Defiant and resolute in his stance to support the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, rather than the candidate of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Godwin Obaseki, in the September 19 governorship election in Edo State, Kassim Afegbua, Okpella prince and chieftain of the ruling party in the state, on Monday taunted the leadership of the party over his suspension for one month. Afegbua’s suspension by his ward 5 executive for alleged anti-party activities was confirmed on Sunday via a press statement signed by the state publicity secretary of the party, Chris Osa Nehikhare. Nehikhare said “The State Chairman, Hon. Tony Aziegbemi has directed the local government chairman to set up a disciplinary committee to investigate the allegations of anti-party activities leveled against him,” adding that the composition of the disciplinary committee would be announced ‘in due course”.
But in a statement on Monday titled “OF SUSPENSION BY “TAX COLLECTORS” AND OTHER MATTERS”, a belligerent Afegbua said “I remain unequivocal about my support for Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and will ensure that I mobilise enough votes for him in the four Wards of Okpella. Having earlier described me as “inconsequential”, I am wondering why they now suddenly remember I am relevant to warrant suspension. I am actually waiting for their expulsion in good time. My votes cannot be suspended or expelled. My thumb is my power”.
According to the former information and orientation commissioner during the Adams Oshiomhole administration, ‘I do not intend to appear before any tax collectors in the name of disciplinary committee. To me, that is even an affront to say the least. How can new comers into a party be deciding who is to be suspended or retained as members? That is the power of illicit money being deployed arbitrarily to compel everyone to submission. I am not going to be Governor Obaseki’s fan or supporter. I am driven by my conviction and conscience, and no amount of inducement can alter that reality. Those “tax collectors” who have found a new mine field to butter their bread can have a field day, but the victory of evil over good can only be temporary”.
Afegbua said he would not have glorified the PDP leadership with a response concerning the “one month so-called suspension” placed on him but for the deluge of calls he had gotten from concerned Nigerians who insisted that they deserved to have his response. In his words, “I saw a letter purportedly written by my Ward 5 executives on social media, unsigned with no name attached, saying I have been suspended for one month. At first, I wondered why it took this long for the leadership to arm-twist those young unemployed youths whom I have fought for to add value to their lives, before a supposed letter finally emanated from them.
“They have severally told me of the pressure and threat to their lives by the party’s leadership especially the inchoate party chairman, who appears drunk with his new found candidate that is feasting fat on our collective patrimony. I am told how he tried to breathe down the throat of those young boys in my ward, insisting on invoking a suspension order on me. For your information, it does not matter how many months you suspend me, you can even decide to expel me from PDP, so that I can free myself from the grip of “tax collectors” who have found new trading routes to their pockets. My point remains very sacrosanct that you cannot grab a man’s trousers by the pockets and thereby gifting him the party’s ticket, without appearing drunk with unreason”.
Positing that he held no grudge against “those boys in my Ward, who have been compelled to issue a suspension letter to me supervised by a quack doctor who has been “slaughtering” people in my community,” Afegbua asserted that this situation would afford him the opportunity “to interrogate persons who have been part of those conspirators to reap us off as Okpellans in our quest for our rightful place in the scheme of things.
“My position remains unshaken irrespective of the manipulative conduct that has exposed the rotten underbelly of a party that is steeped in tax collection from would-be aspirants. My cause is simple: to place Okpella above self in our quest for our deserved place in the affairs of the state. I have made the point so eloquently loud and clear, and any Governor would not neglect us based on the pedestal we presently occupy”.
Afegbua insisted that he did not really need any political party to exhibit his political choices and persuasions, declaring that “I am neither a government contractor nor one who hustles for the perks of office. My interest is predominantly anchored on the future of Okpella and its place in the scheme of things as the politics of the state structures its own compass. I am aware, thus far, that no elected Governor would dare take us for granted again. The elections are by the corner and we as Okpellans, are resolute to deliver the four Wards for Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu. That position is not negotiable, and we would religiously guide our loins to ensure we deliver our votes without equivocation”.