Buhari, APC have no programme for Nigeria, Ayo Adebanjo claims
Chief Ayo Adebanjo, a chieftain of Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere and one of the staunch followers of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the founder of Action Group (AG), spoke on the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) after two years in office. He also emphasised the need to restructure Nigeria based on the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. NIYI BELLO (Head of Politics Desk) and SEYE OLUMIDE, report. Excerpts:
Two years of President Buhari in power, so far how far?
I am not a fan of President Buhari or APC and my judgment of him and his party is not based on prejudice. All that have happened socially, politically and economically in the last two years, under the watch of Mr. President and events within his party, even in states that the party controls across the country, are vindication of my criticisms of him and the party.
I said it and I am repeating it, that APC has no programme for Nigeria. The ultimate aims and objectives of the actors behind the formation of the party were to oust erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan from power in 2015, which they achieved. Their basic goal and desire was Jonathan must go and thereafter nothing.
To start with, how far has the APC implemented its manifesto since May 29 2015? The restructuring, which they used to campaign and which even attracted the South West geo political zone to support the party, has been jettisoned.
Secondly, I accused Buhari of being a feudalist and a conservative and now I want you to tell me if his actions have proved me wrong. I agree that he is a perfect gentleman, honest and caring but you can’t separate him from his Fulani agenda, which made him a feudalist. And judging him from his military background, which also made him a conservative and someone that does not believe in the rule of law; has he proved otherwise since he attained power?
We said Buhari was going to be a dictator because of his military training but nobody took us serious. Has he done otherwise since May 29 2015?
During the campaign in 2014/2015, I said I wished Buhari would disappoint me but lately I said I am disappointed that he has not disappointed me on my expectations of him.
For instance, despite the court orders and the intervention from international communities that his government should release the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd.), who is undergoing trial for corruption, he refused.
I support Buhari’s anti-corruption war but I am totally against anything that contradicts the rule of law. I agree with the views of the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay on corruption other than his opinion that the war must be fought irrespective of the rule of law.
If we jettison the rule of law, then it becomes the rule of man and where we have the rule of man there is bound to be a dictator, which is completely against the tenets of democracy. What we mean by rule of law is that the law must stipulate the punishment for every offence…
But in a situation where the bar and the bench are compromised…
(Cuts in…) I agree with you but even at that, to correct the judiciary must be within the context of the rule of law. People must know where we agree. If you abandon the rule of law, anybody can be arrested and prosecuted against the rule of law. It is true Buhari is fighting corruption but the crusade must be implemented within the context of the rule of law; and mind you, the cankerworm of corruption is prevailing even till now.
You mean till now!
If not why is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir David Lawal, suspended? The anti-graft war is failing. The only credit to Buhari is that he has succeeded in revealing some faces of corruption.
The founders of APC are incompatible. They did not agree on what to do to move Nigeria forward. We only voted for them on the mantra of President Buhari, who promised to tackle corruption. The founders of the party are blank and I say it boldly that for them to come and tell us two years after assuming power that ex-President Jonathan didn’t perform well and several things happened under him were reasons they could not deliver, is shameful.
Buhari and his party should tell us what those things are that they didn’t agree with in the Jonathan’s administration. What are those specific things that the former president did that have been impinging them to deliver on their promises? Or is it Jonathan that committed them to making all the promises and change agenda that they did? Telling us Jonathan didn’t do well is nonsense.
What can we do to improve or be more democratic?
I should put that question to you. For instance what we asked for in the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference would bring solutions to the problems of the country.
The recommendations of the conference should not be amended until it is subjected to a referendum. I can tell you that this country can never again gather the qualities of representation it has in the conference, which passed 600 resolutions unanimously.
I challenge the APC and Buhari to tell Nigerians if there is anything in the resolutions of the last confab that Nigerians didn’t agree on.
But Jonathan didn’t make any effort to implement those recommendations before he left office?
What do you mean? What I will blame him for is that he didn’t accept the principle of federalism on time and I warned him that if he failed to organise the conference, he would be the last Ijaw man to rule Nigeria. I believe he is reading me now. I also supported the agitation for Biafra because if we fail to agree on peaceful change then we are calling for violence change. That is what we are already seeing in the various ethnic nationalities’ struggles across the country.
Although, I disagree with the concept of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) calling for separation but my conviction is, if he is sure of the sincerity of the Federal Government on the issue of dialogue, he will agree.
But former President Olusegun Obasanjo and others posited that if the country splits now then those who died in the civil war to keep it united would have died in vain, what’s your position on this?
I don’t think they understand what they are saying. For instance the Constitution of 1954, which our founding fathers, including the likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and the Sardauna of Sokoto agreed to, was a regional constitution, which allowed for healthy competition.
When the military introduced unitary system of government after the 1966 coup, it was then the crisis the country found itself up till date started. Many other things that could have been responsible for our backwardness including corruption arose from the military de-structured system. That is why I said we must restructure the country.
The question of telling us that the unity of this country is not negotiable is nonsense! There is nothing more negotiable than the unity of this country and anybody who is in doubt; I think events have come to confirm the need to restructure Nigeria.
Some section of the country is still skeptical about the sincerity of those calling for restructuring. For instance a group in the North recently said it is not against the idea but it must not be done when President Buhari is out of the country?
My position is those people do not understand what they are saying. In the first instance restructuring is a constitutional matter and not about Buhari. No Northerner could claim to be more northerner than the Sardauna of Sokoto, who along with other founding fathers of the country, agreed to the 1954 Regional Constitution.
I read what the former Political Adviser to ex-President Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai said that the current agitation to restructure Nigeria was an age long ploy by the South West to enable her have a shot at power.
Unfortunately, he accused the Action Group, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) even NADECO and PRONACO that the agitation for restructuring mainly concentrated among the South West people of southern Nigeria and that the intention was to deny the North the benefit of its population and land mass.
He also added that the agitation was not driven by patriotism but rather driven by hate and envy. The 1954 Constitution, which our founding fathers agreed to work together with, gave room for healthy competition among the regions. If not for the military intervention of 1966, imagine what the Yoruba race would have achieved if we were to continue with the pace at which we were developing under the Western Region government. The same thing is applicable to the South Easterners and even the northerners.
I don’t think our brothers from the north are sincere when they make this type of accusation against the South West. In the first place, the South West is not and has never been isolated in the agitation for restructuring, otherwise why do you think there has been restiveness in the Niger Delta, what about IPOB what are the root causes of the Fulani herdsmen crisis among others?
The fact that the present structure favours the north at the expense of other regions and therefore should continue; I don’t think that is right. Okay if the north is sincere, let them tell the whole country what is wrong with the recommendations of the last conference we held. All these issues including the way out of corruption, which we considered as a big challenge to the development of the country, have been addressed in the recommendations.
When people hear of restructuring they don’t understand it. For instance, Lagos and Kano states have almost the same population but Kano has over 77 local governments while Lagos has 22. And part of the revenue of the country is shared based on number of local governments. Mind you some other states have been created out of Kano ever since so if we are talking of sharing and representation, in what way do you think Lagos, which has almost the same population with Kano will get anything on equal term with Kano? This is just one example. We said the military de-structured what was properly structured according to the 1954 Constitution and there is the need to restructure.
There will be no peace and progress until we restructure this country; forget about 2019 elections. This current Constitution makes our president the most powerful person in the world.
I challenge President Buhari to justify this constitution for us; otherwise they should tell us what is not acceptable in the 2014 conference or are they telling us to continue to operate on the constitution foisted on us by the military and dominated by the north?
South West is the pivot of restructuring but its political leaders seem not to agree on the subject. It is not my responsibility to speak on that let the electorate who voted for the APC speak out. If you recall, former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu took former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to court on the basis of local government creation.
Tinubu while in office created additional 37 Local Council Development Area (LCDAs) in addition to the 20 existing ones and Obasanjo seized the council allocations meant for Lagos because of that and the matter dragged to the Supreme Court. Tell me is that not the fall out of restructuring we are talking about? I challenge Tinubu to tell us those things he is not comfortable with in the recommendations of 2014 Conference.
Like I said earlier, the APC went into war (2015 elections) without agreeing on how to distribute offices and no sooner the election was conducted and won, every arm of the merger went haywire. The infighting in the APC is responsible for the crises in the country today. Since Buhari became President, Nigeria has been running a one-man show. Those opposed to him and the APC before, are now aligning for whatever reasons best known to them. Anybody that will rule Nigeria must settle the issue of national question first because each of the nationality that made up the country has been crying for autonomy even in the north. It is therefore imperative of the government to take a look at the recommendations of the conference with the aim of implementing it.
Again Yoruba leaders are not speaking with one voice on the issue…
I don’t want to be personal. For instance, Yakassai, who was a parliamentary secretary when our founding fathers agreed to restructure is also denying it but that was the agreement that brought about the First Republic. I challenge all the northern elite whether they are more northerners than the Sardauna, who agreed to self-rule in the first instance. I don’t have any personal issue against anybody including Tinubu but as long as we are divided over the issue the north will continue to have its way.
I want any Yoruba member of the APC to tell us if the South West region is better off under the Buhari-led APC government?
I tell you, if today Buhari decides to implement the recommendations of 2014 or chose to consider the issue of restructuring, I bet you he will be my candidate. Implementing the recommendation would resolve the crisis in the country to the roots.