Buhari Promoting Northern Agenda – Adebanjo | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Buhari Promoting Northern Agenda – Adebanjo

Posted: Jun 12, 2016 at 3:11 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


Chief Ayo Adebanjo, elder statesman and Afenifere chieftain spoke with EJIKEME OMENAZU on the need for President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the National Conference Report. He also predicted that All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may go under before 2019. Excerpts:

How relevant is the continued celebration of June 12 as the Democracy Day as against the May 29 which has been adopted by the government?

May 29 was never the democracy day. It was those who never fought for democracy that made May 29 democracy day. May 29 is just the handover of government. Those of us who fought for the change from military rule to democracy rightly observe June 12 as the democracy day. It was on June 12 that we voted for Chief M.K.O. Abiola and the military cancelled the election. When people came to power, they changed the democracy day to May 29, but June 12 still remains the real democracy day and we will continue to celebrate it as such.

How would you react to the recent trip of President Muhammadu Buhari to UK to treat his ear disorder?

People should be able to draw their conclusions. It shows lack of consistency. He cannot walk the talk. When he said he would discourage medical tourism, was it a mere campaign talk? Buhari should be a leader by example. His recent medical trip is indeed one of the evidences of inconsistency in his administration and this is not good for his image.

After one year into his tenure, how would you assess the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari?

My own take is that it is just like a student who has to pass his School Certificate before getting into a university. Such a student should get credit pass in between five and seven subjects. Buhari promised security, war against corruption and economic development. On the war against corruption, I give him 70 per cent. Even at that, the crusade is not cohesive. He appears to be partisan. It is not only in the opposition that there is corruption. There are people in his cabinet that are corrupt. Up till now, there is no road map on development, no programme and no agenda. Buhari should be more nationalistic in outlook considering the fact that this is a representative government. I have not seen the difference between him as a military ruler and a democrat which he should be now.

He does not obey rule of law. When the rule of law is not obeyed, he is laying foundation for anarchy. I am criticising him because I do not want him to fail. Look at the issue of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Niger Delta militants. They go back to the issue of restructuring. But, he does not want it. Instead, he wants to jettison the National Conference Report which was prepared by 500 well selected Nigerians and cost the nation billions of naira. Buhari should look into the issue of the Niger Delta and the Biafra agitation and stop bloodletting in the land. All these issues are there in the National Conference Report. It is the solution to our problems, but he does not want to look at it.

What we are operating is not a proper constitution. It was the Army that gave us this constitution. There will not be peace until they do what is right. I do not want these violence in the land. The Igbo have been crying because they have been marginalised. The Niger Delta has not been properly rewarded for their contribution to the wealth of the nation. The violence shows that when you make peaceful change impossible, you make violent change inevitable.

The National Conference Report dealt with all these issues, the issue of Resource Control, Restructuring, Regional or State Police, Regional Army. We cannot stay together in a union without restructuring the country. The unity of the country is not negotiable. But, until the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Buhari agree that our staying together should be negotiated, there will be no peace.

Everybody is complaining that the concentration of power at the centre is too much. Those who oppose True Federalism want this country to break. No unit of the country can stay under unfavourable condition. It is undemocratic to be attacking and killing people who are carrying out peaceful demonstrations in a democracy. As things are going, we are returning to the Abacha days. Let us resolve all these issues peacefully. You cannot use force people to stay in the country against their wish without negotiation. The nation is practising a unitary system of government in a democratic system that is part of our problem.

On Boko Haram, what he has done so far is what we want. But more needs to be done. I do not want to say he has done this or he has not done that within one year. But this is my impression of Buhari’s one year in office.

Would you agree with the view by some sections of the nation that President Buhari has been promoting a Northern agenda?

That is obvious. I do not want to over emphasise this. By his appointments this is obvious. Everybody knows that the APC is a conglomeration of three or more parties. It has been my view that they didn’t agree on what to do before coming together in a merger. Not after they have come to power they begin to discuss what people should get. Besides Katsina State and his part of the country, can’t we get qualified people in other regions? Look at the Fulani herdsmen. I thought he was lukewarm. Now we are hearing that they are not Fulani, but are from Libya. Wherever they are from, it is the government’s duty to stop their killings. But they have been allowed to continue to kill our people. After the people complained that they destroy their farm land, the government wants to legalise illegality by thinking of setting aside lands in parts of the country for the herdsmen. This is unconstitutional. It is only the state governments under the Land Use Act that have powers over lands. Although I am Buhari’s critic, I do not want him to fail. It is in my interest that we have a change. I am not comfortable being his critic always. I want to appeal to him for a change.

Would you say the government has so far handled the nation’s economy well? If not, where is it not getting it right?

If the economy is good, people would not be complaining. Buhari is calling for change and his change cannot put food on the table of the common man. He has not attacked corruption holistically. He should plug all the holes. One of the roots of corruption is the huge amount people are made to pay before they can take part in primaries. That is the beginning of corruption. Look, in Edo State, one of the aspirants has backed out of the governorship election because he cannot afford the money the party is demanding for primaries. We are talking of primaries alone. When you ask an aspirant to pay N5 million before he can contest the primaries, that is too much. We expect Buhari to come up with a law stopping people from paying exorbitantly for elections. He himself was a victim of this practice. He could not afford to pay for his own fees before someone came to his rescue. As it is, only millionaires can contest elections. After paying such huge amounts to qualify for primaries, those who manage to be elected, when they get there, they must be corrupt. Up till now, we do not know the real earnings of the National Assembly lawmakers. This is another form of corruption which Buhari should deal with.

With the failure of the government to put dates and names to the looted funds it claimed to have recovered recently, would you say that the government has made much achievement in the war against corruption?

I earlier said that I gave Buhari 70 per cent in the anti-corruption crusade. But before you arrest people you should have made your investigation. But, the government announces that people are corrupt even before arresting them. That is the problem they should have been satisfied with the investigation before they make arrest. But, my advice is that the anti-corruption crusade should be holistic. When you give out figures without attaching names or dates, you give the impression that the verdict is partial. It can even mean that some of the people who are being accused of corruption may at the end not be corrupt. It shows that the government has not done its job very well.

People are saying that former Governor Babatunde Fashola will not perform excellently handling Power, Housing and Works. Do you share the same view?

That is why we are saying that they are not performing. I do not want continue to name them sector by sector. All these are happening because the government has no road map for development.


In Lagos, do you share the view that Governor Ambode performed excellently even as people complain of the poor state of street roads, street lights that are not working, and lack of drinking water among others?

Why are you asking what is obvious? I commend him for what he is doing. But, that should not be all. He should look at these criticisms and correct all areas of inadequacies.  The media should also call his attention to where he is not doing well, where the roads are bad for instance, where the street lights are not working or where the waste dumps are not cleared, etc. the media has a role to play in all these., not only in Lagos, but in all the states and federal government.

With the obvious cracks in the APC, right from the inception of the administration, the way appointments were concentrated on certain section of the country to the disadvantage of the others, the cry of marginalisation by some of the main groups that formed the party, do you think the party can go into 2019 elections as an entity?

I am not wishing them bad. I am not concerned whether they break or not. If such discriminations that are going on continue, it will not augur well for APC.  If an opposition says so, they will say they do not wish them well. But, if the media see it and say it to them, it is better. I challenge the media to tell the government and APC the true state of things in the nation so that they can understand better.

With the crises at all the levels of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) don’t you think the party may sink before 2019 and a new party possibly emerges from either the PDP or a part of PDP and APC?

It is a matter of opinion. But, they should put their house in order. If they fail to do so, that will be the consequences of not solving their internal problems. As a democrat, it is my view that what is happening does not augur well for this country. The nation should be virile. With the problems in the party, it cannot properly play its role as a virile opposition.

It was your view that Asiwaju Tinubu and the South West APC to negotiate well with the other groups that formed the party before the election to the detriment of the geo-political zone. What do you think they should do to correct this anomaly?

Well, that is how I felt. If I did not feel strongly about it, I would not have opposed them and what they did. The mistake has already been made. It is left to them to know what to do about it.

As an Afenifere Leader, do you foresee the Yoruba ethnic nationality holding a summit on the way forward for the race before 2019?

Yoruba people are not ignorant people. We have been in this struggle for a long time. We know what matters most to us. That is the unity of the Yoruba. We are not political illiterates. When the situation gets to a situation like this, we know what to do. The South West will continue to mount pressure on the government to implement the National Conference Report. South West made presentations in that conference. If there is something wrong in the confab report, they should look into it. It will amount to throwing the baby away with the bath water. You cannot get that 500 people together again.  The conference was made up of all the sections of the nation. The women were there, the youths were there, even the religious people were there and others too. The government cannot say that because they did not set up the National Conference they will not implement it. If there is any fault, let them tell us. If there is anything bad in it, they should tell us. But the National Assembly is wasting the resources of the nation in constitutional amendments. If the constitution is right, why should there be amendments in the first place? The solution is in the implementation of the National Conference report and not in making amendments to a constitution that was handed over to us by the military.