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Mr. President cannot be trusted for second term’

By Seye Olumide
12 March 2015   |   8:00 am
Former Secretary-General of Afenifere and convener, Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform (CODER), Ayo Opadokun, lashes out at the Afenifere over the endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan for second term.
Ayo Opadokun. Image Source: Vebidoo

Ayo Opadokun. Image Source: Vebidoo

Former Secretary-General of Afenifere and convener, Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform (CODER), Ayo Opadokun, lashes out at the Afenifere over the endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan for second term. He said the group has no mandate to endorse Jonathan on behalf of the Yoruba nation. Seye Olumide reports.

What is your reaction to the Afenifere endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan for second term on behalf of the South West?

If not for the purpose of what is happening to our country and where we are today, I wouldn’t have responded to the issue of the endorsement of President Jonathan by Afenifere. But because I do not want the generality of our people to be confused further, I have to volunteer to respond to your question.

The scheming of the Afenifere, which had led to the endorsement of Jonathan for second term, is unfortunate and very disgusting. Be that as it may, I believe that the old order of Afenifere, led by Chief Reuben Fasoranti, perhaps took logic on its head.

Their endorsement of President Jonathan, because they claimed that he was the only one who could implement the conference recommendations, cannot be positively tested. There is no proof of how doable their claim will turn out to be.

Let me begin by saying as follows. There was a Babangida National Conference, there was an Abacha National Conference, there was an Obasanjo National Conference, all preceding the Jonathan Conference.

Therefore conferences have been held, most of them not in accordance with the kind of tenure, the kind of responsibility we wanted the assembly of our people to do when they congregate individually. Therefore, if the basis for which they said they were endorsing Jonathan is that he was the only one who could implement the conference resolutions; I think that reasoning is perverted and shallow.

I think if it was well thought out, they would have understood that by their position they have personalized the implementation of a very major matter of national importance. What if the person they are heaping the prospect of actualizing the thing dies off; that is if the man they depended on to actualize the recommendations of the conference dies, then the resolutions will die a natural death because the only one who could implement it is no more.

Privatizing or personalizing such a business of national importance is not the right thing. Secondly, it has never been in the tradition or the custom of the Yoruba nation to just call a few of your soul mates and then make fantastic declaration on behalf of the Yoruba nation. That is not the practice. For every subject matter, particularly matter of national importance, there are always very prolonged active debate and argument over the pros and the cons of such a matter because the Yoruba tradition and culture provide or permit multiplicity of views, multiplicity of opinions and multiplicity of perspectives over national matter.

The Yoruba nation has always allowed those varieties of opinions to thrive and ultimately, it is the practice of the Yoruba race that at a critical moment, when they are supposed to take a decision, they always decide as dictated by the credible leaders they know. Yoruba people know their leaders. There was no time when the Yoruba nation was monolithic, it has always been that however insignificant they can be on the other side, they have always been allowed.

I remembered that six months before Chief Obafemi Awolowo died, when through the instrumentality of some people there was an attempt to settle whatever crisis there was between the Yoruba leadership, a meeting was called and I followed Awolowo, Ganiyu Dawoudu and Senator Adesanya to the venue. Chief H.O Davies, Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, Chief Koye Majekodunmi and others were present.

There, Chief Davies told Awolowo that we all know that he has majority of the table but he asked “where are the leaders of the traditional rulers?” So it is a marriage of the two that could bring a united approach to Yoruba unity.

Against the reign of the superior and popular views in Yoruba land, elements from outside the Yoruba environment would always lobby strong-headed people; they will use them against the leadership in Yoruba land. They pump in some money into their hands to make them a little bit look better than the ordinary man on the street but no matter how important they make them to be, our people have never waited for them at the time of critical decision.

Those who were nominated by Jonathan for the conference have not come to confirm what happened at the conference and explain to us what we are able to get from the conference. That should be what ought to have happened before anybody comes out to say he endorsed Jonathan.

For instance the Yoruba nation went to the conference with the Yoruba agenda. About three or four of these points were germane. The first is that our government should be run on parliamentary system, that there should be fiscal federalism and that there should be regionalism, so that the weak states can become critical important component units of the federation. These equally call for devolution of power to practice federalism truthfully. In a normal federation, a component unit can establish its House of Assembly and make laws. But since the military came in to power the components units in Nigeria have not been able to establish their own state police. This is wrong.

If a government has legislative powers and it can make laws it requires a police of its own to enforce the laws. But all the efforts to establish the state police to actualize this aim have been frustrated.

It is sad to say that none of the agenda of the Yoruba that they took to the conference were granted. So what is the logic of saying Jonathan is the only one who can do it? The man has been in office for the past six years, he should be allowed to run on the basis of his performance.

Where is one single thing Jonathan has done in the Yoruba land? What is it that the man has done in Yoruba land that requires the South West to re-elect him. On what basis is the Yoruba going to vote for him?

We are not begrudging the Afenifere people for supporting the president because we all have our individual preferences but for any group of people to come and say that they were endorsing Jonathan on behalf of the entire Yoruba race, amounts to a ruse and an insult on the intelligence of the Yoruba people. The right they have appropriated for themselves, which we are contesting, is the right to speak for the Yoruba on the issue of whom to support in the next presidential election. There was no authorized mandate for such bogus claim.

 As you are one of those who have been very vocal against northern domination, are you saying that the Yoruba should stand aloof or follow the North, which General Muhammadu Buhari appears to represent in this situation?

It is a wrong understanding of the chemistry of the current situation to follow the incumbent. He has not shown any modicum of capacity to run even a local government. I have my doubt even as to the educational attainment of the man. He speaks so poorly and he glamorizes funny things along with his wife. We can’t put him down as a ruler. The basic thing he ought to have provided is security of lives and property of Nigerians and as far as I am concerned he is a failure in that regard.

It is also a tragedy for any nation that cannot trust or believe in whatever the leader says. Jonathan government is not believable and that is the main reason why people have reason to doubt whatever claim they make.

What the Yoruba nation ought to do first is to look at the performance of the two leading candidates and decide for the one that best approximate to their feelings and aspiration. I said that any government at the centre that decided to ignore the Yoruba race or to neglect the Yoruba race in the scheme of things is only digging its own grave and such a time has come now for Jonathan who is now a regular visitor to every part of Yoruba land trying to woo the Yoruba people for support. He is reaching out to the traditional rulers and the young people. If in six years he has failed to deliver any meaningful project in Yoruba land, on what ground is he now soliciting for their votes? How can the Yoruba trust him that he is going to respect them in the next four years and his last term in office?

I am persuaded that the Yoruba nation has always been at the forefront in making conscious efforts to re-establish democracy; participatory democracy. They have always been at the forefront of trying to expand the base of democratic culture so much that what obtains in other civilized world can happen here.

To me, putting Jonathan and Buhari in contest, it is about the choice of the Yoruba nation and I will say that Yoruba nation would have many things to gain from a man who can open up governance to make government responsible and responsive. We have not seen that one in the last six years. I am not campaigning for anyone but objectively our people should open their eyes. If somebody has been in power in the last six years and has failed to deliver anything, the chances that he will deliver anything in the next four years are remote.

One of the crises I have with our political leaders is that they continue to do things the same way and expecting to get different results, it doesn’t happen.

For instance, I have been watching the campaigns of the two leading candidates and I found Jonathan saying that he will create 3 million jobs every year and adding that his own generation has failed but that he will equip the young generation to take the country to the moon. If in the last six years he has not started any of those things, it means that he is only playing politics. Secondly if a man was in office six years ago when the power generation was between 2500 to 3000 megawatts and today nothing has been added, then we have reason to doubt whatever such man is saying now.

The reason I am speaking is that these so-called elders should stop helping the relics who are coming to them now to set confusion into the lives and hearings of our people. Six years is enough for somebody to prove himself and if such person is a failure, there is no reason for anybody to plead the cause of that person for another four years.

It is important to stress that any person or individual or a group of individuals can have as many reasons for hating Tinubu, as a person and as politician. They cannot be allowed to cross the line by carrying their personal animosities and or hatred in the form of transferred aggression to confuse our people. After all, some of them have had three governorship election opportunities to test their political acceptability and dexterity, and they have been crushingly defeated each time by Tinubu. It is ungentlemanly for them not to acknowledge his superiority over them politically.

Do you see the 2015 election holding at all?

I will say that every effort must be made to ensure that the elections as scheduled remain sacrosanct. Let me tell you again that the fact that Nigerians don’t believe Jonathan’s government and its entire pronouncement is suspect. These Nigerian leaders are not believable.