In a swift riposte to the allegation by a group, which calls itself Forum for Progressives Governance and Accountability (Forum4PGA), that the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, sponsored thugs that hijacked the #EndSARS protests in Edo State, Afenmai Progressive Youth Vanguard (APYV) has described the allegation as both irresponsible and wicked.
APYV, in a statement issued on Wednesday by its Publicity Secretary, Moses Ainofenokhai, said that from the content and tenor of the publication, it was evident that it was a state-sponsored propaganda aimed at achieving a disingenuous objective of negatively characterizing Prince Agba.
According to the group, “The timing of the publication, which coincided with the visit of Prince Clem Agba to Edo state to engage with stakeholders on the instructions of President Muhammadu Buhari as issued to all ministers, gave the sponsors of the propaganda away as cheap and perhaps unthinking.”
The group raised a number of questions to validate its claim that the allegation leveled against Prince Agba came from the State government circles, pointing out that instead of hiding behind a finger by using a non-existent group, the sponsors should have been courageous enough to formally point the finger at the minister if they were sure of the facts of his involvement.
According to the group, “Why was it that it was on the day Prince Agba planned to arrive in Edo State after he had announced his plans to engage with critical and relevant stakeholders in the state, and having informed the State Government of his itineraries, that the malicious publication began to do the rounds in some sections of the media?
“Has the State Government not given reasons to suspect it when, last weekend, in the heat of the looting of a government warehouse at Medical Stores Road, in Benin City, by suspected hoodlums in search of COVID-19 palliatives, the State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki pointedly accused those he defeated in the September 19, 2020 governorship election of being the sponsors of the hoodlums who hijacked the peaceful #EndSARS protests and looted the warehouse?
“Since it is convenient for the State Government to accuse the opposition APC in Edo State of sponsoring the rage of the hoodlums, should it be justifiably convenient to point the finger at the PDP in all the states where the APC is running the government as being the sponsors of the suspected hoodlums who went on the rampage, looting warehouses as well as public and private property?”
The group admonished the Forum4PGA and its sponsors to desist from promoting malicious, mendacious and hate campaign against Prince Agba whose pedigree, according to it, “is noble and distinguished.”
According to the group, “Prince Agba is a decent politician without any record of brigandage in his eight years as commissioner in Edo State during the eight-year administration of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. He believes in the deployment of superiority of ideas and not force in driving the policies, programmes and machinery of government.
“Those who are propagating the falsehood about his alleged sponsorship of the purported hijack of the #EndSARS protests know the character of the man they are trying to taint. They believe that by discrediting him, they would have succeeded in discrediting the assignment given to him and other ministers by President Buhari to engage with stakeholders in their respective state towards achieving peace, harmony and unity in the country.
“For all intents and purposes, Prince Agba is a believer in the peace and unity of not only Edo State but also of Nigeria; and he is committed to those philosophies in his capacity as a Minister of the Federal republic of Nigeria.”
The group said it was vouching for Prince Agba that he would not support divisive acts or tendencies, but rather embrace values that unite Nigerians as a people and nation under God.