Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, speaks with
BAYO AKINLOYE on the alleged gang-up against
the All Progressives Congress National Leader,
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu,
and the leadership style of
President Muhammadu Buhari
What do you make of the rift between the
Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief
John Odigie-Oyegun, and the APC National Leader,
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu?
(Asiwaju Bola) Tinubu allowed himself to be used
by people who do not have the interest of the
Yoruba at heart. He chose to follow President
Muhammadu Buhari sheepishly. I warned that
Buhari has not changed. I knew his antecedents.
But Tinubu chose to follow him. He and his group
blindly supported Buhari. I am not concerned
about the All Progressives Congress’ party politics.
What is happening in the party is more than a
gang-up against Tinubu. My concern is that the
undermining of Tinubu’s influence by the party he
fought hard to bring to power is making decisions
and taking steps that are not good for the Yoruba.
I am looking beyond the superficial affront against
Tinubu by his party people. The attack against him
is an attack against Yoruba people. People would
have expected me to be happy about the way he is
being treated now, but I am worried because he’s
the voice of the Yoruba in the ruling party. My own
argument in all this is purely ideological. It is not
personal at all.
Is there any link between it and the socio-political
crisis in Nigeria?
That’s the reason we are having problems all over
the country – you have the Movement for the
Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, the
Niger Delta Avengers, and the Indigenous People of
Biafra. It is a question of the constitution of the
nation. We feel strongly that the report of the
National Conference should be examined and
implemented as necessary but the confab report
has been thrown into the dustbin. Unfortunately,
some sheepish Yoruba people are following him
(Buhari) and hoping that he’ll share power with
them. But we will not allow the Yoruba masses to
be trampled on – no man will chase away his
child for a lion to devour. If the Yoruba in the
ruling party don’t understand what is happening,
we’ll continue to speak out.
I agree with people who say Tinubu didn’t do well
(by supporting Buhari to emerge as Nigeria’s
president). Yet, one’s child can’t be so badly
behaved that he will be chased away into the
waiting claws and jaws of a lion. That is my
position. The APC is a melting pot of various
interest groups; you have the Tinubu group and
you have the Buhari group – and other groups. If
the ruling party is fragmented then we are in a
mess. The mess was evident from the beginning of
this administration when the party could not agree
on who should take what positions in the National
Assembly. The APC is an association of strange
bedfellows. I had criticised the party because of its
lack of a meeting point among its leaders. Their
lack of cohesion began with (Bukola) Saraki who
emerged against the party’s wish. The party is
characterised by personal reasons, selfishness,
and narrow-mindedness. They came together
without a definite purpose of what they want to do
at the federal level.
What is the way forward?
I wish Tinubu can get things right, regroup and get
out of the unholy alliance he got himself into, for
the benefit of the Yoruba nation and the South. In
2019, there will be no APC. If there will be APC, it
will not be in this form.
Is that a prophecy?
Go and write it down. I am prepared to be abused
by people who think contrary.
Why do you feel strongly that by 2019 there won’t
be APC or that the party would have been
weakened by that time?
Are you not a journalist? Can’t you decipher it?
The signs are there. It is common sense. Some of
us have been in the game (politics) for a long
time. There is no unity of purpose within the party.
Where is the unity when Tinubu said the chairman
of the party is a traitor? He accused him of
treachery; that he’s not acting alone because he
has the backing of the leaders of the party. I don’t
like the crisis I am seeing in the APC because it is
the masses that would suffer. It is the masses that
are looking for good roads and other amenities. It
is the masses that are looking for good
governance. If they are quarrelling with one
another, when will the ruling party settle down to
deliver dividends of democracy to the masses?
The party’s rules are skewed against them in case
they don’t know. They should unite against forces
detrimental to Yoruba interest. I had warned them
(the APC) before the last general elections about
what is happening now. There is nothing
happening now that I have not said before –that
he (Buhari) is a dictator; that he doesn’t obey the
rule of law; he’s a tribal jingoist and so on. What
has Buhari said or done about the rampaging
Fulani herdsmen who are maiming and killing
people in the East, in the West and in the North?
What has he said? Buhari has denied that those
marauders are Fulani. He claimed that they are
foreigners – the notion that the herdsmen are
foreigners is even worse to accept. If our head of
state (and the commander-in-chief) cannot protect
us or guarantee the safety of citizens against
attacks by foreigners who are invading a territory
he presides over, then we are in a mess.
Are you disappointed about President Muhammadu
Buhari’s performance so far?
I am disappointed that Buhari has not disappointed
me. The reason is that I spoke against him before
the 2015 presidential election. I am not happy that
his actions now have vindicated me that I am right
concerning what I said about him. Back then, all
his supporters said I was castigating him
unnecessarily – that the actions he took during his
first time of ruling the country were taken under
military rule. I was expecting him to change. Now,
we’re in a civilian regime, they said, and I told
them they don’t know Buhari’s background. How
can someone say Nigeria is not negotiable? How
can you not negotiate the continued existence of a
country with multiethnic nationalities? The Soviet
Union existed for how many years? Did it not break
eventually? What about Czechoslovakia? Did it not
break up? So, why can’t Nigerians peacefully
review the nation’s amalgamation? We need to
review it –we cannot be held as if in a cage by
force or by somebody or a group of people’s fiat.
Anyone or any group that is opposed to the
restructuring of the country is the enemy of the
What kind of restructuring are you looking at?
We want the country to be restructured under a
truly federal constitution and for ethnic
nationalities to live together in peace. Anything to
the contrary will not augur well for the country. It
is either a restructuring or there is no Nigeria –
that is the truth. No government can keep the
people together by force. We are calling for a
restructuring of the country because we want the
country to live together in peace. It will be
impossible for any government to keep us together
by force. All the lopsidedness of this country is in
favour of people of Buhari’s origin. He holds the
country cheaply by saying that foreigners are the
ones invading the country. Foreigners invading a
country under your watch and you fold your arms
and do nothing? It is his duty to protect us against
any attack, whether foreign or local. I have nothing
against Buhari personally. He is the President of
the country and I want him to succeed. But he
must not be a partisan president.
Can you speak more on the mistakes you said
Of course, he did (make a mistake supporting
Buhari to become the president). I had said that ab
initio – before the presidential poll was held. I said
the greatest mistake Nigerians – Yoruba must not
make was voting for Buhari. Everybody heard me
when I said that. Many people said I was a
Peoples Democratic Party’s apologist. I made that
statement back then based on what I know about
Buhari and his antecedents. Former President
Goodluck Jonathan didn’t realise the importance of
implementing the confab report on time. He
promised that if given a second term as president
he would examine the recommendations and try to
implement them. The other man (Buhari) said he
wasn’t going to look at the report at all. I think it
is reasonable to consider the person who
promised to do something. There’s nothing to
accuse Buhari of now because he didn’t promise
to implement the confab recommendations. I am –
I repeat – disappointed that Buhari has not
disappointed me. I was prepared for
disappointment; I was waiting to be disappointed
so that I could go to Buhari and tender an apology
to him. In spite of saying in his acceptance speech
that he’s a born-again democrat, nothing has
changed about him.