A few days ago, the Supreme Court gave a judgement that ended the factionalisation saga in the Rivers State APC. Igo Aguma who was chairman of the group that dragged power with the authentic chapter of the party was ousted by that judgement and moments after, he announced his exit from the party.
He spoke with the publisher of TNN in this telephone interview that was transcribed by EDITH CHUKU.
Let’s talk to you about recent developments in the party.
(cuts in) I’m no longer a member of APC, so don’t ask me about APC.
Not necessarily about APC but about you.
A judgment was given yesterday, my lawyers are yet to give me a copy of the judgement, I will read it, when I read through, I’m sure you have a copy of my letter of resignation from the party.
That’s part of what I had wanted us to look at. When you won at the high court, you called for reconciliation for those who were aggrieved to return and work with you, but now that you lost, you have left the party.
(cuts in) Did you read my letter of resignation from the party?
Yes, I did sir.
If you read my letter of resignation from the party did you read the Supreme Court judgement?
No, I’ve not read the Supreme Court judgement in its entirety
Thank you. So the thing is, you just have to, well, as a journalist, the first thing you should do is to look at the Supreme Court judgement. The judgement did not declare a loss, the supreme court said that they don’t have jurisdiction to look into the matter, that it is an internal party matter, so that is not a loss, it’s an internal party affair, that it’s the party that ought to look into it.
We have been in this crisis, I wrote to the party, that you cannot say I’m a statutory member of the party exco and dissolve me and the party has refused to look into it. So, a party that cannot guarantee the right that it has given to me from the constitution, what am I staying in the party for? There is no issue of reconciliation. Am I quarreling with anybody?
So, as it is now, what next for you?
For me, I’m a politician, at the appropriate time, I’m talking to my supporters, we will take a decision and know what to do.
Is there any possibility that you may join the PDP?
Now, let me tell you something. The Electoral Act amendment 2010, when I was in the house of reps, had my signature on it because I initiated it and part of the amendment we were looking for was a recognition of a National Assembly member in the executive of the party that they belong to. So APC was a good bride because APC brought that amendment into their constitution. As at this point in time, we will look at the constitution of all the parties that are relevant and know which party is responsive and which party keeps to its constitution.
I’m a politician, the days are still very young. So, the important thing is that I went to court on my conscience, and on my conscience because the party cannot give me what they promised in their constitution. I’ve left the party, the court has said it; it’s not in my place to do it, it is the party that has to do it. That’s what the court says. So, it’s not a question of who won and who did not win, the court just referred us back to the party.
And your party let it down?
They have let down na, since, because they have refused to call, all the while we were in court, all the while we have been in court, the national secretariat of the party has not called one meeting to say, what is happening in Rivers State? So, it just shows that, as it happened in 2015, and as it has happened in 2019, that the APC Rivers State is not on a critical success part of APC winning elections in Nigeria. So we are not relevant and they treat us as such, the only person who is relevant to them in the party is probably the honorable minister for transportation. So once they satisfy him, that’s all, he is the only person seen as a stakeholder from Rivers State because we are not part of their critical success part, that is what I’ve come to conclude from it. Within this same period, Ekiti had a crisis; immediately within the same week the national secretariat of the party set up a committee and waded into it, but we have had a crisis in Rivers State since that even predates me and the national secretariat has done nothing. It then shows that we are not part of their critical success part, we are not. APC Rivers State is not part of the critical success part for APC national. So what are we wasting our time there for, there is no need to waste our time.
You’ve mentioned the minister of transportation and before now, there have been talks about his perceived presidential ambition. Do you believe that he has what it takes to be the president of this country?
That’s his business, he has not told me about being president of Nigeria. When he tells me about that, then I can say what I want to say, I can now take my judgment from there.
Judging from your relationship with him, judging from the way he is running the party, so do you think he has what it takes to become Nigeria’s president?
My dear brother, I don’t know what he has, when we get to that bridge, we will cross it. For now, he has not told me he is running, he has not told anybody to my knowledge that he is running to be president of Nigeria, the day he says so, we will match his CV with the job.
How do you reconcile this insinuation that even when you were in the APC you’ve always been hobnobbing with the PDP and that you’ve always worked for Wike actually?
(laughs) Like I keep telling everybody, my former party was run based on postulations, based on riddles and insinuations. I have friends that cut across all political parties. I will not because, I am in politics then I will not relate with my friends, that are in other political parties. Chief Andrew Uchendu, one of those who say all these things, is his son not a staunch member of the Peoples Democratic Party? All those things are neither here nor there. My late brother was in the PDP. So I should stop relating with him because he is in a different party and his wife who is a commissioner under Wike shouldn’t enter my house again because we are not of the same party? Abeg, they should please go and look for some other thing.
Okay, so can we describe Wike as one of your friends?
Ah ah! Nyesom Wike has always been my friend na, my childhood friend for that matter, ah ah! Wike is my childhood friend, so because somebody is my friend does it mean that if we are not in the same party, he should be my enemy? The kind of politics they are playing, Igo Aguma will never play that type of politics. I come from a very big family, and in my family everybody belongs to the political contraption of his or her desire. I will now because of A belongs to here, B belongs to there…. Them, are they quarreling, those that are saying it are they quarreling with their relations in other parties? Or their friends that are in other parties? Abeg, is there any other question? that one no be question, that one wey you ask now no follow.
Okay, so let me ask correct question. As things have turned out now, what will happen to all those who bought forms and indicated interest to contest the April LG elections in Rivers State?
Well, what I can say is this, I was doing my duty as at then, as a critical stakeholder, and leader of the party, and the chairman of the party as at then, a locus which does not exist anymore. My intention then was to go and ensure that APC as a party get back to the ballot, that I have succeeded before leaving the party, in the sense that 23 candidates emerged from the 23 local government areas of the state. Councillorship candidates have emerged from almost 300 out of 319 councillorship wards in the state. So, it is left for the party and its stakeholders and more importantly, the individuals who have been screened and cleared by the Rivers State independent electoral commission to guide their process. A party presents a candidate, at the point in time when the candidate has gotten to the relevant government institution, it’s no longer a sole property of the party, the political party more or less has done their duty by that time. So, it is left for the party, the candidate to sit down and decide. But if I were a candidate and I’m popular, the party has presented me to go for election, and I’m going for election.
They were presented under the leadership of the faction that you led, which does not exist anymore. The group that is now recognized in law has said it clearly till now, that they are not taking part in any election at all. So how do you reconcile this?
Have you read the Rivers State law? The Rivers State law is very clear, the Rivers State independent electoral commission law is very clear, the only qualification you have to run an election is that you are a member of a political party. Next question, are those people that were presented not members of APC? I need not say more. I don’t need to be dwelling on APC, a party that I’ve left. Please, it’s history for me, I’m looking forward to my politics.
Okay, let’s leave that. How do you rate the performance of the current governor of Rivers State?
(cuts in) I want to say, that one is not very difficult to rate because I come from Port Harcourt Local Government Area. I have no home town to go to, other than the one I live in Ogbunuabali, my village, my house, I live in my village. So, a situation where I know that, and I can see that a sizeable chunk of the tax payers money is spent in my local government area, I drive through it, I see it, what else can I say? Of course, in-terms of infrastructure that we are seeing, the skylines are changing, it’s commendable, I’m not in any party now so I can speak freely. I don’t need to speak from the point of criticism, I won’t teach his opponent what to say, but I can tell you that from what I have seen, even you have seen, he has done well. There is the critical road in Port Harcourt here, the Aba road, you can see what is happening in-terms of urban renewal, the road that criss-crosses all the urban area, but I still believe that there is more to be done, in terms of moving people out of poverty; that’s an area that requires a lot of attention, food security, jobs, these areas still need to be looked into but Rome was not built in a day. You come, contribute your own quota and you go but if he continues on this path, I believe that those that will oppose him in future will have a big task, especially when even the party that ought to oppose him is fragmented and divided. I wonder how people think that they can oppose based on a fraction of the party, a fraction of a whole. When we were a whole, we have not successfully delivered talk less of when we are a fraction of a whole. So, by and large, he is doing well but there are still a lot of room for improvement.
During one of the commissioning ceremonies in the state, a former governor said with what Wike has done, he qualified for a higher leadership responsibility in Nigeria, and what we understood that to mean was that he qualifies to be able to lead Nigeria, do you agree with him?
My dear brother, have you looked at the constitutional qualification to run for the office of president of Nigeria? When you look at it, even you are qualified to be. You understand? So ambition is within. When you have ambition and you declare your ambition then people can properly match your CV to the position. At that point in time you can judge, it’s not by speculating and all that. If you follow the constitution of Nigeria both the minister for transportation and the serving governor and myself and yourself, we are all qualified to be president of Nigeria, assuming you are above 35 years, then we are all qualified to be president of Nigeria, you understand? But when people now make their ambition, I don’t do politics of speculation. I’m a pragmatic person, and my behaviour shows that I am pragmatic, I am decisive, and I’m exuberant. When I believe in a cause, I’m exuberant about it. So, when we have a list of people who want to run for different offices and we identify them, then one will now know if the CV of the person matches, I hope you know that political CV is not academic CV. Political CV includes your character, your wealth of experience, your demeanor, your achievements holding previous offices and your humility, because if you have all these things and you don’t have humility, it means nothing, absolutely nothing. So when that time comes and people present themselves, that this is what they want to be, we can then match their CV with the office and then we know.