National Publicity Secretary of the Reformed- All Progressives Congress , Kassim Afegbua , speaks about ongoing defections in the National Assembly and the extent of discussions with the Adams Oshiomhole- led All Progressives Congress , among other issues .
What does the R -APC make of the recent siege on the residences of the Senate President , Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President , Ike Ekweremadu by armed security personnel?
We condemn it in its entirety , it was an act associated with gangsters ; it was an act associated with the infamous Gestapo of the German era . It is anachronistic , it is ridiculous and barbaric in every material particular . It was a brazen attempt to persecute the officers and leaders of the National Assembly , an independent arm of government. It is clearly an act which is simply a show by the executive to exhibit its capacity for the bizarre, that ’ s quite unfortunate . We are wondering why is it when the issues of harmless citizens come up, that the Inspector General of Police and other state apparatchik develop instant erection . But when it has to do with banditry and rampaging herdsmen, they quibble into their closet. Only recently , five people were killed in cold blood along Kaduna – Abuja Road; I was wondering why the Inspector – General of Police could not mobilise his officers and men with the gusto and bravado that he displayed to take his men to this road to secure the lives of innocent Nigerians . We have just lost innocent souls . This APC -led government cares less about the lives of Nigerians ; we have rivers of blood flowing across the country with cakes of crimson floating on the surface . We are pained in our hearts , this is not the leadership we campaigned and voted for ; we are pained in our hearts that this government that we brought on board has changed the kind of change we promised Nigerians in 2015. As Nigerians , it is not a fight for the R – APC alone, it is a fight for all Nigerians , we must protect and defend democracy with the last drop of our blood so that in the final analysis , we will write our name in the hall of fame of where things are done properly in all civilised nations and not this crudity and barbarism that has become our second nature .
Does the decision of members of the R -APC to leave the APC for other political parties not amount to you leaving a house you built for persons you earlier referred to as usurpers ?
Those people are just maximum rulers who belong to the military era . Look at the Gestapo manner they employ in carrying out attacks on persons who don ’ t agree with them . You can see the level of arrogance with which they have been carrying on. We are encouraged by the fact that what we alerted Nigerians about long before now is coming to pass . We are all living witnesses to the high rate of unemployment ; we are now number one in terms of poverty , our economy is in a shambles , we have become a bye word for bad governance . They can enjoy their loot for now , they condemn people and accuse them of looting the treasury, they are doing worse than what they accused the previous administrations of doing . There is so much looting going on under this administration , it has gone to the level of what we call political nadir . It is so bad that our security chiefs are now racking their brains according to the Presidency ; to find solutions to the myriad of problems confronting us in terms of security . Once it gets to the level of racking your brain , it means that you have come to a dead end , you cannot think of any other solution to the problem. It means you lack initiative , you are simply at your wits end , you are just rotating on the same axis and you expect us to have a different result .
Are you leaving the APC?
We will be abandoning the ship in a manner to secure another ship that will take Nigeria to a safer destination for all of us . It is not enough for people to clap , we must all insist that the right things must be done for us all to benefit .
Your National Chairman , Buba Galadima , was recently involved in an accident. Are you calling for an investigation ?
God is the ultimate investigator . It may be orchestrated by man but it was obvious that it was not of God that he should lose his life . He didn ’ t secure a single injury , no one in that vehicle was injured , not a scratch . But if you see the vehicle, it was a complete write off. People were wondering how people got out of that vehicle. That is to tell you that we have become victorious in our selfless intervention agenda to rescue Nigerians from the octopus grip of the APC . Whether anyone likes it or not , the voice of men is the voice of God . Once Nigerians in their majority have cried out for a change of leadership , so shall it be come February 2019.
Does this mean that all the pleas by the ruling party that your members should reconsider your position have come to naught?
It tells you that a lot of the minders and those who are manning the goal post of the APC are suffering from political naivety. Conscience , they say , is an open wound; only truth can heal it . They do not have conscience , neither do they have truth . They display arrogance; we were just looking and laughing at them . The train has since left the station, we will be picking our passengers along the lines in our terminus before we berth into the final conglomeration of parties that will signpost the end of the APC . Whether they like it or not , this government will be ushered out in 2019 because Nigerians are resolute and they have spoken in a loud voice , you can see the jubilation when our members in the National Assembly defected. That is to tell you that people had been expecting this for a long time . It is like holding a child by the jugular and he gets a little freedom. See the jubilation everywhere, in Kano, Benue and everywhere. People are quickly readjusting to fit into the new political dynamics that will usher us out of this quagmire . They ( APC ) will continue to beg because more people are leaving them to join us ; they are going round , they have a committee of ten governors and ministers and what have you . You can see that even within the party, you can see the altercation between the party and its ministers. That is to tell you that all is not well with the APC . The President has not been playing the politics of politics , the politics of inclusion , not of exclusion , the politics of participation ; he has been playing the politics of “ I don ’ t need you . ” Now that elections are coming , he flung open his doors to receive one visitor or the other . We expect the President to be on the field to heal the wounds in the hearts of Nigerians . There are so many mourners and condolences on the Nigerian landscape . People are mourning , we are suffering the effects of bad leadership and a leadership that has lost creativity and is lacking in initiative to birth a new Nigeria .
Has it always been the plan of those in R -APC to abandon the APC ship like you put it ?
I think you should read the rhythm of our interventions towards arresting the drift in the APC as it were . We have consistently maintained that the party has outlived its usefulness in terms of rendering service to Nigerians and providing service and leadership to Nigerians ; as we speak don ’ t forget that we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with about forty political parties with the Peoples Democratic Party as part of that MoU . This means our members can move into any of these parties and that is why you see some of our people moving to the Peoples Democratic Party, ADC and others that are signatories to this MoU . We still have more members , party leaders and chieftains who will be defecting in a matter of days . Politics is a well planned indulgence, it doesn ’ t require too much of haste ; it is very methodical in our approach and we insist that all critical elements in the political space be galvanised to ease out this analogue leadership that came on stream in 2015 so that Nigerians can meet up with the 21 st century leadership that the country desires .
What is your response to the claim that you were hired to destabilise the APC ?
Take a census of our party leaders ; do we look like anybody ’ s hirelings ? You see , in politics , when it is convenient for some people, they call you names when you are not serving their purpose, but when you are doing their bidding, they dress you in robes that belong only to kings . We are not hirelings . In fact , it is the other side that was hired to deny Nigerians the opportunity to access good governance , this is certainly not the change we in this party laboured and campaigned for . We promised Nigerians a better approach to governance but what do you have today ? Are Nigerians safer today ? It is not a question only one person can answer ; this is a question for all Nigerians who feel the pinch to answer . We remain focused and determined to give Nigeria a better platform to improve their lives ; we want to reposition our country . We have a party in power that has performed abysmally if you are using every index of development, we cannot be cowed into playing the ostrich when our nation is sliding into anarchy , we cannot remain silent in the face of oppression , Nigerians deserve better . We cannot claim to be progressives when we are behaving worse than the people we took over from . We must respect due process ; we must respect our own laws and give every Nigerian a sense of belonging . We have a duty to market hope and build national unity and cohesion ; we must unify Nigeria once again. The APC in the last three years has polarised Nigerians along so many lines that at the end of the day , one is forced to ask , is this the party we marketed and sold to Nigerians ? We expected that we should do better than what is currently happening . This is the same government in which organs and agencies of government are at each other ’ s throats with nobody calling them to order .
What exactly do you mean ?
Where were you when the State Security Service gave protection to a fugitive to prevent another security agency , the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, from arresting the fugitive? Where were you when the same EFCC tried to forcefully take a former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency ? This is a government that is said to be fighting corruption and is high on integrity. The judiciary and judicial officers have been harassed but to their credit, our respected judges have kept faith with their calling . Take the recent judgment involving the case instituted by the Federal Government against the Senate President , the case went up to the Supreme Court and the judges discharged their responsibilities devoid of emotions ; they looked at the facts and the law . I am happy that the Supreme Court under the leadership of the Justice Walter Onnogen is using that platform to strengthen our democracy , it is not about sentiments . We commend the judgment . The anti -corruption fight should be based on facts not fiction . Part of what we are doing at the Reformed -APC is to exorcise the demon of dictatorship from this administration because a civilian dictatorship is worse than anything you can think of . In a democracy , you have to follow due process , you must respect the rule of law ; without these you don ’ t have a democracy . Our security agencies must be apolitical , their loyalty must be to the nation Nigeria first because a time will come, we will all leave the stage but we must leave behind functional institutions which generations that will come after us will inherit and improve upon .
You talked about unfulfilled promises; can you mention any , if you can remember?
With due respect , President Muhammadu Buhari promised us asset declaration but what do we have ? He only submitted this to the Code of Conduct Bureau and it became a ding dong affair between presidential spokesmen and Nigerians when Nigerians reminded him about the promise to make it public . Then the case of Babachir Lawal came , it took forever before this administration could take action . At the end of the day , where is the case ? Today , Lawal goes in and out of the Villa; what are we talking about? And the people who are today at the forefront when the President is holding occasions , so many of them are alleged to be corrupt but nothing is happening to them . It is convenient for them to be shouting second term for the President so that they will continue to be protected . But it is not adding to the anti -corruption fight .
What is your response to those who accuse the R – APC of giving life to an orchestrated plot by aggrieved members of the APC to find an excuse to jump ship ?
Even the constitution recognises the issue of factions . We have a platform called the APC which has deviated from the core values of the party we built . We came together after several appeals and shouts calling for dialogue we were ignored , it is within our right as party loyalists to come together to articulate our grievances and be heard . We were called names and dismissed as inconsequential but today , the same people are going round begging , forgetting the fact that the train has since left the station. We expect more members of the APC to join us in moving towards taking back our nation from those who are obviously taking us back to the dark ages.
Don ’ t you think some who have identified with the R -APC will return to the APC when certain conditions are met ?
What conditions ? We are aware that offers were allegedly made to some of our leaders and members but like we all know , this is not an administration you can hold on to its promises in any shape or form . It will be the highest form of self deceit to believe that it can change now. The truth is this government has become desperate and can promise anything , including things it lacks the capacity to give just to retain power . Nigerians are wiser , our members are wiser and we remain confident that no amount of sweet talk will make us backtrack on our commitment to rescue Nigeria .
Do you share the fears earlier expressed by your National Chairman , Alhaji Buba Galadima that the system will clamp down on your group ?
Of course, we knew from the beginning what is happening . Why will they clamp down on us ? They will clamp down on us because they are desperate to sustain this phlegmatic leadership , they are desperate to sustain this leadership that is not result oriented , that is not utility driven and is not knowledge driven. We are running a government without an economic blueprint , without an economic team , without a clear cut policy focus . What we promised Nigerians we are not giving them . What is our narrative about education? What have we told Nigerians we have done or we are going to do about the growing level of unemployment and poverty among Nigerians ? We are not saying government should build companies and employ people; we are saying government should create the enabling environment for private enterprise to thrive to employ people. They came up with the issue of the $ 332 m Abacha loot ; you say you want to give it to poor Nigerians ? How do you choose them ? We have seen scenarios of cash transfers . Even though it is more opaque than transparent, we have seen how skewed in favour of one part of the country , where is justice and fairness ? In modern day reforms , your reforms must be equitable and it is more dangerous for a country as multi – religious and multi -ethnic like ours . You must cater for the interests of the diverse ethnicities in a manner that people will naturally make people buy into your policies and programmes . When there is no equity , there is bound to be stress. Whether or not this administration wants to clamp down on us , as for me as an adult , I want to own my country , there is currently no sense of ownership of this country . Whether or not you like it , if there is peace in Nigeria , we all benefit . The same way if there is anarchy , we will suffer it . When a government begins to tell you that it is better for you to be alive than hold on to your ancestral land , what kind of careless , reckless statement is that ? For a government that was voted into office by Nigerians ? For you to tell the same people to give up their land for grazing which is a private business, is it the business of government to look for land for herdsmen to graze their animals ? It is the business of government to create an enabling environment for people who want to continue in that line of business to thrive . Ranching is the standard practice the world over , government can partner herdsmen by educating them on modern techniques of raising animals in such a way that will be beneficial to all. For issuing an ordinary statement , agents of state arrested me here and took me to Lagos , so this administration is very sensitive to criticisms , they have launched a frontal attack on free speech which is the spice of democracy .
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