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Niger govt never paid salary to teachers of IBB’s schools…Afegbua

Until few days ago, Prince Kassim Afegbua, the Acting National Chairman of National Democratic Party, NDP, was the Chief Press     Secretary to the Edo State Governor, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole.

He reportedly resigned his appointment with the Comrade Governor to pursue other commitments.

The one-time Spokesman to the former President, General Ibrahim Babangida  reflects on the cold war between Governor Babangida Aliyu and his predecessor Alhaji Abdulkadir Kure over the indictment of the latter by the former at a judicial commission of enquiry.

Prince Afegbua who says he was neither holding brief for Kure nor IBB contended that the point of disagreement between the Governor and his predecessor is the alleged presidential ambition of Governor Aliyu Babangida in the 2011 elections and other sundry issues. Prince Kassim Afegbua spoke to Saturday Vanguard in Lagos on Thursday.

We read in the newspapers that you have resigned your appointment with the Edo State Government a few days ago.

Why did you resign?

I don’t think this is an issue I want to discuss because I am from Edo State and I owe it a duty to be patriotic to the aspirations of the Comrade Governor in helping to address the developmental challenges in the state.

As I speak to you, my resignation has not been accepted by the Comrade Governor because he feels I still have something to offer in his determination to fix the state.

The State is generally in dire straits and needs more than a passing interest to revamp the system.

I left the State in good faith believing that I could be useful outside the system, which also affords me the opportunity to do other things. The Comrade Governor’s passion for the State is at fever pitch.

His commitment and determination to deliver on his campaign promises find expression in the way and manner that he deploys his energy to address the key areas that need attention in the State.

If he has his way, he would prefer to turn around the fortune of the State in one fell swoop, but the challenges are enormous and the resources are slim. Even at that, he has commenced the process of helping to reposition the State.

That alone is an incentive to attract investors. I can go on and on and on, but I do not speak for the Governor again, but I am a stakeholder in the collective patrimony of the State. I suggest we do not discuss any further my resignation as the Chief Press Secretary. That is an unnecessary distraction.

But if you share so much in the aspiration of the Governor, the expectations would be that you help drive the process of governance so that you could be counted as one of those who made it happen in the Edo State.

From the way you spoke, you appear to have lost confidence in the system and perhaps wanted something else. How do you react to that?

The Governor has a quality-driven and compact executive structure that can deliver both tangible and intangible services. It does not matter whether I am there or not.

Government is a process and there are always individuals to drive every process. As a politician and media practitioner, I learn a lot of things every day, particularly human capacity for mischief, horse-trading and sycophancy.

Whether I am counted as one of the change agents or not does not matter to me at all. What matters to me is the number of people that will benefit from that change process. The people of Edo State will benefit from the policies and programmes of the Governor. That alone is enough for me. I have no doubt in my mind that the Governor will perform.

He has started a good job and I know that he will end well. Once a leader is able to galvanise the goodwill of the people and build a synergy to drive development, the sky will surely be his limit. That exactly is what obtains in Edo and by the end of first term of the Governor; the opposition will feel ashamed to present a candidate for the election.

The political contestations in the State are gradually assuming a settled status going by the slim margin between the AC and PDP members in the house. All those PDP House Members who have been flexing muscles with the Governor should begin to realize that the destiny of the Governor is no longer in their hands.

They should sit up to help the governor drive governance in the State and not this culture of ego competition that is almost becoming a norm among the PDP lawmakers.

Now that you have left Edo State, even though you stated that your resignation has not been accepted, what do you intend to do now or in the nearest future?

Several options are open for me. I really want to revive our Party, the NDP because the politics of 2011 has commenced and I owe it a duty to chart a way forward for thousands of our party men and women across the country.

Our party the NDP was almost hijacked by political sharks who hide under the cloak of being opposition to commit more heinous crimes than the ruling parties.

I felt a moral challenge to confront these political renegades in order that the unsuspecting crowd out there does not mistake all of us for crooks and criminals.

Another challenge in my hands now is to commence what I had suspended, that is starting my own newspaper business so that I can truly drive what I strongly believe in, so that I can channel my energy into a vocation that I admire so much. My other opening is to continue from where I stopped on the Babangida project.

It is a project that helps to define the history of this leader of men, a project that enriches his history and creates opportunity for individuals to continue to appreciate the man and his contributions to nation building. I also consult for a few individuals and organizations. As you can see, my hands are full.

There were stories of  some members’ of Niger State government accusing  IBB of benefitting from the patronage of the former Governor, Alhaji Abdul-Kadir Kure. The former Governor was alleged to have undertaken the payment of salaries of El’Amin teachers, a school owned by the wife of IBB.

In the light of the indictment of the former Governor by a judicial commission of enquiry, how do you exonerate IBB from this scenario?
Your question appears a little bit loaded because there are several dimensions to these issues.

The bottom line of all these ding dong affairs has to do with the alleged presidential ambition of the serving  governor  who is desperately trying to reach out to his northern brothers as a fall back candidate should there be any apocalypse.

You can see the way and manner this governor attends all events across the country lavishing the poor resources of the State on merry-go-round adventures, all in the name of building bridges. In his  mind, he thinks cross country races are the stimulants for presidency?

He thinks if he abuses IBB, he will get a hero’s welcome in the South West, he thinks if he indicts Kure, he will be celebrated in the North Central? He thinks if he deploys divide and rule tactics, he will be celebrated.

To state the obvious, there is nothing like Niger State paying the teachers of El’ Amin international school. Does that mean the school pupils do not pay school fees, a school of such reputation?

This is  blackmail. Secondly, it is ridiculous for a Governor to think that an indictment by a pro-Governor Judicial Commission of Enquiry can stand the test of legal contestation in court, particularly when there is existing precedence of such matters during Obasanjo’s  years.

You remember Obasanjo’s  indictment by an administrative panel against Atiku, and how the Court threw it to the dustbin? So there is nothing like exoneration because nothing happened in the first place.

It is only the fertile imagination of the Governor that tends to suggest that doing what he presently does, will make him popular amongst the people. But I guess he is seeing the ripple effects now.

Are you saying the Governor was not right to have looked into the books of his predecessor?

What is the motive? You can probe a previous administration, no qualms. But you don’t go out there and begin to concoct tell- tales just to impress your audience. If you study the so-called White Paper issued by the Government, you will find out that there is no correlation between the verdict and the offence.

Kure was not directly and indirectly accused of fraud. He was alleged to have directed the issuance of contract of certain amount to XYZ, not that he embezzled the money.

Then you now wake up in the morning and declared that the man should be banned from holding any political office for ten years. Is it after he would have completed his infatuated term of office as an imaginary President of an imaginary country that has semblance with Nigeria? Someone should please call the Governor to order.

What differentiates African culture from other cultures is our ability to express gratitude for the good of yesterday. This was a man who was branded into the governorship race from his bed. He had no single political structure.

He was a bloody civil servant pushing files in Abuja and he suddenly became a Governor by Iwu’s doctrine of ‘credible’ election. How will the man not misbehave? Go to Niger State today and see for yourself the level of profligacy going on.

From the city gate of Minna to all the nooks and crannies of the town, the Governor who prefers the prefix ‘Chief Servant” has turned the town to a city of billboards. Only God can guess how much millions of tax payers’ money have gone into that. Nothing works in Niger State. The town is ageing and ageing because there are no developments.

What you can still see, are signs of where Kure stopped. The rest is history.

Finally, what message do you have for the supporters of IBB?

Anything in the pipeline for 2011?

We know ourselves. We are also networking. Only IBB can speak for 2011. We are much more concerned about his history so that revisionists would not record him wrongly.

You know there are too many half-baked historians in Nigeria. We, the supporters of IBB are conscious of his place in history and we will pursue that agenda within the framework of any political scenario, so that posterity will reward his contributions to national development.

That is our collective indulgence.

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