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How Buhari Govt Tried to Silence Me – Abaribe, Senate Minority Leader

Says Governor Umahi “hiding behind one finger”.

The Senate Minority Leader, and Senator representing Abia South senatorial district on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Eyinnaya Abaribe, has called out the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government over its alleged attempt to shut him up for always criticising the way the country is being run. Abaribe, who was guest on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily on Friday, was defending his assessment of the All Progressives Congress, APC government as a “failure” stressing that “all that we are waiting for is to throw out this government in the next election”.

Distancing himself from the perceived failure of the government, which he said the PDP had always offered alternative solutions, Abaribe said “I am not part of the government; I am part of the legislature voted in to express the voice of the people and my job is to be on the floor of the legislature and say to the government you’re not getting it right. And that we have done as the minority party in the government, and at every point that we’ve had issues for debate, at every point that we interrogate people, you will see us come out to say they are not getting it.

“And I remember that at a particular point, this government came after me personally; they arrested me. They thought that they could use that to shut my mouth so that we don’t talk, because all that the government does is intimidation of those who actually point out their errors and all the problems that they cause. And it’s not for lack of giving them alternatives. It is the fact that they refuse to listen; that’s all”.

The senate minority leader who said the current state of the nation was high on the agenda at the just concluded 90th NEC meeting of the PDP, said “In fact, the national chairman had to put in, I think about nine points that we just have to look at – the borrowing, the insecurity, the difficulties; even the attempt by the government to stifle free speech and all that. And so, the party, of course has its position, and the position is very simple – this government has failed. You don’t have any other way of trying to cover it. You can say all the rhetoric, you can make all the propaganda; you can go ahead and try to pull the wool over the eyes of the people. But the #EndSARS protest showed a failure of this government. And it’s not that it’s just failing now; it’s been failing all along and we have continually pointed it out”.

According to Abaribe, “On the floor of the Senate, I have always got up to say you are not getting it right. The only problem that we have with this government is that advice to them is opposition; they will crush you, they need to do everything to make sure of that. And they just think that at the 21st century, we don’t own the information that we have. We don’t own the contacts that we have with the rest of the world; that people will just continue being subdued as they used to do in Stalinist countries or in North Korea, and all that. That cannot happen; and so, the recent events have shown that the government has failed and all that we are waiting for is to throw out this government in the next election”.

He recalled that on the economy, the PDP had cautioned that “you cannot continue to sustain the naira value by doing this ways and means, and all that. Everybody just looked at it, and they ignored it. So, what we think really is that we have a government that is mired in the past; that has no connection to the 21st century and the information age where we are. Every effort that they make is to be able to be staying where they are”.

Abaribe rejected the insinuation that it was because the PDP government failed that the APC became an option in 2015. In his words, “I can tell you that what you got was nothing but propaganda that was used in order to come into office. And everything was said, lies were told, and all manner of things were pushed out to the public using this same social media that they want to stifle now. And of course, when you continue to put a narrative out, and we didn’t want to do the same thing they are trying to do now by clamping down on people, some people of course will say, okay, let’s see whether these people can do better. And I am saying that it is even worse and you can take the statistics, facts; you cannot run away from facts.

“Are we better off today than we were at that time? At that time, were we having problems in Katsina? Were we having problems in all the states in the north? Were we having problems in the Middle Belt? So, when you now say oh, at that time; no. What is going on is simple. And I have said it on the floor of the Senate; and I said that those who live by propaganda will eventually regret it and that is where we are today. You have used propaganda as a tool of coming into office; now you can no longer use it again because the reality is facing everybody. And because the reality is facing everybody, they don’t know what to do again and so, the next thing is repression. That is all that we are seeing today.

“And when you talked about what happened in the Niger Delta, of course Niger Delta was boiling and they were boiling because they could see the disparity and what was going on with what comes out of their own soil and all that they wanted was justice and equity and a fair treatment for what comes out of their soil, and what we now call resource control. That’s all that they were doing. And when the government at that time under late President (Umaru) Yar’Adua started to address these issues, you could see that there was a gradual reduction of what happened. But what do we have today? That is what we are asking; and until this government can come to grips with what they promised, the only thing you can do is to say it has failed”.

Baring his mind on the defection by the governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi to the APC citing injustice by the PDP against the Southeast, Abaribe pooh-poohed the claim, stating that the governor was “hiding behind one finger”. According to the senator, “Well, you know sometimes when some people want to take an action, then, they would go ahead and justify it in any way. So, what I think Governor Umahi was doing was hiding behind one finger. (Laughs)Sometimes, we just look at it and we just shudder. Okay, let us assume that Governor Umahi is bringing the South-east as he says, into the mainstream; that was what I heard yesterday. (Thursday) What is the mainstream? The mainstream; is it the Aso Villa that belongs to all of us that you cannot find a single person from the South-east, except a photographer”.

Further upbraiding Umahi, Abaribe stated that “And you see, last night, I was listening to the governor of Kogi State and somebody asked him a question and said to him, so, has your party, the APC zoned the presidency; and he said ‘No, no, no, we haven’t, it’s not time yet’. So if APC says it’s not time yet, how would Governor Umahi turn around and say it is PDP’s time at this same time? So, you could see that like I said, you could move, you could go; we have seen people go.

“At a particular time when (Godswill) Akpabio was leaving, he said oh, he will cause a tsunami; oh, he will do this, he will do that. And of course he went and lost election; and so, Umahi’s movement will be gauged properly at the time that we are doing the next elections. Let us now see how he’s going to take his state. His members in the National Assembly all said they’re not going with him. And you could see that if you’re a governor, then you have your senators in the three senatorial zones, then you have your members in all the House of Reps constituencies and they tell you they are not going with you; it’s only you that is going from up there; of course, you will go with your commissioners and all that. You’ll pay them, you have appointed them into office; they don’t matter, they don’t count. What counts is actually the feelings of the people. And I tell you that this is just another of those things that happen; you shouldn’t put much more value to it. In the next couple of weeks, we won’t even remember”.

Eyinnaya Abaribe Photo
Eyinnaya Abaribe, The Senate Minority Leader, and Senator representing Abia South senatorial district
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