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Saturday, 22 February 2014

Senator Uzamere has become a political liability – Afegbua

Prince Kassim Afegbua is Special Adviser, Media and Public Affairs to the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. In the wake of defection of Senator Uzamere, the Senator representing Edo South Senatorial District, where he gave some reasons for his defection, Prince Afegbua spoke to Weekend Vanguard, in reaction to some of the claims by the defected Senator; excerpts:
Your State suffered from the gale of defection sweeping across the country when the Senator representing Edo South, Senator Uzamere defected to the Peoples’ Democratic Party [PDP]. What is your reaction to this?
Well, first and foremost, he has the constitutional right to belong to any political party that suits his ideological persuasion, except that when you are leaving a party, there are conditions precedents to taking your action. I am not aware that the APC is embroiled in any crises whatsoever. Whatever may have been the motivation for Senator Uzamere defecting, did not meet with the constitutional requirement for doing so. The relevant sections of the 1999 Constitutional are very clear on this.
Prince Kassim Afegbua
Prince Kassim Afegbua
The reasons he gave are as unintelligent as the motive. He was trying to be clever by half but any discerning mind would see through the insincerity of purpose. But just like I said, we may choose to test his defection in the law court to explain whether it is possible for anyone to leave his Party when there was no crises whatsoever.
But he accused the Governor as being a sole administrator who overturns and overturns decisions depending on his mood. How do you react to that?
Assuming that is true, how does that score for a reason why a Senator should defect? Is that the position of the Constitution? Having said that, the statement is grossly irresponsible.
I think, the Senator should be man enough to state the reason why he feels comfortable with PDP now than just beating about the bush selling untenable excuses. I think he discovers that he might not get the prized ticket of the APC again, having performed woefully in the Senate in the last three years, hence he decided to port.
I am aware that the Comrade Governor has been complaining about the Senator’s regime of silence in the Senate, not participating in debates, discussions and arguments in the Senate. The only time you hear his voice is when there are nominees for certain positions waiting to be cleared. As a Senator representing APC in the Parliament, you must be a strong advocate for good governance and development.
We cannot afford to tolerate any lawmaker who is docile in the Senate; who rather than contribute to discussions and debates, join the army of those professional clappers for other people’s contributions. Any party that intends to field him for future election must be ready to break the vault.
How do you react to the claim by Senator Uzamere that the Comrade Governor has not been able to impact on the wellbeing of an average Benin man, in terms of projects and empowerment?
It is not only laughable and ludicrous, but reckless of a Senator that is vested with the responsibility of making laws for the good of Nigerians. Why do you have to tell a lie because you want to make an impression? Why do you have to distort facts simply because you want to create a scenario to justify your self-serving position? What the Comrade Governor administration has done in Edo South alone is unparalleled in the history of Edo State. I challenge him to name one project he has attracted to Edo South since he has become a Senator.
He has been hiding under the cover of the APC government to showcase his achievements. His history of non-performance has been the bone of contention between him and the Comrade Governor, because according to the Governor, APC cannot afford not to do things differently from what we inherited from the PDP. The cost of the Benin City Storm Water Project alone is more than the cost of all projects in the two other senatorial districts put together. In the area of roads, hospitals and schools, what we have been able to fix in Edo South far supersede those in other areas. Every reasonable Edo person today appreciates the intervention of the Comrade Governor and day in, day out, you see distinguished Edo sons and daughters coming to appreciate the Governor for his achievements thus far. Please when next you see Senator Uzamere, ask him what he has done in his senatorial district in the last three years.
But the Senator seems to be speaking the minds of some people who accuse the Governor of highhandedness?
Those who are listening to him, if any, are members of his jester club who sleep-walk about to look for relevance. The Comrade Governor is very impatient when it comes to non-performance. He is very temperate when he sees that you have nothing to offer. When he recruited Senator Uzamere as candidate for the defunct ACN, he was not only a hard sell, but very expensive to market. We were trying to prove a point to Chief Anenih who boasted that Uzamere had reached his political Golgotha. When we were campaign for him, it actually became manifest. We had to deploy all the strategies of house to house campaign, night and day, to ensure that we were able to defeat the PDP’s formidable candidate in Senator Ehanire Daisy Danjuma. I remember the electorates telling the Comrade Governor that they were voting for him and not Uzamere. He was such a hard sell.
He was like akara balls drenched in sands. We had to clean him up, deploy house to house strategy, deploy effective media strategy and prevailed on the people to vote for him. He was a total liability that was almost irredeemable but trust Oshiomhole, he can sell coal to Newcastle dwellers through his power of oratory and superlative delivery. But today, just like a child with faint memory, Uzamere may have forgotten all of that. Incidentally, he still remains our friend, but we owe it a moral duty, to put history in its proper perspective so that researchers will not take his distorted claims as the currents of history.
The APC membership registration has just been conducted. How would you describe the exercise against the backdrop of the attendant crises that greeted it?
You are bound to have pockets of crisis here and there, but they are not strong enough to upstage the applecart. That also tells you something about the popularity of the APC. Nigerians are keying into the APC agenda and the membership of the party is growing by the day. At the State level here, people have come to realize that the Party has demonstrated competence in governance and service delivery. It is the party to beat here in Edo State, which is why there are internal struggle for control.
Yes, the struggle for the control of the Party has been on for some time now as a result of the forthcoming coming general elections. What do you see happening in future if some persons are denied the Party’s ticket?
I am not a political soothsayer that sees the future of any party. I am well equipped however with political nuances to predict certain occurrences in political circles. One thing the APC will do which I think is the right thing will be to present strong candidates for the forthcoming elections. I have been seeing some aspirants who in their heart of hearts know too well that they can’t deliver any election. I have seen some who I would rather call pretenders to the throne because they lack what it takes to engage any serious political discourse, yet there are few others who have the mileage to be what they intend to be.
All these, will be a matter of time. But you know that the Governor has a greater role to play to make sure that the Party remains together for the sole purpose of being a strong contender for any political position. It is the same issues that will factorize the political equation of the Governorship in 2016. So many things will come to play, but first thing first.
Are you foreseeing any further defection?
It is not unlikely. I pray that the strong political characters and personages continue to fraternize with the APC. When the strong political leaders have genuine complains, the Governor knows how to carry them along but certainly not the likes of political lightweight of Senator Uzamere’s composition.
Off loading a political liability like Senator Uzamere is good for the APC system, otherwise, you risk exposing your internal strategies through espionage and spy work and moles. But like I said, he remains my big brother and friend, there is nothing personal in all of this, just that I hate people standing truth on its head.

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