not happy that an intellectual and a vibrant person like Peter Obi left PDP. I’m sad that we lost him. But I’m a party man. Now that Abubakar Atiku has emerged as our candidate, we have no choice than to support him.
Do you think PDP will be able to contain the fallout of its treatment to South East in the 2023 elections?
The truth is that PDP needs to work hard to regain the confidence of South East zone in 2023. We supported PDP for over 16 years believing that in return, we will get the party’s presidential ticket but today, reverse is the case.
The South East has been North’s political ally right from the days of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN; and the Nigeria Peoples Party, NPP. It’s just that in 2015 the West and the North came together to get power but traditionally, the North and the South East have been political allies.
So, Atiku has to pick his running mate from the South East; that’s the only way to go. The South East is aggrieved because the PDP presidential flag bearer ought to have been produced by the zone. The zone has an array of qualified and competent persons for that position including Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, a pure technocrat ; and Peter Obi that just left the PDP.
If given the opportunity, who would you suggest that Atiku should pick pick as his running mate?
Atiku should pick from South East. I would have loved Obi to come back and pair with Atiku but politically it has become impossible now. However, there are still many people that can be picked from the zone.
Are you not worried over the gale of defection that has hit the PDP in Abia in the aftermath of the party primaries?
Well it is expected because politics is a game of interest. If one feels his interest is not protected, he naturally looks for another platform where he thinks he can pursue his interest. So, people leaving PDP is normal. Even APC also witnesses such defections. It’s not new but my party is reaching out to the aggrieved members for reconciliation and they will come back. But one thing politicians should realise is that power comes from God. If God says it’s not your turn to rule even if you defect to another party you will still fail.
There are people who feel that PDP should have picked its governorship candidate from Abia North for the sake of equity and power rotation arrangement. What’s your take?
I want to differ from those critics. One of them is my brother Charles Ogbonnaya (Evulogu Ibeku), clamouring for power shift to Abia North. I have severally said it that depending on where ones looks at it, if power goes to Abia North it’s equity, and if it goes to Abia Central it’s still equity.
Former Gov. Orji Uzor Kalu from Old Bende in Abia North, ruled for eight years and handed over to his brother in Abia Central still in Old Bende. When Senator Theodore Orji did his own eight years, power shifted to Abia South in Old Aba. By the time Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu is done in 2023, and if he hands over to somebody from Old Aba Division in Abia Central, it’s still equity.
You know people shout equity when they feel they are not favoured but when it favours others them others shout injustice. The truth is that some of these people shouting equity are morally unfit to talk about equity. For instance my brother, Evulogu who was a delegate at the PDP national convention, ask him who he voted for. Did he vote for any of his Igbo brothers running for the President or is he saying equity does not favour South East to produce Nigeria’s President in 2023? Why was he rejoicing when Aminu Tambuwal stepped down for Atiku? I was watching him and he was celebrating. Why was he doing that if he was for Southern interest? Must it be in the state that he will be championing equity? Is that not hypocrisy?
Does he want a man who will work for Abia or somebody he will be controlling or sharing the Abia allocation with? He was saying there was no three-man delegate congress in Abia but ask him how he emerged as a national delegate? Was is not the same process? If he allege that the list was compiled why did he accept to be a national delegate.
Again if he is shouting equity, why was he a national delegate and his blood brother one of the three-man ward delegates? Is that equity? Is their family the only family in their community? If he claims there was no election let him tell us who compiled the list that produced him and his brother as delegates.
The way he is criticising the Governor is not fair. You don’t need to castigate the Governor because you want to score a political point. Since he claims he was the one that brought the Governor to power, why not go to him privately and advise him instead of going to the press?
Anybody asking a sitting Governor how much he had in his account when he was made a Governor should first tell us who made him. It’s God that gives power. You can still give somebody ticket and he will lose election. It was Abians that made Okezie Ikpeazu Governor and not one individual. But before you tell us who you made, first tell us who made you.
It was Ikpeazu that made this my brother Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, as well as Commissioner for Trade and Investment. He has no moral justification to castigate Ikpeazu. Why is he now coming out late to criticise the same Government he was part of and benefited from for many years?
I want to ask: Why is the APGA House of Assembly candidate for my constituency always in the house of this my brother? Is he now working for APGA? Let him come out clear and tell us where he belongs. He has the right to join any party of his choice but he should not be in PDP and be castigating the party and the Governor. It’s not done anywhere.
I urge the leadership of PDP in Abia to rise to the occasion. They should sanction any member who casts aspersions on the party so that it doesn’t look as if the party leadership is weak. Look at what the APC National Chairman did to Tinubu. He cautioned him and said Tinubu should not be making certain remarks against the President. The same way, I want our party leadership to come hard against those making unguarded utterances against the party and the Governor so that next time when they want to talk they think twice.
Agreed that the Governor can err but you can go to him privately and tell him how you feel and not going to the media to castigate him.
We know who PDP leaders in Umuahia North are, and not those making bogus claims. When the State Working Committee, SWC, on tour of the state was to visit the LGA, the party leadership in the Council went to this my brother for assistance to enable it host the visitors, what did he do? What did he tell them? How can somebody who does not contribute a dime in running the party in his LGA be claiming to be a stakeholder at the state level?
How confident are you that the PDP governorship candidate will triumph at the 2023 poll considering some kicks even from some members of the ruling party against him?
Uche Ikonne is a professor. He didn’t buy it from the market. He is a former Rector and also a former Vice Chancellor. These are no mean feats. He is experienced and exposed.
Professor Ikonne is a good man and a go-getter. His antecedents at the places he has worked for speak for him, and I have no doubt that he will deliver. He has the competence and capacity irrespective of the lies being peddled against him by blackmailers.
I have watched Ikonne. I have interacted with him and I’m convinced he has a good agenda for Abia. I believe in his manifesto. If Ikonne won’t deliver I will be the first person to say it because I’m not afraid of anybody. I come from a political family where we don’t get cowed because of anybody.
I support Ikonne 100% ; if he wins we all win, but if he loses, we all lose.
Yes, I might have had another person that I had wanted to fly the PDP ticket but since Ikonne has emerged as our candidate the rest is history. I have no choice as a loyal party man than to support him. I can’t work against the interest of my party otherwise I should move to another platform.
Those propagating lies against him should check themselves. I was Chairman of the House of Assembly Committee on Public Accounts for six years. I have the dossier of some of them. If I reveal what I know about some of them, there will be tsunami in Abia. Some of them were paying their children when they were in office.
Concerning my brother that is always attacking Ikpeazu for cheap publicity, if he is tired of staying in PDP let him leave the party and see if we will collapse. I assure him PDP will win landslide in 2023. If I were him, I will go to another platform and show my strength but if he tries it he will see he has no political weight. The same day he leaves PDP, he will see 1000 persons that are waiting for his exit so that they can join PDP.
Some of these people boasting to be chieftains of PDP where were they when PDP was formed? I know so much about PDP. My father, Prince BB Apugo was among those that formed the party. So, there is nothing anybody can tell me that I don’t know about PDP.
You declined from seeking re-election, so, what will you be doing after 2023 when you serve out your tenure at the House of Assembly ?
Politics is not my main stay. I have my second address. I have so many things keeping me busy. I don’t want power at all cost. Maybe it’s because of my background because we saw power early in life. I’m not crazy about it. When I was given Principal position in the House, I rejected it because the Speaker is my brother and two of us cannot be occupying Principal positions at the same time when the other side of Umuahia has none. I said they should give it to them. That’s my kind of person.
Before the primaries you vowed to campaign against any Ibeku man running for the Ikwuano/Umuahia federal constituency seat, arguing it should go to Ohuhu clan. Are you still maintaining that position?
I’m a party man. The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji, contested and an Ohuhu man also contested but the Speaker won. Before I made my earlier declaration my brother didn’t tell me he was running but now he has emerged candidate, I have no choice than to support him.
I will not only support my brother Chinedum Orji morally, but will use my resources to ensure he is delivered. I will mobilise all my supporters for him because he is my brother, and he will win. Look at those who have been Speakers before, they all went to higher political office after being the Speaker. Will his own be different? He is too young to be retired in politics.
What is your assessment of Gov. Ikpeazu in the past seven years he has been on the saddle?
For me Gov. Ikpeazu has performed very well especially on security and infrastructural development. You may not know what is holding a man until you get close to him. I knew Ikpeazu before he became Governor. He is a man with good heart. He means well for Abia but he has his constraints.
In terms of infrastructure, he has done well. Tell me any motorable road in Aba today that was not built by Ikpeazu? Like some people criticising him, if he did more roads in Aba is it enough to say he didn’t perform? When Orji Uzor Kalu was Governor, did he not build more roads in Igbere including areas where there is no house till today? When Senator T. A Orji was Governor, did he not build more roads in Umuahia? So, if Ikpeazu is doing the same thing, why should his own be a crime?
Those who are sincere will admit that Ikpeazu has done well in many sectors. And Government is a continum. The next administation will continue from where he stops and focus on some other areas for the good of the state.