Prince Benjamin Benedict Apugo, popularly known as BB Apugo is a BoT and national caucus member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He is equally the Oparaukwu/Ochiagha Ibeku where he hails from.
In the interview, he spoke about the clamour for an Igbo man becoming the president of Nigeria in 2023, with the verdict that Igbo is not serious with its approach to the coveted seat.
He equally spoke about the deaths of two Abia women, wife of the first military head of state, Maj-General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi, Lady Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi and that of the Premier of Eastern region, Dr. Michael Okpara, Lady Adanma Okpara, describing them as great women who served Nigeria meritoriously. Excerpts:
Are you happy with what is happening in APC where some people are clamouring for the national caretaker committee chairman to go?
You know that ordinarily, I have attained the highest position in Nigerian politics, including APC, for being a member of Board of Trustees and a member of national caucus. I will always support the Constitution of the party, I cannot go outside the Constitution of the party. Whatever direction the party gives or is going, that’s where I will be.
At the last count, three PDP governors among others have joined APC and the leadership of the opposition party is accusing your party of using EFCC to coerce them. Could that be true?
Well, sincerely speaking to you, this party politics is when you make up your mind of what you want to be, the route to it is what you should follow. So, those people leaving PDP to APC, they know what they have in mind. Maybe, they have seen APC as the nearest route to achieve their objective.
Are you happy about the defections into APC?
What are you talking about? I’m very, very happy. We want all the PDP governors to join APC, apart from (Okezie) Ikpeazu.
Why excluding Ikpeazu?
Because he has not achieved anything. When you are going to talk to people, you will tell them what you have done. I am from Umuahia, the state capital, since I have not seen six inches block going up as a structure since he became governor, why shouldn’t I say apart from him? I don’t think there is any other state in Nigeria like Abia in terms of backwardness.
I don’t want to talk about his government because I don’t see him, I saw him once at night, since then, I have never seen Ikpeazu for these eight years he is completing in the next few months. I haven’t seen him again, I have only seen him once in my life.
When you saw him, did you have a kind of interaction or exchanged pleasantries with him?
What type of interaction are you talking about? I said I saw him at night and we don’t use nights to exchange pleasantries, that is our tradition, our tradition does not permit us to exchange pleasantries at nights.
What can you say about the growing security in the country as well as poverty in the land. Is that what APC promised Nigerians before coming to power?
You know why I cannot comment fully on that. Look, this governance is like dancing, if the drum is being beaten, you have your dance steps the way you want it to be. Another person also will have his. Having said that, I know there are many states that are doing well, some of them are APC controlled, why? I have never been to Abakaliki (Ebonyi State) before, but people are commending Governor Dave Umahi. Ebonyi is not an oil producing state. This few months Senator Hope Uzodimma is in Imo as governor, I learnt he has done well too. States around us are doing well, I’m not talking about Lagos and Abuja, so, why do you want to tie me to the ones that are not doing well.
2023 is fast approaching and some people are clamouring for an Igbo man to be president of the country. Are you joining the bandwagon in this regard?
Has any Igbo man come out to say he wants to be president of this country?
Yes, Dr Sam Ohuabunwa has.
Let’s make this clear, which one is Ohuabunwa’s political party? Because we have to be realistic for kingdom sake, how many Igbo men have come out to show interest in the presidential race? Let us not be making caricature of ourselves. If an Igbo man is interested in becoming the president of Nigeria in 2023, he would have gone halfway making friends with other tribes in Nigeria. The 36 states, he must have gone to at least 18 with some Igbo leaders who people from other parts of Nigeria recognize and respect. So, let us not be making mockery of ourselves; no Igbo man has come out, none. And if an Igbo man does not come out, it will not stop people from other parts of the country from coming out. And there’s no zoning in APC, PDP may be taking their own presidential candidate from the North, so, let’s forget this unnecessary thinking, it’s not going to happen, because nobody has presented himself. If you’re from Delta or Rivers State you claim to be an Igbo man when it comes to sharing. As far as I am concerned, no Igbo man has come out.
Are we going to see APC retaining power at the federal level and perhaps capturing Abia in 2023?
Well, if it is PDP in Abia, that one is dead and buried. But if it is APC, that one is alive, it’s only another political party that has not been in existence that can challenge APC in Abia. If it is PDP, forget that one.
Chief Ikechi Emenike appeared to be having his way in Abia APC, are you not worried about that?
No, no, no. I registered Ikechi Emenike in APC. After registering him, he sued the party in this state in five courts. He sued PDP, he sued ANPP and APGA too, so, he is Mr. Suit, but he never won any. Remember that this same Governor Mai Mala Buni was the national secretary before, he still gave Ikechi Emenike parallel line when Adams Oshiomhole was the national chairman. Ikechi Emenike has formed parallel line more than four times, but has not succeeded in any. In this particular case, he shot himself completely because he was expelled from the party, after the state rectified it, Oshiomhole announced his explosion and he has not been recalled. Even at that if he were recalled, the people that came for the Ward Congress are robbers. They didn’t report to the party state secretariat, Commissioner of Police was waiting for them because they were supposed to have submitted their letters to the police, DSS and INEC, but they didn’t do that, nobody saw them. They went straight to Ikechi’s house and faked the result. It were the caretaker local government chairmen that were supposed to have conducted the Ward Congress, with the people from Abuja witnessing. So, the LG Caretaker Committee chairmen from the 17 local governments were all at the party secretariat, but they didn’t see anybody from Abuja. Ikechi Emenike has been like that. Even if there is nobody in the state, what he is doing cannot work. Apart from the fact that the state caretaker committee went to court, what Ikechi is doing cannot work, so, forget about Ikechi Emenike. The national knows that everything wrong was done by them, so, they are looking for a way to remedy it, knowing full well what Ikechi Emenike did is nonsense.
Could we say the national made a mistake by aiding him in hijacking the people from Abuja for the Ward Congress?
No, it was not a mistake. They did it willingly. It was John James Akpanudoedehe, the so-called national caretaker committee secretary that did it. I don’t believe it was Mala Buni that did it, even it was him who was secretary when Ikechi did the first one. But I don’t think this particular one was done by him because he knows Emenike won’t succeed. If he never succeeded during that time it was only myself, Nwamkpa and Nyerere, how can he succeed now that we have creme of people in the party?
Recently, two great women from Abia, precisely Umuahia in the persons of Lady Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi and Adanma Okpara died. What’s your reaction?
Well, both of them were First Ladies, they are from my home. We have lost great women. You know death is a necessary end that will come when it will, there is no way anybody can stop it, but the next thing is to see whether these people achieved anything while alive, for me, I would say both achieved a lot.
Looking at what the husbands of these great women, Maj.-Gen JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi and Dr. Michael Okpara did, do you think the Federal Government has done enough to immortalize these men?
If you’re talking of immortalizing them in their home town which is Umuahia Ibeku, the Federal Government has not done anything. In fact, I am thinking whether it was because of them that the Federal Government has decided to neglect Umuahia. My mind is telling me that those who were their enemies maybe who later came to power have decided to punish every Umuahia man. Because there is nothing here to show. The only university of Agriculture that is here, was built because of me. It was Alhaji Adamu Ciroma that put up what you call today Michael Okpara University of Agriculture at Umudike. I went with him to establish that university. He slept in my house and was going to Bayelsa to establish that university, when I pleaded with him, as a father, he decided to establish that university here and that is the only federal presence we have had.
Are there not things that should be done to make the Federal Government look this way to immortalize these great men?
It’s in my mind. Since the state government is sleeping, they have been sleeping, if there’s anything the Federal Government can do for us, I mean the people of Umuahia, no matter how little because Aguiyi-Ironsi and Okpara are from Umuahia, not only Umuahia, they are from the same place, from the same local government, almost from the same village, Ibeku and Ohuhu, we will appreciate that. It’s unfortunate that these great men who are brothers, but you cannot find any good roads in their local government area. The Federal Government has done nothing for their people. The Umuahia/Bende federal highway, (Babatunde) Fashola was here to approve it, yet, there is nothing. There is no water, no light, no hospital, no school, nothing. No presence of any of the governments, both federal and state in Umuahia. If they can remember that Dr. Okpara was Premier of Eastern region and that he was from here, if they can remember that General Aguiyi-Ironsi was the first head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces is also from Umuahia Ibeku, they should do something for Umuahia Ibeku.
Lady Aguiyi-Ironsi as Eze Nwanyi Ibeku, traditionally she must have held revered positions. You as Oparaukwu Ibeku, what are the positions she held?
I know that she led Ibeku women for many years and for that, she played a role in Ibeku land, to unify the women. And up till this moment, as Oparaukwu Ibeku, I have not seen anybody who is taking over from her. That means we have a vacuum to fill.