The National Publicity Secretary of the Reformed All Progressives Congress, Kassim Afegbua, in this interview speaks;
Is the R-APC simply a coalition of aggrieved politicians who came together for the sole purpose of stopping President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term bid?
Our motivation is not to stop anybody; the motivation is for people to do the right things. We cannot continue to rotate on the same axis and expect a different result. Democracy is an all inclusive game; it is not the exclusive preserve of any individual, no matter how good you are at oratory, no matter how good you are at convincing people with your lyrics.
Democracy is what caters to the interest of the greater majority. That is why it is called democratic rule because of the process that leads to an outcome.
The process is as important as the outcome. But in the case of the national convention of the All Progressives Congress, they were more interested in the outcome than the process.
That is why they jettisoned the provisions of Article 20 of the APC Constitution 2014 (as amended) in carrying out the voice vote. I am happy they are going round now to beg people. That means they were aware that there was a crisis before and after the convention. You can now imagine the same people who are calling us hirelings are the same people going round to beg. Are they also talking to hirelings and mercenaries?
What is your response to allegations that most of you are simply angry that you didn’t have your way during the last convention?
If you want to talk about the technicalities of the convention, you will agree with me that the convention undermines the integrity of democracy. Let us face the facts. When the opposition Peoples Democratic Party wanted to conduct its convention, we saw the various chairmanship aspirants going round the country to campaign; trying to familiarise themselves with the party apparatus in the states.
The delegates and other party members across the country had the opportunity of meeting the aspirants so that when they come to Abuja, they wouldn’t be looking like strangers. In the case of the APC, there was no single aspirant that travelled to anywhere to campaign. If you have one, please mention him to me.
While we condemned the PDP for having a unity list, the APC is a master of unity lists that you can testify to. When they declared that 18 positions were unopposed, it is written in black and white in the party’s constitution that for positions that aspirants are contesting unopposed, what you do is to carry out a voice vote or a ballot.
That was not done. The chairman of the convention committee, the Governor of Jigawa State, Abubakar Badaru, only came out to say, “Do you agree? Do you affirm? Okay!” He didn’t say those who are in support of this or that candidate, say “Ayes” those against say “Nay” as we normally see it practised in the parliament.
We in the R-APC are not personalising this issue; we are looking at the fundamental issues of democracy. This is more so particularly under a government that is reputed to have integrity, for God’s sake. You must respect, to the letter, what is contained in your constitution.
We were celebrating that we were able to relegate the godfathers of the PDP years; we are being confronted with godfathers who are neither respecters of their own constitution nor that of the country. When you have a government which says you should give up your ancestral land to stay alive, what kind of reckless statement is that?
What do you make of Executive Order 6 recently signed by the President?
What we are also doing as members of the R-APC is also to de-robe Mr. President of dictatorial tendencies because if you have democratic dictatorship, it is worse than military dictatorship. In a democracy, you have to follow the rule of law which means you must respect procedures.
You don’t just wake up in the morning; you have a dream and you want to implement that dream. It is not right. This country is larger than the occupant of the office of the President. The President must subsume himself within the desires and aspirations of the Nigerian people.
Whether you like it or not, one day, whoever the occupant of that office is, one day, he is going to leave that position at the expiration of his tenure. Whatever you do, if it is not grounded in law, will be reversed with the passage of time. In other countries, which we often refer to, the President will first submit himself to purification so to speak, to say, this is who I am, I don’t have this, I don’t have that.
With due respect, President Muhammadu Buhari promised us assets declaration, we didn’t see it, he only submitted it to the Code of Conduct Bureau; and it became a ding-dong when Nigerians demanded to see it.
From the day he declined to make public his asset declaration, he missed the first shot. Then, the case of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, came up. He refused to take action until public outcry became loud. Till today, what happened? Babachir Lawal goes in and out of the Villa. So, what are we talking about?
Does the fact that you and your former boss, the former Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, who is now the National Chairman of the APC, on different sides make you disloyal?
It does not. I am an adult and my destiny is in my hands; it is not tied to the umbilical cord of anybody. What I want to achieve in life, how I want to go about it, what I need to do to pursue my dreams, I have prayed to God; it is not anybody’s business. I was born alone and I will die alone.
People have to possess a certain level of independence of mind. It is sad that people narrow everything down to bread and butter; this is nonsense. If I could be bold enough to tell my erstwhile boss, the governor, that I didn’t support the candidate that he was supporting, I should be commended for having a personal view on any subject.
I am not a blind follower. After the primaries in Edo, I supported the candidate of my party who emerged who incidentally is the present governor of Edo State. God forbid the day I will see something I don’t like and would not speak out.
It is not an accident of history that God has blessed me with the ability to speak out when I am oppressed. I respect the comrade governor. I remain grateful that he gave me the opportunity to serve my state. As we speak, I still hold him in high esteem, and he is my friend. We are talking about the life of our nation.