Hon. Preye Aganaba is one of the founding members of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State, and a key player in the party’s formative years at the national level. In this interview with ANDREW ESSIEN, he insists that APC is still the party to beat ahead of 2019
Are you not worried that interest is tearing the APC apart?
I have so much confidence in this party. From our first congress here in Abuja to the day we demonstrated to shut down the police headquarters to our presidential primaries in lagos, I was there and I saw APC leaders coupled together something that Nigerians never thought could come out of an opposition political party. I have confidence in the leadership of this party to resolve every issue.
There is problem in virtually every state chapter of the party on one hand and internal wrangling within the party hierarchy in the other. There are fears that the process that brought these men together to set aside their personal ambition and interest to forge a common front may not be there in 2019. Are you still really convinced that the party will put up a good show?
In my own opinion, I think we had more issues putting this party together in 2013 than we have today. Maybe because we are in government, everybody is seeing what is going on. There were lots of issues in 2013/2014, but the leaders were still able to put this party together and go into an election. If you remember, in Kano, Shekarau was the leader of the APC and when Kwankwaso moved in, he was made the leader and that turned into a crisis. It happened in Rivers state.
The current SSG in Wike’s government was the person leading the APC and when we moved in, there were issues. It happened in almost every state, even in Edo state with Tom Ikimi leaving the party. We had all these issues. I remember going into our first congress to elect our national chairman. We almost postponed it and Tom Ikimi left the party that very day. We almost shifted the congress. I was with our leaders, moving from house to house and we were able to bring everybody together to go for that congress to elect our current national chairman. Maybe because we are in government, everybody is seeing what is going on. Meetings are going on and very soon, you will see most of these thing being resolved.
Are you satisfied with the current NWC?
Don’t forget that this NWC took an opposition party into government, that is something that has never happened in the history of this country. There is no way one can begin to look down on them now because of certain issues going on. So, I will say we are satisfied. I don’t think anybody who can trace our history can cast aspersions on members of the NWC.
We know that the tenure of this NWC expires next year…
Anything can happen and we are not certain. They can do an extension
One of the things Nigerians will be looking at in making a decision in 2019 is the performance of the party. Are you satisfied with what the APC has done so far as a government?
Government wise, I think we have done well, but we may not be where we ought to be and that could be because we did not know that the country was where it was when we got into power. But we have done well. A few days ago, the story of Nigeria getting out of recession was all over the news, the prices of basic foodstuffs is going down. I get a minimum of 20 hours light per day. I am not too bothered about the economy because itsin good hands, but perhaps by the politics within the various zones. That is what will determine the outcome of the next election. The APC with Buhari will win that election, but to what margin is what I cannot say. We will also do well in the National Assembly elections. During the party presidential primary, the campaign slogan for Buhari was 12 million assured votes and I don’t think that one vote has left kitty.
Considering the health of the President and other factors, would you encourage the president to re contest? Do you think he can still win?
If President Buhari runs for election today, he is going to win. I don’t think the President is as ill as the cynics are trying to sell. Like every other human being, he can fall sick. The problem is that because he is in government and he is President, there are lots of stories. But he is back and healthy. I don’t think that for now the APC has any other choice than to field him. People are free to contest the primary, of course. I was in the convention committee and we had a free and fair primary in Lagos and he won with more than half of the votes.
You said “we have done well”, yet most of the federal roads across the country are not passable, the people have been cut off. In Abuja, those who live on the outskirts cannot get home easily because the roads are in terrible shape…
About five years ago, there was this theory that Nigeria could not absolve more than N200 billion worth of capital fund injection into the economy. Some believed that we could not spend N200 billion for capital development in Nigeria because the economy was not buoyant enough to seamlessly absolve it. Last year, almost a trillion naira was released. I don’t want to believe that some of the stories you are telling me are true. I know some of the roads are bad, but don’t forget that there are not enough to serve Nigeria and her high population. But I am also sure that most of the roads in the south east are being worked on as we speak.
Two weeks ago, the east west road failed along my constituency and I was inundated with calls by my people, promptly, I called the Minister of Works who told me that people had been calling him and he had responded by instructing and mobilizing contractors to sort out the problem. I don’t want to believe that most of the roads you claim are bad are actually bad.
How can the crisis in Bayelsa APC be resolved?
I don’t think the Bayelsa APC is in crisis, but it depends from where you are looking at it. In a political party, people have their different views and different interest and so, it is inevitable that different issues should arise. Eventually, however, those issues are always resolved politically and somehow we are getting to a point of resolving the issues in Bayelsa APC. The pioneer chairman of the APC in the state is a good man who put in a lot to the establishment of the APC in Bayelsa state.
The same thing with the former governor Timipre Sylva without whom the APC in Bayelsa state might not have been a reality. Everybody contributed their quota. There are bound to be issues and I wish and hope that those issues are resolved. Right now, there is an Acting Chairman in the state and we are looking at how to rebuild the party and move forward from there. What is happening is all politics and at the end of the day, a solution will be found, steps will be taken. But what we have for now is an acting chairman whose mandate is to rebuild the party and gather everybody together.
Does that mean that the former Chairman has agreed to work with the acting chairman?
Even though he has not agreed, there is hierarchy of power in a political party. If the NWC has met and concluded that it was the best decision for now, then, I believe that everybody should tow that line. That may not necessarily mean that the aggrieved parties will go home and sleep, of course, they are still making their case, but for now, we have an acting chairman whose mandate is to build the party and gather all party faithfuls together.
What about the allegation of anti-party against the former chairman, especially the allegation of hobnobbing with the governor.