* Says: Buhari should be forced to resign
* Igbos Presidency visible under a restructured Nigeria
Chief Ayo Adebanjo is one of the chieftain of Afenifere and one of the founding fathers of Nigerian Independence, an unrepentant Awoist of the defunct Action Group AG, leader of NADECO that were unshaken during Late Gen. Sanni Abarcha’s regime, fighting to restore the aborted 1993, June 12 mandate of late Chief MKO Abiola. In this exclusive interview with Olayinka Ajayi of PanAfricanVision, Pa Adebanjo reiterates the need for a restructured Nigeria as a lasting solution to the gruesome killings by alleged Fulani Herdsmen. Exerpt:
How will you describe the state of the nation?
It’s perilous. We are where the leader of the ship does not have a clue on governance. Things are so bad and he feels he is doing his best. And his supporters are not helping him. They don’t seem to give him the true situation of the country. There is no petrol, the roads are bad, electric power is irregular, he promised to create about 3million jobs in a year, and people are losing about 6 million jobs every year. And the best his spokesperson will say is that we are doing our best and we will soon see the result. One of them said they are doing investigation on the killings in Benue. They accused you of lack of absolute capacity to defend the people and one of the obligations of the office is safe lives and property and he failed woefully. While you are been accused of Benue, they are still killing there. Its so unfortunate that the President has not said a word of condolence to sympathized with the people of Benue since the gruesome murder of victims by Fulani herdsmen. Even when the people requested to see him, he didn’t consider the situation grievous enough to sympathize with them and he didn’t even feel remorseful to tell them sorry. What he told them was to go and accommodate the herdsmen. It a clear indication that they have no clue or an indication of an ethnic and religious cleansing. If not they kill people in hundreds of thousands and there is not a single word of condemnation or arrest made. In December 1960, when the then President was away, there was a murderous attempt in Southern Kaduna and the acting President ordered the Army to shift head quarters to the area, the following day, they addressed it.
Does that justify what former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo said in his letter?
I am not a friend of Obasanjo, but for the first time, I agree with him totally on certain aspect of his open letter. There was no accusation he made that is not justifiable. I even congratulate him for confessing the reason Buhari was voted for was to unseat anything Jonathan and that he is sorry for that. The only thing missing which I believe he should have included in that letter was to apologize to Nigerians for misleading them. Check your records, I stressed all Obasanjo said in his letter before the election. In other words what Obasanjo observed now, was what I saw before the election.
What does the letter portend for this administration?
In a very civilized and progressive country, he should have been force to resign. And to add insult to the injury, Some governors are proposing his re-contesting in 2019. Everybody knows that he has no sound health condition, the situation they have put Nigeria requires competent hand 24hours and seven days a week. Even his Doctor told him to go home, eat, rest and sleep. And you still want to go back in 2019. To show you how Carlos Buhari and this government is, the day following the massacre in Kaduna, some APC governors went to Buhari to declare their full support for him in 2019. The day they were burying 72 people was the same day they are declaring their support for Buhari for President come 2019. When you think of the mantra to which he was elected: Sai Baba, Sai Buhari , corruption was the master agenda of the reason he went to government, is not sad that some of those he took six month to appoint are deeply corrupt and he turned a blind eye to many, until people shouted about his corrupt SGF Babachir Lawal that he was sacked and the EFCC recently went after him . This is an administration that has zero tolerance for corruption. His principal officer, the Minister of Interior connived with the Attorney-General of the federation to meet with a criminal in a strange land and all these officers are still untouched.
But the former SGF Baba Chir Lawal is reported to be in the EFCC net?
Buhari turned a blind eye to it first. He was forced to suspend him and not until recently that the EFCC honorably invited him. Is this the type of government we need now? The entire economic indices foreign analyst gave us shows that our economy is going down the drain and they are deceiving us. Except flatterer want to use him to contest election. But when you say you are advising him. The Fulani Gen.Buhari in particular has a private agenda of over running this country. By their action, there plan is to wipeout non Muslims out of Nigeria. All the area they attacked recently, are Christian communities? When I said he is Carlos and accused him of aiding and abetting criminal in the country and particularly the Fulani herdsmen. Ordinarily if he is serious about it he could have ban them from carrying weapons because they go to villages’ of those that are not armed . You don’t use AK-47 to rear cattle. And the law prohibits carrying fire arms except you are licensed. So does it mean that the herdsmen are licensed? If they are not licensed , have you arrested them because they carry it openly? How many arrest has Buhari made, how many conviction has he made? Even the last one that occurred, he said he will direct the chief security officer to scene. So the Chief security officer has to be directed to do his job on certain issue as ordered by the president. These Fulani herdsmenmen are terrorist! He has not declared them so, but yet IPOB who are just clamouring for self determination in their area, who has not been accused of killing a single soul, or burning villages or raping were declared as terrorist but herdsmen that has record of rapping, shooting, burning, killing of people in their own villages, you turned a blind eye as not been as evil.
You were in Enugu recently, Some quarters accused you of supporting IPOB and the Biafra agenda what do you make of this?
Is it all the Igbo that support IPOB? That show how ignorant my accusers are. I don’t support IPOB violent approach but I am with them 100% for the fight for restructuring of Nigeria. It’s because the government did not do anything on restructuring that triggered their self actualization struggle. If Buhari have been sincere about keeping Nigeria together in peace, he should have called them to address and settle their grievances. But he intimidated and wanted to butcher and kill them in their land. It is showing in everything that he does that he is the President of Katsina state not Nigeria! If anybody wants to accuse me of my opinion, the person should go for the evidence I given to dispute what I have said. Since the havoc in Southern-Kaduna when hundreds were murdered at Christmas eve, what has he done to compensate? When I said is intentional, that he want to overrun the country that is why all the principal security agencies in Nigeria are manned by Northerners and mostly from Katsina. So is that coincidental? At age of 90, what will I gain from supporting IPOB. Neither Buhari nor anybody have got anything to give me. I have not asked for any favour and they have no favour to grant me. I am a poor contented old man but I am not satisfy with the way they are running the country . That is my quarrel with him. Many may not be aware that AFENIFERE supported Buhari in 2007 when he gave the promise that he was going to restructure the country. He has been relenting on promises long ago. Even when Tunde Bakare ran with him in 2011, there was restructuring in their manifesto. Even when I blindly followed him against all opposition to woe Asiwaju and others, he puts restructuring in his manifesto. This is a government of deceit. Buhari is there not as a party but to over-run the country in accordance with the sayings of Utman Danfodio “To over-run the Country until they get to get to the sea”. Let him prove us to the contrary. Since people have been complaining about over loading the security office with his brothers from Katsina, has he shown any evidence of remorse. Even recently when he was appointing an officer to NIA what did he do again? Buhari has no program to change. The claim of a committee to submit a report on restructuring by this administration should be taken with a pinch of salt. Which promise have they made and they fulfilled from their manifesto? They said they were going to pay unemployed, have they being paying? They said they are going to employ three million people every year, we found out that six million people has lost their jobs. What has he told us that we can rely on? We are more educated in this country than all that. Every year our universities chung out graduate that adding to the unemployed force. The standard of education in Nigeria is continually falling , the Hospitals and even the hospital in Aso-rock are in a state of comatose as confirmed by the wife. I stand with him 100% on his attempt to wipe out corruption because nobody will be in support of corruption but their attempt is not holistic. But the attempt is not holistic, is discriminatory. It’s only those who oppose him that he concentrate on. Fighting corruption should be across the board not to turn a blind eye when your supporters are involved and they are loaded in his cabinet. When I say he is autocratic, he does not obey the rule of law. He is not a democrat, Although he swore to be a born again democrat but how far has he shown that? How many times has the court told him to release Dasuki? A man who obey the sanctity of law will besiege judges at midnight as an attempt to curtail corruption, is that the way to do it? Is it proper to do the right thing the wrong way? There is no course for disagreement between me and Buhari. The disagreement I have is running the country against the hope of all that he promised. Everything that is bad is his predecessor. Mind you it was because his predecessor was bad that we sent him away to put him there because he said he can do it. We didn’t elect you to give excuses of your inability to perform. Buhari and APC were not elected to give excuses for their non performance, they were elected to implement the manifesto of the party that is the mandate we gave them. They were not elected to protect criminals, murderers.
Being one of the fathers of Nigerian Independence, is 2019 the only option electorate has to put a formidable and performing government rather than the call for restructuring?
It is an extreme tolerance to allow them stay till 2019. If they truly understand what restructuring is they will know that it is the key to all these challenges. Do you know under restructuring we have the state police and lots of reformation. There is no room for any section of the country to dominate over the others. There is no room for wooing the Easterners with handing over power to them in 2023 if they vote them in 2019. We have normalized the role of presidency under a restructured Nigeria according to the 2014 National Conference Report. In the report, every region know when it’s their turn.
Presidency should not be under favour of any region as they are telling the eastern region, I hope they are not stupid enough to buy that. Restructuring is the only means that will guarantee Igbo’s presidency. And they will have their presidency as a right under the constitution under a structured Nigeria under federalism not by any favour by any region of the country.
From the days of NADECO, Where did AFENIFERE miss it in their political affiliations in Nigeria?
We didn’t miss anything. The rebels’ causing confusion in the country did it. It was Tinubu who made alliance with Buhari. When he came into office under the platform of Alliance for Democracy AD clamoring for restructuring to become governor in Lagos state and after he was elected as governor, he accorded me with respect. When it comes to generosity, he was very generous to me. There is no favour I asked him that he didn’t give me. I have no reason to dislike him but I don’t like his method of governance, although politics is what brought us together this made him to perform on the tradition of the Action Group under which he was elected. That is the difference between us. When he wanted to parley with Buhari , I warned him, he was later sidelined. What can he say he gainned for going with Buhari?
I have been in politics since 1949, so I know what I am saying. During the Abacha regime, we were to form a political party with Buhari, Atiku, Pat Utomi among others, we had meetings although Buhari would not come personallybut he sends representatives . On an occasion, I challenged him at the Abuja airport because he promised he will be attending that meeting, while we were having the meeting Buhari was meeting with Asiwaju in private. So as far as I am concerned Buhari is not an honest politician. All that he is interested in is to be in power to overrun this country. When Obasanjo said both APC and PDP cannot take us anywhere, I absolutely agree with him but any party Obasanjo is interested in, I am out of such party because Obasanjo will not support anything except he has vested interest. So my support for his statement is clearly on what he has said. I consider the message not the messenger.
The Afenifere has never agreed with Chief Obasanjo, what is your stand on his call for a fresh coalition of Nigerian party?
We always disagree on principle and affiliation. I support his Idea, but like I said earlier, If Obasanjo has vested interest in it, then Afenifere won’t be part of it because Obasanjo as a politician has his own liabilities and weaknesses, so we most time disagree with him on principles . In other words, I have no confidence in Obasajo’s activities politically. But if he does anything right as a gentle man, like on his letter for Buhari to seat down at home I definitely support it. I will not confuse his genuineness and morality to his interest. Anybody that disagrees with him on this issue must be a sycophant. Who will not say the Buhari has not got the health to run for another four years. We are even praying to God to help him manage this one. Or do we need a crystal ball for that?