A former commissioner in Edo State and public affairs commentator, Prince Kassim Afegbua, speaks on the ongoing political development in Nigeria and his resignation from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in this interview with BEN OGBEMUDIA
It is no news that you have resigned from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). One would have expected you to have made this move earlier than now. What necessitated this decision?
The PDP is no longer applicable for me at this time following my political choices and I have made it very clear that given our plural status as a country, because of our heterogeneous composition as a country with several ethnic multicultural as a nation-state, there is a conscious deliberate need, a very conscious one for that matter for political parties to understand these dynamics so they can balance the political algorithm of the country. After President Buhari’s eight years, it is only natural that every political party should take their candidate from the South, so the Southerners would succeed him but PDP came up with some manner of curious arithmetic twisting all logic, introducing all manner of manipulation just to ensure that Atiku Abubakar secured his ticket for the party. The chairman of the party who I thought will live up to the expectation as someone who was one of the founding leaders of the PDP also capitulated and walked from an answer to the question. So, in the entire process, it was manipulation upon manipulation, deceit, dishonesty, and political hostages. In the final analysis you saw what happened after the convention even the chairman paid a congratulatory visit to governor Tambuwal of Sokoto State saying he was a hero for stepping down. That means the chairman was partisan which is not good and healthy for the internal politics and democracy of the PDP. So, for me during my position as a member, I can’t stay in PDP to campaign for Atiku Abubakar or Okowa so I decided to leave and resigned. I don’t have to be a politician or be in politics to get something.
What’s your next move, which party are you looking at?
I am a Nigerian, I run my media consultancy office known as PKA limited. I just opened an office, so I have to face my media work. If I see any aspirant from the south that appeals to my sensibility I’ll support the person wholeheartedly. Either Peter Obi, Tinubu, or otherwise. It depends on the consultation I’m carrying out; it depends on my leg work. Some members of PDP alleged that your support for Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike is induced by the huge amount you were paid by Governor Wike hence the character you now exhibited. What is your reaction to this?
I started challenging Alhaji Atiku in December 2021 before this new executive leadership of PDP by that time I’ve not met Wike in my life. People will always raise dust when you have the confidence to speak out on issues. It was barely one and half months to the convention when I met Wike for the first time one-on-one and that was just it. I don’t owe anyone apologies because I am a political adult, I don’t owe anyone any explanation, but I am not one of those persons driven by stomach infrastructure politics. If I want to be driven by stomach infrastructure politics, I would have been a multi-millionaire by now. There are reasons why I do things. If I am not justified by my conscience, then there will be no point in pursuing money.
What gives you hope that Atiku cannot win this election?
That is his business. It will be recorded in history that for A, B, and C reasons Kassim left PDP, it is not a matter of seeking power out of desperation but about understanding the dynamics in the country and working patriotically to pursue those issues that will bring stability in the system. You may not understand what I’m saying but if you sit back and do a critical analysis after eight years of Buhari who is from the north; you will understand that naturally, it should be the turn of the south to rule. That is why I aligned myself totally with the position of the APC northern governors who came out like patriots to say no to Ahmed Lawan. The Northern governors’ stand is to deepen the trust between the North and South. The governor stood their ground and at the end of the day, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu emerged as the party candidate. I expected the PDP to have done the same. Where is the support base of Alhaji Atiku to win the election for the PDP? Go and check the demographics of the 2019 election he got from the South and middle-belt, but in the North-East where he comes from, he failed.
Let’s look at the combination of the Atiku and Okowa tickets. What is your take on this?
The point is when there was an Asaba declaration that was hosted by Okowa I thought there was honesty and purpose to pursue that particular dream to a logical conclusion, but he withdrew and started supporting Atiku through the back door.
Bearing in mind that all the South-South governors are PDP members, don’t you think Okowa would galvanise huge support for the party at the polls?
He doesn’t enjoy the support of anybody aside from Governor Godwin Obaseki. The PDP is factionalised into two. Wike would have been able to rally votes and put the South-South together but Okowa can’t rally votes.
They said Wike was dropped because he was overbearing on issues. Do you subscribe to this?
That is their business but each time he comes to their rescue they embrace him and that is a contradiction, hypocrisy in the highest order. Atiku defected from the party but Wike sustained the party by contributing to running the party at both national headquarters and ensuring all the state chapters are up and doing.
Do you see Wike defecting to another party?
I am not his political spokesman nor am I a student of his politics. I do things that appeal to my senses.
Let’s look at Tinubu’s emergence how do you see him?
He is a tested political horse which you can’t take away from him. He is a formidable candidate for APC and APC can win this 2023 election. Tinubu will win because I’m looking at individuals and not even the party. Whether you like it or not, his political model or module has become part and parcel of what the Lagos State government is building on since 2007. The succeeding governors of Lagos State have been doing well. Tinubu is a good strategist and planner; he can assemble his brain to deliver any political promise. Tinubu has better political experience than Atiku.
Some of your former party members said you were never a member of the party. How will you react to this?
That is their business, I am not blinded by sentiment, I am entitled to one vote, and I’ll choose my candidate. All those idiotic statements of the party’s loyalty, there is no need to tell lies, I was suspended in 2020. They should tell me what I benefited from PDP in 5years. I put in more than what I got from PDP. I go to television to speak; I go to APC to interrogate.
For the few periods you were with the national chairman of PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, how will you rate him?
He is a failure. Ayu’s leadership is a complete failure. What leadership cannot solve the crisis in their 12 states, they couldn’t even go to Ekiti State to go and campaign for their candidate. At the Edo convention we got court orders and for Ayu’s leadership to obey the court orders it was a problem until a few hours before the convention when they accepted them to go into the venue. They are busy changing furniture in their homes and riding exotic cars which, they never had. We know what is happening but at the appropriate time, people will render accounts.
Let’s look at Wike’s performance at the just-concluded convention
Wike was the hero of that convention. Southerners who people underrated rose to the point of winning that election until his friend ditched him at a critical moment. Till now I’m still in shock because I know the role Wike played in 2019 for Governor Tambuwal
Would you have advised him to take the vice-presidential candidate position?
I don’t give a damn about the political choices, Wike is an adult, he is a governor of his state, he is doing well, they call him Mr Project he is a goal-getter and I admire his guts, his courage. Whatever choices he made that is his choice.