The member representing Tai/Eleme/Oyigbo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Dr. Barry Mpigi recently defected along with 37 members of the House from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He spoke to Dennis Naku on why he dumped APC, the failure of the Muhammadu Buhari government to handle insecurity in the country and why he believes Governor Nyesom Wike deserves a second term.
You were a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) until recently?
I was a member of the reformed All Progressives Congress (r-APC) before defecting to the PDP and my name was number two on the list. I was presented to the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives to inform him of my willingness to go back to the PDP where I originally belonged.
What exactly does the R-APC represent?
The R-APC was a faction of the fictionalised APC.
That means you have defected from the APC?
Yes. I have left the APC.
So, why did you dump the APC?
I left the APC because of its factionalisation and the impunity level of the APC in Nigeria. I defected to save Nigeria. The APC is in crisis.
Can you explain what you mean by factionalisation?
In Rivers State where I come from, we have the Magnus Abe faction, the Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi faction and the R-APC faction that I hitherto belonged. The centre could no longer hold.
Can you throw more light on what you mean by impunity?
Nigeria needs to be safe for all to live in. Each day on earth, people are being killed everyday in Nigeria. Armed robbery is on the increase. Just imagine armed policemen blocking the Senate President from leaving his official residence. Autocracy is taking over as if we are in a military regime. As it is, like minds are coming together to rescue Nigeria in 2019.
Where you a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?
Of course, yes! Most of those crying wolf now including Rotimi Amaechi because we left the APC were together with us in the PDP before we defected to the APC. We even formed the new-PDP before we joined the APC. We can always apologise to the PDP for moving over to the APC. So, we are back home.
Why did you leave the PDP?
We left the PDP in an attempt to rescue Rivers State at that time. We tried a model which we thought would work for Nigeria, but that model failed us. We can always apologise to PDP.
What were your grievances for leaving the PDP?
For me, what made me to leave the PDP in 2014 are far smaller when compared to what made me to leave the APC for the PDP. I am assuring those still out there that the PDP is a better place to belong. And that is why we have apologised to the PDP that we took a wrong step and we are now back home.
To be more specific, why did you leave the PDP?
My people were not getting anything from the PDP at that time. My people are now benefiting from the state government. Things are now happening in all 23 local government areas in Rivers State because a grassroots man is in charge of the state government.
Would you say your group gave the new National Chairman of the APC enough time to mediate in settling whatever grievances you had against the leadership of the APC?
I cannot talk about the APC and Adams Oshiomhole because I am not a member of their party anymore. I can talk of the Rivers State Chairman of the PDP, Felix Obuah; I can talk of the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus. But I cannot talk about Oshiomhole that is bullying the whole country as we speak: claiming he is even more powerful than the President of the country. If that is what they mean by Change, good for the APC. We are more concerned with the positive change that is taking place in the PDP right now.
You were very vocal in the support of Senator Magnus Abe’s governorship ambition which has led to a glaring conflict between your camp and Amaechi’s group which could affect your chances of getting an APC’s ticket in 2019.
Senator Abe is an individual; I am also an individual. So, I don’t want to talk about Abe and his political party. I can talk about Governor Nyesom Wike who is my friend and who is doing very well for the people of Rivers State. I can talk about the 4, 432 polling units in the state; I can talk about the 319 wards and 23 local governments areas in Rivers State as it affects the PDP. I can talk about the infrastructural strides of Governor Wike because I am working with Wike. I do not want to talk about Abe and his political party.
So, you defected for purely political reasons?
I defected because democracy is at play in the PDP. You need to do what you think you are competent in doing. You need to do what you have been asked to do. I am doing it for the people of Eleme/Tai/Oyigbo Federal Constituency to be specific. I am doing it for the people of Rivers State and I am doing it for Nigerians.
Governor Wike just flagged off a road construction in Tai which was abandoned about 50 years ago; a road that was abandoned by the Amaechi administration. My people will benefit from using the road now. Members of the APC and PDP will use the road and that is because of my personal relationship with Governor Wike. So, I am not doing it for Barry Mpigi. I am doing it for my people and it is a positive change and positive development that my people can see. Our people in Tai have agreed to work for the PDP so that we can attract development to the area.
The contentious national legislative re-run of 2015, and the re-scheduled re-run elections for Rivers South East Senatorial District and the Eleme/Tai/Oyigbo Federal Constituency in 2016, pitched you and Senator Abe against the Rivers State Chairman of the PDP, Felix Obuah, leading to heated arguments from both parties at that time. How do you intend to manage this sour relationship now that you are back in the PDP?
Felix Obuah has been my long time friend and we worked tirelessly together when I was in the PDP. I was duly elected by the people and the court of law has also affirmed the legitimacy of my election. What is past is past. What is important is to move Rivers State forward.
Are you sure that the PDP will retain the governorship seat in Rivers State in 2019?
Governor Wike is doing very, very well and his projects will speak for him. For a governor that has done so much for his people, the only way to appreciate him is to return him to Government House in 2019. Governor Wike has already covered 50 per cent of the 100 metres race for the 2019 governorship election.
The other parties are yet to even pick a governorship candidate. They are bickering among themselves. They are factionalised while the PDP and Governor Wike remain focused on developing Rivers State and impacting in the lives of the people.
Enugu Assembly Approves N200m Virement For Auditor-General Offices
The Enugu State House of Assembly has approved the virement of N200 million for the offices of the State Auditor-General and Auditor-General for Local Government.
The Tide source reports that the house also passed the 2021 State Audit Amendment Bill at an emergency plenary session.
The Leader of the House, Mr Ikechukwu Ezeugwu, said the approval of the virement became necessary to provide funding for the two newly created offices, which were not envisaged during the 2021 appropriation bill.
Ezeugwu said the funding would include capital and recurrent expenditures, adding that the N200 million would be provided by the office of the governor.
According to him, the virement would give the offices the needed independence to effectively discharge their statutory responsibilities.
Also contributing, the member representing Awgu South Constituency, Mr Johnson Chukwuobasi, said the new offices would be redundant without funding.
The Speaker, Chief Edward Ubosi, said the fund was meant to perfect the Audit Amendment Bill passed by the Assembly.
Ubosi said it would be an irony to create the offices without approving funds that would make them functional.
He said such a development would amount to building something on nothing.
In another development, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has forwarded a list of nominees for the State Civil Service Commission (SCSC) and Local Government Service Commission (LGSC) to the House for confirmation.
The nominees for the SCSC included Mrs Eucharia Offiah (Chairman), Mr Nathaniel Anike, Mrs Chinenye Odike and Mrs Stella Ekweremadu (members).
Also nominated for the LGSC were Prof. Ossy Okanya (Chairman), Mr Frederick Ugwu, Mrs Florence Igboji, Mr Peter Nnaji and Mr Eugene Odoh (members).
The Speaker directed the nominees to submit 25 copies of their Curriculum Vitae on or before Monday, August 2 to the House.
Saraki Was Not Arrested – Aide
Former Senate President Bukola Saraki, has broken his silence on his repeated invitation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, stating that as a free citizen, he has nothing to hide.
Saraki in a statement by his Media aide, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said he visited the office of the EFCC on his volition to clarify an issue that the commission may have to raise with him.
He clarified that he was not arrested but he made himself available to show he has nothing to hide.
Saraki in the statement wrote: “It will be recalled that following the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on the Fundamental Human Rights case filed by Dr. Saraki during the period of the former chairman of the EFCC which precluded the commission from investigating him until the matter is dispensed with, the commission at the last hearing on July 14, 2021, pleaded with the judge that the order was preventing them from doing their job.
“Following this complaint, Dr. Saraki, as a responsible citizen, on his own volition approached EFCC that at the earliest convenient date, he was willing to visit the commission’s office and clarify all issues they might have to raise with him.
“He, therefore, visited the commission’s office on Saturday (31st July) afternoon and also answered some questions.
“He is back home. He was not arrested,” Part of the statement read.
Saraki also assured EFCC that he has nothing to hide and will always make himself available to clarify any issues that may require his attention.
Jegede: PDP Lambasts Akeredolu
The Ondo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party has reacted to the statement credited to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, inviting Mr Eyitayo Jegede to join him in moving the state forward.
Akeredolu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the October 20, 2020 state governorship election had his victory in the election upheld by the Supreme Court last Tuesday.
Shortly after the judgement of the apex court, the governor called on Jegede, the candidate of the PDP to join him to move the state forward.
In a statement issued by the Publicity Secretary of the PDP in the state, Mr Kennedy Peretei, on Saturday, the PDP described the Akeredolu’s invitation as a laughable one.
According to the statement, the PDP said the current administration in the state is a failure and Jegede will not be part of such administration.
The statement read, “Our party and its candidate cannot be part of a government that has thrown out many students of tertiary institutions in the state because their parents can no longer pay the astronomical school fees charged by the Akeredolu Government.
“Our party and its candidate cannot be part of government that has crippled the health care system in the State. We cannot be part of a government that has withdrawn free shuttle buses for school children.
“It is unthinkable that Akeredolu can ask our candidate to join a government that has pauperised civil servants in the state through the payments of 30 per cent salaries that are not even regular. Civil servants now have to take loans to be able to pay house rents or send their children to school. The Academic Staff Union of Universities of Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa Chapter has just embarked on an indefinite strike. What has been the government’s response to all these myriad of problems?
“It is important to stress that, before the October 2020 election, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN and the PDP drew up a well-articulated manifesto on education, health care delivery, agriculture, industrialization, welfare of civil servants and much more in contradistinction to what is obtainable now in the state. To this extent, there is no meeting point between what was designed by the PDP and Akeredeolu’s score card.
“The Supreme Court verdict has also exposed the impunity which is the trademark and the foundation of the APC and its government at all levels. All the seven Justices of the Supreme Court agreed that, Mai Mala Buni acted in clear violation of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended). This has become the talking point of the political space since the judgement was delivered. Our jurisprudence on election matters has been enriched and everyone is grateful to Eyitayo Jegede and the PDP for not allowing the APC to drown our democracy in the sea of their impunity.”
The opposition party advised Akeredolu to channel his energy to improving the welfare of Ondo citizens instead of “grandstanding and clicking of wine glasses over the Supreme Court judgement”.
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